Gordon Small's Family & Genealogy

The German Word Baden Literally Means "Bathe"

Geographically, Baden refers to more than one place and some of these places have confusingly modified their names in the course of their history. Particularly difficult for family researchers is deciding whether an ancestor's coming "from Baden" means that the person was from the former German "state" of Baden (a regional entity, covering a lot of square mileage) or from Baden-Baden, an individual town of more limited size, which is situated within that state.

This is the neighborhood in Varnhalt where Gerhard Reith and
Emil Schmalzlive today. (the houses on the left) Stephan Schmalz,
Roman's grandfather, and his wife Elsa also lived there.

Gerhard Reith in his vinyard

The Schmalz family originated from the villages of Gallenbach and Varnhalt near Steinbach. All these places are in very close proximity to each other (within 5 miles) and today are all part of Baden-Baden. In the mid 1800's the Schmalz family were "winegrowers" in the area (read the translations of the Parish Register Entries). The village of Varnhalt continues to be well-known for its wine. Roman Reith's father, Gerhard Reith, and his brother-in-law, Emil Schmalz, still have their own vineyards in the area.

Baden - The State

Baden, the former state, was politically a former margravate and former grand duchy of southwestern Germany, individually 3,842 square miles in area. After World War Two the state of Baden was combined with the formerly separate and neighboring state of Württemberg and became known as "Baden-Würtemberg".

The former state of Baden bordered on France and the Rhenish Palatinate (German region of Rheinland-Pfalz) in the west, Switzerland in the south, Hesse (German region of Hessen) in the north, and the German regions of Bavaria (Bayern) and Württemberg in the east. Major cities in the state of Baden included Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Pforzheim, Heidelberg, Freiburg, and Rastatt and, in the south, most of the large area known as the "Black Forest (Schwarzwald in German).

Until the French Revolution the area was a confusing patchwork of petty margravates, sovereign border territories with individual rulers, known as margraves, and states governed by church hierarchies. In 1771, the originally separate margravates of Baden-Baden in the south and Baden-Durlach in the north were united and called simply "Baden" under the same branch of the Zähringen, Baden's ruling house.

In 1806, through the instrumental participation of Napoleon Bonaparte, Baden was created a grand duchy; an enlarged and more prestigious sovereign territory known as a "Grossherzogtum" in German. The designation of "Grossherzogtum Baden", sometimes shown on an ancestor's German-language documents, simply means "Grand Duchy of Baden" and refers to the overall state of Baden during this era, including all the cities, towns and villages within its borders. The existing ruler of the former margravate was henceforth created a grand duke ("Grossherzog" in German) a sovereign just below the rank of a king.

The grand duchy of Baden was severely shaken by the Baden Revolution of 1848, which temporarily unseated the Grand Duke Leopold before being forcibly suppressed with the help of Prussian troops. Baden later sided with Austria (against the German kingdom of Prussia, Baden's ally) in the Austro-Prussian War (1866), but nevertheless joined the newly unified German Empire in 1871. For the next 47 years as part of the Empire, Baden still maintained its status as a grand duchy, with the reigning hereditary grand duke of the house of Zähringen continuing as local ruler. Following World War One in 1918, the Grand Duke abdicated along with most of Europe's monarchs and Baden ended its status as a grand duchy and joined the so-called "Weimar Republic" in Germany.

After World War Two ended in 1945, Baden was temporarily divided into two parts, and for a time was occupied by U.S. armed forces. In 1952 the separate states of Baden and Württemberg were officially merged along with the formerly separate state of Hohenzollern to form the new state of Baden-Württemberg, the official name under which it continues today. The central Neckar River region with the state capital of Baden-Wuerttemberg at Stuttgart (population 584,000) is the modern industrial and cultural center. During the era following World War Two in which Germany was politically divided, Baden-Wuerttemberg was within the boundaries of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BDR), or West Germany. The near half-century of "separate Germanies" ended in 1990, with the removal of the infamous Berlin Wall and formal re-unification of the German nation.

Baden / Baden-Baden - The City

The town of Baden-Baden, formerly known as Baden, was always situated within the former state of Baden in southwestern Germany, and since 1952 part of the modern state of Baden-Württemberg. The German town of Baden-Baden is located on the edge of the "Black Forest" (Schwarzwald) region, southwest of the large city of Karlsruhe and not far from Germany's western border with France.

Originally known Only as "Baden," this town was officially redesignated as "Baden-Baden" in 1931. The town of Baden-Baden was founded as a Roman garrison in the 3rd century, and remains of Roman baths have been found in the city. Baden-Baden has been popular with patrons of its natural mineral springs as one of Europe's most fashionable bathing spas for centuries. (The word "spa" comes from the Latin salus per aquae, "health through the waters.") Victoria, Britain's queen from 1837-1901, was an annual visitor who made the health benefits of Baden-Baden's springs especially desirable during her reign. The official 1931 name change to Baden-Baden largely came about to distinguish the German town of Baden from spa towns of the same name which are located in other countries. The double name was intended to convey the concept of the "town of Baden within the state of Baden," placing it very specifically within Germany in geographic terms. The area Reformation Act of the 1970's reshaped Baden-Baden with the acquisition of the town of Steinbach and the villages of Ebersteinburg, Fremersberg, Gallenbach, Haueneberstein, Nägelsförst, Neuweier, Sandweier, Schneckenbach, Umweg and Varnhalt.

Baden[-Baden] was the town of residence of the margraves (early sovereigns) of the state of Baden until the early 18th century. The town also has many parks and a large casino (built 1821–24). The estimated population of the town of Baden-Baden was about 54,000 in 2005.


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