12/20/12 & 1/22/14
My wife Susan’s great-grandmother on her father’s maternal side, Almira Baush (1855-1917), must have suffered through life with people often misspelling and probably mispronouncing both her first and last names. Some spelled her given name with an “E” because it sounded like “Elvira,” similar to the popular TV and movie star Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, and the popular song by the Oak Ridge Boys, “Elvira.” But our Almira, as we spell it here, is usually spelled with an “A,” according to the 1850 Federal Census, the inscription on her gravestone, and family tradition. It’s pronounced as is the town of Elmira, New York, however, which is probably why the 1880 census has it spelled with an “E”.
As far as the surname is concerned, the 1880 census lists 56-year old Rebecca and her husband, 62-year old Jacob, as the “Bausch” family, probably the original German spelling. However, the earlier 1850 census records the family as “Bash.” Still other sources spell it “Bosh,” “Basch,” or “Baus.” In a pure Anglicized pronunciation (RP in England), neither the “U” nor the “C” are necessary. If the spellings are confusing to you, curator, translator, and transcriptionist Jan Hoth has this to say on a website dedicated to the early German families of Quemahoning Township, Somerset County, PA, the home of many of my wife’s Miller-associated families:
In German script, a letter is doubled if it has a dash over it; hence, “Kimel” (with a dash over the “m”), I spelled “Kimmel.” [For further information on our family namesake, see “Introduction: Kimmel.”] If a name such as “Susana” did not have a dash over the “n”, I left it spelled with one “n.” I have also maintained the original spelling [of surnames].
Hoth follows with the example of our “Basch-Bash-Baush-Bausch-Bosh.” Thanks to her, we have a greater understanding of other family names on these pages as well: “Bauman-Bowman,” “Miller-Muller,” “Sadtoris-Sartorius-Sadtorius-Sadoris-Satorius,” and “Sell-Zell” for example. (See the E-Gen homepage and respective Family Trees, Vitals, and Introductions for more.)
For this article and for our family tree we prefer the spelling “Baush,” which has been used in local publications for over a century, as we will find later. As one can see, the spelling of any word usually depends on the hearing, experience, and expectation of the person writing or saying the name. I know this to be true because Susan and my last name “Pearce” has had every possible rendering over our 42 years of marriage.
In this brief article we’ll investigate several possible meanings of the various spellings of the Baush surname and trace our family back to its earliest days in America. This journey is replete with surprises and opportunities for further study, as we will see.
Ancestry.com equates the name “Bausch” to the word “busch” in Middle High German, meaning “a fluffy ball,” probably a metaphor for a puffed-up person or someone with a touchy personality, not very complimentary. A variant spelling is “Baus.”
According to the online service Family Education, the “Bosch” spelling originated from the Latin “boscus,” meaning “wood.” The purely German is spelled “Bosch” with umlout. In Northern Germany and the Netherlands the same origins suggest one who lives in the “woods” rather than the “bush.” Place names sometimes carry the suffix, such as Hertogenbosch.
When the name is spelled “Bosh” or “Bash,” many additional meanings and origins are found. The Bash families that I know in Western Pennsylvania are of Scots-Irish descent. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Thank heavens Almira Baush married Franklin Baer (1862-1916) and at least changed her last name.” The only problem is that the surname Baer comes with its own set of problems. (See “Introduction: Baer.”) The truth is that almost all non-English-speaking immigrants had their names changed or altered by the government clerks upon entering the United States, either accidentally, by request, or to suit the national purpose of melding ethnicities. Our family narratives are loaded with examples. Some of the names were simply anglicized, such as the change from “Mueller” to “Miller,” while others were altered almost beyond recognition, such as “Moser” (with umlaut) to “Musser.” We can safely conclude that Almira’s father Jacob (still pronounced with a “Y” in the German community, 1818-1895) and grandfather Andrew (or Andreas, c. 1775-1830) faced similar confusion with regard to their names, both first and last.
Let’s now go back a generation to Almira’s mother, Rebecca Sell Baush (1824-1909). Perhaps the biggest obstacle to establishing her true identity was the existence of several Rebeccas, all associated with the surname Baush with its various phonetics and spellings. Ironically, they lived around the same time and in the same general locale. First of all, the Stoystown Odd Fellows Cemetery (IOOF) contains the remains of a Joseph (1810-1893) and Rebecca Baush. We believe that Joseph was our Jacob’s brother and his wife’s maiden name was Stauffer. They had seven children, whose grandfather was Andrew of York County, mentioned above, our common ancestor. He came to Somerset County in 1808. A “Bash” family, Jacob (b. 1820) and Rebecca, originated in Armstrong and Indiana Counties from parents William and Ann. That Rebecca’s maiden name was Clever and their children’s names are different than our ancestors so we’re certain that this was not our Jacob and Rebecca. How did we settle on the names and dates of our Jacob and Rebecca, you ask?
The somewhat humorous discovery took place at the St. James Lutheran Cemetery, in Jenner Township, Somerset County, where our Jacob and Rebecca are buried. The Great Depression era Works Progress Administration (WPA), whose job it was to record the inscriptions on tombstones in old graveyards, list a “Rebecca Bash” [note spelling], with correct dates of birth and death, but not a Jacob. Jacob’s whereabouts was a mystery for many years, until one day when I was weedeating the gravestones there, being a working officer of the board of directors. Rebecca’s name was fully visible on a monument, facing the road and next to a stone marking the resting place of daughter Almira and her husband Franklin. As I went around the side of the towering monument, there was Jacob’s name and vitals. End of mystery. I believe that the WPA workers must have also missed seeing Jacob’s name.
