The mystery of the cast-off Castorffs

Solve one family history mystery, and another dozen spring up to take its place.

Last week we had a breakthrough with Val’s Morton ancestors, described in the previous post. Val’s great-great grandmother, Mary Nevard Morton, married August Decker of the British German Legion at St Botolph’s, Colchester in Essex on 31 October 1856. We’ve known that for more than 30 years. But now it appears that two of Mary’s sisters may also have married German legionnaires, possibly on the same day, and we have ordered their marriage certificates just to make sure.

According to the FreeBMD Index, Emma Morton married George Casdorff:

Surname      First name(s)            District      Vol      Page
Marriages Dec 1856   (>99%)
Casdorff     George David Julius          Colchester     4a    443
Decker     August                              Colchester     4a    443
Morton     Emma                              Colchester     4a    443
Morton     Mary _e_and           Colchester     4a    443
Rodwell     Emma                              Colchester     4a    443

and Emma Morton alias Rodwell married George David Julius Casdorff. They sailed to the Easten Cape on the Stamboul, and disembarked at Eastlondon on 2 February 1857. According to the German Settlers Database George Kasdorf purchased his discharge on 16 February 1860.

Having finally found the Morton family in the 1851 census we know Mary had a sister Emma, and when August and Mary Decker had their first and only son Edwin baptised at King William’s Town in 1861, the godparents were George and Emma Castorff.

But that seems to be the last sign of George and Emma in South Africa. Searching for Castorff or Casdorff (and Kasdorff and Kastorff) in the South African archives index NAAIRS draws a blank, and they should have appeared there if they died in South Africa. There are a few references to Kasdorf, but none appear to be related. So they must have emigrated again, as many of the German military settlers did. Any reports of sightings anywhere will be gratefully received.

The mystery of the Mortons

We’re taking another look at the mystery of the Morton family of Colchester in Essex, and their South African connections.

Over the last week or so, as you can see from the previous posts, we’ve been looking at the family of Val’s paternal grandmother, Emma le Sueur, formerly Green, formerly Chelin, born Decker. When we started looking into the family history, soon after we were married in 1974, she was our only survivang grandparent, and so we started with that side of the family, and within a couple of years had got down most of the (then) current generation in Southern Africa. A few years later a German genealogist helped us to trace one branch of them back to the Brandenberg Huguenots. But one branch we were stuck on was the Mortons.

Val’s gran and her surviving brother Cecil Decker, and her sisters, told varying stories. She told us her father was Edward Decker. Turned out he was actually Edwin Robert Morton Decker, and we found his baptism in King William’s Town. Grandmother and great aunts told us that Edwin’s father was De Nevard Decker, a Swedish nobleman, or a French nobleman, and that his wife Mary Morton came from Colchester in Essex and had an aunt or a sister who was Lady Mount, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria.

St Botolph's Church, Colchester

We found August Decker’s death notice in the Cape Archives. Not a Swedish nobleman, but a German waiter, died at Mr S. Grussendorf’s house, no property, buried by public subscription. The real disappointment was the family connections — parents unknown, spouse unknown, one son, name unknown. Well, we found the link to the son in the King William’s Town Anglican baptism register, but also in the KWT museum we asked if they had anything not on display, and they had a card index of the German military settlers of 1857, and August Decker was there, and it said he came from Auerstedt in Prussia. We knew that a lot of the German military settlers of the British German Legion had come from Colchester Camp, where they had trained to fight in the Crimean War, and that gave us a date – 1856. So we wrote off to the General Register Office in England for the marriage certificate, and got it. August Decker and Mary Nevard Morton were married at St Botolph’s Church in Colchester on 31 Oct 1856. His father was Carl Decker, farmer. Her father was George Morton, gardener. That helped with the Decker family, but what about the Mortons?

Some time soon after that we trawled through microfilms of the 1851 census of Colchester at the LDS Family History Centre, but found nothing. Perhaps we missed it, perhaps we were looking in the wrong place. At that point we more or less gave up 0n the Mortons.

We visited Colchester when we went on holiday to the UK in 2005, and even looked in at St Botolph’s Church, where they were preparing for a play or a concert of something. We had heard many things about Essex girls, and wondered if their reputation had been the same in 1856, when Val’s great great grandmother got married. A sign in a shop window in Colchester seemed to confirm what we had been told about Essex girls.

After the death of her first husband, Mary Nevard Morton married another German military settler, Ernst Bergesheim or Burgersheim, from Stralsund in Prussia. At one point they ran the Butterworth Hotel in the Transkei, and she also ran the Waverley Hotel, between Tarkastad and Queenstown, and Val’s gran was brought up there after her father died when she was 8. Mary Burgersheim died in Durban during the flu epidemic of 1918.

