Based on the book,

"The House Family of the Mohawk"

by Melvin Rhodes Shaver¹
The Enterprise & News, St. Johnsville, New York²


   The following of the House Family in its journey with the Palatinate refugees from Germany to England, and with the assistance of Good Queen Anne and the Rev. Kocherthal to America, and its genealogical lines since reaching these shores in years 1708 to 1710 has been a more momentous undertaking than I anticipated when beginning the task.
   The early history of the family was taken from records found in the archives of the Mohawk Valley; the latter history from members of the present generation.
   Errors there may be and omissions also, but these must be excused as only the data which each branch or member thereof furnished could be used in the records.
   With gratitude to those who in any way assisted in the gathering of the records. I submit them for your approval.

Melvin Rhodes Shaver
Ransomville, NY, 1942


by Jeff Hause

The village chapel overlooking Großaltenstädten.
   In the early 1700s, JOHANN CHRISTIAN HAUß was a peasant in the village of Großaltenstädten, seven miles north of Wetzlar, west of Gießen, in the Herzogtum (or Duchy) of Solms-Hohensolms—or what is now called the state of Hessen in Germany. There are still members of the Hauß line living in that area today: for instance, in a quick Google search for this family history, I found 78 year-old Eva Hauß placing second in her bracket with her souped-up wheelchair at the 10K "Run 'n' Roll for Help in Giessen" in 2001.
   Johann Christian Hauß wasn't a Baron or a Noble—he was just a carpenter. He had struggled to survive through wars, plagues, environmental disasters, and purges for around 45 years. (Which makes for a lot of steady rebuilding work if you're a carpenter. Unfortunately it also means that nobody can pay you for it.)
   So, in 1709, Johann Christian Hauß took his wife and his six-to-eight kids to the New World. He was already older than most when he made the trip—45 years was a long time to live in the 17th Century (especially in Germany). But he wanted to provide a safer, happier future for his sons and daughters.
   The family would move several times in this fashion over the next few hundred years—always towards the untamed wilderness, searching for a better future for the coming generations. And somehow, 300 years later, here we are.

   Until 1100 AD, most people in Europe had only one name (in fact this is still true in some scattered areas). As infant baptism was an integral part of church rites, the common practice was that the baby would take the given name of its sponsor at the christening—which resulted in a very limited number of names being used. Six or seven for either sex would have covered 90% of the population of Germania—Margaretha, Elisabetha, Juliana, Katharina, Susanna, Dorothea, Konrad, Georg, Jakob, Philipp, Adam, and Johannes. Sometimes the name was preceded by a courtesy saint's name, which had to be Johann for boys and could be Anna or Maria for girls.
   Soon tracking down a particular "Johann" in a large village became a nightmare. As the population began to grow in ever-expanding towns and villages, there needed to be a way to differentiate between all of the Johns, Williams and Roberts living in the same area.
   To overcome this problem, the use of family names (or "surnames") came into vogue in the 14th and 15th centuries. Each family's name evolved from definable characteristics of the head member. For instance, if the tallest William in town was called "William the long fellow," then ultimately he became "William Longfellow." It was also common to select a term indicating the person’s location or occupation. So "John who lives by the apple orchard," eventually became "John Appleby" (which eventually became a very mediocre restaurant chain, but that's another story).
   The "Hause" or "Hauß" surname is German in origin, and is a cognate of the Old English word "hus," meaning "house." According to the New Dictionary of American Names, by Elsdon C. Smith, the name is a locational term, meaning "dweller at" or "in a house for which money was paid." The name may have been initially borne by someone who owned his own house, or by someone who had some connection to the most important house in the town of origin ... Or maybe it just refers back to a village in the Netherlands, named Haus, Aas or Aus. In each of these areas, the name is pronounced differently. There were countless variations on the name in pronounciation and spelling from region to region—especially in Germany:

Modern English
High Alemannic
Standard German
Swabian German
Hüüs [hy-s]

   Elements are often added to the surname's stem to tell something of the bearer's place of origin, character, or religious beliefs. And since languages at this time were rarely formalized, the spelling would change from country to country, village to village, and even from father to son. So before long there were Hausens, Hauslers, Hausendorfs, Hausers, Hausmans, Hausermanns, Hauseners, Haussenauers, and finally, and simply, our line's "Hauß," then "Hauss," then "Haus" (sometimes spelled "Havs" or "Haws," as "u," "w" and "v" could be interchangeable at that time). Eventually somebody in the New World added an "e" at the end of the name... probably because it looks so darned cool that way.
   There were many Dutch and English variations on the Hauß name. But families using our family's Coat of Arms were first recorded during the early Middle Ages around the Rhine River, which was then the base of the Holy Roman Empire. They formed alliances with other influential families in the region and were given the Hauß surname. The bearers of that monicker and its many offshoots prospered in politics, religious careers and military service. By the 16th Century, the Hauß family had branched out into all parts of Europe—holding titles and estates in France, Germany, Prussia and Italy. The French branch was raised to nobility in 1722. The Prussian branch became Barons in 1814, and were joined by the German branch in 1868. Our line of the family wasn't so fortunate...

