Die Schwarzen Berge Der Rhön

Im sonnigen Franken auf Bergeshöhn,
wo Eichen und Buchen still rauschend stehn,
da kannst du, wenn leise die winde wehn,
manch prächtiges Märchen erlauschen so schön.

Einst zogst du hinaus, dir die Welt zu besehn,
nun hast du empfunden: Heimat ist schön.
Du findest nicht Rast und du findest nicht Ruh,
die Schwarzen Berge, die rufen dir zu.

Die "Kuppe von Platz" und auch der "Tote Mann",
die "Feuerbergmatten" sagen dir dann:
Kehr heim aus der Fremde, du Rhöner Sohn,
die "Schwarzen Berge" erwarten dich schon.

Und was du erträumst hier als echt Rhöner Kind,
bei Sonne und Regen, stürmischer Wind.
Das geht dir zu Herzen, das prägt sich dir ein:
Es ist doch so schön hier zu Hause zu sein!

- The Black Hills of the Rhön, by Ewald Voll, a gift from the Edelmann’s of Stangenroth to John and Ute Edelmann, on the occasion of their wedding, November 20, 1993.


The Edelmanns of Bavaria

World-wide, Edelmann is a relatively common name. In German, the word means "nobleman", though the degree of nobility conveyed is not as great as in the name Adelmann, and its derivatives. Given the many levels of nobility in feudal Europe, the term Edelmann would have been positioned somewhere near the bottom.

We begin with a discussion of the ancestors of Paul Frederick Edelmann .

Paul’s ancestors have been in the United States since 1889. In December of that year, Bruno Edelmann, Paul’s grandfather, emigrated with an unknown friend from the area of Stangenroth, Germany. Port of entry is unknown.

Stangenroth of the Röhn

Stangenroth is a small village in the south of the Rhön, an area of northern Bavaria known as Franconia, and settled in 1242 AD. The area is primarily Catholic. In 1992, the village celebrated its 750th Jubilee. Stangenroth is situated in a cluster of villages which include Zahlbach, Burkadroth, Wollbach, and Gefäll, all approximately 5 km north of Bad Kissingen. Bad Kissingen is near Würzburg. Anton Reinhard, author of a history of the area, indicates the presence of Edelmanns in Zahlbach in the 1700’s.

The following excerpt details the arrival of the first Christians in the area.

In the north of Bavaria, the country now known as Franconia, the Gospel was first preaced by St. Kilian. With two companions, Coloman, a priest, and Totnan, a deacon, Kilian left Ireland, his native country, in 686, and, with sanction of Pope Conon, established a mission at Würzburg. Duke Gozbert received him kindly and was converted, and his example was followed by a great number of his subjects. But St. Kilian fell a victim to the hatred of Geilana, whose marriage with Gozbert, brother of her former husband, he declared to be contrary to the law of God. He and his companions, in the absence of the duke, were cruelly murdered, A.D. 689.

On the Kreuzberg (a famous mountain in the region), there is a monument to the honor of St. Kilian. It is adjacent to a former monastery on the site, which today is renowned for its brewery and seasonal tourism.

Bruno Edelmann    Bruno Edelmann

Bruno was born on August 24, 1866, one of perhaps seven children of Johann Edelmann and Maria Anna Zehe, both from Stangenroth. Johann Edelmann was a son of Michael Edelmann (from Stangenroth) and Eva Kleinhenz (from nearby Zahlbach). This Michael was the son of another Michael Edelmann and his wife, Anna Marie Schlereth. Marriage records obtained from the Catholic church in Stangenroth, place the birth of Michael and Eva to be 1789 and 1792, respectively. The majority of these Edelmann families were farmers.

