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Philippi Family

Genealogy and Family History

The following are photographs of the siblings of Matthias Philippi taken in Germany.
Please see the family chart below the photographs.
The pictures of his family were from the time just before the Matthias and Christina Mueller Philippi
 emigration to Wisconsin, USA, in 1883.

It was the custom to exchange photographs with written sentiments just before parting.

Matthias Philippi - 1893, USA
Barbara Philippi 1829 - 1858
Daughter of Johannes and Anna Philippi was the oldest of her generation. She married local man, John Joseph Schmitt, in Heckenbach and had several children before her young death at age 29 years. She passed away many years before the Matthias Philippi family emigrated and no photograph has been found of her.

Above : the Klaes couple's daughter Elizabeth and first grandchild from the notation on the back.

Left : Maria Philippi and her husband, Joseph Klaes (also Klees).

Michael Philippi and his daughter

Gertrude Philippi Schmitt

John Philippi and wife
Anna Maria Maur

Anna Maria Philippi Klaes
Peter (Phil) Philippi 
Son of Johannes and Maria Elizabeth Philippi emigrated as a young man to Wisconsin, no photograph of him has been found.
Joseph Philippi

Family Chart
Parents and Siblings of Matthias Philippi - Heckenbach, Rheinland

Father: JOHANNES APPOLINARIS PHILIPPI, b. May 23, 1806, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen; d. October 10, 1865, Neiderheckenbach, Rheinland;
Mother: He married (1) ANNA PHILIPSEN, October 30, 1828, Heckenbach, Rheinland; b. April 29, 1806, Neiderheckenbach, Rheinland; d. 1833, Neiderheckenbach, Rheinland;
Stepmother: He married (2) MARIA ELIZABETH SCHAUT, August 19, 1833, Neiderheckenbach, Rheinland; b. September 29, 1811, Heckenbach, Rheinland, Prussia.

Full Siblings: Children of JOHANNES PHILIPPI and ANNA PHILIPSEN are:
 i. BARBARA PHILIPPI, b. May 14, 1829, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen; d. July 07, 1858, Neiderheckenbach, Rheinland; m. JOHANNES JOSEPHI SCHMITT, February 19, 1851, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland.
 ii. MATTHIAS PHILIPPI, b. November 30, 1830, Heckenbach, Rheinland; d. October 07, 1904, town of How, Oconto County, WI.
 iii. MARIA PHILIPPI, b. October 06, 1832 Heckenbach, Rheinland.

Half Siblings: Children of JOHANNES PHILIPPI and MARIA SCHAUT are:
 iv. ANNA MARIA PHILIPPI, b. June 03, 1834, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen; d. 1835.
 v. MICHAELIS PHILIPPI, b. August 14, 1836, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen; m. CHRISTINA BRUECKER, August 04, 1865, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen; b. July 01, 1839, Neiderheckenbach, Rheinland.
 vi. GERTRUDIS PHILIPPI, b. February 15, 1839, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen; d. 1903; m. JOHANNES MICHAEL SCHMITT, February 07, 1871, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen.
 vii. JOIS. PHILIPPI, b. November 08, 1841, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen.
 viii. JOIS. PHILIPPI, b. March 10, 1846, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen; m. ANNA MARIA MAUR, July 18, 1885, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen.
 ix. ANNA MARIA PHILIPPI, b. May 10, 1849, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen; m. JOHANNiS KLAES June 4, 1822, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen.
 x. ANNA PHILIPPI, b. 1850; d. 1850.
 xi. PETRUS PHILIPPI, b. September 21, 1852, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen.
 xii. JOSEPH PHILIPPI, b. April 24, 1856, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen.

 MATTHIAS PHILIPPI  was born November 30, 1830 in Heckenbach, Rheinland,
and died October 07, 1904 in town of How, Oconto County, WI.
He married (1) GERTRUDE LAMBERTZ June 28, 1856 in Niederheckenbach, Rheinland.  She was born January 02, 1834, and died 1877 in Heckenbach, Rheinland.
He married (2) CHRISTINA BRUST November 07, 1878 in Heckenbach, Rheinland, Germany, daughter of MICHAELIS BRUST and CATHARINA BINGS.  She was born October 11, 1845 in Copel, Rheinland, and died 1933 in town of How, Oconto County, WI.

 i. ELIZABETH PHILIPPI, b. March 23, 1858, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen; d. March 23, 1858, Neiderheckenbach, Rheinland.
 ii. JOHANNES PHILIPPI, b. April 11, 1859, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen.
 iii. MATTHIAS PHILIPPI, b. July 23, 1862, Katholisch, Niederheckenbach, Rheinland, Preussen.
 iv. ANTONE PHILIPPI, b. November 07, 1864.
 v. CATHARINE PHILIPPI, b. December 23, 1866.
 vi. ELIZABETHA PHILIPPI, b. September 24, 1871.