"In the census of 1713-1714 is shown that Christian Hauss and wife Maria Catherina together with eight children are living at New-Heesburg on the Hudson River. It can be easily seen that most of these children were by the first wife and bears out a tradition in the House family that 'six brothers came from England to America together.'"
—"The House Family of the Mohawk," by Melvin Rhodes Shaver. Publisher: St. Johnsville: Enterprise, 1942. Chapter 1, Page 3.

Book Information
Book Image
Name: The House Family of the Mohawk
Author: Melvin Rhodes Shaver
Publisher: St. Johnsville: Enterprise
Year: 1942
Pages: 36
View book (.PDF)
A book tracing the descendants of Johann Christian Hauß.
   Up to now, the only scholarly work on Johann Christian Hauß and his descendants was a 32-page book called The House Family of the Mohawk. The book was culled from a series of newspaper articles² chronicling the family history after Johann Christian Hauß came to America, and tracing only a few lines of the family (whose last name had become the Anglicized "House"). It was written by Melvin Rhodes Shaver, based on his research with genealogist Frank D. Duel, from 1933 (the original documents are now held in the Grace Stubbs-Rice collection at Cornell University). But the book is barely 20 pages (with a few extra blank sleeves for "genealocical notes," and next to nothing had been written of the family history back in Germany, or descendants from other lines. Shaver had updated the lines to 1942, but nothing had been written since. My line isn't even included. So I've decided to update all of the lines, and add what I can. Hopefully, future generations will add more.
   We are the descendants of Johann Christian Hauß—Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution (though family members fought on both sides, as Patriots and Loyalists). Our family has survived the plague, the French raids on the Palatinate, the War of 1812, the Civil War, two World Wars... heck, we even survived the dreaded "Millennium bug!" We are teachers, writers, artists, store owners, carpenters and farmers (with a black sheep or two thrown in). We are German, English, and Dutch—with a little Indian mixed in. We traveled with the tide of immigrants that streamed north from the Atlantic seaboard, up the forested basin of the Hudson to the Mohawk Valley, veered west into the Finger Lakes, battled upriver to Lake Erie, flowed along the wild rivers of Michigan—and then trickled down the West Coast, where we crashed onto the coast of the shining Pacific Ocean... where I sit like so much useless flotsam, typing up this family history (okay, maybe I took the water metaphor a little far).
   We are the Hause family, damnit...hear us roar...or at least boast a little bit. Click on the photo, below, and begin your journey with the Hauß line to the New World...













¹—Lockport Deputy Sheriff Melvin Rhodes Shaver (26 Aug 1869 - 7 Aug 1956) married House descendant Lillie Josephine Smith (1872 - 3 Aug 1956) in 1892. During the nineteen-thirties, Melvin wrote a series of genealogical articles about his wife's ancestors in the The St. Johnsville Enterprise and News that later became the book, "The House Family of the Mohawk." After over 60 years of wedded bliss, Josephine died on Tuesday, August 3, 1956, at the age of 84. Heartbroken, Melvin then died on the morning of her funeral, at the age of 86.

Lou D. MacWethy
²—The St. Johnsville Enterprise and News of Montgomery County, New York, was published by Lou D. MacWethy, who was born in Livingston county, New York, on May 3, 1871. An expert on genealogy and history, MacWethy often remarked that he could trace his origin back to both Revolutionary and Tory ancestors, which probably accounted for "his many conflicting emotions." In 1914 he formed a syndicate of some four hundred country papers, which he furnished with series of popular feature articles under the pen name of Bill Slocum. In 1918, the Enterprise and the St. Johnsville News, a contemporary paper, were merged under Mr. MacWethy's ownership, creating one paper for the town. Mr. MacWethy released the paper weekly, from July 3, 1918 (v. 20, no. 4) to Dec. 4, 1941 (v. 67, no. 21). Mr. MacWethy married Miss Minnie Van Allen, and they had three children: Ralph, Albert and Elizabeth, and on paper day, Wednesday of each week, Mrs. MacWethy and the children joined forces with Mr. MacWethy and the regular staff to help produce the weekly news. Mr. MacWethy sold the paper to John O. Boyd in 1941. After a few more publishers and name changes, the paper's run finally ended in 1977. History online.

TOP IMAGE: An 1857 print by John Reuben Chapin (1823-1894) shows the scene during the battle at Oriskany, in which the House family fought on BOTH sides. Originally published in Ballou's Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, May 2, 1857, by Maturin Murray Ballou; Charles F. Damoreau, engraver.