Published May 30, 2017

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Brothers Calvin, left, and Pernell Staudt flank James M. Beidler

There are a lot of “small world” moments in genealogy and the 38th annual Lancaster Family History Conference offered one of those moments.

Among the sessions I was involved with at the conference was German cursive script workshop, one of the participants in which was Pernell Staudt, whose surname immediately had my attention.

That’s because there are a whole lot of Staudts – Stoudt, Stout, and other phonetically similar spellings, too – at the historic old graveyard of Bern Church in Berks County, one of whom is my direct-line ancestor and immigrant ancestor Johann Michael Staudt, along with his immigrant cousin Matthias Staudt.

Well, a quick chat with Pernell revealed that he’s a descendant of Matthias and has been to the Wolfersweiler area of Germany in its Saarland state, the area of origin for the Staudts.

At the main conference the next day, I also met Pernell’s brother Calvin Staudt and learned more about their connection to Berks County.

They were born there – their grandparents lived their entire lives in Berks County, including being the caretakers of the North Heidelberg United Church of Christ as well as St. John’s (Hain’s) United Church of Christ – but grew up in Iowa.

“We didn’t grow up in Berks County, but we heard an awful lot about it and knew we had very deep roots,” Calvin said.

Even though they are direct descendants of Matthias, they also noted in their last visit late last year that the bronze plaque marker for Michael, which previously had been located next to Matthias’ grave, had been moved.

Here I was able to tell them – with a certain amount of pride, I’ll admit! – “the rest of the story.”

When the bronze marker was placed for Michael, there was no “plot plan” for the historic graveyard and Michael’s actual brown sandstone marker would have been deemed unreadable – therefore causing the family reunion erecting the marker not to know where Michael was actually buried. Probably they chose the spot next to his cousin Matthias as a likely place.

In the 1980s, however, the tombstones on the Bern Church historic graveyard were read by local expert Laurel Miller and a plot plan created for it.

This revealed the spot of Michael’s actual grave.

Fast forward to last year. Your “Roots & Branches” columnist was speaking in Lebanon and Ellen Kramer from the Staudt family reunion was in attendance. I kind of casually mentioned my Staudt connection as well as the “disconnect” between Michael’s bronze marker and actual grave.

She found someone with the right equipment to do the labor of moving the bronze marker and its base to the right spot last autumn.

1 Comment

  1. Val

    11 months ago  

    Another common ancestor of ours! He’s not the first one I think of – Stephan Brecht comes to mind first. I was not aware the stone was moved. It was cool to attend the original ceremony. How cool to meet new cousins!