I often wonder how our ancestors may have lived. Church records and obituaries often give clues.

As an example: ”’He was a master of his trade’. Such as a wagoner. Or an ‘honored cabinetmaker.’ Or, about a child: ‘died while attempting to flee’.

Another one: ‘….was buried alive… a knocking sound could be heard from the coffin…’. The singing at the gravesite grew silent. As the knocking stopped the grave was covered with earth. The next day the coffin was opened. The cap, which the corpus wore, was found beneath his head. His eyes and mouth were wide open. The coffin was unceremoniously closed, and lowered into the grave and again the grave wascovered with earth. The following day the grave looked like as though a child rode horse back on the small mount. “A rather exciting event” as was noted by the priest in the churchbooks.

Constantly there were wars, small ones as well as big battles. Almost every year French soldiers marched into our land. They robed, murdered and burned the homes of the inhabitants. The Swede’s, being of the protestant faith, were not humane, either. Then came the Croat cohorts , murdering and burning down places. And finally, the Turks moved into the land and did their destructive part. These troops needed food and clothing simply confiscated from the people. Livestock was taken away, the horses confiscated. The population often had nothing to eat because the food, fields and gardens were robbed. Nothing was save, neither were the women and girls who were left pregnant by these soldiers.

Also soldiers of the native troops have left the women with children but with permission of the monarch these children were allowed to carry the fathers name.

We have a soldier from Wuerttemberg, who was stationed in Hohbach and fathered a child. His name is known but not his place of origin.

A musceteer of the Hohenlohe contingent had a brief stay in Haag (Kuenzelsau) where he fathered a child, the mother was a maid. The child, with the monarch’s permission, was given the fathers name. The mother worked on the estate of a Feinauer and gave birth there. The parents of the child never married and the child is known in our family history as ‘der Hirt von Haag’ (the shepard of Haag).

Johannes Feinauer was a priest in Kirchensall for 13 years. During that time he fathered six children, five girls and one boy who died during childhood. Rather peculiar was the fact that the godmothers of all these children were countesses and princesses. The priest must have had very good connections to royalty. Two son’s-in-law were valets. One at the principality of Hohenlohe Neuenstein and the other at Hohenlohe Weikersheim. Yet another one was the well known priest Yelin in Sindringen. Johannes Feinauer was a priest for 33 years until the time of his death in 1742 and first ‘Diaconus’ (one step above being an ordinary priest) of the Oehringen Stiftskirche (church). He also held the position of hospital priest and the priest at the senior citizens home. He was generally known as the ‘Spital Pfarrer’.

As I was researching the Feinaurs in Franconia, the following thought occurred to me: Michael Feinauer, living in Langensall, was a shoemaker. Was it possible that he went with the troops, which passed through his town? Or was he ordered to do so by the monarch? At that time entire armys were on the move. The sovereigns of Crailsheim also had possessions In the vicinity of Dietenhofen in Franconia. The Crailheim sovereigns were partially dependent on the sovereigns of Hohenlohe. Because these footsoldiers needed footware it seems obvious that they would have brought along their own shoemaker.

Traces of the past in history are scarce. In Veinau, at a place called ‘Streitbusch’, where at on time the castle of the free knight’s of Veinawe was located, the only visible remembrance is a little ‘berm’. It is not any better at Bielriet, where only a few boulders in the forest are left.

It was only a relatively short time in which the Vynawer’s were present at Hall, approximately two to three generations. About this time the name was changed to Feynawer.

Geislingen on the river Kocher, to which Hergershof belongs, was during this time period a territory of the city of Hall and as such owned by the free Imperial ity of Hall.

It was in Geislingen after the reformation were the first settlement the Feynauer begins. The Geislingen church records only begun after the reformation. Without these church records genealogical research would be much more difficult.

At the archive of Hall many ancient documents are available but research is very time consuming. At the state archive located at Neuenstein castle I have found lots of information. In voluminous tax records, I found for the first time a master weaver by the name of Feinauer in Pfahlbach. He is one of my ancestors. The building he owned in Pfahlbach was the only one to have survived the Thirty year war. Feinauer descendants still live there. The house is in poor condition and there are plans for it to be torn down and replaced by a new building.

To be continued….

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