by Lois Jones - December 2002
The first of my Cochems' ancestors I found in written records was Tilman
Cochems. On April 5, 1614, Petrus Geringen the Catholic priest in the village
of Ellenz began keeping baptism records. These records also included entries
for the nearby village of Poltersdorf. Surrounded by vineyards, Ellenz
and Poltersdorf lie several miles upriver from Cochem on the Mosel River.
On November 15, 1614, the parish priest recorded that Tilman Cochems
and Gertrud baptized a son they named Balthasar. I do not know what family
Gertrud was from because her last name is never given. The following were
Tilman and Gertrud's children:
For Balthasar (child #1) and Paul (child #3) there is no further record. Lucia (child #4) married Peter Haupst, a Mayor, Jurist and Church Councilman in Poltersdorf. The Haupsts had five children. Jacob (child #5) married Catharina and was a cooper by profession. Jacob and Catharina were childless.
The last child Johann was born 24 years after Tilman and Gertrud's first recorded child was born. Johann's first wife Clara Friderichs died 8 weeks after their marriage in 1665. Two years later on September 25, 1667, Johann married Margaret Brachtendorf; they had five children. Johann was a Church Councilman like his brother Peter.
Lucia, Jacob and Johann remained in Poltersdorf, the village where they were born. The three also did well financially. Of the 32 resident taxpayers on the 1683 Poltersdorf tax list, Lucia's husband, Peter Haupst paid the highest tax; Johann paid the third highest tax; and Jacob paid the fifth highest tax. Of the three, the only death date I have is for Johann who died on December 1, 1691 at the age of 53.
I could not find a baptism record that Tilman and Gertrud had a son named Peter. However we can presume Tilman had a son named Peter because in 1648 there was a Peter Cochems who married Magdalena Deutsch. Peter and Magdalena used Jacob Cochems, the groom's brother, as godparent for their first child. Not only did Tilman have a son named Jacob but Peter and Magdalena used Tilman's other children, Lucia and Johann, as godparents for two more of their children. Perhaps Peter was born before record keeping begin in 1614. Or Peter might have been the unnamed child born on October 16, 1615. Peter also may have been born between 1621 and 1638 and the birth simply not recorded. In any event, I am assuming that Peter is the son of Tilman Cochems.
Of the 46 people enumerated in the 1623 Poltersdorf Tax List, Tilman Cochems paid the third or fourth highest tax. There is no record of when Tilman and Gertrud died. However one can assume that they died prior to 1651 because they are not listed on the tax lists of the 1650's. Additionally their youngest son Johann (at the age of 16) appears on the 1654 Poltersdorf tax list as: Joes (Johann) Cochems minorennis, owning a house and small wine garden. I am assuming because of Johann's young age that this is inherited property. Not until 1667, does this Johann Cochems again appear on a tax list.
Peter Cochems, Church Councilman. Unlike his father Tilman and his siblings,
Peter Cochems lived in the village of Ellenz. Perhaps he located in Ellenz
because that is the village where his wife Magdalena was born. Peter Cochems
married Magdalena Deutsch sometime before 1648. According to Ellenz records,
they had four children as follows:
On November 7, 1666, Anna Maria the eldest child married Johann Peter Brachtendorf (1637-1697); they had three children. Peter Brachtendorf was a Jurist in Ellenz. In 1667, Anna Maria's uncle, Johann Cochems, married Margaret Brachtendorf, sister of Peter Brachtendorf. There is no further record for son Johann Balthasar (child #2) or daughter Lucia (child #4). The third child, and my immediate ancestor, Johann married Maria Mullers.