 vii. MARIA ANNA PHILIPPI, b. July 04, 1879, Neiderheckenbach, Rheinland; d. July 26, 1894, town of How, Oconto County, WI.
 viii. JOSEPH PHILIPPI, b. March 22, 1881, Heckenbach, Rheinland; d. Oct. 19, 1963, Oconto Falls, WI Hospital.
Born In USA:
 ix. JOHN APPOLINARIS PHILIPPI, b. July 22, 1883, New Frankin, town of Humbolt,  Brown County, Wi; d. July 19, 1962, Clintonville, WI.
 x. PETER PHILLIP PHILLIPPI, b. January 09, 1887, New Frankin, Brown County, Wi; d. June 26, 1972, Wausau, Marathon County, Wisconsin; m. RUTH IRENE; b. Abt. 1890, Wisconsin
 xi. ANNA CHRISTINA PHILIPPI, b. February 12, 1889, town of Humbolt, Brown County, Wisconsin; d.   February 05, 1978, Hayes, Oconto County, WI.

Matthias and Christina before America

Christina (Brust Mueller) and Matthias Philippi
Silver Wedding Anniversary Photograph

The photograph is of Matthias and Christina for their 25th wedding anniversary in 1901. Matthias was already quite ill and he passed away in 1904. Here, Matthias is age 71 and Christina is age 58. They lived in town of How, Oconto County Wisconsin at the time.

Matthias Philippi, born in Heckenbach, 1830, was a good natured man from a land owning family, which put them in the "gentleman" class in their little village of Heckenbach. The area was not highly populated and most folks worked in the mines or forests and were small plot tenant farmers  raising sheep, vegetables and grapes for generations. The Philippi family had come there in 1799 from farther north along the western Rheinland. Matthias passed down to his children, the family oral history and many good humored jokes from the "old country".  Maria, Joseph and the children from his first marriage were born in the area of rugged hills where villages were mostly clusters of homes clinging to steep hillsides. Narrow winding roads connected the villages and most daily travel was on foot. The land was rocky and not particularly futile. Ancient volcanoes had left it more suited to potato and grape growing thus there was much wine produced there, in the northern French fashion. Sheep and wool were the most common domestic farm produce, although there was some dairying and cheese making was an art. Small family gardens provided the bulk of table food and some for local trade. Matthias was the head of the large family group, as the oldest son.

There were no large cities or significant fortunes from trade in the area. When times were tough, everyone felt it, no matter where a person was on the social ladder. The church was the center of activity, entertainment, and socialization outside of a few festivals and family gathers each year. A Philippi ancestor had been made pastor of this church at the time that the family moved to Heckenbach. The Philippi family was comfortably off and although relative new comers to the area (most families go back centuries there), they were eventually looked up to and accepted as leaders in the quiet community. Everyone worked, even the better off, and the family was known for it's industry, fairness in business and kindness.

Matthias Philippi, born 1830, was oldest and only son of his father's first marriage. The Philippi family was a land owning and farming family. Matthias married on June 28, 1856, to Gertrude Lambertz, born 1834, from the same type of local family (land owners and farmers).

Children of Matthias and Gertrude:

Elizabeth Philippi - March 23, 1858 - died at birth.
Johannes Philippi - April 11, 1859
Matthias Philippi - July 23, 1862
Antone Philippi - November 07, 1864
Catharine Philippi - December 23, 1866
Elizabetha Philippi - September 24, 1871

Wife Gertrude was quite weak after that last birth at age 37, and never regained her strength. By 1876 she was unable to care for the home and children.

Christina Brust Mueller, born October 11, 1845 in the nearby town of Copel, was a widow with three young children. She had suffered quite a few serious losses in her life already by this time. When she was less than 1 year old, her mother died. Within the year her father had again married and she was the only daughter and oldest child in a large family of brothers. The Brust family was not of the land owning class.  They were tenant farmers, as were most of that rural population. Her stepmother was trained and worked as a Midwife (we have many of them in the family) to help make ends meet. Since this included spending as much as a week at the home of the newly born child, much of the responsibilities for the Brust household fell on Christina at a very young age. It was a difficult life of deprivation and hardship. Christina eventually went into Midwifery apprenticeship to her step mother and practiced the rest of her life on both continents.