All knowledge of Stangenroth and the present day contacts in Germany surfaced as the result of a fortuitous effort on the part of Paul Fred Edelmann. During the summer of 1976, Fred contacted Martha Jane and Jene Glockner, two descendants of his aunt, Theresa (Edelmann) Nickel for information regarding Bruno. On July 22, they sent him a copy of a letter (reproduced in Appendix B - Edelmann Historical Records) which was sent from Benedikt Wehner to Theresa on May 26, 1926. Benedikt was a son of Barbara Edelmann and Josef Wehner of Burkadroth, Germany . He died in 1966. One of his children, Hermann, emigrated to the United States, and lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Fred subsequently sent a letter on November 18, 1976, to both the town hall and the Catholic church of Burkadroth. A German speaking colleague translated his English letter into German. [The German memo is in Appendix B - Edelmann Historical Records.] Without much delay, several letters arrived from Edelmanns and Wehners all over the area. On November 24th, Rev. Anton Reinhard of the Catholic parish in Burkadroth, sent a letter in which was mentioned Bruno’s birth date, and the names of his parents. Also, on December 27, 1976, Fr. Grätz of Stangenroth sent a detailed (though partially inaccurate) letter of the ancestors of Bruno Edelmann.

While occasional correspondence continued throughout the ensuing years, in May, 1986, two sons of Fred Edelmann, Thomas Anthony and John Frederick, visited with the Edelmann families in Stangenroth. This marked the first time any of Bruno’s descendants returned to their country of origin.

In May, 1993, John Frederick and his soon-to-be wife, Ute Herfurth visited Stangenroth again. As a native of Germany, Ute provided invaluable assistance in translating details of the visit, and as a result considerably more genealogical research was completed. Many Edelmanns related in some fashion to Bruno were met and their family histories collected.

In April, 1994, John, Ute, and his parents, Paul Fred and Martha Edelmann traveled to Germany, and another generation returned to the "homeland".

Michael (the only known son of Michael and Anna Marie) and Eva Kleinhenz had at least 2 children, namely, Johann and Erhard. Erhard was the elder son, and he and his immediate descendants moved to Mitgenfeld, also near Stangenroth. One of his descendants, Horst Edelmann, resides near Wiesbaden, Germany, in the town of Naurod. (Note: for a complete descendant list, refer to Appendix A - Descendant Outlines.) The connection between Bruno and Erhard was made when Horst related his late father mentioning a cousin who emigrated to America. That cousin was Bruno.

The house in which Bruno was born was built in 1742. It was torn down and replaced by his oldest brother, Johann, in 1909. A granddaughter of Johann, Theresia Schmidt, presently lives in the house with her husband, Albin.

At the direction of the NAZI regime in Germany of the 1930’s, it was required that all Germans verify Arian ancestry through three generations. These records included religious affiliations as well, and were prepared by official offices within the NAZI government. In two instances, such Ahnen-Tafel, as they were called, have provided very valuable information for the Edelmann line. Horst’s father, Karl, had such a family tree prepared. Careful inspection of these records revealed that Horst’s great-grandfather was a brother of Johann Edelmann , Bruno’s father. This connection resulted in our obtaining the birth and death information for Bruno’s great-grandparents, Michael and Anna Marie. An additional Ahnen-Tafel was found for Dr. Robert Wehner, grandson of Barbara Edelmann, sister of Bruno.

Bruno Edelmann the Emigrant

In the late 1800’s, military conscription was a fact of life, and many citizens of European countries fled this fate. While it is likely that Bruno shared these sentiments, there is another tale surrounding his departure that is frequently told in Stangenroth.

It has been said that Bruno and a few of his friends were up late one evening, drinking and making merry. Apparently, Bruno and the others were responsible for cutting the tops of several trees in the out lying areas of Stangenroth, while thus intoxicated. Since the main industry in the area relied heavily on goods made of wood, the wayward boys decided to leave the village, seeking their fortune elsewhere.