We are very fortunate that Fred Nicholson found and transcribed the
17th Century Ellenz and Poltersdorf Tax Lists that are stored in the Trier
archives. These tax records give us a glimpse of economic life in the Seventeenth
Century. An entire transcription of these tax records can be found in Fred's
Ellenz/Poletersdorf Family Book. Ellenz/Poltersdorf tax lists exist for
the years 1623, 1651, 1654, 1656, 1662,1667 and 1683. The lists for 1651,
1654 and 1656 are especially interesting since they detail the assets of
those surveyed. According to the 1656 Ellenz Tax List Peter Cochems owned:
Out of a total of 39 resident tax payers in Ellenz in 1656, Peter paid the second highest tax.
Peter died on June 10, 1665. His death record read: "Peter Cochems synodalis obitus a domo..qua voluit ullam fodere."
Herman Deutsch, Church Councilman. Magdalena Deutsch, Peter Cochems'
wife, was the daughter of Herman Deutsch and Catharina Konen. Herman was
the son of Jacob Deutsch of Treis. Jacob Deutsch was born about 1560 and
died April 18, 1635 in Treis. Herman Deutsch and Catharina Konen's children,
all born in Ellenz, include:
The first three children, Anna Maria, Johann Daniel and Catharina died within three weeks of each other. There is no further record, not even as godparent, for Catharina's twin sister Margaretha. Therefore I have assumed Margaretha died in childhood.
In Ellenz death records were first recorded for the years 1634 through
1638. There was a break of 20 years, then death records commenced again
in 1657. The following are the number of deaths recorded between 1634 and
There is no record of what caused the above 89 deaths. Even though some of the 89 death entries were for people from other villages, this was an unusually high number of deaths. Between 1657 (when the death records started again) and 1693, recorded deaths averaged between 4 to 8 per year. Even in 1689 when Cochem was sacked and burned, there were only 4 deaths recorded in Ellenz/Poltersdorf. Disease was one possible cause for many of the deaths between 1634 and 1638. The Thirty Years War started in 1618 and ended in 1648. I have found no record of any particular battles taking place in the Ellenz/Poltersdorf area during this time. However armies on the move brought epidemics and disease. Whatever caused the heavy loss of life in the mid 1630's, it was a calamity for the Deutsch family. Three of their 5 children died within days of each other in 1637. Johann Daniel, the only son, died first on April 17, 1637 (age 17). Eighteen days later, on May 5, Catharina died (age 13) and the following day, May 6, 1637, her sister Anna Maria (age 20) died. Since the 4th child Margaret probably did not live to adulthood, Magdalena, the youngest child, at age 9 became the only surviving child.
In the 1656 Tax List, Herman Deutsch is listed with the following property:
Of the 39 resident taxpayers in Ellenz in 1656, Herman paid the third highest tax. His son-in-law Peter Cochems paid the second highest tax.
Herman Deutsch died April 6, 1666; Catharina Konen, his wife, died 13 days later on April 19, 1666.
Magdalena Deutsch Cochems. Magdalena Deutsch was the wife of Peter Cochems and daughter of Herman Deutsch. She was born in 1627 and a mother at the age of 20. She was only 37 when her husband Peter died in 1665. Ten months later in 1666, Magdalena's parents died. Her father Herman Deutsch died first and 13 days later her mother Catharina Konen died. In Germany property passed from husband to wife. When both parents were deceased property was split equally among all the children. Magdalena inherited her husband's estate and was the sole heir of her parents' estate.
In the 1667 Ellenz Tax List, Magdalena was the second wealthiest person in the village. The Tax List entry reads: "Peter Cochems Wittib cuius Maritus in Construenda cella ex Collas sione fundamenti domus exanimis decidit ht generum Joem Petrum Coha 4 fud bitantem attad hoc in randificatione domus dat in simplo". Her tax was 6 F (Florin) 15 alb.
Magdalena was 37 years old when her husband Peter Cochems died. The Cochems oldest daughter, Anna Maria, was 17 and son Johann was 7. The following year, at the age of 18, Anna Maria married Peter Brachtendorf who was 29. Although her daughter was no longer in the home, Magdalena still had a young son to raise by herself.