Christina married John Mueller in 1871, a neighbor and also a young tenant farmer, and they had two daughters. This was a very hard economic time for the Rheinland. The population was substantially Catholic, and the ruling Prussians were Protestant. Otto Von Bismarck, in the name of Emperor Frederick Wilhelm I, used these distant provinces for 20 year mandatory military service by the young men and the local produce was used to sell or be used by the Prussian/Germany base of power.

When Christina was 6 months pregnant with their third child, John Mueller died in late 1875; the cause was not recorded. Instead of returning to her family at this time, Christina lived with her daughters and their son was born early in 1876. She then, almost immediately, started working as a domestic for Matthias and Gertrude Philippi. Family history tells us that Christina walked 5 miles twice each day from Copel to the Philippi home in Heckenbach, starting before sunrise. She prepared food for the two daughters, ages 5 and 3, and a bottle of milk for the baby was place beside him before leaving for work. Oldest daughter Margaret (age 5) watched over the two younger siblings on her own until Christina returned at sunset to prepare a meal for them, wash clothes, and do other necessary choirs. Somehow the children made it without an adult there. There was apparently no offer of help or home for Christina from her family or that of her late husband.

Children of Christina and John Mueller were:

Margaret Mueller - 1871
Catherine Mueller - 1873
John Mueller Jr. - 1876

Meanwhile, Gertrude Philippi continued to weaken and died in 1877. Christina Mueller/Muller continued to take care of the children and do the housekeeping. This was beginning to be a difficult, and far reaching, period of change for the Philippi family.

Matthias Philippi married Christina Brust Mueller, November 07, 1878, and her three children came to live in the Philippi home in Heckenbach. By this time the three sons of Matthias and his first wife, Gertrude, were in America. I have just found a record of the youngest, Anton at age 14, on his way to Wisconsin to live with his older brother John. That was 1878, the same year his father, widower Matthias Philippi, married widow Christina Mueller/Muller. That left only the two daughters from the first marriage at home. Christina was finally the "lady of the house", and wife of a successful man. However, this status was short lived. The government had wanted the two oldest sons for mandatory military service, but they were sent to America where Matthias had relatives, including a brother-in-law of the local Schmitt family,  living in Wisconsin. In a letter from the US to Matthias in Germany, son John wrote of the hard work and that he was homesick. He wanted to come back, but it would be dangerous, as at best, he world be placed on long term military duty, or jailed for equally as long, even worse, he could be shot for disloyalty to Emperor and country. He remained in the USA. This did not bode well with officials from Berlin, and they intended to take the youngest son for military at the legal age of 15. Anton joined his brothers in America the year before he turned military age.

Although two of his younger brothers had served military duty in the then independent local Rhineland, father Matthias had not, as the oldest son who ran the family farm. Conscription, the time honored practice of hiring a man to serve the military duty of a son, had recently been banned by the Prussian government. The sons of Matthias and Gertrude were facing almost certain mandatory military service, for as long as 20 years. . Heckenbach was in the region along the western Rhine that had seen itself passed back and forth between Germanic States an France for centuries. It was, at this time, a blend of cultures with a long history of death, disease and economic hardship due to the frequent changing of rulers and frequent years of warfare in the area.

The ore mines in the area  were capable of producing what was needed for the Prussian government to develop a strong industrial and military base from the resulting metals. And the coal that was needed to fuel production was available in the region.  But the biggest obstacle was the almost total lack of railroads into this underdeveloped western Rheinland/Rhineland. The local army men were at first used as manual labor to build new railroads to the mines for shipping to mills and factories. At this time, there remained strong remnents of bitterness between Catholic and Protestant populations in Germany, which had its roots in the often violent religious reformation upheavals of the 1500's and 1600's.  Both sides suffered greatly at the hands of each other.

Later, Von Bismarck had made it clear to his officials in primarily Protestant Prussia that the western Rhine/Rhein region would be used to provide the first troops into battles. These were poorly trained men with little armament and support. The battle plans had been to send large numbers of these mostly Catholic soldiers at the enemy front lines as "cannon fodder",  to use up enemy military supplies and tire those troops. Then the more highly trained and experienced Prussian soldiers would make their attack on the less capable enemy lines. Disease took more military lives than armaments did.  The men who returned home were sparse in numbers, around age  40 years, and returned to more hard times.

War was not the only difficulty facing the regional population. Unexplained chronic illnesses, related to centuries of lead and coal mining, smelting, and buring coal for factory, home heat and cooking increasingly affected the population, especially the children, and therefore the economy. The  word "lead" is an old English word originating in Germany. Centuries a mining, smelting ore and burning the soft coal of the Heckenbach area, going back before the ancient Roman Empire invaded the land in the B.C. era, had left high levels of iron and lead contaminates in the local and regional soil. Trace amounts of lead and iron were available through foods, water and were absorbed and accumulated in the body by intestines, lungs and skin.  Foods such as fruit, vegetables, meats, grains, seafood, soft drinks and wine contained significant amounts of lead.

