Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Justice and Independence: Ancestral Experiences ...

When I think about justice and independence, I usually think about July 4th and the United States even though U. S.'s history has a few stains. Of course, I do not know if I am descended from a Revolutionary War veteran because I haven't researched my American ancestors back that far. As for whether or not any of my American ancestors stood for justice, the closest I can come to is my Civil War ancestor, Adam Oswalt, when he served, but I'm not sure if that counts.

When it comes to my European ancestors, on the other hand, I can think of several examples. I've written briefly before about Adolph Kees and Amelia Cotta, but I haven't written very much about them or their children, other than to write about their daughter Emilia. Adolph and Amelia had several children, and among them was a son named Adolph Friedrich. Until I was contacted by my distant cousin, I did not know that Adolph Friedrich Kees was involved in the 1848 Revolution, nor did I know that his political beliefs were liberal. Since he mostly likely lived in Trippstadt, which is in the Palatinate, at that time, he probably took part in the revolt that occurred there and later put down by the Prussians. Many of the rebels were later put on trial and put to death, so I'm wondering how Adolph Friedrich Kees escaped execution. I guess I'll have to do more research to find that answer. Of course, I can't help but wonder if he was influenced by his maternal grandfather, Christoph Friedrich Cotta.

As you may or may not remember, I wrote about Christoph Friedrich Cotta last year. At that time, I wasn't completely sure if he was my ancestor, but further research has proven that he is an ancestor. Christoph, as I mentioned previously, played a minor role in the French Revolution primarily by being involved in the Mainz Republic, and by working as a government official in Strasbourg, France. While he was in Strasbourg, he became friends with Eulogius Schneider, an ex-priest. (He was another radical, and is quite interesting.) During the Reign of Terror, Eulogius married Maria Sara Stamm, but he was arrested shortly after the wedding. Christoph was also arrested in early 1794, but unlike Eulogius, Christoph survived the Reign of Terror. Two years later, Christoph would marry Eulogius' widow, and they would later have two children: Emil and Amelia Cotta.

As you can see from the previous paragraph, both Eulogius Schneider and Christoph Cotta suffered injustices during the Reign of Terror. They were both liberal in their political beliefs, and wanted to be free, and free others, from the injustices of the absolute monarchies. Earlier this year, I read a biography on the Marquis of Sade (a very disturbing person, by the way), and I learned that the monarch could have someone thrown into jail or imprisoned, and that the monarch had his own court system that was separate from the civil court justice, where nobles could be tried even more leniently than the average peasant would face. As you can imagine, this duel court system obviously angered the average person, and I can only guess that Eulogius and Christoph were angered by the double standard. Of course, I also wonder if Christoph's beliefs were influenced by the experiences of his maternal grandmother.

Christoph Friedrich Cotta's parents were Christoph Friedrich Cotta and Rosalia Pyrker. Rosalia's parents were Franz Josef Carl Pyrker (also spelled as Pirker, Pircker and Pürker) and Anna Maria or Marianne (I've seen her name listed both ways in secondary sources) von Geyerseck. Franz Pyrker was a violinist while Anna Maria was a famous opera singer in the eighteenth century. Anna Maria performed in several European capitals, until she was offered a position at the Duke of Würtemberg's court. While the Pyrkers lived at the court in Stuttgart, Anna Maria became friends with the Duchess of Würtemberg. When the Duke and Duchess began fighting, Anna Maria sided with the Duchess, and the Duke threw her into jail because of her stance. For the next eight years, Anna Maria spent her time in jail, and was only released after Maria Theresa and Catherine the Great petitioned the Duke to free her. Even though Anna Maria should not have gotten herself involved in the fight between the Duke and Duchess, I do not believe she deserved to be thrown into jail. Obviously, Anna Maria suffered an injustice.

So, as you can see, a couple of my ancestors experience injustices or worked at trying to make life better. Of course, the stories I presented are only what I know at the moment, and I still have more research to do. Hopefully, I'll be able to post more information on my Kees, Cotta and Pyrker ancestors in the future. Enjoy!
  1. E-mails from Silvana Geuna to Jessica Oswalt, between 8 June 2009 and 30 June 2009.
  2. "Revolutions of 1848 in the German States." Wikipedia. 30 June 2009.
  3. "Palatinate." Wikipedia. 30 June 2009.
  4. "Death of Amelia Cotta." Tote 1840-1859. Zivilstandregister, 1803-1957 (Trippstadt, Germany). FHL Film INTL 489219.
  5. Cotta Family Tree, printed ca. 1930s-1940s (according to family tradition. Family tradition also claims that only five copies were made.)
  6. "Cotta, Christoph Friedrich." Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Band 3. (Leipzig, Germany: Berlang von Duncker & Humblot, 1876), 518-519.
  7. "Eulogius Schneider." Wikipedia. 30 June 2009.
  8. Maurice Lever, Sade: A Biography, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993), 156-160.
  9. "Death of Christoph Friedrich Cotta." Tote 1806-1839. Zivilstandregister, 1803-1957 (Trippstadt, Germany). FHL Film INTL 489218.
  10. "Pyrker, Anna Maria." Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Band 26. (Leipzig, Germany: Berlang von Duncker & Humblot, 1888), 787-790.
  11. "Elisabeth Fredericka Sophie of Brandenburg-Bayreuth." Wikipedia. 30 June 2009.
  12. Württembergischer Geschichts- und Altertumsverein. Herzog Karl Eugen von Württemberg und seine Zeit. (Eklingen: Paul Neff Verlag, 1907), 509.

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