Tag Archives: will and inventory

In the Kitchen of Christina Manbeck

When I wrote about Rudolph Manbeck’s will, I mentioned his bequests to his wife Christina and the detailed list of items that his son John was to be sure Christina Manbeck had each year after Rudolph passed on.  I also talked about the family’s reliance on flax–growing and making linen cloth–but I skipped over most of Rudolph’s itemization of kitchen items which gives us an opportunity to talk about the German immigrant’s kitchen. (Although aprons are not mentioned, Christina surely must have been protecting her clothes and doing a lot of cooking.)

Rudolph and Christina are my husband Ken Badertscher’s 4th great grand-parents, and the first North American arrivals of the Manbeck clan, along with their parents.

Christina Manbeck 1745-1824

I have not proven to my satisfaction that Christina’s family name was Ziegler, but the birth date above assumes that is correct. It also assumes that she was born in Freudenstadt, Germany, and arrived in Pennsylvania as a child in 1752.

Although she grew up as a resident of the new world, and lived through the American Revolution, she lived the somewhat enclosed life of a German immigrant in a thoroughly German community, attending a German church where sermons were in German. It stands to reason that her cooking, therefore, would derive from her German background. That is borne out by the foods that her husband thinks it is important for her to have in her kitchen.

Christina Ziegler Manbeck

Christina Manbeck and John Manbeck signatures as executors on Rudolph Manbeck’s will.

Christina never learned to read and write, signing as executrix of Rudolph’s will with an “x” (above), although her husband was literate–witness the TEN books in the inventory of his goods, listed with other guy stuff like razor , musket and knives (below).

Rudolph Manbeck books

Rudolph Manbeck owned books – Inventory- Probate Records, 1794

In addition to general living, and the business of growing and using flax, here’s what Rudolph believed Christina needed in the way of foodstuff each year:

  • 8 bushels of wheat (ground into flour)
  • 4 bushels of rye (ground into flour)
  • 1 fat hog, at least 70 pounds, butchered
  • 40 pounds of beef, twice a year
  • a dairy cow with feed
  • 1/2 of the calves produced by that cow
  • Hens enough for however many eggs she needs,
  • half a bushel of salt
  • 1/4 pound pepper
  • 1/4 pound allspice
  • 1/3 pound ginger
  • However many apples, peaches and other fruit she needs to eat and to dry
  • 1 barrel of cider
  • 4 gallons of vinegar
  • 1 gallon of apple brandy
  • 10 pounds of tallow (rendered lard used for cooking, making soap and making candles)
  • as much firewood as she needs
  • 6 bushels potatoes.

There are several things I noticed right away.  Some time ago, I talked about the foods brought to America by German immigrants.   In case you don’t have time to read the article, it is worthwhile to repeat the main points, and see how they match up with the food in Christina’s kitchen.

I did not realize until I delved into the subject, that Germans brought SO MANY food ideas to America.  And I had never focused on the importance of balancing sweet and savory (sour) in recipes–despite my love of hot potato salad with its sugar and vinegar, the fact that I use brown sugar in sauerkraut and my love of mouth-watering sauerbraten.

Without the German immigrants, we would not have sauerkraut, potato pancakes,  sticky buns, apple butter, knockwurst, bratwurst and liverwurst and 3-bean salad.  How about some strudel or Black Forest Cake for dessert? We wouldn’t even have cream cheese!  Although some other nationalities made a creamy cheese, the one we principally use today in America was invented in Philadelphia by German dairy farmers.

In addition to the foods supplied by her son, Christina Manbeck will be able to grow vegetables and herbs in the 1/3 of the kitchen garden which shall be set aside for her and fertilized with manure.  She shall have the use of the kitchen and the kitchen furniture and wooden tubs (presumably for laundry). She shall also have “bushels” (bushel baskets) and ironware for her use.

Her husband appreciates that Christina needs certain spaces in order to keep house. Besides the kitchen, she shall have free access to the garret (attic), cellar (for storage of preserved foods), spring house (for water and for storing foods that need to be cool, such as butter and the bake oven.  If she and her son cannot coexist in the old family farmhouse, he must build her rooms onto the spring house including a fireplace and a pipe stove. (This was indeed a modern family, as many at this time had only a fireplace for cooking!)

