Niederhausen an der Nahe 1699-1748
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Continue with an essay on the immigration of the Meÿ family

Niederhausen, located on a bend of the Nahe River downstream from Bad Kreuznach and within 15 miles of the Rhine, was the home of the Meÿs before they immigrated to America. For half a century, beginning in 1699, members of the family married, gave birth, studied their catechisms, attended church services, worked and died in this small village. Records of these important events of their lives were entered in the register of the local Reformed Church (Evangelische Kirche). The church, adorned with many colorful groupings of frescoes from the Middle Ages, still has an active congregation and continues to serve as a center of activity in the small village.

After the marriage of Johann Nickel Meÿ to Anna Catharina Beyers in Niederhausen in 1699, they lived in the village and he worked as a shoemaker. Judging from the church records, he appears to have been was the first Meÿ to live in the village. These same records show that Anna Catharina was born in Niederhausen on October 18, 1680 and eleven days later she was baptized. Their first child, Johan Christian Meÿ, was born on June 9, 1700. Failing to survive his second year, he died on March 9, 1702. A second son, named Johannes for his grandfather in Alsenz, was born on April 13, 1707, but he died within a few days. This record, and the fact that Johann Nickel remarried in 1708, gives us reason to conclude that Anna Catharina, at the age of twenty-six, also died about April 1707.

Niederhausen Church

Niederhausen Evangelische Kirche

Anna Catharina Beyers

b. 18 Oct 1680

d. Apr 1707

Johann Christian Meÿ

b. 9 Jun 1700

d. 9 Mar 1702

Johannes Meÿ

b. 13 Apr 1707

d. Apr 1707

 First family of Johann Nickel Meÿ

Click here to see more about Anna Catharina Beyers' family.

Modern-day view from the church pews, with a (1729) pulpit on the left and a stone alter (dating to about 1400) located in the choir section in the background.

A 1997 view of Niederhausen, taken from the road through the local vineyards on the way to nearby Hüffelsheim. The church is the large white building in the center of the photo.

A view along the Nahe River of Bad Kreuznach, the major village near Niederhausen, painted as it looked in the
17th Century.

The second Meÿ family in Niederhausen
Maria Catharina Graeff, who was born in Hüffelsheim near Niederhausen on December 23, 1685, became the second wife of Johann Nickel Meÿ. This remarkable woman, in her 63rd year, played a prominent role in the immigration of the Meÿs to America. On St. Valentine's Day in 1708, Maria Catharina, at the age of twenty-two, married Johann Nickel, twelve years her senior, in the Niederhausen Reformed Church. This was also a special day in the village since St. Valentine had long been revered as a protecting saint of the local congregation.

 Johann Nickel Meÿ, a local shoemaker, was legally married to Maria Catharina, daughter of Johann Nickel Graeff of Hüffelsheim, on February 14.

 Translated 1708 marriage record of Johann Nickel Meÿ to Anna Catharina Beyers in Niederhausen

The vital records of the Meÿ family in Niederhausen are written in the register of the local Reformed Church. Over a period of seventeen years, Maria Catharina gave birth to seven sons and three daughters. When her first son was baptized in the church on October 30, 1709, he was given his father's name. Their last child, baptized on August 4, 1726, was named Anna Margaretha. Two of the sons, Johann Frederick and Frantz Philip, died in infancy. The known descendants of this family in America are the descendants of Johann Leonhardt (Leonard) May and Frantz (Francis) Peter May - using the Anglicized spelling of the Meÿ surname. Frantz Peter was the father of John (Johannes) May (1760-1813). A third brother, Johann Daniel May, played an important role in the families lives in America, but he had no descendants.

Maria Catharina Graeff

b. 23 Dec 1685

d. 11 Oct 1751, in Pennsylvania

Johann Nickel Meÿ

b. 25 Oct 1709

d. 25 Mar 1778, in Niederhausen.

Johann Adolf Meÿ

b. 27 May 1711

d. aft. Oct 1747, in America

Maria Elisabetha Meÿ

b. 24 Jun 1713

d. aft. 1748, in America

Anna Maria Meÿ

b. 22 Sep 1715

d. aft. 1747, possibly in America

Johann Frederich Meÿ

b. 15 Aug 1717

d. 3 Jan 1719, in Niederhausen

* Johann Leonhardt Meÿ

b. 17 Jan 1719

d. abt. 1777, probably in Va.

Frantz Philip Meÿ

b. 25 Dec 1720

d. 13 Feb 172, in Niederhausen

* Johann Daniel Meÿ

b. 17 Jun 1722

d. 30 May 1777, in Virginia

* Frantz Peter Meÿ

b. 18 May 1724

d. aft. 1784, probably in Va.

Anna Margaretha Meÿ

b. 31 Jul 1726

d. aft. 1752, in America

Second family of Johann Nickel Meÿ

1719 record:
Johann Leonhard, legitimate son of Johann Niclaus Meÿ, a local judge, and his wife Maria Catharina, was born on January 17th and baptized on the 22nd of the same month. The godparents are . . . Johann Leonhard R. . . (illegible).

1722 record:
Johann Daniel, legitimate son of Johann Nicolaus Meÿ and his wife Maria Catharina, was born on June 17th and baptized on the 21th of the same month. The godparents are . . . Johann Daniel (illegible) . . . . and his wife, Anna O . . . .

1724 record:
Frantz Peter, legitimate son of Johann Nickel Meÿ and his wife Maria Catharina, was born on May 18th and baptized the 25th of the same month. The godparents are Frantz Peter Gilbreth and his wife Anna Catharina, both from here.

 Translated Niederhausen birth records of three Meÿ brothers who immigrated to America in 1748.

On February 21, 1743, three months before his seventieth birthday, Johann Nickel Meÿ died in Niederhausen an der Nahe. At the time of his death, Johann Nickel's wife and eight living children all resided in the village. Johann Nickel, Jr. was thirty-three and the youngest child, Anna Margaretha, was sixteen. There is no record that any of the children had married as early as 1743. An English translation of Johann Nickel Meÿ's death record shows that he suffered in his last days from a fever and a sickness of the chest, "brustkrankheit."

1743 record:
Johann Nickel Meÿ, former judge and local church elder, died from a fever and a sickness of the chest on the 21st of February and was buried on the 25th. He lived for 69 years, 8 months, 3 weeks and 2 days.

Translated death record of Johann Nickel Meÿ

Johann Nickel's position in the village is called a "gerichtsmann und kirchen ältester von hier" - literally, "a man of the court and an elder of the church from here." This gives us a final view into his accomplishments in Niederhausen from the local Pfarrer. Since arriving in the village in 1699 as a schuhmacher, he apparently had become a man of some importance in the small community and its church. We can assume that Johann Nickel continued to practice his occupation but, gained a position in the justice system of the village. His father, Johannes, had been an influential judge in the Alsenz Valley, and his father-in-law from this first marriage, Christoffel Beyers, had served earlier in a judicial position in Niederhausen.

From the microfilm we can see that Johann Nickel's life span was "69 Jahr 8 monat 3 wohen und 2 tage," which corresponds with our record of the day of his birth in Alsenz - May 29, 1673.

Continue with an essay on the immigration of the Meÿ family to America in 1748.

Facsimile copies of many family records, including those cited in this essay, are printed in the book on the May/Meÿ family, The Shoemaker's Children.

              2000 Fred T. May                Return to Index of John May essays