At this time it was customary for widows and widowers to remarry usually within a year after losing a spouse. Rapid remarriage was often a necessity because the surviving spouse needed both economic and physical help in rearing minor children. However Magdalena did not remarry possibly because she had the financial resources to survive alone. Indeed by 1683 the Ellenz Tax List showed her to be the highest tax payer in the village, paying 8 Florens in tax. When Magdalena died on December 26, 1693, at age 65, her death record read: "obit Magdalena Deutsch vidua ex Ellentz."
Johann Cochems, Church Councilman. Johann Cochems, son of Peter Cochems
and Magdalena Deutsch was born May 15, 1658. His godfather and uncle was
Tilman Cochems' youngest child Johann. Like his father Peter, Johann was
a Church Councilman. Johann married Maria Mullers on February 7, 1683.
Both the bride and groom were not quite 25 years old. Maria Mullers was
born two months before Johann on March 20, 1658, in Bruttig. Maria's father,
Franz Mullers, was a Jurist in Bruttig. Maria's mother, Catharina Lentz,
was descended from Martin Lentzen (born about 1570) of Bruttig. According
to Baptism Records in Ellenz/Poltersdorf the Cochems/Mullers children were:
In 1683 Johann was a newly married man of 25. As such it would not be unusual for him to have owned some property and to be listed on the 1683 Ellenz Tax List. However his name does not appear on the list. His mother, Magdalena Deutsch, is listed and was the highest tax payer on the list. From this I have concluded Johann was probably working/managing his mother's property. In any event in 1693 when Magdalena Deutsch died, Johann and his sister Anna Maria Cochems Brachtendorf were probably the only heirs to their mother's large estate.
As to the Cochems/Mullers children, there is no further record for Franz (child #1) who probably did not survive childhood. There is no marriage record for Lucia (child #2) but based on her children's god parents in Bruttig Records, I have determined she married Jacob Schneiders.
Johann Peter, the third child, was my immediate ancestor.
The fourth child, Johann Martin was a Church Councilman and had the unfortunate distinction of outliving several wives. He was also the progenitor of the Wisconsin Cochems.
On February 6, 1720, Anna Maria (child #5) married Matthias Haups a widower of four months. Matthias's late wife was one of seven people who died of dysentery in October 1719. Matthias was the grandson of Lucia Cochems Haupst. As previously discussed Lucia was the daughter of Tilman Cochems. Therefore both Matthias and Anna Maria were great grandchildren of Tilman Cochems.
Johann Cochems, father of the above children, would not live to see his children marry. He died on September 18, 1701 at the age of 43. Maria Mullers Cochems, his widow did not remarry and died October 10, 1719. Maria was one of seven who died that October. After the seven, October 1719 deaths the following was written: "omnee praedicti laborarunt contagious dissenteria qua tum temporis agregie grassanta fuit." Roughly translated it says, the previously stated persons died of contagious dysentery. Maria's godson, Hans Jacob Dedrigs, and as stated above Matthias Haups' wife, also died from dysentery that October.
Johann Martin Cochems, Church Councilman. Johann Martin Cochems was the fourth child of Johann Cochems and Maria Mullers and the progenitor of the Wisconsin Cochems. He was born April 22, 1691 in Ellenz. Johann Martin was a Church Councilman and had the unfortunate distinction of outliving several wives. Martin's first wife, Anna Maria Porten died in childbirth and two months later he married Lucia Steinbohr. After Martin's second wife, Lucia, died he married Maria Magdalena Schneiders some time before 1734. She was the daughter of Franz Schneiders and Catharina Dederichs. Their only child Johann Mathias was born August 10, 1734 in Ellenz. When Johann Martin died in Ellenz on May 23, 1770 at the age of 79 his death record noted he was a Senior Synodalis (Sr. Church Councilman). His wife Maria Magdalena Schneiders died on September 10, 1773.