So what did she make with wheat flour and rye flour and those spices? Certainly the good German rye bread.  I will use the spices in the Lebkucken coming up next week. Pepper, allspice, ginger, and vinegar all go into that German favorite Sauerbraten and the new German roast recipe I’ll be trying. Spices are so important that they get mentioned in the will, because as mentioned above, the Germans like sweet and sour and highly spiced foods.

Christina is going to use a LOT of allspice and ginger. She will have 4 oz every year. I have 1 to 2 ounces, and I don’t use nearly all that in a year. The Germans used other spices, like cloves, mustard seed, and anise, for instance, but perhaps they are too expensive to buy in such large quantities, and she would buy small amounts as needed.

But, Rudolph, did you forget sugar? Is that because the family used only honey?  There is a hive mentioned in the will which goes to a daughter. I hope that Catharine will share the honey with Christina!

And when I read the Inventory of goods, which is what will be sold– left over after Christina gets her share — I notice several things that surely she could have used. Why were these items not specified in the long, detailed list?

Candle molds and candle holders, pewter ware, utensils, earthenware pots and other earthenware surely would be useful. The Manbeck holdings include a quantity of corn, buckwheat and oats. Why is she not provided with those grains?

However, she does receive 50 shillings cash, presumably every year, so she can buy whatever she cannot share with son John.

I have really enjoyed visiting the 18th century kitchen of Christina Ziegler Manbeck. Rudolph appears to have thought about just about everything that his wife will need.


Here is my transcription of the whole section of the will devoted to Christina:

It is also my Will and I do Order that my Son John or his Heirs and Assigns, As a further Consideration for my Aforesaid Plantation or Tract of land, Shall give, deliver and make good yearly and every year unto my beloved Wife Christina, so long as she Lives and remains my Widow the following Articles that is to say—Eight Bushels of good Wheat four Bushels of good Rye and to the same from time to time as she Need go into the Mill and fetch these Meal and Bran Home into her dwelling, a fat Swine which shall weigh Seventy pounds and to Kill the same, forty pounds of good Beef, both in the fall or Killing time, to keep a Cow, Summer’s and Winter’s in provender like his own Cow’s and when said Cow gets dies or is old and unfit, then to find or give her a young one again from his Cows. But he shall have the old Cow and the one half parts of the Calfs her Cows always bring, from year to year twelve pounds Hatchled (?) Flax, twelve pounds Tow, four pounds good wool, So many New Shoes and to Mend the old ones as she has Need of, So many Hens of Fowls and Eggs for her to eat as she has Need for, half a Bushel good Salt, ¼ pepper,/1/4 Alspices, 1/3 Ginger. So many Apples and other Fruit for to Eat and make Dry Apples and Peaches, one Barrel good Cyder, four Gallons Vinegar, one gallon Apple Brandy, ten pounds Tallow, the one third part of the Garden were she pleases to have it and to Dung it when required, Six Bushels Potatoes, So much small Cut Fire wood fit for use to be delivered to her dwelling House as she has Need for, to have the Liberty to Live in the House as at Present Live in with with the use of the Kitchen, Garret, Cellar, Spring House, Bake-Oven, with Free Egress and Regress and in Case they cannot live peaceable together, then he is to make new Room on the Spring House in good order with a pipe stove and fireplace in it for her to live in; and keep it in good Repairs, fifty shillings Cash in specie, and when she should get Old and Infirm or Sick, to give or find her good Attendance.

I give and bequeath unto my beloved Wife Christina a Bed with Bedstead, Chest, all the linen and linen furniture, fifty pounds Flaxen yarn, thirty pounds Tow yarn, Spinning Wheel, Reel, and C___ to do her choice, one chair take her choice, to have the Liberty to take so much of the Kitchen furniture and Wooden Tubs. Bushels and Iron Ware for her use as she has Occasion for and that then all the same shall be in full for my beloved Wife’s one-third part of my personal Estate and to have no further demand against the same.

