CONTENTS

Our most ancient ancestors:
Bayha ancestors' migration from Africa to Europe over the past 60 to 70 millenia.

History of the Bayha name:
What we know now about the origins and history of our name.

My Search for my ancestors:
A personal odyssey by Keith Darwin Bayha.

What's in a name - Blasius:
Some notes on a name once favored among prominent Bayhas.


OUR MOST ANCIENT ANCESTORS


This map, taken from the National Geographic's Genographic Project, shows the migration of our most ancient ancestors from Africa to the Middle East, Central Asia and finally Europe over the past 60 or 70 millenia.

We know from DNA studies of living Bayhas that our family belongs to a group of humans with this particular ancestry (Haplogroup R1b1). In fact, the genetic markers of these ancestors are still carried by those of us alive today.

Our ancestors entered Europe approximately 30,000 years ago from Central Asia, were pushed southward into Spain, Italy and the Balkans by a major ice sheet expansion from 20,000 to 12,000 years ago, then expanded northward into what is now modern Western Europe.

For more information on current studies of ancient migration, visit the Genographic Project at http://www.nationalgeopgraphic.com/genographic/



HISTORY OF THE BAYHA NAME

Origins

Currently, our best information shows that the oldest known records for the Bayha family are found in the fifteenth century annals of the small town of Sielmingen, in southern Germany. In those days, Sielmingen was part of the Duchy of Wurttemberg. Today, it is in the modern German State of Baden-Wurttemberg, and is considered part of a larger city called Filderstadt. It is located Southeast of Stuttgart, not far from the Stuttgart airport.

The oldest known ancestor of the Bayhas was known as Hans Behan, and he was born in Sielmingen about 1451/52. The old records were not very consistent in regards to spelling, so our name often appears in variations such as Behe, Behan, Baia, etc.

Sielmingen’s history indicates that the family came there from Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) sometime earlier than the time of Hans Behan, but we have no evidence to support this story, and there does not appear to be any surname even close to Bayha in the modern Czech language. The mystery of the family’s earlier origins is our first priority for further research.

In the late 1600s one branch of the family relocated to nearby Plieningen, and a later offshoot of this branch was established in Mittlestadt, near Reutlingen. All of these known historical locations were quite close to each other. Please send in information on any other known centers.

Emigration

According to the Sielmingen history, the first native of the town to migrate to America was one Jerg Bayha, who made the trip before the American Revolution, in 1747. We are eagerly seeking any further information on this individual and his descendants.

Most of the other immigrants who founded the present US lines made their journeys in the mid 1800s. Different lines originally were established in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia (perhaps others as well) and spread from there across the USA.

Variations

The Bayha name in its present form appears in records dating back about 400 years. Some church records used the spelling Baiha or Bajha, but the Bayha form is more common and has been very consistent in official records for the past several centuries and on both sides of the Atlantic.

We suspect, but have not yet been able to show that the name Bayh (as in US Senator Evan Bayh, Indiana) is closely related to or derived from Bayha. We do know that the Indiana Bayh family emmigrated from Wurttemberg in the 19th century, as did all of the known Bayha lines in the USA today. This would also be an interesting research topic to pursue.

We know of one branch of the Bayha family that changed to the easier to remember and pronounce “Bayer”. This may have happened more than once, or there may be some other relationship with Bayer, Baer, and similar spellings. However, specifics are not yet available on that subject.

Variations in pronunciation are rare in Germany where the usual rendering is “BUYah”. However, in the New World we have so far encountered “BAYuh”, “BAYhah” and “BAY-HAY” and there could well be other variations.

Contributions to this area of knowledge are very important, and we encourage anyone with additional information to contact the web site administrator at webmaster@bayhafamily.net




MY SEARCH FOR MY ANCESTORS

February 3, 2006

Genealology, like man's entire search for knowledge, is a continuum. A job never completed. For each answer discovered leads to more questions and the search goes on. As I am closing in on my 66th birthday, I am struck by the reality that it is time to document my findings. In grappling with the task of telling my tale, I find there is no one right way to do it. I have recited orally some of my struggles with others who seemed interested and they found my story interesting. So I will try to set down here in narrative the story of my search for your entertainment and perhaps enlightenment. I hope it will stimulate you to begin or continue, as the case may be, your own search for the truth of your origins.

