The church books located at St. Michaelis in Hof, Bavaria, Germany have confirmed that Johann Heinrich Geier (my great-grandfather) was indeed born out-of-wedlock:
Hof Baptisms 1867 – No. 240: Kroetenhof (now simply known as Hof) – House No. 1 – midwife Soellner – Johann Heinrich, illegitimate son of the unmarried Margaretha Geier in Kroetenhof (Margaretha is a daughter of Rosina Geier in Moschendorf, Evangelical – Lutheran), was born on Saturday March 30 in the morning at 7 o’clock, baptized on Monday April 22. The Godfather was Johann Heinrich, oldest son of Rosina Geier in Moschendorf. The Godmother was Anna Barbara, oldest daughter of Johann Wolf, master weaver in Joditz.” Notations subsequent: According to the Royal District Court of Hof with date of 1867, June 12, file no. 438 the unmarried servant Johann Gottfried Wolf from Joditz acknowledged as father of the child.” The surname is written “Geyer” in a letter from Mylau [town in Saxonia] in 1889.”
The history of the church St. Michaelis at Hof goes back to around the year 1230. With the city fire of 1823, the church burned down, including the surrounding walls and towers. It was subsequently rebuilt. The altar of the church dates to 1884. The organ of St. Michaelis Church was built by the brothers Heidenreich in the years 1828-1834.
Hof is a city located on the banks of the Saale in the northeastern corner of the German state of Bavaria, in the Franconia region, at the Czech border and the forested Fichtelgebirge and Frankenwald upland regions. The settlement was first mentioned 1214 and became a town in 1319. After a rather uneventful history, the town became Prussian in 1792, French in 1806 and finally Bavarian in 1810. In 1823, the town was virtually destroyed by a fire. In 1945, it suffered minor destruction due to aerial attacks. From 1945 to 1990 Hof lay very close to the border between East Germany and West Germany.
This baptismal record confirms some of the information I had and it also raises several questions. We now know that he was named after his uncle Johann Heinrich Geier. We also know that Johann Wolf had an adult daughter named Anna Barbara. Does this indicate that Johann Wolf was married to another woman? We also know that Johann Wolf was a master weaver living in the town of Joditz, which is also in Bavaria. (A weaver, in pre-industrial Germany, was a highly respected craftsman.) It was also indicated that the surname was spelled “Geyer,” in a particular letter. This could indicate that this particular family line originated in Austria.
So much more to learn about my German family! Thank you to German researcher Karl Greim for doing this look-up for me.