My life is best defined by grace. First, the Grace of my personal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and Second by the grace of my family especially my wife Sandy and my ancestors without whom I would not be a citizen of the greatest country in the World – the United States of America.
My Great,Great,Great,Great Grandfather Matthias Ahalt (Ehehalt) immigrated to the United States on September 14, 1753 arriving in Philadelphia on the British ship, Edinburgh.What an act of courage this must of been for a 21 year old one week shy of his 22nd birthday. Matthias left the comfort and safety of his family and traveled from Linsenhofen Germany to Rotterdam; then from Rotterdam through Portsmith England to Philadelphia; then to Middletown Valley in Frederick County Maryland where he purchased a farm.
There are records of the Edinburgh, captained by James Russell, from Rotterdam through Portsmith. However,the ship manifest did not include the country and town of origin for each passenger. Tracing Matthias Ahalt’s genealogy in Germany has been at a dead end for many years.
Matthias settled in Frederick County, Maryland marrying Elizabeth Flook in 1757. Mathias died 18 years later on July 17, 1775 at the very young age of 44. Early church and court records in Frederick County use the spellings Ehalt and Ahalt interchangeably. Family members believe Matthias came from a village in Germany – Urspringen. It is located about 40 miles southeast of Frankfurt in the northwest corner of Bavaria. Family members who have traveled to Urspringen reported that the Ehehalts were the predominate family name in the village and were very friendly. The Ehehalts of Urspringen are all of the Catholic faith. No one had been able to document the birth of Matthias.
In 2015 I came across a reference to a Matthias Ehehalt’s family records on Ancestry.com. The record of his birth was in the town of Linsenhofen not Urspringen.Needing some local help to sort this out through local records I searched for a German genealogy consultant.Using good old Google I found Ralf.Stullich a senior researcher at Beyond History. firstname.lastname@example.org |www.beyond-history.com.
Linsenhofen is located about 217 km south of Urspringen. To make matters a little more difficult there is a small town Urspring about 20 km east of Linsenhofen.
Ralf first gave me a short education on naming conventions in Germany.
“Well in the time period in question children in Germany normally got three first names. One from the parents and the other ones from the god parents.Regarding the different writings of the first name: He (Matthias) was probably born as Matthias (Matthew in English), but in the church during his baptism the priest normally used the Latin form of the name, which is in this case Matthaes. The last name Ehehalt (in different writings) is a typical one in the area in question. Please remember that in those times most of the people were not able to read and write. They just went to the church and the priest or the clerk wrote down the name as he would write it, so you will probably find different writings in the church book entries in this family. As an example: If you would call me and mention your name is Ahalt, I would probably write it Ahhalt or Ahald or Ahhaldt or… There could be different writings of your last name and in German all sounds the same… By the way: The last name Ehehalt (normally “Ehe” means marriage and “halt” means stop) comes from the “middle high German” word Ehalt and that is nothing else but a domestic/servant.”
Since family reports had Matthias living in Urspringen while another reference had him living in Linsenhofen I asked Ralf to do a search of records in both Urspringen and Linsenhofen for birth and death records. If birth records existed then that would settle where Matthias lived. If death records existed then that would exclude Matthias from immigrating to the US. On the other hand if no death records existed that would probably confirm that Matthias had immigrated to the US.
There were no records of the birth or death of Matthias in Urspringen but there was a record of the birth of Matthias in Linsenhofen but no record of his death. Thus it is reasonable to conclude that Matthias was born in Linsenhofen and immigrated to Maryland in 1753. As we say in the courtroom – the evidence established this fact by “clear and convincing evidence”.
Matthias’ birth/baptism records in Linsenhofen were found in the St George Lutheran Church as were records of 5 more generations of Ehehalt’s dating to 1591.St George’s was built in 1425 and has undergone many renovations but has been pointing the way to Jesus for 7 centuries. That Jesus is a major part of the Ahalt/Ehehalt heritage is without question and well documented in the Baptism records maintained to this day.By grace I am the beneficiary of this heritage almost 600 years later.
I have now been able to trace the families roots in Germany back to the 1500’s and unlock the Urspringen road block. And in the words of Paul Harvey “the rest of the story”
Hans Ehehalt (1591 – )
Jerg / George / Georgius Ehehalt (1626 – 1683)
Michael Ehehalt (1651 – 1692)
Hans Martin Ehehalt (1679 – 1746)
Johannes Ehehalt (1706 – )
Matthias Ahalt / Ehehalt (1731 – 1775)
Jacob John Ahalt (1768 – 1834)
Matthias Ahalt (1803 – 1881)
Joshua Dawson Ahalt (1843 – 1933)
Alonza Ahalt (1878 – 1954)
Arthur Montraville Ahalt (1907 – 1958)
Arthur Montraville Monty Ahalt Jr (1942 –
And now we add two more generations blessed by the same grace that I have been blessed by – My sons Kevin Montgomery Ahalt and Brent Montraville Ahalt and his sons Justin Daniel Ahalt and John Patrick Ahalt.
In the summer of 2015 I was blessed to travel to Linsenhofen with my two sons – Keven and Brent and grandsons – Justin and John. We visited the
the St. George Lutheran church whcih is still functioning as a place of worship