How Ken is Related

  • Kenneth Ross Badertscher is the son of
  • Agnes Bair Badertscher, who is the daughter of
  • Adam Daniel Bair, who is the son of
  • Daniel Manbeck Bair, who is the son of
  • Elizabeth Manbeck Bair, who is the daughter  of
  • Jacob Manbeck, who is the son of
  • Rudolph Manbeck and Catharina Ziegler Manbeck

Research Notes

Estate Files, 1752-1915; Author: Berks County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Probate Place: Berks, Pennsylvania Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993, Rudolph Manbeck, 1794. On line at Ancestry.com

A historical booklet of Altahala Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rehrersburg, Berks County, Pennsylvania : published for the 200th anniversary, Sunday, June 23, 1957, Rehresburg, PA: Brossman, Schuyler C.,Church Council, 1957.  From Ancestry.com

Genealogy! Just Ask!  I received help on unfamiliar terms in will from this Facebook Page. Principally from Marlys Pearson, but many others chimed in as well.

History of the Grim family of Pennsylvania and its associated families : including the following: Merkle, Greenawalt, Fertig, Zechman, Schaeffer, Smith, Felver, Conde, Garner, Robbins, Long, Kisling, Schartel, Manbeck, Giltner, Schreiner, Dreher, Kircher and Moyer families. Long, William Gabriel, “The Manbecks”, M.E.G. Grim, J.L.G. Long, H.H. Grim, 1934. On line at Ancestry.com images 134-136.




52 Ancestors – #47 Leonard Manbeck. Where There’s a Will- Part III

Last week I complained that I practically had to learn a different language to read the 18th century will and inventory of goods of Rudolph Manbeck.  This week, the will actually IS in a different language.

Leonhard Mannbeck Will

Leonhard Mannbeck Will in German , 1776. Berks County, PA

Leonard (Leonhardt) Manbeck (Mannbeck) 1720-1788

English speakers changed his name from the more romantic Leonhardt (Lion heart) to Leonard, and dropped the extra “N”.  Leonard is the 5th great grandfather of my husband, Ken Badertscher, and father of Rudolph. Leonard, born in 1720  headed the family who first came to North America from Germany. Unlike his son, Rudolph, Leonard and his wife Maria Appolonia stayed in Pennsylvania, not far from Philadelphia where their ship landed in 1765.

Information on Leonard and Maria Appolonia is scarce. Most of what appears on various family trees on Ancestry.com and Family Search.org comes from a family history of a different family, the Grimms. Although the information in that family history provides a starting point, it contains inaccuracies and most of the hard facts about the earliest Manbecks in America still needs documentation. With that disclaimer, however, let us look at the most interesting document we have–the will and property inventory of Leonard Manbeck.

The Will Tells Us Three Things About Leonard

Leonard Manbeck Will

Leonard Manberck Will as transcribed in English

Leonard’s original will, written in German, is stored in Berks County Pennsylvania where he settled.Fortunately, the English transcript is filed with the German original.  Unfortunately, the translation of the preamble is terrible but the simpler instructions for bequests seem to be correct. Leonard wrote his will in 1776, although he apparently did not die until 1788, because that is when the will was probated and the inventory carried out.

That caught my eye, because we all know what was going on in 1776–a war.  Leonard, who had arrived on this continent just eleven years earlier, may have been thinking about his mortality when he wrote this will. Or he might have fallen prey to one of the diseases like smallpox or influenza that swept through the colonies in that time period. All the other ancestors whose wills I have examined, waited until they were actually close to death to write their will.  Leonard’s will, in the awkward translation, says:

Considered that alle People are pure though the time uncertain of Death, put my Mind to bring every thing in good order (As in my opinion is not far from death God Give a Happy departure)

So we know that for whatever reason, Leonard thought he was “not far from death” in 1776.

The second thing we know is that Leonard still spoke German as his first language.  Even if he knew enough English to carry on every day affairs, he did not trust his knowledge of English for this important document.

Leonard Manbeck signature

Signature of Leonhardt Mannbeck on the German version of his will.

Third, Leonard could read and write in German.  The German version of the will is written in the same hand as his signature. According to the inventory, taken when he died in 1888, he wore spectacles and owned four books.

To My Wife–as Long as She Is Single

Preliminaries establishing his religious credentials over with, he gets right into the heart of the matter. The first person to be mentioned, his wife Maria Appolonia, gets a list of bequests including 1/3 of his land and 1/2 of his house and the garden and the meadow. But Leonard seems fixated on being sure that she not benefit from his estate if she remarries.

