Casa de Schwartz

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Casa de Schwartz

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Johann Georg Nicolai

Based on a few small DNA matches and some fortuitous German vital records, we may have a father for our Ernst Nicholas who immigrated to America with his wife, Charlotte Zierjacks, and his young son Frederick. The family arrived in Rochester sometime in 1850. 

It turns out you have to translate the church records from the original old German to get all the good details. For that, I owe a ton of thanks to a German ancestry member, Petra N, who kindly provided me with the translations of the two marriage records below written in Kurrentschrift (old German handwriting). She also updated me on the status of the Protestent church records in general, saving me a huge amount of time flailing about on German websites. 


1858 Naturalization Papers for Ernest Nicholas indicating that he came from Saxe-Gotha, and that he was renoucing the Duke of Saxony
A Brief Primer of Germany Geography in the 1850's

Edith Nicklos, the family historian in the 1960’s, indicated that Ernest was born in Coberg, Saxony. Ernest himself tells the census takers that he was born in Saxony. On his Naturalization application, he states he came from Saxe-Gotha. What’s going on with the various locations?

All are correct. Ernest was born in the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. This Duchy was one of four that existed in the Kingdom of Saxony. As picture shows, Coburg and Gotha were separate, unconnected regions.

When Ernest indicated he was born in Saxony, he was referring to the Kingdom.

When Edith indicated he was born in Saxe-Coburg, she was likely referring to the Duchy was a whole.

When Ernest states he emigrated from Saxe-Gotha, he is saying he came from the northern part of the Duchy.

Kingdom of Saxony showing the four Duchies. Note that the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha has two parts (source: Wikipedia)
Record #1: The Marriage Record of Johann Bathasar Stolz and Sophie Elisabethe Nicolai in 1839​

In the Year 1839
Information of the Groom The bachelor, Johann Balthasar Stolz, inhabitant and manorial woodcutter at Großtabarz, eldest son of the widowed Mrs. Anna Barbara Schack at Nonnenberg.
Information of the Bride Maid Sophie Elisabethe Nicolai, of the resident and blacksmith, master Johann Georg Nicolai of Warza, 1. first daughter 2. second marriage.
Days of the banns on the 23rd Trinitatis sonntag and on both following here, in Gotha and in Cabarz.
Day and Place of the Wedding shall take place in Cabarz.

1839 Marriage Record of Johann Bathasar Stolz and Stophie Elisabethe Nicolai (source:
Record #2: The Marriage Record of Carl Heinrich Stolz and Eva Elisabeth Mueller in 1885

Marriage certificate, Registry office Erfurt No. 280, July 11, 1885

1) The locksmith Carl Heinrich STOLZ, of Protestant religion, born on October 21, 1844 in Klein-Tabarz (Gotha), living in Erfurt in the Brüßlerstraße No. 46. Son of the deceased woodcutter, Johann Balthasar STOLZ,  and his likewise deceased wife Sophie Elisabeth, née NICOLAI, both residing in last at Klein-Tabarz

2) Eva Elisabeth MÜLLER, of Protestant religion, born on 14 December 1852 at Mühlhausen in Thuringia, living in Erfurt at Brüßlergasse No. 46, daughter of the master shoemaker Carl Traugott MÜLLER, living at Mühlhausen in Thuringia, and his deceased wife, Anna Rebecca, née HELBIG, last residing at Mühlhausen in Thuringia.

– the grocer Johann Christian Friedrich Hermann BOCK, according to the personality recognized by the wage servant MEYER, 38 years old, living in Erfurt at Schmidtstädterstraße No. 48.
– the wage servant Christian MEYER, according to the personality known, 47 years old, living in Erfurt, No. 1

1885 Marriage Record of Carl Heinrich Stolz and Eva Elisabeth Mueller (source:
What do the these record tell us?

Ernest Nicholas was born Ernst Nicolai in a village nearby to Gotha, Germany, maybe in Warza. Ernst had a sister Sophie Elisabeth (Nicolai) who married in 1839 Johann Balthasar Stolz in Carbarz, Germany. She was the oldest daughter, and this was her second marriage. The couple lived in Kleintabarz. Both died sometime before 1885. The father of Ernst and Sophie was Johann Georg Nicholai. He was a blackmith, like his son Ernst, who lived in Warza.

1844 Map of Gotha, Germany with surrounding villages shown with red dots. North is Warza where Johann George Nicholai lived. Southwest are Kleintabarz, Grosstabarz and Carbarz where Sophie Elisabethe (Nicolai) Stolz lived. (Source:
Topographic Map showing Tarbarz and Waltershausen in 1880 (source: German World War II Captured Maps in Berkeley Library)
Church in Tarbarz (source:

We can only declare a small victory concerning Johann. We are missing most of the vital records. No birth records for Sophie, Ernest, Charlotte or Frederick. No marriage records for Ernest/Charlotte, Sophie/1st Husband, or Johann Georg/his wife. No death records for anybody.

It turns out that a HUGE number of German church books exist. In the beginning, the LDS church circumnavigated the world and filmed any record it could access. They gained access to about half of the German parish records. The LDS church and Ancestry have transcribed these records. Chick here for see a good explanation. The 1839 marriage record was part of that process. It appears that this activity has been completed.

The churches stopped record keeping around 1874 after new laws dictated that vitals be kept at the government level. The 1885 marriage record comes from the Erfurt state archive.

Petra pointed me to another ambitious effort to preserve all these church records, run by Archion. They are slowly and methodically scanning and all the German church books, making them available to viewers. This wordpress blog gives an good overview, here. Familysearch has published a primer, here. Since they have so many books, and a lot of interest, Archion has published a schedule (here). Warza is part of Kirchenkreis Gotha, scheduled to be done in 2023, while Tabarza is part of Kirchenkreis Waltershausen-Ohrdruf, due some time after that. Although we are looking at several years, and you have to scroll the scanned records (no index), at least we still have hope to find more information on our Johann Georg Nicolai. Time to brush up on your Kurrentschrift.


St. Johannes Church at Warza (source: