Sunday, March 21, 2021

2021 Prompt - German Ancestor - Elisabetha Lautenschläger

Ancestor - Elisabetha Lautenschläger  1650-1721

My 7th great grandmother                        


Nancy Simmons - 1947

    Paul Simmons - 1925-1999

        Walter Simmons - 1902-1931

            Andrew Simmons – 1866-1944

                Phebe Rexroad - 1833-1904

                    John Rexroad - 1790-1867

                        Johann George Rexroad - 1754-1834

                            Johann Zacharias Rexroad  - 1725-1799

                                Johann Balthasar Rexroth - 1673-1734

                                        Elisabetha Lautenschläger – 1650-1721




March is Women's History month and lately I have been researching German women on my father's ancestral line. I am sharing the story of my German 7th great grandmother, Elisabetha Lautenschläger 1650-1721 living in the 17th century Deutschland (Germany).


Pendleton County, West Virginia (Virginia)

My father's family is loaded with German ancestors that I have researched back to the mid-1700s in Pendleton County, Virginia, now West Virginia. But recently, I have been researching my German ancestors back to their home villages in Deutschland. Germans immigrated in two waves to America. The first wave immigrated from 1720 to1775 and most Germans in the first wave immigrated through the port of Philadelphia. Elisabetha Lautenschläger's grandson, Zacharias Rexroth (misspelled Erdroth) immigrated in 1749 on the ship Albany through the port of Philadelphia. [1]

Immigration list from Pennsylvania German Pioneers Vol I, page 395

It was while I was looking in a Rexroad family book, Johann Zacharias Rexroth, written by cousin William D. Rexroad that I discovered Zacharias' grandmother, my 7th great grandmother, Elisabetha Lautenschläger.[2] Recently I found a German family book, Hessisches Geschlechterbuch, Vol 94, that contained the ancestry of the Rexroth family.  Here I found Elisabetha Lautenschläger married to Barthel Rexroth as his second wife. Elisabetha Lautenschläger was born June 16, 1650 in Güttersbach and on June 20, 1671 she married Barthel Rexroth in Erbach. She died  Sept 17, 1721 in Erbach.[3] There is little documentation about Elisabetha other than her baptism, marriage and death record. But it can be very interesting to study the region and the timeframe that she lived in the 17th century.


Deutsches Geschlechterbuch bürgerlich Bd 94
Koerner, Bernard. 1937. Hessisches Geschlechterbuch 9 9. Gorlitz: Starke

The Thirty Years' War was a conflict fought in what is now modern Germany and Central Europe from 1618 to 1648. Elisabetha was born as the Thirty Years’ War had just ended. Elisabetha's parents had survived the conflict and married in 1643 as the fighting in Germany ended with the 1648 Peace of Westphalia.[4] Their survival is amazing since estimates of deaths range from 4.5 to 8 million, mostly from disease and starvation. The results of the Peace of Westphalia broke the power of the Holy Roman Empire[5] and the German states were able to determine the religion of their lands and practice their faith without fear of losing their lives. The Rexroth and Lautenschläger families practiced the protestant Lutheran faith.

The Thirty Years War occurred from 1618-1648

Güttersbach was a small village with a protestant church that Elisabethe’s family must have attended. The church is the oldest church in southern Odenwaldkreis as it is mentioned as a parish church as early as 1290 as a Catholic parish.[6] Oldenwald is a district in southern Hesse located in the Oldenwald Mountains. 

Oldenwald Mountains in Oldenwald District, Hesse

Elisabetha was baptized at the Lutheran church in Guttersbach but she was married in the nearby Lutheran church in Erbach.  The oldest mention of Erbach can be found in the Lorsch Codex under the name “Ertbach”.[7] The Lorsch Codex is an important historical document created between about 1175 to 1195 AD in the Monastery of Saint Nazarius in Lorsch, Germany.  The village of Erbach was surrounded by a city wall and since then is the residence of the Counts of Erbach-Erbach.



Elisabetha's mother was Anna, and unfortunately, like so many women you research due to a lack of documents, has an unknown maiden name. Anna married Hans Lautenschlägerin in 1643[8]  Both Elisabetha's mother and father were born, married, and died in Güttersbach, Odenwaldkreis, Hesse, Germany.[9]  


Guttersbach Evangelical Church, Guttersbach, Odenwald, Germany

Elisabetha's grandmother was Apollonia, maiden name unknown, born about 1579 married Wilhelm Lautenschäger on May 18, 1614 in Güttersbach.[10]  She was the second wife married to Wilhelm. Wilhelm is quite the interesting guy and was known as the "Wizard of Guttersbach" and was put on trial in 1628 and confined to the tower.  We will leave him for another story!

The Thirty Years War had ended shortly before Elisabetha was born but the aftershocks were very destructive to life in Erbach and the many German states for almost a century. The war left German states with  a huge decrease in population, agricultural devastation and ruined German commerce and industry. After Elisabetha's marriage in 1671 she had 12 children in the next 23 years from 1672-1694 with only five of those children reaching adulthood. Since famine and disease were very prevalent during this time it would have been hard not to lose children. We know her husband, Barthel Rexroth, was a blacksmith but with such post war devastation and lack of commerce life certainly had to be difficult to make a living. Barthel died in 1694 at the age of 49 years. Barthel and Elisabetha's son, Johann Balthasar Rexroth, my 6th great grandfather, was born June 11, 1673 and married in June 1710 in Erbach. Eleven years later his mother, Elisabetha, died in 1721 at the age of 71 years. This is an amazing age for this time period.

Barthasar Rexroth and his wife, Lowisa, had seven children with the youngest being Zacharias Rexroth, my 5th great grandfather, who was born four years after his grandmother, Elisabetha, had passed away.  Zachariah immigrated to America in 1749 at the age of 24 as a blacksmith with two of his grandmother's relatives, Adam and Philip Lautenschläger, on board the ship Albany. When he immigrated it had been 99 years since his grandmother, Elisabetha, had been born. Zach's father, grandfather, and three brothers Jakob, Michael, and Georg, were all blacksmiths, the latter two attaining the status of Schmiedmeister (master smith) in Erbach. Zach certainly knew the trade when he arrived in America. 

With his family legacy of hard work, difficult accomplishments, strong religious beliefs, actions, and guidance, Zachariah lived out the next 50 years of his life in Pendleton County, West Virginia where his great granddaughter Phebe Rexroad was born in 1833. Phebe married Aaron Simmons in 1859 in Ritchie County, West Virginia. From there the legacy continued forward four more generations to 1947 when Phebe's great great granddaughter, Nancy Simmons, was born. I treasurer the legacy passed down from my 7th great grandmother, Elisabetha Lautenschläger.



Zachariah Rexroad born 1725 in Erbach, Germany
Buried 1799 in Pendleton County, West Virginia
Grandson of Elisabetha Lautenschläger


[1] Strassburger, Ralph B. & William Hinke, Pennslyvania German Pioneers, Vol 1, pp. 394-395

[2] Rexroad, Wm D., Johann Zacharias Rexroad The Pioneer, 2004, page 11.

[5] Peace of Westphalia, European history,

[6] Evangelical Parish Church (Güttersbach),  //

[9] Ibid, Hans Lautenschläger

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