I was always interested where I came from. Aren't we all! My earliest recollection of my curiosity was when my teachers in grammar school asked about the origin of my somewhat unusual family surname. Not knowing, I asked my father. His answer was not very complete and, as it was proven later, not terribly accurate. But it was a beginning.

Dad [Leo Fredrick Bayha] said his parents and grandparents spoke German, so we must have come from Germany. Born in 1901, he was reared at the time when world events were leading up to World War I. His parents forbade him to speak German, insisting that he was an American and must learn to speak English like all Americans. Consequently, father never became very knowledgeable about the origins of the family name. He and his family pronounced the family name as " By ha", with a silent first "a."

His recollections passed down to me orally in the 1950's were limited to the following: His grandfather [Georg Frederick Bayha (1829-1899) came to America as a young man with a brother from a village, that sounded to me like, "Worst" Germany. It was located in the Alsace-Lorraine region close to the French border. The father of these immigrant brothers was a blacksmith. He became sick on the long voyage across the Atlantic. A German girl also immigrating to America on the same ship nursed him. After arriving in New York he married the girl and got a job polishing furniture. Within a year he followed his brother to Michigan where he took out a homestead on adjacent land. The underlined portions above I later found out to be incorrect.

One day during the latter part of the Civil War, two uniformed officers came to his farm on horseback and insisted on talking to my great grandfather. He was working in the field at the back of the farm. His wife gave the officers a cold beverage and she set out on the half-mile walk to fetch him. He left the horses standing in the field harnessed to the plow and returned with her to find out what the officers wanted. They informed him that he was to be at the schoolhouse tomorrow. The next day when he arrived there he found most of his neighbors were there also. They were all sworn in as soldiers in the Federal Army, 1st Michigan Infantry. He had been drafted! He returned from the war a year or so later in poor health. But continued to farm as best he could.

My mother had among her things saved a copy of the obituary of my great grandmother, [Rosse Wilhelmina (Heilman) Bayha]. It said she had arrived on the passenger ship Isaac Bell in New York harbor on July 4 1853 -- Independence Day -- something she was proud of.

As far as I knew all Bayhas I knew of were related to me. While in college at Michigan State University my professors insisted on pronouncing my name as "Bay ha", with a long first "a" and a short second one. I was told that there was a lady Economics professor at MSU in the 1930's with that name and that was how she pronounced it. By the time I graduated in 1963, I was using professor Anna Bayha's pronunciation too.

The above was meager knowledge of my origins but it was all I had until about 1974. In that year I transferred to Washington D.C. and was assigned to work in the Interior Department with a young secretary named Mary Smith. She said she was descended from the Smiths who came over on the Mayflower and had secured a scholarship by doing the genealogy research to prove it. This led to a discussion about the origin of my family and the suggestion that I go down the street a few blocks to the National Archives to see what I could find. To make a long story short, within fifteen minutes after arriving at the National Archives, I was looking at the microfiche copy of the ship's manifest for the Isaac Bell, that listed in handwritten script the names of my great grand father, his brother, and his future wife and her family. I was instantly hooked on genealology!

During subsequent visits to the National Archives I discovered there were seven Bayhas who served on the federal side in the Civil War. I read through the original documents in the pension files of my great grandfather, his brother, and three other others. Pension files for two of the seven were not to be found -- apparently stolen.

I learned that my great grandfather and his brother served with their neighbors as replacements for the heavy losses sustained by the 1st Michigan infantry at the Siege of Petersburg. They were referred to as the German Squad, apparently because they spoke very poor English and required orders to be translated to them in German by the sergeant. They may not have been asked to carry a rifle, as there was no mention of such. They were assigned to care for the horses that were used in building the breastworks that surrounded Petersburg, marking the federal line and protecting the troops. When General Lee made his retreat to the west, the 1st Michigan Infantry, and I presume my ancestors, followed him all the way to Appomattox and were among those present at the official surrender.