Now, looking at that side of the family again, we did manage to get hold of the 1851 census which shows Mary Morton, aged 8, with her parents, George and Elizabeth Morton, both aged 45, and therefore born about 1806. Elizabeth came from Boxted, up near the Suffolk border (perhaps nearly not an Essex girl!). Mary had an older brother G. Fred, and an older sister Emma, aged 10. Her younger siblings were Thomas (3) and Catherine (1). And here’s where the mystery deepens.

If she was 8 in 1851, she was surely too young to get married in 1856, when she would have been only 13, even as a minor with her father’s permission. It must be the right family, unless there was another George Morton in Colchester who was a gardener and had a daughter Mary. And the FreeBMD site shows Mary Nevard Morton being born in 1843.

FreeBMD also shows an Emma Morton being born in 1838 (when we would have expected Mary to be born) and dying in 1839. Then there is Mary Nevard Morton in the June Quarter of 1843. Emma is dead, long live Emma. She shows up alive and well and aged 10 in the 1851 census.

And get this: on the same index page as Mary Nevard Morton’s marriage to August Decker, TWO Emmas married a George David Julius Casdorff — Emma Morton and Emma Rodwell. As if that were not enough, on the previous page of the FreeBMD index, an Elizabeth Mount Decker married another German. Perhaps she was the “Lady Mount”!

It looks as though we will need to order the other two marriage certificates, as well as Mary Nevard Morton’s birth certificate to see what happened.

One of the interesting stories about the German military settlers is that some of them were married on board ship (presumably to Essex girls) just before the ship sailed. At the end of the ceremony one of the ship’s officers remarked to the chaplain who married them that he thought some of them were holding the wrong hands. “Don’t worry,” said the chaplain, they can sort themselves out when they get outside.” The result was that a special Act had to be passed by the Cape Pasrliament, to remove doubts concerning the marriages of certain German settlers. Now I’m wondering if there wasn’t a similar chaotic scene in St Bololph’s Church, with hundreds of German soldiers marrying Essex girls, and perhaps two Emmas marrying poor old George Casdorff. And somewhere, in the back of my mind, is a memory of one of the documents in the family history being signed by a George Castorff, as a witness or something.

And one last thought. Val’s middle name was Muriel, and it was said that she was given it after her paternal grandmother, Emma Muriel Decker. And perhaps the Emma came from her aunt. But there are more mysteries. When she signed for her share of the Koch inheritance (see earlier post), a fifth of a sixth of a third, she signed Emma Isabel. So we thought we would order her birth certificate to see what names she was registered with. The certificate came back with a rubber stamp in the space for the first names: Not Stated. Attempts to see if she was in the baptism register for Butterworth in 1900 were not successful. Perhaps we should try again. But at any rate we now have a lot of things to try for on that side of the family.

Germans in the Eastern Cape

There’s a new website on Germans in the Eastern Cape. Or perhaps I should rather say that it is an old site that has been revamped and moved to a new address.

Two groups of German settlers came to the Eastern Cape (well, the part of it then called British Kaffraria) in 1858/59. The first to arrive were the military settlers of the British German Legion, who had been recruited to fight in the Crimean War, but the war ended before they could be deployed, so it was decided to send them to the Eastern Cape instead. The civilian settlers followed about a year or two later. The web site explains the background to the emigration of both groups, and gives quite detailed information on the military settlers.

Val’s grandmother, Emma le Sueur (formerly Greene, formerly Chelin, born Decker) descended from both groups. Her Decker ancestors were among the military settlers, being Carl August Decker, who married Mary Nevard Morton in Colchester just before leaving (the British Germaon Legion was trained at Colchester in Essex). The civilian settlers included the Falkenberg and Schultz families from the Ueckermark in Brandenberg. The Schultz family were of French Huguenot descent, and they are the ones we know most about in the earlier generations, but practically nothing since they arrived in South Africa.

We’ve also discovered other links, not direct ancestors, but people who married into other branches of the family. Another of the military settlers was Captain Carl Arthur von Lilienstein. He was a customs official in Holstein 1839-1848, then joined the British German Legion and led a party of 100 military settlers to Berlin in British Kaffraria in 1857. He was also a Count (Graf). His daughter Ida married Henry Green, brother of Val’s great great grandfather Frederick Thomas Green.

The Falkenberg and Schultz families came on the Wilhelmsburg, which sailed from Hamburg on 19 October 1858, and arrived in East London on 13 January 1859. According to the web site, 64 children and one adult died on the voyage. We know that one of the children who died was a member of the Schultz family, three-year-old Wilhelmine Caroline Schultz, because she was on the embarkation list at Hamburg, but not on the disembarkation list at East London. The web site does not give details of the children who travelled, just the parents, though perhaps one day it may be possible to include the complete passenger lists for both ends of the voyage.

