Monday, September 1, 2008

Austel and Gutgsell Family Lines- Introduction to First Generation

This is another in a series of entries in which I describe the first or earliest generation for each of my family lines. The present entry concerns my Austel and Gutgsell Lines, specifically the married couple, Joseph Austel and Maria Gutgsell. They were my maternal great grandparents (Mom’s grandparents). It might be helpful if you go to a graphical representation of my pedigree to orient yourself as to which pair of great grandparents are being considered.

Image: Joseph Austel and his first wife, Maria, nee. Gutgsell (who is sitting and holding baby Franz); Maria’s mother, Mrs. Margaret Gutgsell, nee. Kessler, stands in the rear; and 7 of the 10 children born to Joseph and Maria. Maria’s first child, named Joseph, died within a month of birth. Two other daughters, Rosa and Margaret, were not yet born when this family portrait was taken at Jacque Studer Studio, Weinfelden, Canton Thurgau, Switzerland, circa 1888.

The following image is the three youngest children of Joseph Austel and Maria, nee. Gutgsell: Frank Joseph, now a young man, the sisters Rosa and Margaret (or Gretl, my grandmother), about 1915.

My aunt, who was the late Mrs. Helen R. Bailey, nee. Gailliot, possessed a necklace and tiny locket which contained a miniature portrait of Joseph as a young man. Since the portrait measured only 1 x 3/4 inches, and since Helen was a talented artist, I asked her to sketch a larger bust of Joseph so I could frame and hang it on the wall of my home. She did a wonderful job and I joined the two images together for this entry (see below) using Adobe Photoshop Elements:
Later on, I enlarged the original several times in a photocopier and digitally scanned it. But in the meantime Helen almost went blind drawing from the tiny miniature which she had clipped to the corner of her easel. Ahhh, the wonders of technology!

Joseph Austel was born 1851 in Haindorf, Bohmen, (Bohemia in English) which is in the Czech Republic today. The village name has since been changed to Hejnice in the Czech language. Joseph was a Roman Catholic, as were most of the Austrians at the time he was born. The only Catholic Church in the village was Panna Maria. It is an ancient church and was used for centuries as a site for pilgrimages. According to the Internet, the church is known as, “The Temple of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary”. Today, it is a retreat for spiritual rehabilitation. I imagine that all the parish records have been removed.

However, I was fortunate to find parish records of the family after Joseph was married and after the Austel family migrated to Burglen, Canton Thurgau, Switzerland. I have a copy of an affidavit concerning Joseph Austel which I believe was some sort of character reference, titled in German, "Leumunds-Zeugnis". It confirmed that Joseph was originally from Haindorf and that he lived in Burglen between 1875 and the year the document was created, 1900. Over that 25 year period, 10 children were born to Joseph and Maria and are recorded in both Catholic and civil records in Canton Thurgau, Switzerland. In Sep 2001, I visited Saints Peter and Paul Catholic church in Sulgen, near Burglen, I was able to copy baptismal entries from the parish record. I wanted to take a picture inside the closet archives of the church which contained shelves of old parish records, but strangely, the parish priest turned down my request. However, he did allow me to take at least one picture of the record book which contained the data of the Austel family.

Also from the Parish Records, I discovered that the mother of the family, Mrs. Maria Gutgsell, daughter of Ludwig GUTGSELL and Margaret, nee. KESSLER, died in 1895. Fortunately, the parents of the deceased were also listed in the record. The CIVIL records were even more helpful; they gave vital statistics for the deceased and the parents. Maria Gutgsell was born 1857 in Wintzenheim, Alsace (France at the time) and her mother, Margaret, was born 1820, Ammerschwihr, Alsace. The record went even further to give the parents of Margaret Kessler as Marc KESSLER and Magdalena ZUSCHMITT. How Joseph Austel from Haindorf, Bohemia, on the east side of Germany, met his bride from Alsace, on the far west side of Germany, is a mystery. What was going on in history in 1875 in middle europe which might give a clue regarding their rendezvous?

Two years after his first wife died, Joseph Austel, married a Protestant convert to Catholicism, Rosa Friedrich, who was 25 years younger that he was. Actually, Joseph gave Rosa an ultimatum to convert if she wanted to marry him. They had one son, Paul (b. 1898), who later died as an infant.

Again, the records of the civil authorities, or what I came to know as the Zivilstandesampt Haushaltungs (Household Registers) came through with welcome genealogical data. The marriage record for Joseph and Rosa listed their parents. Joseph’s parents were Franz AUSTEL and Veronika NEISSER (no vital statistics) and Rosa’s were Johann FRIEDRICH and Josephina, geboren (born) ODERMOTT.

In Nov 1903, Joseph and his second wife, Rosa, and Joseph’s mother-in-law from his FIRST wife, and the youngest six children immigrated to America and settled in Braddock (a borough of Pittsburg) Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Braddock was already home to the mother-in-law’s only other child, Louis Gutgsell, and Joseph Austel’s oldest son, Ludwig Austel. Joseph's son had come to America the year before in 1902 at the request of his uncle. Two daughters in the first generation, Maria and Ida, remained in Switzerland and never emigrated. They were already married by 1903: Maria to Heinrich SCHLUMPF and Ida to Fidelius RINK. There were descendants from these families, but unfortunately, communication diminished to a point where contact was lost.

Austel home in N. Braddock, near Pittsburgh. Address plate on house reads "562" [Stokes Ave]. Probate of Joseph's estate in 1924 confirmed the same address. Joseph and Rosa, on left. Margaret Frances Gailliot and Margaret Austel on porch swing; about 1915. The girls were school mates and close friends. Mary introduced her older brother, Charles A. Gailliot, to Margaret, who he eventually married in 1917.


For other First Generation Family Lines at this blog, click on the tag, SurnameLine-Intro. And replace "Surname" with Gailliot, Russell, etc.

Hejnice, the parish church and pilgrimage of the Visitation of our Holy Lady. Also, check out the many Czech tourism sites.

My blog entry on the two oldest daughters, Maria and Ida Austel, who remained behind in Europe.

1 comment:

Bob Kramp said...

I emailed the former Panna Marie Catholic Church in Hejnice and asked if they might have archived parish records. They responded: Dear Mr. Kramp, We greet you from the International Centre in Hejnice. We are really sorry, because we have not so old archive materials. But you can try the Bishopric of Litoměřice.
Bishopric of Litomerice
Domske namesti 1/1
CZ 412 01 Litomerice – Za nemocnici
Phone: 420 416 707 520
Fax: 420 416 731 454ordinariat(at)

I will try- after Xmas.