Klaus is the oldest identified ancestor of the Immigrant Martin. He was first found in the Witzenhausen City Records in 1877. He was probably born ca. 1825 in the hills surrounding the city. The family surname is said to be derived from two German words meaning "water-carrier". His family likely served the shepherds and the sheep. Witzenhausen had a prosperous economy. Wool, cherries and other agricultural produce would be transported down the Werra River to the walled town. Wool weavers in town had earned the reputation of being the finest in all of Europe by 1500. In 1479, a fire devastated Witzenhausen, destroying half the houses and the City Hall. Many of the skilled workers died, were homeless or deserted the town. Some time during this period Klaus moved into town, learned a trade and was listed as "town woolweaver". He was so successful that for three generations the Bornträger descendants became Mayors, one attended the first protestant University and all moved up the economic scale.
Top: A depiction of the city in 1700. Notice the commerce by boat, the walled city defended by defensive towers, the hills behind and the river as a moat and the bridge with the only entry to town. The tree is a cherry tree for which the town is still famous.
Left: A geographical map of the Werra River Valley and Witzenhausen, Province of Hesse, the port city.
In order to see the genealogy of Klaus and his descendants, click the 'Genealogy' button to the left. The Genealogy pages also contain notes with more information.
We are indebted for almost everything we know about the Bornträger's in Germany to the research of Martin Schlabach and his 'Family Research" written in 1973 and now available at the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College in Goshen, IN.
I visited all the sites occupied by the Bornträger family in Germany in 2013 and then produced a pictorial history with considerable analysis of concurrent historical events and many more pictures of my own. In this pictorial history, I disclose the link between Martin Bornträger and the Leyenberger Bible. If anyone is interested in this project, I am able to print a copy in 8 1/2" x 11" format with a spiral binding and send to you for $14 plus postage. Contact me at my e-mail address.