Last year during our trip to the Shenandoah Valley, my husband and I visited the Menno Simmons Historical Library at Eastern Mennonite University. There I discovered Peggy Joyner’s book, Frederich & Peter Hanger of Virginia: 1740 Immigrants Some Ancestors & Descendants. Frederich is my 6x great-grandfather. He and his father, Melchior, were the first of my ancestors to immigrate into the Shenandoah Valley from Württemburg, Germany.
You can read about last year’s trip in my blog, “Visiting With My Ancestors”.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Peggy, who conducted extensive research into the Hengerer/Hanger families. She also had translated important early church records that were in German. Her work has made it possible for others to learn about their roots in the Hanger family.
In her book about Frederich and Peter Hanger, she wrote about an artifact that Frederich and his wife, Eva, had donated to a Lutheran church in Woodstock, Virginia . This is what she wrote about it:
Frederich Hanger's name is also a matter of history in Woodstock, the county seat of Shenandoah County. Jacob Miller of Woodstock donated lots 140 and 141 to Martin Fulse, Frederich Dellinger and Frederich Hanger for the Lutheran congregation to "Erect and Build a Church thereon and a school house if necessary" on 6 Nov. 1764. This church is Emmanuel's Church. An altar cloth embroidered in German was donated by Eva and Frederich. The translation, "Friederich Hengerer, Eva Maragreda Hengerin, Woodstock To God Alone the Glory 1767. Klaus Wust, author of The Virginia Germans, commented in 1975, "The Woodstock Lutheran Church has a table cloth that was a wedding gift to Friederich Hengerer and Eva Margreda Hengerin in 1767. It has been labeled altar cloth in recent years but is actually nothing but a typical wedding gift for a young couple and the embroideries are very much like the fraktur designs."
After reading about it, I knew I would have to visit it! This summer during our annual trip to the Valley for the Hanger reunion, my husband, his parents and I all made the trip to Woodstock to check it out. My husband’s mother is also a Hanger (for more information on that, you should really check out my “Visiting With My Ancestors” blog).
Even if it was originally "nothing but a typical wedding gift," the church definitely used it as an alter cloth since then.
The alter cloth is framed and hangs in a social hall at the church. There, in the presence of this fragile cloth, I felt a momentary connection to my 6x great-grandparents, Frederick and Eva. It made the past come to life for me as I imagined them in their church gathered around that very cloth.
This is why it is so important to preserve not only the stories and histories of our ancestors, but also the artifacts we find as well!
Unfortunately, the cloth is not aging very well and is in need of some attention in order to preserve it for future generations. With the help of my cousin, Glenn Hanger, plans are underway to do just that!
It is so important to preserve those rare artifacts that connect us to our past and provide a touchstone to those who came before! What stories and/or artifacts do you want to know more about in your family’s history?
If you have ever wondered about your family history, or heard stories about certain family heirlooms, and would like to find out more, you can always contact me to start a conversation about how I can help you.