Sunday, March 15, 2009


Enough biology for a while – let’s talk about meddling. I’m referring to non-paternity events that are set up by the meddling of the authorities, however one defines them.

I have a particular case from my own family history in mind. One of my 6th great grandfathers, Michael Gabel was born near Erbach, Wurtemburg in what is now Germany in the early 1730s. He emigrated with his parents, arriving in Philadelphia in 1749. The family settled in Hanover Township of Montgomery County, PA, just north of Philadelphia. After the death of Michael’s mother, his father remarried a widow who had children of her own. Michael married his step-sister, Anna Breisch in early 1753.

After some consideration, however, the Lutheran church elders decided that the marriage of step children was not permissible and annulled the marriage. Anna, however, was already pregnant with their son. Next, he married Margaret Elizabeth Ruth (sometime in the fall of 1753). But this marriage was set aside because it occurred before the birth of his son by Anna. Third, he married Anna Maria Baltzhauser (in June, 1754), but this marriage was annulled because the church fathers decided he was still really married to Margaret Elizabeth Ruth. He had quite an exciting year or so.

Michael Gabel ended up married to my 6th great grandmother Margaret Elizabeth Ruth and they had a lot of kids. What about Anna Breisch and her son by Michael? She ended up married in 1754 to a widower named Johann Jacob Danner, taking the boy, who had been baptized Hans Martin Gabel, with her. After her marriage, she, her husband and her son disappear. Did Hans Martin take on his step-father’s surname? If so, we have another NPE on our hands, this time owing to the meddling of church elders.

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