The Mother of My
John Hoffman, the 1714 immigrant, had a family Bible
in which he entered his parents, his birth, his first wife, their children,
his second wife, and their children. John W. Wayland reported this information
in “John Hoffman of Germanna and some of His Descendants,” in the Virginia
Magazine of History and Biography (volume 63, n.4, p. 454-460, October
1955). This formed the substantial basis for an article in Beyond Germanna
(volume 11, n.2, p. 618) entitled “John Hoffman: Records from his Bible,
His second family was large, twelve children in all. In the Bible
record for the first seven of these children one of the sponsors was given
as “the mother of my wife.” John Hoffman gave no hint in any of the records
as to the actual name of his mother-in-law. We know that the wife’s name
was Maria Sabina Folg. However, no Virginia record shows the Folg name
except this Bible record of John Hoffman.
This puzzle was solved by Margaret James Squires and the results were
reported in the first issue of Beyond Germanna (volume 1, n. 1,
January 1989). The answer was found independently by Gary Zimmerman and
Johni Cerny and reported in volume 4 of the Before Germanna series.
The story has its setting in the Hueffenhardt church in Baden where
the people who lived on the Wagenbach farm attended church. To give the
answer quickly to the question of who “the mother of my wife” was, she was
Mrs. George (Barbara) Utz. George Utz was the step-father of Maria Sabina.
In the German records, the Folg name is spelled Volck. The two names sound
much the same and so John Hoffman wrote Maria Sabina’s surname phonetically.
The story in the church records is complicated. There are three marriages
that should be included. First, Anna Maria Unknown married Johann Michael
Volck about 1685. There were seven children who were born from 1687 to
1704. The death of Anna Maria Unknown Volck is not in the Hueffenhardt
church records which does have some gaps due to war.
Second, Johann Michael Volck married Anna Barbara Majer(s)
on 27 January 1709. To this marriage, three children were born:
1. Maria Sabina Charlotta Barbara, b. 19 March 1710
2. Louisa Elisabetha, b. 23 March 1711
3. Maria Rosina, b. 22 August 1712
Johann Michael Volck died 7 April 1714 at the age of 51 years.
The widow, Anna Barbara (Majer) Volck married Johann
Georg Utz on 10 July 1714. Two children were born in Germany:
1. Ferdinand, b. 3 April 1715
2. Johannes, b.25 July1716
and others were born in Virginia.
The head right list of the Second Colony members that Alexander Spotswood
used gives these names:
Hans Jerich Otes, Parvara Otes, Ferdinandis Sylvania Otes, Anna Louisa
From the count of names in the list, we know that
one of the forty-eight names is missing. We can now say that the name “Ferdinandis
Sylvania Otes” should be Ferdinand Utz and (Maria) Sabina Volck. The records
gave all members of the George Utz party the name Otes and failed to distinguish
the step-children of George Utz. There is a small problem with the baptismal
name Louisa Elizabeth and the head right list name of Anna Louisa but there
can be little doubt that we have the same family. From a comparison of
the names we see that at least two of the children of Anna Barbara (Majer
Volck) Utz died before reaching America.
The head right names are given in three places. They
appear in Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents
and Grants, vol. 3, pp. 411-412 as abstracted by Nell Marion Nugent.
Some of the names are hard to read and she did not know the names from Germany
so there are some weaknesses in her list of names. There is also a list
in the Before Germanna booklets by Johni Cerny and
Gary J. Zimmerman with a slightly scrambled order of the names.
The best list is in Beyond Germanna, vol. 7, n.3,
p.385, as read from Virginia Patent Book 14, p. 378ff taking advantage of
In the baptismal reports from the Hoffman Bible, for
the first family there was only one sponsor or witness for each child where
both parents are Reformed. In the second family where the mother is Lutheran
there are three witnesses. Apparently this was a concession by John Hoffman
to his wife.
John Hoffman gave Maria Sabina’s birth date as 29
March 1710, whereas the church record from Germany gives her birth date as
19 March 1710. Basically, this is the difference between the German New
Style calendar and the English Old Style calendar.
We know something of ancestry of Johann Michael Volck and of Barbara
Majer. Her father was Hans Majer of Wolfartweyher, a place which has not
yet been identified with certainty. Something of the ancestry of George Utz
is known. He came from Bavaria, just across the line from Wuerttemberg.
The list of sponsors is intriguing because we believe
they were close to the family of John and Maria Sabina Hoffman. Several
of the names in the history duplicate or suggest other Germanna names. For
example, Volck and Walk may be the same. Also, Majer and Moyer may be the
What lessons do we learn from this? Foremost, is the important of
consulting the German records where we can.
Photos of Wagenbach, Hueffenhardt, and of the villages in Bavaria
where George Utz came from are shown on the German and Austrian Photographic
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