Hagenbuch Family Birth and Baptismal Frakturs
Birth and baptismal records are an important source of genealogical information. Most notably, they provide the birth dates of individuals. However, they also reveal family relationships such as parents and, in the case of baptisms, sponsors (godparents).
During the 1700s and 1800s, Pennsylvania Germans created ornately decorated birth and baptismal certificates. Today, these are called Frakturs. The word fraktur refers to a style of calligraphy that was common in German-speaking countries between the 16th and early 20th centuries. It comes from the Latin word fractura, which means “to break or fracture.” The Fraktur typeface is similar to the lettering used in the Hagenbuch family coat of arms and at the top of this website.
Fraktur calligraphy was popular with Pennsylvania Germans and can be seen in many of the documents they created. This is especially true of birth and baptismal certificates. Besides lettering, these were often embellished with beautiful, hand colored drawings. Eventually, the stylized documents would become collectable pieces of folk art known as Frakturs.
The below image depicts a birth and baptismal Fraktur for Johann Martin Bely (Bailey) from 1755. The Baileys were neighbors of the Hagenbuchs and lived in Albany Township, Berk County, Pennsylvania. In fact, this Fraktur shows that the Hagenbuchs and Baileys shared a close relationship. Andreas Hagenbuch and his wife Maria Margaretha were chosen as the sponsors at the child’s baptism.
According to the Free Library of Philadelphia, who holds the Bailey Fraktur in its collections, the main text translates as follows:
Johann Martin Bely saw the light of this world in Pennsylvania, in the Township Albany or Allemängell, the County Berks, in the year of the Lord 1754, and was baptized 1755, the 25th of May. His father is the honorable Frantz Bely and his mother Christina. The sponsors were the honorable Andreas Hagebuch and wife Maria Margaretha. This is hereby attested by me, Daniel Schumacher, at the time Evangelical Lutheran pastor in Pennsylvania, by his own hand.
In addition, the text found in the hearts says:
Heart, see your path, o, heaven above.
Be and remain devoted to God through true faith to live as a Christian.
Fear God and keep his commandments for it is the responsibility of all people.
In his detailed personal records of baptisms, the Reverend Daniel Schumacher notes that he created the Fraktur that was presented to the Bailey family. He also writes that the baptism occurred at the home of the Bailey family.
The strong relationship between the Hagenbuch and Bailey families is further supported by an 1763 account of an attack by American Indians. This was previously mentioned in the article, Hagenbuchs Face Danger on Pennsylvania’s Frontier:
Philadelphia, November 15: The following account we have from Reading, in Berk’s County, viz: That on the 8th Inst. in the morning, the house of Frantz Bailey, in Albany Township was attacked by a party of Indians, who fired several times through his windows upon which he got up and fired at the enemy, when he received a wound in his wrist and one of his children, a boy, was killed. That one Hagenbuch, and two of his sons, hearing the firing went to his assistance, which made the Indians go off, without destroying the house or barn.
In the account, it is noted that Andreas Hagenbuch and his sons Henry and Michael ran to help the Baileys. Johann Martin Bailey, Andreas’s godson, was not the boy killed in the attack. He lived into the early 1800s and can be seen as the Martin Bailey owning land adjacent to the Hagenbuch homestead.
The above image shows another example of a birth and baptismal Fraktur. This one is for Karl (Charles) Hagenbuch and is from 1811. Unfortunately, there is no higher resolution version available. The Fraktur is in a private collection. It was last sold at auction in 2010 for $900.
Charles Hagenbuch was born on June 6, 1811 on his family’s farm near Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Charles’s parents were John Hagenbuch (b. 1763) and Magdalena Dreisbach (b. 1766). John was the youngest son of Andreas Hagenbuch and Maria Margaretha, making Charles a grandson of Andreas.
Charles Hagenbuch married Elizabeth Hess. They had nine children: Charles, Artemus, Henry W., Matilda, Lavina, Hiram, Cilicia, Sarah Elizabeth, and Emma Jane. On March 26, 1870, Charles died and was buried at St. John’s Lutheran Church (also known as Delaware Run Lutheran Church) near Dewart, PA.
Along with being beautiful pieces of artwork, these Frakturs are important pieces of Hagenbuch family history. They reveal information, relationships, and stories from the past. They also demonstrate the necessity of keeping such artifacts within the family, lest they pass into the hands of private collectors.