A quite recent discovery we have made is that a Devantier family on board the Wilhelmsburg was related to the Schultz family. It is possible that several other families who emigrated may have been related as well. And ironically, though we have been able to trace the Schultz ancestry furthest back, to Calais and Flanders in the mid-17th century, once they reached South Africa they all vanished without trace, all, that is except for Justine (nicknamed Jessie), nine years old on the voyage out, who married Christian Falkenberg after his first wife died, though we haven’t been able to find a record of that marriage either. So if anyone sees anything possibly related to this Schultz family, please contact us!

Family Group Record for Martin Schultz


Husband Martin Schultz-[26]


           Born: 11 Aug 1822 - Wendemark, , , Germany
       Baptised:
           Died:
         Buried:

         Father: Martin Schultz-[25] (Abt 1781-          )
         Mother: Marie Payard-[23] (1785-          )

       Marriage: 9 Jun 1844 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia [MRIN:13]

Events


1. Emigration, on Wilhelmsburg, 19 Oct 1858 – Hamburg, Germany


Wife Justine Holtzendorff-[37]


            AKA: Justine Holzendorf
           Born: 16 Dec 1825 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died:  - Cape Colony
         Buried:

         Father: Friedrich Holtzendorff-[36] (Abt 1788-1846)
         Mother: Dorothea Kaeding-[35] (1796-          )

Events


1. Emigration, Ship Wilhelmsburg, 19 Oct 1858 – Hamburg, Germany


Children


1 F Wilhelmine Luise Schultz-[38]


           Born: 3 Sep 1844 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died: 14 Nov 1850 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
         Buried:

2 M Wilhelm Friedrich Schultz-[39]


           Born: 3 Aug 1847 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died:
         Buried:

3 F Justine Wilhelmine Schultz-[40]


            AKA: Jessie Schultz
           Born: 22 Jun 1849 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died: 21 Apr 1927 - East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa
         Buried:
         Spouse: Michael John Christian Falkenberg-[44] (1827-1882)
           Marr:  [MRIN:20]
         Spouse: Charles John Koch-[336] (          -1940)
           Marr: Mar 1883 [MRIN:19]

4 F Marie Luise Schultz-[41]


           Born: 22 Jun 1852 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died:
         Buried:

5 F Wilhelmine Caroline Schultz-[42]


           Born: 9 May 1855 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died: Abt 1858 - At Sea
         Buried:

6 M Karl Wilhelm August Schulz-[43]


            AKA: August Schultz
           Born: 2 Jan 1858 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died:
         Buried:


General Notes (Husband)


Knecht und Tagelõhner in Meichiow, emigrated to the Cape Colony with his family in 1858.
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2008

There’s more on the Falkenberg family here and here, and more about the Decker family here.

Found! Ida Carolina von Lilienstein, wife of Henry Green

One of the long-enduring mysteries of the GREEN family history has at last been solved, thanks to Ione Evans of New Zealand.

Henry Green, the British Resident of the Orange River Sovereignty in the early 1850s, came to South Africa some time in the 1840s, as did several of his siblings, including Fred (Val’s great great grandfather), Edward, Charles and Arthur.

It was known that Henry Green married Ida Carolina von Lilienstein, daughter of Count von Lilienstein, but little was known about her parents. Many of their descendants have tried to find out more, especially her mother’s name, but without success.

Ione Evans asked a researcher to check German records, and and finally found:

Congregation of Itzehoe, Christenings in the year 1836, daughters, page No 11, born on 4 December 1835, christened on 24 December 1835 Ida Caroline Johanna, legitimate daughter of local constable at the regiment of light dragoon, Carl Arthur Count zu LILIENSTEIN and Catharina Elise née STAEKER, christened by me at home. God parents: Carl von BARDENFLETH, colonel and head of the regiment, Martin von WILEMOOS SUHM, Premier Major, Johannes von EWALD, major (translation)

This will be especially good news for descendants of Henry and Ida, as Ida’s ancestors will be theirs as well, but for the rest of us too, the irritating gap waiting to be filled by “Spouse’s mother” can at last be filled.

In the course of our researches into the Green family we have met several descendants of Henry and Ida, and corresponded with many more. Some of them have been enthusiastic researchers into the family history, and many of them have helped us a great deal with our researches. We were in correspondence for a while with Hal Green in Swaziland. Jack and Peggy (nee Tapscott) Stokes visited us when we lived in Melmoth in Zululand, and stayed several days with their caravan in our back yard, and we spent many evening poring over family records, trying to sort out chronology and relationships.

One of the longest-standing mysteries (to us, at any rate) was what happened to Edith Susanna Green, daughter of Henry and Ida. She had married Ernest Borwick and then, apparently, disappeared off the face of the earth. Then we made contact with Ione Evans, a descendant of that branch, who filled in several generations. Ernest Borwick farmed in Kenya, and several of their seven children lived there, and some married and moved to other countries. Ione Evans is still following up some of the descendants, but has also been working backwards on the von (or zu) Lilienstein side as well, for which we are all grateful.

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