Keyser France


About Heinz Küsel




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Keyser Family History

Brief History of my Keyser Ancestry

The origin and meaning of the name is unclear, but it is believed that it is derived from the german word for Emperor or Caeser namely, Kaiser.

From the very beginning the Keyser's lived in Alsace. The Alsations (people of Alsace) speak there own German dialect called Alsation. They consider themselves as Alsations (of which they are very proud) and neither German nor French. Alsace, situated where it is, west of the Rhine valley has a long history of then being part of Germany and later again being part of France. It has now been part of France, in the province known as Alsace-Lorraine for more than a century.

There seems to be a long tradition, namely three generations, of Lock-keepers in the Keyser family. Up to this day the Lock at Vendenheim in Alsace, France of which my great Grandfather Friedrich Keyser was the Lock-keeper, is still operational. The operation of the lock today is however mechanised, but is still operated by a lock-keeper. The house in which my grandfather Fritz Keyser lived as a child is also still there and looks virtually the same as it did a century ago. When grandfather Fritz returned to his fatherland for the first time in the 1950's, since leaving in 1911, he made a pencil sketch of his childhood home. This is now my proud possession and has a prominent position in our living room.

Just as with my Küsel ancestors approximately 60 years earlier, grandfather Friedrich Keyser left his fatherland to become a missionary in Africa.

Keyser Ancestry (France)

My family roots in France

The first recorded ancestor from my mother's (Keyser) side was Georg Keyser who's occupation was Lock-keeper in the north eastern French province of Alsace.

From this generation more detail is available but I will only mention those direct in line of my lineage.

Legend : * = Born, + = Died, ¥ = Married.

Great- Great- Great Grandfather

I - Georg Keyser

    Georg Keyser (Lock-keeper), * Schmieheim in Baden in 1783, + Alsace 16 February 1829, ¥ Magdalena Walter.

Great- Great Grandfather

    Georg Keyser (Lock-keeper), * Obenheim, Alsace 12 January 1817, + Klingental, Alsace, ¥ , L?? Alsace 20 January 1845 Anna Marie Christ, * 1 May 1816 Botzheim, + 11 September 1878 Obenheim, Daughter of ?? Christ, * 17 September 1784 in Obenheim, Alsace and Anna Maria ?? * 24 January 1783 in L??, Alsace, ¥ 27 Juni 1811 in L??, Alsace.

Great Grandfather

II - Georg Keyser
III - Friedrich Keyser

Friedrich Keyser (Lock-keeper), * Obenheim, Alsace 16 November 1853, + 25 June 1918 Vendenheim, Alsace, ¥ Louise Kögler Obenheim 23 September 1879, * Obenheim 8 March 1851, + 14 August 1911, Vendenheim, Daughter of Friedrich Kögler, * 1 September 1822 Obenheim, + 8 April 1892 Obenheim and ¥ 27 December 1847 Obenheim Eva Buldenspergen, * 5 May 1824 Obenheim, + 17 June 1907 Obenheim. 8 Children were born from this marriage:

IV - 1 Louise Keyser, * 13 July 1881 Obenheim
IV - 2 Friederich (Fritz) Keyser, * 19 March 1882 Obenheim, my grandfather
IV - 3 Salome Keyser, * 21 March 1884 Heinrichsdorf
IV - 4 Georg Keyser, * 20 February 1885 Heinrichsdorf
IV - 5 Philipp Keyser, * 10 April 1886 Vendenheim
IV - 6 Friedericke (Rickel) Keyser, * 3 November 1887 Vendenheim
IV - 7 Sophie Keyser, * 19 June 1889 Vendenheim
IV - 8 Lydia Keyser, * 8 May 1891 Vendenheim

The second child was my grandfather. Louise, Salome, Georg, Rickel and Lydia never married. Georg was killed in action in World War I. Apart from grandfather Fritz only Philipp and Sophie had children. We still have contact with these descendants in Europe.