I Bequeath to my Wife Maria Appalonia Mannbeck the dwelling in my House as long as she lives (if she remains single, but if she doth Marry then she shall have no right to dwell in my House but if she doth not marry then she shall have a right to dwell in the House as long as she lives, also a Cow, the half of the Meadow, the half of fruit, the half Kitchen Garden, the half hemp patch, the third part of the Land she shall have in her Use, if there are two Swine here then she shall have one, one Iron Pott, one (f)raile, One Iron spoon, one flesh fork, one pewter ____Bason, four pewter spoons, two pewter plates, the Bed. She shall have al right to the Kettle and Bucking Tub, when she Wants to Buck. She shall have four hens, she shall also have a Chest, all this she shall have and use, as long as she remains single but if she doth Marry than she shall have no more of it.

Bucking tub: A laundry tub, originally used to bleach with lye or urine!    See an article here.

More unfamiliar terms show up in the Inventory list, and it is clear that flax and spinning were not as important to Leonard as to his son Rudolph.  In fact, his wife apparently was not big on spinning, as the “large spinning wheel and wood card ” are not among the objects reserved for her. Neither does she get the churn and much pewter and earthenware. How is she to make butter from the milk of the one cow she will own?  And why does she only get only 4 spoons and two plates, a pewter basin, iron ladle and forks to cook with, while the rest is listed in inventory (presumably to be sold, although the will does not explicitly state that)?

A Rift in the Family?

The next thing that sticks out is that Rudolph gets stiffed by his father, even though he is not just the eldest son–he is the ONLY son. Rudolph moved his family to Ohio in 1818, after his father died. Apparently his relationship with his father was rocky long before Leonard’s death. Rudolph fought in the Revolutionary War. Did Leonard disapprove?

I bequeath to my son Rudolph Mannbeck five shillings for his first Birth. He shall have nothing further.

Leaving Rudolph 5 shillings is rather like leaving a nickle for a tip for a waiter whose work you don’t respect.

How Many Daughters?

Next in the will comes a daughter Christina Sambelrin, who shall have no more because she received her inheritance in Germany (probably her dowry).

After the enumeration of bequests to Maria Appolonia (if she doesn’t re-marry) Leonard says that his two daughters Christina and Catharina Manbeck “shall share the rest equally.” Besides Christina will have the mare for 45 pounds, and Christina shall have 22 pounds 10 shillings over a three-year period.

This seems to indicate that he has a daughter Christina in Germany, who married a man named Sambelrin. But he had another daughter called Christina, unmarried, who lived in Pennsylvania, presumably with her mother and her sister Catharina.  This is interesting because the Grimm family account and therefore most family trees list only two daughters, and blend the two Christinas. I believe there were three daughters–one still in Germany.

According to the Inventory, Leonard’s total worth comes to 22 pounds, 16 shillings and 10 pence.  However, after Maria Appolonia pays all the bills, she is left with only 5 pounds, 4 shillings that will be split between the two daughters Catharina and Christina, after 5 shillings is paid to Rudolph.  Unlike Rudolph, who left more than 110 pounds cash in addition to his possessions,  Leonard was not able to amass cash. We do know that besides the difficulty of getting started in a new country, Leonard faced the uncertain economy of Revolutionary war times and the economic depression that followed the Revolution.

As with Rudolph, many questions remain, but it is amazing to learn these details of the life of someone born in 1720, who lived through the period of the Revolutionary War.

How Ken is Related

  • Kenneth R. Badertscher is the son of
  • Agnes Bair Badertscher, who is the daughter of
  • Adam Daniel Bair, who is the son of
  • Daniel Manbeck Bair, who is the son of
  • Elizabeth Manbeck Bair, who is the daughter  of
  • Jacob Manbeck, who is the son of
  • Rudolph Manbeck , who is the son of
  • Leonard and Maria Appolonia Manbeck

Notes on Research

Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993, Estate Files, 1752-1915; Author: Berks County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Probate Place: Berks, Pennsylvania. Leonard Manbeck, 1788. Accessed at Ancestry.com

Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission; Records of the Office of the Comptroller General, RG-4; Tax & Exoneration Lists, 1762-1794; Microfilm Roll: 317 , Leonard Manbeck, 1783. Accessed at Ancestry.com

Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1779-1863, Leonard Manbeck, Berks County, 1779. Accessed at Ancestry.com