As to the exact nature of the departure, another tale is told. On a Sunday morning, when everyone was expected to be at church, Bruno instead left, and was never seen again. It was further alleged that Bruno acquired the money for passage to the United States by selling some livestock to the Jewish neighbors in a nearby town. Unfortunately, Bruno did not own the livestock he sold, and the Edelmann family remaining in Stangenroth had to make restitution to the Jewish farmers on Bruno’s behalf. Part of this story relates that the day of departure was December 8, 1889. This is somewhat more credible, since December 8th was indeed a Sunday.

Thus did Bruno leave, and while the validity of some of these tales is suspect, it was widely agreed that Bruno’s departure was very sudden, taking his family quite by surprise.

Bruno in Circleville, Ohio

Bruno probably arrived in the United States in 1890. His port of entry is unknown. Shortly after his arrival, he settled in Circleville, Ohio, where he found employment as a day laborer on an extensive farming operation in the area.

Cletus Kent was a half brother of Paul Anthony Edelmann (son of Bruno). He and his wife, Thelma spoke at length on various family issues in the late 1970’s (during the last years of Paul who died in March of 1978). They stated the following relating to Bruno and his wife Elisabeth Helfenbein .

According to Thelma, Bruno worked on a farm owned by a man named Smith. A grandson of this individual married one of Thelma’s W.W.II nursing friends, namely, Helen Hibbon. Contact was made with Helen’s son, Daniel Smith, who presently resides in the former residence of his mother, in Circleville. He confirmed that his family owned many farms in Circleville at the turn of the century, but that the last was sold in the late 1960’s.

Cletus went on to mention that Bruno met Elisabeth (Lillian) Helfenbein Lillian Helfenbein, his future wife in a rather colorful way. As the story goes, Bruno was sitting on a fence one afternoon, smoking a pipe with some friends. Lilly came along during a trip to Circleville, and seeing Bruno, threw an apple which struck the pipe, and knocking it out of his mouth.

Bruno the Catholic

On August 3, 1996, copies of church records were received from St. Mary’s Church, in Chillicothe, Ohio, which finally shed light on the marriage of Bruno and Lillie. According to these records, they were married at Chillicothe on January 27, 1896. Since Lillie was not Catholic at the time, the notation indicates a dispensation was required for a mixed marriage.

On October 11, 1896, their first child, Theresa Elizabeth, was born. At this time, the family was living in Circleville.

As a Catholic, Bruno was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Circleville, Ohio. Though his wife was Lutheran by birth, she was brought into the Catholic Church and baptized on November 8, 1896 (the same day as her daughter). Sponsors for both were Edward Kirchner and Ruth Kessler. This fact alienated her from her father, Adam Helfenbein , who was a staunch Lutheran himself (see Helfenbein). According to later records from St. Joseph’s, Lilly was confirmed as Maria Lillian Edelmann, on June 6, 1901. Copies of these and other church records are in the appendices as previously noted.

The second child, Agnes Marie, was born on July 7, 1898, in Waverly, Ohio. An 1898 record from St. Mary’s in Chillicothe supports this date; in fact, the record states that Agnetem Mariam was baptized on August 25, 1896. Sponsors were Edward Kirchner and Maria E. Flanigan. Bruno and Lilly had moved to the area of Waverly, and stayed there until Bruno began to suffer from what was suspected to be stomach cancer. By 1900, they had returned to Circleville, since the Twelfth Census of the United States, taken in 1900, lists the Edelmann family in Circleville Township, Circleville, Ohio. As of June 22, Bruno, Lilly, Theresa, and Agnes resided in the 5th ward of the city, at 224 Town Street. On July 14, 1900, the third and final child, Paul Anthony was born.

Bruno, however, died on June 30, 1902 at the age of 35. According to a newspaper article from the Circleville Watchman, Bruno died of cancer of the stomach. As the result of a recent inquiry, Betty Dawley, a library volunteer with the Pickaway County Historical and Genealogical Library, discovered the newspaper article which contained the first record of the actual date of death, as well as a confirmation of the cause. This information had alluded all efforts to discover it until she succeeded in July, 1996. Curiously, Bruno is listed in the 1900 Census records at an age of 31, born in August 1868. However, both German Church records and the newspaper article mentioned previously concur with 1866 as the year of his birth.