IV - Friedrich Keyser

    Friedrich (Fritz) Keyser, * 19 March 1882 Obenheim Alsace France, + ?? 1969 Pietermaritzburg (Buried at Bishopstower Lutheran cemetry near Pietermaritzburg), KwaZulu-Natal South Africa, ¥ Marie Knoop 16 July 1914, * 24 June 1892 Glückstadt Vryheid KwaZulu-Natal, + ?? Ekombela KwaZulu-Natal (Buried at Braunschweig Lutheran cemetry near Paulpietersburg), daughter of ?? Knoop. 5 Children were born at Ekombela Mission Station, Paulpietersburg KwaZulu-Natal. The children were:

V - 1 Hartwig Georg Heinrich Keyser, * 1 August 1917
V - 2 Friedrich Ludwig Johannes Keyser, * 19 August 1919
V - 3 Hildegard Minna Salome Küsel (nee Keyser), * 16 December 1921
V - 4 Lydia Bruwer (nee Keyser), * 13 November 1924
V - 5 Sylvia Schwegmann (nee Keyser), * 7 May 1929


V - Hildegard Minna Salome Keyser

    Hildegard Minna Salome Küsel (nee Keyser), * 16 December 1921 Ekombela, + Durban (KwaZulu-Natal) 2 April 1985 (Buried at Braunschweig Lutheran cemetry near Paulpietersburg), ¥ Lüneburg (KwaZulu-Natal) 23 April 1942 Wilhelm Fritz Erwin Küsel, * Lüneburg (KwaZulu-Natal) 23 March 1911, + Pretoria (Gauteng) 12 September 1984 (Buried at Braunschweig Lutheran cemetry near Paulpietersburg), grandson of Friedrich Jürgen Christoph Küsel (South African Küsel Ancestry):

Extract from Diary

The following is a brief extract from my grandfathers oldest sister's diary. After World War I she requested her siblings to destroy this diary as she was a German sympathiser. This was dangerous for some one living in Alsace, France at the time. Luckily it was never destroyed and it is in possession of Hedwig Trautmann who is the daughter of Sophie Keyser the second youngest sister of my grandfather.

16 March 1910 Fritz passes his Missionary exam at Hermannsburg, Germany.
28 March 1910 Fritz is ordained by Pastor Wagner in Chor der Jung St Peters Church. Text John 20 verses 19-23. Witnesses: Pastor Horning, Luke 24:32 and Pastor Hasselmann, Hebrews 4:14.
30 March 1910 Fritz is engaged to Hanna Stricker. John 20:19-20.
1 April 1910 Fritz becomes pastor in training (Vikar) in Metz, Lorraine, France.
9 August 1911 Hanna Stricker breaks the engagement to Fritz.
14 August 1911 Death of Fritz's mother.
25 - 30 August 1911 I (Louise) accompany Fritz to Hermannsburg and could experience how much love and friendship he had enjoyed there. His final preparations for his missionary career were in the evenings at 8 o'clock. Text 1 Timothy 2:4-7. Hymms "Ist Gott für mich" (Is God for me) and "Mein Schöpfer steh mir bei" (My creator stand by me).
23 September 1911 Fritz begins his trip to Africa. Father accompanies him to Antwerp, Belgium. From there he leaves on the ship Rhenania on 25 September 1911.
1914 The first news in the new year is the egagement of Fritz to Mariechen Knoop from Vryheid. May they enjoy much happiness.
16 July 1914 Wedding of Mariechen and Fritz. (Further news from Africa was cut off due to out break of World War I).
December 1914 We receive news that Fritz has been captured by the British, and is being held in Pietermaritzburg. (This was due to his German background).
21 March 1915 Good news from Mariechen, which we received via Switzerland, that Fritz was well. As he was still detained, Mariechen was staying with her aunt in Sejuna Trieft.
26 March 1915 We receive a letter from Fritz.
1 July 1915 Fritz writes that he and other missionaries have been freed from detention, but are still not allowed back to their respective mission stations.
15 July 1916 Fritz writes that they had a stillborn son on 25 July, and that Mariechen's life was still hanging on a thread.
October 1917 We receive the happy news of the birth of a baby son on 1 August. He was christend with the names - Hartwig Georg Heinrich.
23 September 1919 We receive the news that another baby son, Friedrich Ludwig Johannes, was born on 19 August 1919. Friedrich Keyser III celebrated his 80th birthday on 21 August 1999, by inviting all the Keyser dependants in South Africa, to his farm Rosewood in the district of Richmond, KwaZulu-Natal.