Gathering information on the other Civil War veterans with the Bayha surname stimulated my desire to find a link between my family and them. So during my travels through many of the major and minor cities of all 50 states in the course of my work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I took up the habit of looking for Bayhas in phonebooks during airport waits and other idle time. I assembled a list of nearly a hundred contemporary Bayhas, most of whom I did not know. I sent letters to them seeking information to link our families and accumulated several three ring binders of correspondence that contained a wealth of information. I sorted it into twenty-one family groups, each with an immigrant ancestor. At this point I knew I had something that was worth sharing but it was still incomplete.

In 1987, I made a trip to Stuttgart Germany to visit my wife's daughter and her husband who were stationed there with the U.S. Army. The first evening I was there I asked for the telephone book. Susie said they did not have one but there were phonebooks for greater Stuttgart in the phone booth on the corner. For the next three hours I stood in that phone booth in the February cold and went through all four feet of phonebooks attached in a rack. I went back to the warm apartment and counted up the names I had gleaned and found I had leads on 95 German Bayhas!

The next day I composed a one-page letter introducing myself and what I thought I knew of my roots and offered to met with the recipient to compare family history any time in the next three weeks of our visit. Susie introduced me to a German friend who had an office with photocopy equipment. He read my letter and suggested that he translate it into German because the older generation would not be able to read English. They would be the people with the most information and I would be likely to get a better response if the letter was in German. This done, I mailed copies of the letter to all the 95 names and addresses I had gathered from the phone books on my second day in Germany.

Realizing it would take some time for the mail to be delivered and responses to arrive, I decided to drive to the village of Worth, which I had concluded must be the village my father had referred to. Arriving in the early morning I stopped as a gas station for directions to the cemetery. I walked among the tombstones looking for the Bayha name. About half way through it occurred to me that these stone all had relatively recent dates [with the past 25 years or so]. I quickly checked the rest of the cemetery to confirm that this was the new cemetery. I found only a few graves that dated back to the 1800's and they were for burgermiesters [mayors]. I returned the gas station for directions to the old cemetery. The young English-speaking attendant assured me that there was only one cemetery. He suggested I might obtain some assistance at the Rathaus [city clerk's office]. There I found a bilingual employee who upon learning of my quest introduced me to her boss. Through here interpreting I learned that graves are recycled after 25 years and decomposition has reduced the remains to dust and families had ceased to be interested in visiting graves. But he assured me that they would have records of all who had been buried there back through the years. He directed his staff to check the computers. They quickly determined there were no Bayhas listed. But he explained that computerized records only go back to the 1950's and that to search further would involve a hand search of paper records. He said he would put his whole staff on the task and that I should go home and they would call when they found something or finished the search.

I drove back to Stuttgart somewhat depressed for my high expectations were not panning out too well.

Upon arrive back at Susie's apartment, she informed me that she had received a phone call and set up an appointment for tomorrow with one of the letter recipients. So on day four of our visit I had my first encounter with an elderly German Bayha. She spoke no English and I spoke no German. But over coffee and cake at her kitchen table we found we could communicate using the bilingual dictionary I brought and hand gestures and body language. She was a Bayha, whose husband had been killed in WW II. She had limited knowledge of family history but gave me names of relatives on my list of letter recipients who should be able to help me. On returning to the apartment Susie informed me that I had another appointment for that evening and two more set up for tomorrow. For the next two weeks, with Susie acting as my appointment secretary, I was invited to several German homes each day, offered coffee and kuchen [a form of pastry], information of their family, and often a look at their family Stammbaum [family tree chart]. Some even gave me a copy of their Stammbaum. By the third week the German recipients of my letter had figured out that I would never have time to visit them all and they organized group sessions. I would arrive for an appointment and find 20 to 30 of my recipients there, all eager to share. In the end I visited 29 German homes and over 90 German Bayhas. Several of them were genealogists themselves and provided valuable insight. About a week after my visit to Worth, I received a call that they had found no Bayha's in their paper files either.