Johann Matthias Cochems, son of the above Johann Martin, was also a Church Councilman. On February 21, 1764 he married Maria Catharina Zentzen. She was the daughter of Nicholas Zentzen of Messenich. Matthias and Maria Catharina had seven children all born in Ellenz.
Nicholas, the first child of Cochems/Zentzen, was born in 1766. He married Margaret Hermes daughter of Franz Joseph Hermes and Anna Maria Goergen on May 10, 1808 in Ellenz. According to Ellenz Church Records this couple had six children.
The oldest child of Cochems/Hermes was Johann Cochems, and the man who brought his family to Wisconsin in the mid 1800's. Johann was born in April 1809 in Ellenz. He married Anna Maria Otto on Feb. 16, 1836. She was the daughter of Matthias Otto and Ursula Koenen of Poltersdorf. Their first three children of Cochems/Ottowere born as follows in Ellenz.
Matthias born March 12, 1837
John Jacob born February 8, 1839
Louisa born June 6, 1841
I have not documented the births of the other children of Johann and Anna Maria. I will let the Wisconsin Cochems finish that portion of the story. However I will add that Johann and Anna Maria had other children and one son Nicholas came to California in the late 19th Century. The above Matthias (b.1837) also had children and three of his sons, Arnold, William and Matthias also came to California.
Johann Peter Cochems, Church Councilman. Johann Peter was Johann Cochems and Maria Muller's third child and belonged to the Church Council just as his father had. On February 12, 1719, Johann Peter, at the age of 31, married 27 year old Maria Magdalena Hyeronimi. Maria Magdalena was born in Cond on February 14, 1692. Her father, Theodor Hyeronimi, was a Church Councilman and Jurist in Cond. Her parents Theodor Hyeronimi and Maria Margaret Balthasar were married the year before her birth on February 6, 1691, in Cond. The marriage occurred less than two years after Cochem was sacked and burned in 1689. In Cond, the little town immediately across the river from Cochem, life went on. Life also went on in Cochem. Although all church records were destroyed in the Cochem conflagration, baptisms were again recorded in Cochem starting in 1691.
The following are the children of Johann Peter and Maria Magdalena.
From about 1650 to 1750, Peter Cochems and Magdalena Deutsch and their descendents were firmly settled in Ellenz. During this 100 years they probably had grown grapes and produced wine on the same land as the generation before had done. Now the Cochems/Hyeronimi children would split up and move on.
Sometime before 1756, Maria Wilhelmina (child #1) married Johann Muller and moved to Cochem.
Child #2, Anna Maria married Johann Conrad Welches on November 25, 1755 in Ellenz. They were both 34 years old. She stayed in Ellenz where her husband was a "tegularius". Depending on the definition tegularius can mean brick maker, roofer or tiler. The Welches had four children. Anna Maria died at the age of 64 on June 10, 1785. Five years later her husband Conrad at the age of 69 married a 24 year old woman and sired three more children. On Feb. 1, 1797 at the age of 76, Conrad Welches died of dropsy (edema).
Sometime before 1753, Johann Jacob (child #3) moved to Cond and married Maria Catharina Heimes. John Jacob died January 11, 1788. Less than three weeks later his widow died of apoplexy.
Johann Martin (child #6) was the godson and nephew of Johann Martin the progenitor of the Wisconsin Cochems. Johann Martin (child #6) remained in Ellenz and on November 15, 1763 married Maria Margaretha Lentz. Like his father, grandfather and great grandfather, Johann Martin was a member of the Church Council. However, he chose a totally different profession, that of "Villicus" or manager of someone else's land, i.e., Villa Werschberg. Johann Martin died at the age of 51 on Feb. 9, 1779. His widow remarried six months later.
There is no further record for children #4, #5, #7 and #8.
Peter Nicholas (child #9) and my immediate ancestor, moved to Cochem sometime before 1769. His father, Johann Peter Cochems, died sometime before 1755 and Maria Magdalena Hyeronimi, his mother, died at the age of 68, on August 30, 1760 in Ellenz.