Immediate exposure to lead at relatively low concentrations through food, drink, working land, blacksmithing and mining has been known for centuries to cause severe digestive disorders (abdominal colic), eventually leading to anemia, hearing damage/deafness, the deadly "colica Pictomum/Poitou" with severe abdominal pain followed by paralysis and nervous system dysfunctions (often also introduced from lead water pipes and lead treated wine and fresh apple cider to enhance the flavor).  These, and other heavy metal pollutants, were absorbed in the local crops planted and ingested by the residents over many generations and the accumulated effects added illnesses caused by genetic mutations. The early days of the Industrial Revolution of the 1700 and 1800's increased lead contamination and exposure significantly. 

Lead contaminants can also cause several unwanted effects, such as:
- A rise in blood pressure

- Kidney damage
- Miscarriages
- Disruption of nervous systems
- Brain damage that can be inherited
- Declined fertility of men through sperm damage
- Diminished learning abilities of children
- Behavioral disruptions of children, such as aggression, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity

Lead can enter a fetus through the placenta of the mother. Because of this it can cause serious damage to the nervous system and the brains of unborn children.  

The dwindling population of that region had been struggling with these symptoms a long time.

The genetic effects of environmental lead

F. M. Johnson

Toxicology Operations Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, PO Box 12233, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA


This article reviews the effects of lead on genetic systems in the context of lead's various other toxic effects and its abundance and distribution in the environment. Lead is perhaps the longest used and best recognized toxic environmental chemical, yet it continued be used recklessly until only very recently. Lead is thus a lesson in the limitations and strengths of science, human conscience and common sense. Lead has been tested and found to be capable of eliciting a positive response in an extraordinarily wide range of biological and biochemical tests; among them tests for enzyme inhibition, fidelity of DNA synthesis, mutation, chromosome aberrations, cancer and birth defects. It reacts or complexes with many biomolecules and adversely affects the reproductive, nervous, gastrointestinal, immune, renal, cardiovascular, skeletal, muscular and hematopoietic systems as well as developmental processes. It is likely that lead is a selective agent that continues to act on and influence the genetic structure and future evolution of exposed plant and animal (including Human) populations.

When the Prussian government learned that the three military age Philippi sons, along with the sons of countless other Rheinlander families, emigrated, the fury from the loss was swift and great. At first the government threatened to force Matthias to serve in his youngest son's place, but already being 53 years of age, they decided to demand his son return or Matthias would be jailed until that happened. With chronic lung problems, that was a death sentence. Antone and the two older brothers remained in the US, and Matthias made plans to take his present family and join them. The government threatened to take the family land and money. The family holding were transferred to his youngest brother, Joseph, who had already served military duty for Prussia. The government  was not able to take the family land this way. It is possible that Matthias had planned to return someday, but that would not be their future, as the government leaders, under Von Bismarck, had many years in power. Matthias and his adult siblings exchanged photographs and warm messages farewell before they left from Port of Antwerp in 1883, which were found in an old box, stored in the attic of the family home in Wisconsin. The two daughters of his first marriage, Catherine and Elizabeth, decided to stay in Germany at the last minute. They are not found in records as living with their uncle Joseph on the family land in Heckenbach, and with whom they lived and their lives remain a mystery.
 Although there was some post World War II correspondance from Düsseldorf with Philippi married female descendants experiencing difficult times in Germany, who were sent CARE packages by the late John and Catherine Philippi in Oconto County, Wisconsin, the surnames and addresses of those in Germany were not kept and have been lost. 


Pre World War II image

The church in the background, also seen in the image above, is the only original building left, all others seen in this recent postcard were built after World War II.

The local Heckenbach area is circled.

The land on which Heckenbach rested has numerous hot springs left from ancient volcanic activity. One source states the very old name Heckenbach means "live creek", as the word hecken means "to breed or hatch", an accurate description of the spring fed stream that flowed from that hillside through the village. Another source states that it means "hedge creek." It was named originally for a Frankish camp called Adagana.
Hagana/Hagen/Hage/Hage/Hecke mean hedge/brush/thicket. 

Bach/beck/beisch/baugh means creek.

Water and volcanic soil combine to provided the steep, sheltered hillsides with the fine conditions for successful vineyards. The climate is moderate with the average low temperature of 36 degrees and average high temperature of 64 degrees F. The soil is poor for other crops and the rocky hills hinder cultivation on a large scale, so sheep and cows graced the hillsides producing wool and cheese for home use and trade. There were few roads, so people traveled footpaths following rivers and streams, and the deeply cut valleys divided the steep hills.

