top of page

John's German Heritage

German John

1940 Königswinter on the Rhein 

John and friend Bernhard Strate


My fore-bearers were predominantly German with some English in my maternal roots. My paternal family roots include family names - Förtschbeck (Foertschbeck), Rockstroh, Ahles, Deuerling, Müller (Mueller) and Bätz (Baetz), My maternal family roots include family names - Betch, Simmont, Bosman, Adams. 

Most of my genealogy research focusses on the Foertschbeck family. On one of my many visits to Germany, I acquired a copy of old German church records dating back to the late 1600's. These German church records plus U.S. church and census records enabled me to identify the relationship between the several Johann Foertschbecks who immigrated to Baltimore during the late 1800's. Only my great grandfather and his brother were directly related, although all came from the same village and share common roots, just a lot further back. 

My Foertschbeck great-grandparents, Johann Foertschbeck and Anna Deuerling, emigrated from Neufang, Upper Franconia (Oberfranken), Bavaria (Bayern) in 1886, arriving in Baltimore on the Nord Deutsche Lloyd Steam Ship, Rhein, on 13 September 1886. They were subsequently married at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Highlandtown (Baltimore) on 4 October 1886, witnesses were his older brother John and his wife Anna Baetz - yes, two Johanns in the same family. My great grandfather John (Johann) became a naturalized American citizen on 3 May 1895. 

John and Anna had four children.  Anna died at 7 months old, Margarete Mary died when she was 2 years old,y young ages, Mary and her brother, John (my grandfather) married and had families.  My paternal grandmother's family, Rockstroh, immigrated from St. Katherina in Austria. The Foertschbeck hometown is Neufang a small village in the Franconia Forest (Frankenwald). The Neufang coat-of-arms represents a grill to symbolize St. Lawrence, the church patron, who was martyred by being roasted alive, a miner's hammer and shepherd's shovel which represents the predominant industries, mining and sheep raising, when the village was founded ca. 1325. 

My great-grandfather returned to Germany twice for visits, 1905 and 1924. I visited Neufang on many occasions since my first visit to Germany in 1960. I've been "adopted" by the children of distant relatives, Rudi and Annie Müller Förtschbeck and his brother, Richard and Josefine Müller Förtschbeck. I have many very fond memories of my visits with the Förtschbecks and other distant relatives. 

My mother's family was predominately German with some English ancestors. We believe my maternal grandfather's family, Betch (Baetsch?) immigrated from Bavaria. My maternal grandmother's roots are Simmont (German) and Bosman (English). The Bosman family has roots in Somerset County, MD, dating back to the early settlement of Maryland. We believe the Simmonts have roots in Germany, possibly around the Zweibrücken area. 

My wife's family, Erauth (originally "Irauth") and Sobus emigrated from the Galicia Province of Poland which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The "Irauths" are assumed to have been originally Austrian or German. The family reportedly spoke German when they first arrived in Baltimore but due in part to the anti-German sentiments during and immediately after WW I they favored their Polish heritage, language and customs.


bottom of page