Tag Archives: John William Butz

52 Ancestors: Two Wives With Same Name? #12 Mary Magdalen Kurtz Butts

Mary Magdalen Kurtz Butts 1736-1775 (Maybe)

I have decided to go ahead and write about Magdalen Kurtz Butts, the wife of John William Butts, even though as I have been checking her information, I have become more and more uncertain about what I really know about her, and her successor, John William Butts’ second wife (if there WAS a second wife.)

Mary Magdalena Kurtz was born in Hirschfeld Germany where she was baptized on November 1, 1736.  Her father died when she was a young girl and her mother, Agnes Steffens Kurtz married her second husband, Leonard Eltz (also spelled Els, Elz and Olls) who came from Coblenz in Germany. They had four more children.

Magdalen married Johann Wilhelm Butz on November 8, 1761, two years after her step-father died. The couple had two children in Germany, before joining the movement of Hasenclever workers to Ringwood, New Jersey before their third child, John George was born in 1767. Magdalen may have been pregnant on the voyage, but at the very least, she was caring for a child under two and a four-year old as they sailed.

We know that Magdalen’s brother John Henry Els also moved to Ringwood New Jersey, because he was a sponsor to the baptism of John George, the first of the Butts children born in the New World, and again to the 1772 baptism of Christian Butz’ child (Christian was the brother of John William Butz. John Henry Els also followed the Butz family to Pennsylvania when they established their own iron works.

Two more children were born to the family, John Joseph in 1770 and John Henry in 1772.

As you will see in the next section, it is possible that Magdalena Kurtz Butz died in 1775 when she was just under 40 years old, leaving five young children.

What’s This About a Second Wife?

Part of the confusion arises because both the first and second wives may be named Mary Magdalen (sometimes spelled Magdalan or Magdalena). The Mary is the saint’s name and the 2nd name is the everyday name by which they would be known.  Likewise, John William, would have been called William. Except when he wasn’t, which adds to the second source of confusion.

There  is no doubt at all that my 3x great grandfather, Johann Wilhelm (John William) Butz was married to Mary Magdalena Kurtz and she is the mother of my 2x great grandfather, John Henry Butz. I just don’t know for sure if she died in 1775, because the only proof I’ve found is the fact that a William Butz was a widow when he married in 1776.

A major source of information for these German Catholic immigrants who settled in New Jersey and Pennsylvania is the meticulous register kept by the traveling priest who ministered to their church in Goshenhoppen (now Bally) Berks County, Pennsylvania.  In those church records, John William Butz name appears frequently as John William, but in one critical entry–a William Butz, widower, marries Magdalen Kuhn in 1776. Is that the same person as John William??

Researchers have assumed that is the same person, and I was going down that path until I found another record in the same church register listing the birth and baptism in 1781 of an Anna Sophia Juliana, whose parents are William Butts and his wife Susanna Schartle. Where did this Susanna person come from? Doesn’t that show that William is a different person because John William and his wife Magdalena continue to have children through the 1780s.

To further muddy the waters, the sponsors of the Schartle-Butts baby are a man named Kuhn (the name of the woman who married that William Butz in the church record) and a woman named Anna Sophia Juliana Struble. Struble is also John William’s sister-in-law’s maiden name, just to show how closely related all the people in those church records are.

What difference does it make?  Well, John William’s life, and therefore the life of his wife, got very, very interesting in the 1770’s and 1780’s.  They had several more children. Many of them died. It was a tragic time in many ways, and I would like to tell you the story of the wife and mother who suffered through those times. But first I have to figure out if it is my 3x great grandmother, Mary Magdalena Kurtz Butts who suffered, or if my 3x great grandfather did indeed have a second wife.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the son of
  • Mary Isadore Butts, who is the daughter of
  • Henry Butts, who is the son of
  • John Henry Butts, who is the son of
  • Johann Willhelm Butz/William Butts and Magdalena Kurtz Butts

 Research Notes

“Whatever Became of Hasenclever’s Germans,”The Highlander, vol. 34, no. 88 (1998) Found at Longpond Ironworks web site.


Goshenhoppen Catholic Register: “Goshenhoppen (St. Paul’s Mission, Church of the Blessed Sacrament), Bally, Berks County, Pennsylvania, Marriages 1741-1819;Deaths 1765-1818; Conversions 1781-1785” Found at Rootsweb

The Palatine Immigrant, Vol. XVI, No. 1, Spring 1991, Columbus, Ohio. copy provided by Jane Butts Kilgore.

Personal Correspondence from  and a paper “The Family of Johann Wilhelm Butz” (2007) by Jane Butts Kilgore.