I must tell you about Horst Bayha. Horst was about my age, a househusband, whose wife had a good job. Horst had passable knowledge of English having studied it in school after WW II. His hobby was searching the archives for information of Bayhas and he had assembled two large boxes of three-ringed binders full of copies of the documents he found. I started perusing them and quickly found some I thought offered promise of making links with information I had at home. I asked Horst if I might make copies. He said, "Sure but I had no copy machine." I said,” I know where there is one." With his permission I carried all the binders out to the car and drove off! It was not until later that it occurred to me what an astounding generosity Horst exhibited. He had no guarantee I would ever return and I had just driven off with his entire life's work! I started copying selected documents and after accumulating about three inches of paper realized that this was a foolish way to go about the task. I might be able to ship home 50 to hundred pounds of paper, but not being fluent in German, I would not be able to do much with it. I returned to Horst and proposed that we become partners in publishing a genealology of the Bayha families. He would research and write up the families who remained in Germany and I would research and write up those that had emigrated to North America. We have continued an intermittent correspondence over the years, sharing newfound information, but have yet to produce the first draft of our book. This book we envision has being published in two languages like the Canadians do, where you can start from either end.

On more recounting of experiences on that trip: During the visit to the farmstead of Richard Bayha southwest of Stuttgart he read to me information he had received from the pastor of his Lutheran church in Muenchingen, a village a few miles northwest of Stuttgart. The information conformed to what I thought I already knew in striking detail relative to the dates of immigration of my great grand father and his brother. My next visit was to the church where the pastor had left for me a copy of the church book page that set forth not only these two ancestors but their parents and 11 more brothers and sisters, complete with birth and death dates. And in locating the church in Muenchingen I saw a large sign for the Bayha Floral Shop and Nursery. Stopping there I met the contemporary Bayhas who still live in Muenchingen, confirming that I had indeed found my roots.

My wife and I made a second trip to Germany in 1995 to attend the Bayha family reunion they hold very three years. My sister and her husband also made the trip. We met some of the same folks we had met in 1987 but also many new ones. We visited the castle where Bayhas had once lived and toured southern Germany. I have a written account of this trip for those who are interested.

Now in more recent time Tom Bayha from Seattle has established the Bayha web site [http://www.bayhafamily.net] with over 900 names and 200 Bayhas, where those of us who can spare $100 can send in a sample of their DNA for analysis and comparison to others who have similarly submitted their samples. Tom and I have already established that we are related and identified our common ancestors [Blasius Bayha or Baya (1688-1787) who married Ana Breuning or Briening (1894-1761)]. While the number of DNA samples in this file is today very limited, it holds promise and is a modern way to establish confirmation of family ties. For more information on this subject contact Tom Bayha at tom@bayhafamily.net.

Keith Bayha




WHAT’S IN A NAME - BLASIUS

The name Blasius was used by quite a few of the early Bayhas, and was the name of the Bayha who was first awarded a Wappen (Coat of Arms) by the Duke of Wurttemberg. Several of those named Blasius are identified as Richter (Judge) or as Schultheiss (Sheriff, or Mayor) in the old records. Several were inn-keepers as well. One particular Blasius (b. 1688) moved from Sielmingen to Plieningen where he married Anna Breuning, the daughter of Plieningen’s mayor. This individual has been identified as the common ancestor of at least two Bayha lines in the USA and one in Germany.

But what, exactly, does Blasius mean, and why was it so popular for several generations of the early Bayhas? The form of the name is from Latin, and we must go back to Roman times for the answers.

In Rome, the name Blasius was derived from the Latin blaesus, meaning to lisp, or stutter. One would think this to be a very unflattering name, except that the Romans apparently believed that one who stutters can communicate directly with the Gods!