This is the last entry into Louise's diary.

My mother Hildegard Minna Saloma Küsel (nee Keyser) was born on 16 December 1921, on Ekombela Mission Station. On 23 April 1942 she marries my father Wilhelm Fritz Erwin Küsel, a farmer from the neighbouring farm Welbedacht.

Keyser Descendants


I.A - Philipp Keyser

Philipp Keyser, * Vendenheim 10 April 1886, + Greiz (East Germany) 1969, ¥ ....., He was working as a missionary nurse ("Diakon") in East Germany when World War II broke out. After the war when Germany was divided up by the allies, he landed up in Soviet occupied East Germany. He had two children who still live in the previous East Germany.

Walter Keyser
Gisela Bollman (nee Keyser)

I.B - Sophie Keyser

Sophie Keyser, * Vendenheim 19 June 1889, + Lembach, Alsace, never married but had a child Hedwig Trautmann (nee Keyser).

II.B - Hedwig Keyser

Hedwig Trautmann (nee Keyser), * Strassbourg Alsace, married Georg Trautmann just before World War II in Alsace. They have 4 children.

Jean (Hans) Trautmann, * Lembach, Alsace
Liesel Trautmann, * Lembach, Alsace 1943
Sylvia Trautmann (twin), * Lembach, Alsace 1945
Lydia Trautmann (twin), * Lembach, Alsace 1945

When WW II started in 1939 many people from Alsace were detained because of their so called German connections, by the French. Later when Hitler's German troops captured France they were again detained because they were French. Still later however, they were called up by Hitler to fight for Germany because they were "German". This also happend to Hedwig's husband Georg. Hedwig Trautmann had two young children and was pregnant when World War II ended. The last time Hedwig heared from Georg was towards the end of 1944 when he was fighting somewhere in Poland. She never heard from him again, and she assumed he went missing in action. No one could however tell whether he died in action or was maybe captured by the Russians and detained somewhere in their labour camps. The twins, Sylvia and Lydia, never knew their father. Jean and Liesel obviously remember very little of him. Hedwig had a very hard time bringing up her four children, as a single parent, during the hard times after the war. Her only son Jean (Hans) tragically died in a car accident in 1969. The twins Sylvia and Lydia married the brothers Albert and Hermann Fortmann. Below a short summary of their offspring.

Albert (bookkeeper) and Sylvia Fortmann have 4 children and live in Lembach, Alsace.

Christian Fortmann, divorced has a son Mathieu
Bruno Fortmann ¥ Natalie
Jean-Luc Fortmann ¥ Rachel Haessig (Sons: Daniel & André)
Isabelle ¥ Philipp Vogler

Hermann (farmer) and Lydia Fortmann have 6 children and live in Ober-Soulzbach, Alsace.

Marc Fortmann ¥ Anne Catharine (Sons: Stephane, Sébastien, Samuel)
Cathy ¥ Frédéric Vogler (Daughter: Manon, Son: Hugo)
Bethy ¥ Frédéric Ludwig (Son: Christian, Daughter: Ande)
Pierre (Peter) Fortmann ¥ Cardine Fritzinger
Remy Fortmann ¥ Rosine Ludwig (Daughter: Sophie, Son: Simon)
Heidi Fortmann

Anybody who knows any of the above persons or any of their descendants, family or friends, please send an E-Mail to Heinz Küsel or write to the address on my home page.

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Last modified: November 01, 2002