Anna Barbara Hagenbuch: Rethinking Andreas’s Children
Anna Barbara Hagenbuch was Andreas Hagenbuch’s eldest child—or so we thought.
A few weeks ago, while researching Andreas’s birthdate, I needed to review the birth order of his children. The standard family tree for Andreas notes that his first child, Anna Barbara Hagenbuch, was born circa 1734. Because no birth or death record exists for her, this date is an estimate.
However, Anna Barbara’s birth in 1734 would mean that Andreas Hagenbuch was only around 18 when he and his first wife, Catherine, were married. This seems unlikely for the reasons discussed in the article “Andreas Hagenbuch’s Debatable Birthdate.”
Little is known about Anna Barbara Hagenbuch, and what evidence does exist comes from Andreas’s last will and testament written in 1785. In the document, Andreas expresses his postmortem wishes through twelve numbered paragraphs, the first of which is as follows:
Firstly, because I have already well prepared my well beloved wife, Maria Margaretha, with a sufficient yearly exception, to maintain her during the whole time of her natural life, I give her yet all my remaining estate (which I have not herein bequeathed to my children and in terms ordered to be paid to them in their hands, to make use thereof after their own pleasure) when and how she is wanting as long as she lives and when she shall see, that something more ought to be given to my daughter Anna Barbara, as I have herein bequeathed to her because she is unhealthy, then my said wife and my herein mentioned executors shall be herein allowed & they shall have the power to give my said daughter something more, out of the estate which I herein have given to my said wife in her hands, so as my said wife after her pleasure shall find it for good.
In the above passage, Andreas Hagenbuch provides for his wife, Maria Margaretha, and grants her permission to give an extra share of the estate to Anna Barbara “because she is unhealthy.” Since Anna Barbara is mentioned in the same paragraph as Maria Margaretha, she is the first child referenced in the will.
Research has shown that, more often than not, parents listed their children in birth order when writing legal documents such as wills. Even today, if you ask parents to name their children, they will nearly always begin with the eldest and end with the youngest. Based upon these facts, genealogists have long believed Anna Barbara to be Andreas Hagenbuch’s first born child.
Yet, this assumption contains one notable flaw, namely that Anna Barbara is mentioned first only because her name is included in Andreas’s provisions for his wife, Maria Margaretha. Indeed, near the end of his will Andreas dictated a paragraph specifically for Anna Barbara. This which reads as follows:
Tenthly, I give and bequeath to my above mentioned daughter, Anna Barbara, the sum of 140 pounds good gold or silver money which my executors shall pay to her or her heirs as follows: namely 60 pounds on the 27th day of November in the year of our Lord 1788 and 80 pounds on the 27th day of November in the year of our Lord 1791, so that she or her heirs receives 140 pounds and she shall likewise have one good bed, my kitchen furniture, my chests, 1 cow and 1 heifer, with that what my beloved wife, Maria Margaretha, shall further give her, as she finds good, because she is in want of it.
To summarize, if Andreas Hagenbuch ordered the paragraphs in his will to reflect the ages of his children from oldest to youngest, their birth order would be as listed below. Known birthdates from gravestones or birth records have been added to the list. Also, Michael and Christian have been inserted, since they did not have paragraphs in the will because they were sold the homestead property in 1783.
- Henry (b. 1737)
- Michael (b. 1746)
- Christian (b. 1747)
- Anna Elizabeth (b. 1754)
- Christina (b. 1759)
- Anna Margaretha
- John (b. 1763)
- Anna Barbara
What the above evidence suggests is that Anna Barbara was the youngest of the nine children living in 1785. As a result, her birthdate would likely have been in 1764 or 1765, since John was born in 1763.
The implications of revising the birth order of Andreas Hagenbuch’s children goes beyond just Anna Barbara. It also suggests Maria was actually born before Magdalena and Christina was born before Anna Margaretha. Additional research is ongoing and needed to further support these findings with more evidence.
Genealogy, like any other study, requires one to pursue facts and doggedly question what is thought to be known. While some might consider this a frustrating endeavor, it is exactly this process that makes genealogy so interesting to me. Here, a slight revision to Andreas’s birthdate has forced my father and I to reconsider not only his age, but also where his child, Anna Barbara, should be placed on the Hagenbuch family tree.
In Feburary 2022, this article was updated to show that Henry Hagenbuch’s birthdate is now believed to be in 1737 per this article.