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Christopher Michael's real father
Posted by: Robert Fry (ID *****3045) Date: August 13, 2011 at 16:44:11
  of 1586

According to family legend, Christopher Michael, who settled near Middletown, Frederick County, Maryland in the 1750s, was the son of Francis Louis (Frantz Ludwig) Michel, the Swiss explorer who played a role in establishing Swiss and German settlements in North Carolina and Virginia. I was told by distant relatives that the source for this information was Wilhelm McLean, but when I spoke to him about two decades ago, Prof. McLean told me that that was just speculation and that he didn't have any evidence for the link between Christopher and Frantz Ludwig. (The speculation was based on a similarity in the names of Christopher's children and Frantz Ludwig's associates.)

To anyone who has ever read the accounts of Francis Louis Michel's travels published by the Virginia Historical Society, it's hard to believe that he ever had time to father a child. And the supposed mother of Christopher, Anna Barbara Lerber, was already in Virginia with her three sisters when Francis Louis arrived in 1702. Francis Louis Michel did sail to England on the same ship as one of the Lerber sisters, but she was just returning for supplies. It is unlikely that she returned to Bern, Switzerland, since apparently the sisters were exiled from Bern for being Anabaptists.

I have always found the link between Christopher and Frantz Ludwig hard to believe, but I didn't have a viable alternative UNTIL TODAY. While looking on familysearch.org, I found a Christopher Michel who was born 15 Feb 1709 to Georg Michel and his wife Ottilia. He was baptized on 24 Feb 1709 in Morzheim (umlaut on the o), Germany. The 4 Apr 1708 birthdate often mistakenly reported for Christopher in Maryland was, in fact, the birthdate from the gravestone of his wife Anna Catherine. On 2 Apr 1736, Stoffel Michel married Ana Katerina Lambterts (Lambert), also in Morzheim. She was born 19 Mar 1709 to Johannes Lambert and Apulonia and baptized in Morzheim on 23 Mar 1709. A small error in converting from Julian to Gregorian dates could explain the discrepancy in birthdates. Stoffel and Ana Catarina had a son John Peter Micheal who was born 26 Nov 1736 and baptized in Morzheim. This birthdate is exactly one year and one day after the date on the gravestone of Petter Michel, son of Christopher, in the Reformed Cemetery in Middletown, Maryland. Christopher also had a brother Hanss Georg baptized in Morzheim. Christopher in Maryland had a son named George, who was my ancestor. I don't think these similarities are coincidental. I think that Christopher of Morzheim and Christopher of Middletown, Maryland are the same person, which is especially believable since so many settlers in Frederick County came from Morzheim that Morzheim was named a sister city of Frederick, Maryland in 1982.

My apologies to my distant cousins who wanted to be descendents of Francis Louis Michel, either because he was a more dashing character than a mere German farmer or because he provided entre into the Huguenot Society, but I believe we should do genealogy through researching the original source materials, not by wishful thinking.


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