 The original name of the village was Ad Hagana, meaning "on the creek" in Latin. Romans had brought the language to the region during their empire occupation on a southeastern tributary of the Rhein/Rhine. The name was changed to Hagenbach in German after the fall of the Roman Empire. In the year 772 it was first called Heckenbach. Clusters of bushes and small trees grow along the brook which has it's start as a spring. The creek flows into the Staffelbach, which empties into the Ahr at the town of Brück. 

The village was in a township called the Heckenbach Ländchen. It consisted of Heckenbach and a few neighboring villages. The village of Heckenbach was divided into two parts, Nieder and Oberheckenbach (lower and upper), with Neiderheckenbach 170 feet higher up the hillside. 

In the year 772 Bertrudis and her son, Wannig, presented their property in Ad Hagana to the monastery in Kesseling. And so it belonged throughout the Frankish rule to the Ahr province. In a sense it does again, being in the present-day administrative district of Ahrweiler, a city on the Ahr about 35 km south of Bonn. 

After 1200, that province fell into 15 feudal estates. The fief of Heckenbach, along with two others, was owned by a noble family in Königsfeld (now Niederzissen) for fifty years until that family died out. In the turbulent and complex German history, the little town was shuffled among various governing districts controlled by a succession of lords and counts. These changes of ownership were brought about by inheritance, royal decree, direct sale, war, or church dictum from Rome. For a time the Hapsburgs of Austria controlled the area. Then King Rudolph von Hapsburg presented the land to Gerhard I and then Gerhard II, who controlled it for 100 years. Dietrich von Schönberg gained possession in 1371. In 1397, the town was divided, Oberheckenbach going to Friedrich von der Tomburg and the other portion to his brother, Bernhard. In 1404 the area was pledged to Count Ruprecht von Virneberg. From 1430 to 1460 the proprietor was Sir Krafft von Saffenburg.

All during these centuries times were hard and life expectancy was low.  Mining was hazardous.  People commonly had many children, of whom few survived.  Sometimes the records show two children of the same family with the same first name, because the first child died and its name was "reused." 

The 30 Years War (1618-1648) devastated Europe. The Eifel went under French control from 1648 until 1762, and again from 1794-1814 at the hands of Napoleon, when Heckenbach was made a commune under the mayor of Königsfeld. In the interim, in 1767, the Bessenheim family of Counts received the holdings of Heckenbach (along with Kassel, Watzel, Fronrath, Langhault, and Kohlhof.) After Napoleon's defeat the territory reverted to Prussia, but the community continued until the World War II destruction. During the 1800s taxes were high and there were famines, particularly in 1817, but forests and mines were exploited to provide material for trade, and some meager farming activity took place. 

In 1936, the Heckenbach Ländchen (5 villages) was selected as a Luftwaffenübungsplatz.  That is, an air force training grounds for the Nazi military.  There were protests, such as by the bishop of Trier, but all 650 inhabitants of the ländchen (99 from Oberheckenbach and 147 from Niederheckenbach among them) were evacuated by November 1938.  They were paid for their losses of buildings, land, and crops, according to a formula.  And they were resettled elsewhere.  The land saw brief use as Herman Göring's personal hunting grounds.

The military moved in and used the old half-timbered barns and houses for target practice.  In the case of Oberheckenbach, every structure was destroyed except the old chapel, built in 1730.  Niederheckenbach lost all but part of its church. 

The bombs created a large crater outside of town which is used today as a reservoir.  The bombing was soon completed by the Luftwaffe and while World War II raged elsewhere, it was quiet in the Heckenbach area. 

After the war a resettlement took place.  In 1950, 65 families came in from heavily damaged parts of Germany.  The industrious settlers cleared land and planted crops.  They also raised Corsican sheep, which Göring had introduced.  Soon a handful of houses and an inn were built.  The church was restored in 1958 and a school was opened.  In 1960, the citizens reformed the community to include Beilstein, Blasweiler, Frankenau, Niederheckenbach, and Oberheckenbach, with a total population of 380. 

In May 1972, the community celebrated the 1200-year anniversary of the village's beginning  with a 4-day festival.  Along with music and dancing, there were speeches relating the local history, celebrating the recent progress and predicting a bright future. The area is a scenic recreation area favored by motorcyclists, campers and hikers.

In October 2000 a network of historic footpaths (about 18 km) was dedicated, connecting the varied landscape of low streams and steep hills, juniper moor and thick forest.

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