Much of a family’s history is tied up in places as much as in people. Both sides of my own family reach back to locations in Germany. My father’s side left the home country only in the early part of the twentieth century (and there is family lore that puts portions of it in the midst of the Russian Revolution a century ago), while my mother’s side — via the Marstellers — arrived in North America in the latter part of the seventeenth century, making them amongst the pioneer settlers of what became the United States.
While most of the places my family settled are in the States — including southeastern Pennsylvania, northeastern Iowa, and the central Pacific coast of California — the German locations are very interesting to me, and the most ripe for additional research. In this entry, I’d like to give some background on the region of present-day southwest Germany that was once ruled by the House of Hesse, centering on the town of Pfungstadt.
When one begins to delve into family history, many interesting stories begin to emerge. My own family is no different. In this first entry in a planned series of genealogically-inspired articles, I will introduce one branch of my family tree which I can currently trace back seven generations and ultimately has a connection to the first President of the United States of America himself, Mr. George Washington.
The link that reaches back to President Washington is through my great-grandmother, Minnie Salinda Marsteller, who was born on August 1, 1881, in the Midwestern state of Iowa. Her parents — George Henry Marsteller and Lydia Anne Latshaw — had relocated to the tiny northeast Iowa township of Fox sometime prior to their first appearance on the U.S. Census in 1900; George was 70 years old, Lydia was 65 and Minnie was soon to turn 19 years old. Fox, in Black Hawk County, is remote to this day — covering an area of 34.46 square miles (89.3 km²) but containing no incorporated settlements. As of the 2000 census, the rural township had a population of 520.
Previously, the Marstellers had lived in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.