Another mystery yet to be solved involves my accidental discovery of a Jacob Baush who was Captain of the ship Carolina Ann that sailed from Belfast, today Northern Ireland, to New York City in 1825. The ship’s manifest reads:
I, Jacob Baush, do solemnly, sincerely and truly swear that the following List or Manifest of Passengers, subscribed with my name, and now delivered by me to the Collector of the Customs for the District of New-York, contains, to the best of my knowledge and belief, a just and true account of all the Passengers received on board the Ship Carolina Ann, whereof I am Master, from Belfast. So help me God. (signed) Jacob Baush. Sworn to, the 20 June 1825 Before me (signed) (unreadable).
While this couldn’t have been our Jacob because of his occupation as farmer, we are left wondering, was this Master Jacob Baush a relative? As a side note, the voyage took place at least 30 years after my mother’s Gray family arrived in America, the purpose of my original search.
Now, let’s go back two final generations to our Jacob’s father, Andreas Bausch (1775-18300, or when translated into English, Andrew Baush, and his father, Joseph (1750-1807), whom we believe to have been the first generation American Baush. Joseph was probably born in Germany and moved to York County, Pennsylvania. Andres was born in Adams County, according to Reformed birth and baptism records. He emigrated to Somerset County in 1808. Surely, the single most helpful document in our family research has been the story about his grandson and nephew of our Jacob, James Henry Baush (b. 1844), in the 1899 publication, Biographical Review. It reveals the conditions into which our patriarch Andrew came when he settled in Quemahoning Township:
Very little of the land had been touched by plough or spade and long years of hard labor were required to improve it. Here he followed his free and independent calling until the close of his earthly career, when but 52-years old.
According to the Review, Andrew married Sarah Peterson, who bore him thirteen children, one of which was Jacob. This is not an unusual number of offspring in those days as Jacob and Rebecca’s son John, our Almira’s brother married Barbara Diehl, who bore him 13 children. We believe John and Barbara are buried in the old Sell Family Cemetery, Somerset County, where many others of Rebecca’s family are buried. Thus, they would have been Almira’s nieces and nephews and my wife Susan’s Grandmother Sarah Baer’s aunts and uncles. Can you imagine what reunions and holidays must have been like?
One final piece of what scientists call “triangulation,” or verifiable support, involves Nancy Sarah Baush (b.1829), a sister of our Jacob and his brother Joseph. In searching for her we uncovered a treasure trove of Baush’s and in her case, “Bash,” under “Baptisms of Stoystown Lutheran Church” in Quemahoning Township, Somerset County. The puzzling thing is that her mother is listed as “Widow Susan.” If you recall, the Review biography has father Andrew’s wife as Sarah, and our original information had indicated that father Andrew/Andreas hadn’t died until 1842. The Lutheran Church source believes he died sometime before the baptism took place in 1830. Other baptisms recorded there under the parents “Andres/Andreas and Susannah” had occurred as early as 1806, Johannes, and as late as 1825, Daniel Henry “Basch.” Where was our Jacob baptized, if not at Stoystown Lutheran? The baptismal records of Mt. Tabor Reformed Church, Quemahoning Township, show our Jacob born in 1818 to parents “Andreas and Susanna.” Seems as if our Baush’s had spent time at both the Lutheran and Reformed churches, but we don’t and probably never will know why.
Each “Introduction” on our E-Gen website generally contains a list of noteworthy namesakes, however because of the many different ways of spelling the Baush surname, we’ll simply encourage you to do your own search. Famous persons with our name(s) can be found in various parts of the world and have accomplished a variety of interesting and important things. Let me get you started, though, with the everyday household brand, Bausch & Lomb. Interestingly enough, the co-founder was no relative that we know of. John Jacob Bausch just also carried that name so common to our family.
In conclusion, our journey into the Baush family has been one of both confusion and understanding, of discouragement and discovery. We have crossed cultures and languages, institutions and media, not to mention several centuries in time. This has been quite a learning experience for me, and I hope you’ve gained not only some genealogical data but also a better grasp of the processes involved.
1. On board was a six-year old named James Gray and presumably his mother Jane, 33-years old. James was also the name of my 3X-great grandfather, but he is said to have sailed from Londonderry. Could the voyage have begun in Belfast with a stop in Londonderry? My James was said to have sailed with members of the Rev. Abraham Boyd family, and there were at least two Boyd children on that ship, Robert and Mary Ann, along with their mother Nancy. These are all common names, so is this just a coincidence? More research is needed.
2. One source calls her Susannah Peterman, possibly Pitterman. Other apparent family members are also found there.
3. Whatever the span of Andrew’s life, 46 or 54 years, he died relatively young by today’s standards. Was Andrew’s wife Sarah or Susan? Could she have been both, using both a first and middle name? Or, had Andrew married twice? Could there have been more than one Andrew or perhaps another named Andreas?
4. The witnesses for the 1806 baptism were Carl and Catharina “Busch.” Could they have been Andrew’s parents or some other family member, such as a brother?
U.S. Censuses for York Co., PA, & Quemahoning & Jenner Twp., Somerset Co., PA, 1800 – 1880. Ancestry.com
Odd Fellows Cemetery, Storystown, PA. 15 Dec. 2012
St. James Lutheran Church Cemetery. 15 Dec. 2012
“Bausch Family History.” 20 Dec. 2012
“James H. Baush.” Biographical Review: Life Sketches of leading citizens of Bedford & Somerset Counties, PA. V.32. Boston: Biographical Review Pub Co., 1899. 69-70.
“Baptism Records-Quemahoning Township, Somerset Co., PA.” 19 Dec. 2012
“Birth & Baptism Records-Adams Co., PA.” Ancestry.com