The Kent Family

Lilly returned with her family home to Waverly, Ohio. She lived with her young children in a log house, until she later met and married John Kent . From this marriage, came two additional children, Edmund and Cletus Kent. Since Lilly had joined the Catholic faith with Bruno, John Kent subsequently became Catholic as well. The five children were therefore raised in the Catholic faith.

The Thirteenth Census of the United States (1910) lists John T. Kent, with wife Elizabeth M., two sons, Cletus W. and Edmund L., John’s father, William D. Kent, Sr., and brother, William D. Kent, Jr. Also listed as John’s step-children, were Theresa, Agnes, and Paul A. Edelmann. The family resided in Pee Pee Township, Pike County, Ohio. The record notes that John Kent was a railroad laborer, and owned his home free of any mortgage.

The oldest daughter, Theresa, married Donald Nickel, of Portsmouth, Ohio. Donald and Theresa had four children, namely, John Robert, Martha Jane, Jean, and Joann (Jean and Joann are twins). John Robert married Shirley Grace Turner and they had three children, Joseph Andre, John Thomas (adopted), and Donald Turner. John Thomas Nickel is married to Victoria Nelson. Martha Jane and Jean, were responsible for forwarding Benedikt Wehner’s letter to Paul Fred Edelmann in 1976. Theresa was 30 at the time of Benedikt’s correspondence. She presumably had knowledge of her cousins from Lilly. Whether or not Bruno corresponded with his family in Stangenroth is not known. Theresa died on March 11, 1966, of intestinal cancer.

Agnes Marie married Charles Hoffman, and lived in Waverly, Ohio. She died of lung cancer on April 30, 1960, at the age of 61.

Paul Anthony Paul Anthony Edelmann was a painter, living and working in Waverly, Ohio. He was also a member of the Waverly Volunteer Fire Department, having served in the capacity of chief on more than one occasion. On November 2, 1927, he married Alma Meryl Holobaugh , also of Waverly.

On June 28, 1935, Paul and Alma gave birth to their one child, Paul Frederick Edelmann, whom they called Fred. In November, 1973, Paul suffered a stroke, and within a few years, was living in a nursing home in Waverly. On Good Friday, March 24, 1978, he died.

Thus it was that for three generations (Bruno, Paul Anthony, and Paul Frederick), there was but one single heir to the Edelmann name. As was the apparent custom at the time, John Kent made no effort to adopt Paul and his sisters, Theresa and Agnes. Therefore, they retained the surname of their father, Edelmann.

Paul Frederick Edelmann

In 1957, Paul Frederick met Martha Rose Seidell , of Newark, Ohio, (See Seidel) and on August 30, 1958, they were married. After a brief stay in Waverly, Ohio, the couple moved to Gage, Ohio, where, on July 24, 1959, their first child, Barbara Ellen, was born. In 1960, they moved to a small community near Gallipolis called Centenary, on Route 141. Here, the next two children, Thomas Anthony and John Frederick were born on November 11, 1960, and July 1, 1962, respectively.

In 1965, the family built a two-story house on the same route, and the remainder of the children were born there. Michael Gerard was born September 29, 1965, Theresa Rose Geralyn, was born December 5, 1967, and David Charles, born March 20, 1970. It is a curious fact indeed that Fred and Martha repeated the names of Bruno’s grandfather (Michael) and three brothers and sisters (Barbara, Theresa, and John) in naming their own, well in advance of having made contact with their cousins in Germany.

On March 2, 1974, the family moved to a newly built tri-level on a 28 acre hill top in Green Township, Gallia Co., Ohio. This residence is also on Rt. 141.