Many forms of the name Blasius persist today, such as Biagio in Italian, Blaise, in French, Blazek in Polish and Blasi in Swiss German.

The most famous Blasius, however, was Saint Blasius, a fourth century Christian martyr. This Blasius was a physician of noble birth and the Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia. When the Roman emperor demanded that Christians recant their faith, Blasius fled to the forest, where he lived for many years as a hermit, and was believed to care for sick animals, for which reason he is the patron saint of wild animals. He was eventually captured, and while imprisoned, he continued his role as a physician, particularly renowned for curing ailments of the throat. In about 316 AD, he was executed after being tortured with wool comber’s metal combs, which have become his symbol.

Many monasteries and churches in Europe are dedicated to Saint Blasius, including the renaissance church of San Biagio in Tuscany and the Church of Saint Blasius in Salzburg, which is said to be the oldest gothic church in Austria, built between 1327 and 1350. There is a church dedicated to him in Kadan, Czech Republic, and a famous monastery and cathedral of Saint Blasius in the Black Forest of Germany. According to the German genealogist Dr G. Wunder, a cloister named St. Blasium in Nellingen owned property in Sielmingen, and that may have had something to do with the early popularity of this name among the Sielmingen Bayhas.

For further reading on Saint Blasius, here are some interesting links:

http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintb04.htm

http://www.newadvent.org (look under Blaise)


HISTORY OF THE BAYHA NAME

Origins

Currently, our best information shows that the oldest known records for the Bayha family are found in the fifteenth century annals of the small town of Sielmingen, in southern Germany. In those days, Sielmingen was part of the Duchy of Wurttemberg. Today, it is in the modern German State of Baden-Wurttemberg, and is considered part of a larger city called Filderstadt. It is located Southeast of Stuttgart, not far from the Stuttgart airport.

The oldest known ancestor of the Bayhas was known as Hans Behan, and he was born in Sielmingen about 1451/52. The old records were not very consistent in regards to spelling, so our name often appears in variations such as Behe, Behan, Baia, etc.

Sielmingen’s history indicates that the family came there from Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) sometime earlier than the time of Hans Behan, but we have no evidence to support this story, and there does not appear to be any surname even close to Bayha in the modern Czech language. The mystery of the family’s earlier origins is our first priority for further research.

In the late 1600s one branch of the family relocated to nearby Plieningen, and a later offshoot of this branch was established in Mittlestadt, near Reutlingen. All of these known historical locations were quite close to each other. Please send in information on any other known centers.

Emigration

According to the Sielmingen history, the first native of the town to migrate to America was one Jerg Bayha, who made the trip before the American Revolution, in 1747. We are eagerly seeking any further information on this individual and his descendants.

Most of the other immigrants who founded the present US lines made their journeys in the mid 1800s. Different lines originally were established in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia (perhaps others as well) and spread from there across the USA.

Variations

The Bayha name in its present form appears in records dating back about 400 years. Some church records used the spelling Baiha or Bajha, but the Bayha form is more common and has been very consistent in official records for the past several centuries and on both sides of the Atlantic.

We suspect, but have not yet been able to show that the name Bayh (as in US Senator Evan Bayh, Indiana) is closely related to or derived from Bayha. We do know that the Indiana Bayh family emmigrated from Wurttemberg in the 19th century, as did all of the known Bayha lines in the USA today. This would also be an interesting research topic to pursue.

We know of one branch of the Bayha family that changed to the easier to remember and pronounce “Bayer”. This may have happened more than once, or there may be some other relationship with Bayer, Baer, and similar spellings. However, specifics are not yet available on that subject.

Variations in pronunciation are rare in Germany where the usual rendering is “BUYah”. However, in the New World we have so far encountered “BAYuh”, “BAYhah” and “BAY-HAY” and there could well be other variations.

Contributions to this area of knowledge are very important, and we encourage anyone with additional information to contact the web site administrator at mailto:webmaster@bayhafamily.net

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