Research commenced by Paul GEBHARD after "prompting" by his great aunt Edna Griffiths (nee Gebhard). I am really pleased that she did, at the time myself and all of my living relatives knew very little, we knew of Martin James GEBHARD my Great Grandfather who died in August 1956 when I was almost 2 years old, but little more; having now unearthed what in the 1870’s was probably a hugely delicate "skeleton in the cupboard" it becomes obvious why my father and his father knew nothing about their ancestor Johann Jacob GEBHARD-obviously the subject was taboo.

As well as learning about my own family tree, the additional benefit is that I have learned quite a bit about Birmingham’s and Germany’s history along the way.

When I eventually proved, after a lot of work (and also by having the good fortune to make contact with Jean Alexander – nee GEBHARD), that my Great Great Great Grandfather was a Johann Jacob GEBHARD, who came to England in the late 1840’s, I then started to think not only about "who begat who", but more about the lives and times of these people and also why should a German male migrate to England?

I discovered that the reason may be one of the following:- Germany had national service and some of the males left to avoid it, the well to do Germans came to England as it was fashionable to do so, because there was a German family on the English throne, conversely the German crops failed for a couple of years in the early 1840s and a lot of poor families in Germany who took their chances and got on a ship to try their luck in another country (mainly the USA and England).

I also learned about the people with the other main surnames in my tree; on my mum’s side PRITCHARD (from Brierley Hill, Holly Hall in Worcestershire and eventually Wellington in Shropshire in about 1810); GODWIN (back to 1650 in Stafford). On my dad’s side his mother’s surname was PEARSON (I’ve traced that back to 1755 in the Plumtree area of Nottingham).

At Whitsun 2006 I travelled to Frankfurt and tracked down the church in Praunheim Frankfurt where my Great, Great, Great Grandfather Johann Jacob GEBHARD was baptized in 1820; I have visited St. Martins in the Field in London where Johann married Eliza ISLIP in 1853; I have stood by plot 27L in Key Hill Cemetery Birmingham where he was buried in 1883. I now feel that I sort of know Johann though there is no known photograph of him in existence.

Johann Jacob GEBHARD (my Great Great Great Grandfather) was born at noon on Monday 22nd November 1819 in Praunheim, now a district of Frankfurt; at the time of his birth it was a village with a population of circa 700; his father was Martin GEBHARD (a Gardner in the employ of Ludwig BERNUS a Banker in Frankfurt) and his mother’s name was Catharina DUCHMANN.

Johann’s eldest sister Lischen Marion GEBHARD was born in Frankfurt on the 12th May 1814 (she too came to England and married Thomas ISLIP) Thomas became a very successful pearl button manufacturer in Birmingham); Johann had another sister Johanna Sara Maria GEBHARD born 9th January 1815 (she married a man with the surname SALZE which is, I believe, a surname of French origin), Johann had a brother George Heinrich GEBHARD born 23rd September 1816. By no later than 1831 Catharina had died (Johann was 12).

1819 Johann Jacob GEBHARD was born at noon on Monday 22nd November in Praunheim Frankfurt; he was baptised on the 28th January 1820 in the Lutheran church in Praunheim, the church is still there and when I entered it this was a very emotional moment (I could not find any trace of either the birth or the baptism of his father Martin GEBHARD or of Martin’s marriage – Johann’s father’s family were Lutherans and the DUCHMANN line was catholic and came from Florsheim and Rudesheim); I have traced Johann’s mother’s line as far back as 1403 and I spent a day in Rudesheim.

1847 The first knowledge I have of Johann Jacob GEBHARD in England is as a witness to the marriage of his elder sister Lischen GEBHARD (aged 34) to Thomas ISLIP (aged 20) in Gloucester on the 5th August (Thomas ISLIP later became a Pearl Button Manufacturer in Birmingham).

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is published in this year.

1849 Johann Jacob GEBHARD is a "Master Tailor" at 156 Broad Street Birmingham (source: - Kelly’s Commercial Directory of Birmingham).

The population of Birmingham is circa 230,000

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