Fred joined the Gallipolis Volunteer Fire Department shortly after his arrival to the area. Later, he would be singularly instrumental in getting legislation passed in the State house for special license plates to recognize Ohio's volunteer firemen.

In time, some of the Edelmann siblings remained in Gallipolis, while others relocated throughout Ohio. Those who eventually moved did so largely due to the fact that they attended the University of Dayton, in Dayton, Ohio. The following summarizes the present whereabouts and children of the Edelmann siblings.

Barbara Ellen married Allen Lewis White on May 10, 1980, and have six children, namely Allen Matthew, Ryan Michael, Sarah Marie, Anna Michelle, Emily Magdelena, and Alexander Marcel. They reside in Gallipolis, Ohio.

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Thomas Anthony met Doris Ann Waldrop in Dayton, Ohio, and they were married on January 17, 1987. They presently reside in Fairborn, Ohio, with their two children, Kristina Maria and Thomas James.

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John Frederick married Ute Erika Gertrud Herfurth, a native of Germany, on November 20, 1993, and they reside near  Springboro, Ohio, with one child, Erika Paula.

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Michael Gerard married Jennifer Ann Oney on May 19, 1990, and they reside with their five children, Stephanie Michelle, Andrea Marie, Frederick Michael, and twins Mikayla Rose and Kimberly Ann, in Gallipolis, Ohio.

Theresa Rose Geralyn married Robert Lee Northup on May 23, 1987, and they reside in Gallipolis, Ohio, with their three children, James Harlan, Zachary Paul, and Jessica Rose.

David Charles married Cheryl Anne Prenger on September 16, 1995, and reside in Troy, Ohio with their sons, Anthony Luke and Nathan Andrew.

Edelmann Family - July 4, 1995

As mentioned earlier, Fred, Martha, their son, John, and his wife, Ute, visited Germany in 1994. The visit to Stangenroth was especially memorable, since Fred met his second cousins for the first time.

Perhaps one of the more striking features of the Edelmann line (passed down at least from Bruno) is the obvious outward lay of the ears. This was very apparent from a portrait of Bruno, and early pictures of Paul Fred.

A further interesting anecdote was mentioned by Catherine Webb, daughter of Agnes and Charles Hoffman. She related how Lilly was an extremely strong-willed individual who was adamantly opposed to in-temperance of any sort. As such, she was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), and forbid smoking and the drinking of alcoholic beverages in her house.

Catherine also supports the belief that Bruno died of stomach cancer.

During our travels to Germany, we had often wondered how the merry attitudes of partying and drinking were distilled out of the family, since in Bavaria, such display of levity is quite ordinary. There is now good reason to believe that it was in fact the result of the severely temperate disposition of Lilly, who was largely responsible for raising Theresa, Agnes, and Paul.

In late 1994, Fred’s health declined due to what was originally thought to be a prostate problem. In February, 1995, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. After major surgery was performed in the same month, his condition worsened in spite of aggressive chemo-therapy. He was able to witness the marriage ceremony of David and Cheryl in September, 1995, but the following three weeks brought about a rapid decline. He died at his home on Columbus Day, October 9, 1995.

An English translation of the poem at the beginning of this section is provided below. Given Bruno’s hasty departure in 1889 from the land of his forefathers, the stanzas should have a special meaning to all of his descendants...




The Black Hills of the Röhn

High on the peaks of sunny Franconia,
Where the murmuring oak and beech stand,
There can be heard, when gentle winds blow,
Many fairy tales, beautiful and grand.

Though you left long ago, the wide world to see
You now have remembered: your Home’s true beauty.
You find no rest, and you find no peace,
While the Schwarzen Berge are calling.

The Kuppe von Platz and the Tote Mann",
The "Feuerbergmatten" all say to you then:
"Come back from afar, O son of the Röhn,
The Schwarzen Berge await your return."

And how you will dream, true child of the Röhn,
In sun and rain, and stormy wind.
What moves the heart, calls out to the soul:
Our Home is a great place to be!

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