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By Bill E. Biar

Wednesday 03 April 2013 at 01:43 am.


Spelling of Personal and Place Names  

From Mjela to Möhle (Moehle)

Our Mjela to Moehle Lineage


Johann Möhle and His Wife, Dorothea 

Andreas Möhle and Anna Wuchatsch

Magdalene Möhle and Johann Biar

Obituary of Magdalene Biar, nee Moehle


The German language employs modified vowels (Umlaut - Umlaute) ä, ö and ü.  As a rule, all German names of persons, places, etc., on church and archive records and maps employ umlauts to indicate modified vowels when applicable. We retain umlauts in English by writing ä, ae; ö, oe; and ü, ue. Thus, BÄHR is written BAEHR; MÖRBE, MOERBE; and WÜNSCHE, WUENSCHE. The spelling of place names with umlauts has been retained throughout this history. However, the spelling of personal names with umlauts was discontinued after the names were “transplanted” in Texas.


Revised: 11-18-02

Revised: 6-6-04


One thing is certain, a person need not be engaged in researching his Wendish ancestors very long before he finds out that surnames were frequently spelled more than one way. In the early Serbin records the maiden name of Magdalene Biar, wife of Johann Biar, Sr., is spelled MEHLE. However, in old Krischa and Kotitz (Upper Lusatia) church records the name is usually spelled MÖHLE. Since Möhle (Moehle) appears much more frequently
than Mehle or any other spelling, I have chosen to use Möhle (Moehle) in this history. The name Möhle is listed in many German telephone directories. Moehle is also found in many American telephone directories, including Denver. However, our ancestors were Wends or Sorbs and since the name in the records is also rendered MEHLE, MEHLA, MJELA and MILA, indications are that the origin is not German. Dr. Helmut Fasske of the Sorbian
Ethnological Institute in Bautzen wrote that Möhle is Mjela in Sorbian and that the name is a short form of the Sorbian personal names BOGUMIL, MILOSLAW and MILIDUCH. This has reference to mil, milo and mili which stem from milu, an old Slavic word meaning “love.” It is interesting to note that my late Slovakian friend, Godfrey Cadra, Midland, Texas, was baptized Bogumil Cadra. Members of his immediate family called him "Milo”  (pronounced Mee-lo).

Our Möhle ancestors came from Krischa, which the Nazis re-named “Buchholz” in 1936.  This is one of the few place names that did not revert back to its former name after World War II. It is interesting to note, that back in 1767 this village was called Buchholz and this could be a reason why it was not changed back to Krischa. It is located 9 miles east of Bautzen. The Sorbian name for Krischa is Krisow. Onomastics point to two sources for this place name: either a person named Křiš, shortened form of cross, or place of one Křiswoš, whose name was shortened to Křiš.



Johann Möhle, married Dorothea


Andreas Möhle married 24 Apr 1814: Kotitz, Saxony to Anna Wuchatsch

B. 27 Jan 1792: Krischa, Silesia                        B. 25 Jul 1793: Särka, Saxony

D. 8 Jan 1870: Särka, Saxony                          D. 14 Nov 1858: Särka, Saxony            


Magdalene Möhle married 17 Aug 1845: Kotitz, Saxony to Johann Biar

B. 19 Nov 1824: Särka, Saxony                         B. 16 Feb 1823: Gröditz, Saxony

D. 18 Sep 1867: Serbin, Texas                          D. 10 Jun 1885: Serbin, Texas


Andreas Biar married 8 Feb 1876: Serbin, Texas to Maria Therese Hattas [+]

B. 28 Oct 1853: Gröditz,Saxony                        B. 1 Mar 1856: Brenham, Texas

D. 8 Feb 1916: Serbin, Texas                            D. 30 Aug 1894: Serbin, Texas

Andreas Biar married 16 Feb 1896: Serbin, Texas to Magdalena Groeschel

                                                                    B. 28 Nov 1851: Weicha, Saxony

                                                                    D. 29 Nov 1937: Serbin, Texas


Johann Otto Biar married 17 Jan 1905: Fedor, Texas to Lydia Lina Moerbe

B. 1 Oct 1879: Serbin, Texas                           B. 8 Feb 1885: Fedor, Texas

D. 14 Nov 1956: Taylor, Texas                        D. 24 Jan 1957: Taylor, Texas


Names of persons born in what is now Germany are spelled the way they appear in the church records where the baptisms are recorded. If more than one spelling is rendered then the standardized German spelling is used.

States, countries, etc., are in English. The spelling of places was taken from a modern German map.

B. indicates date of birth. D. indicates date of death. [+] indicates our ancestor when there was more than one marriage.

A little over 50 percent of the Wends who migrated to Texas in 1854 came from the Province or State of Silesia (Schlesien) in the Kingdom of Prussia (Königreich Preussen). They came from the counties (Kreis - Kreise) of Rothenburg and Hoyerswerda. The rest came from the Kingdom of Saxony (Königreich Sachsen), from the counties of Bautzen and Löbau (Loebau). After the unification of West and East Germany in 1990 the area covered by the above counties is now included in the newly-formed Province or State of Saxony in modern Germany.



We have little information on Johann Möhle, our earliest identifiable Möhle ancestor. All we know is that he and his wife, Dorothea, lived in Krischa (now Buchholz). Their son Andreas was our ancestor.



Andreas Möhle was born at Krischa on 27 January 1792. On 24 April 1814 he married Anna Wuchatsch at Kotitz. She was also known as Hanka. After their marriage they made their home in Särka, where Andreas was a farmer (Gärtner).

Anna Wuchatsch was born at Särka on 25 July 1793. She had a twin brother named Jank. Her father was George Wuchatsch, who was born in 1764, probably at Särka, where he was a farmer (Gärtner). Her mother was Anna, née Kloss, from Unwuerde, near Kittlitz, Saxony. They were married at Kittlitz in 1787. Anna’s mother died in 1813 and her father in 1814. Max Gottschald in his DEUTSCHE NAMENKUNDE (German Onomastics) lists Wuchatsch: wend. wuchač “grossohrig” (Wuchatsch: Wendish “big-eared”).

Andreas and Anna Möhle had four sons and six daughters. Two sons and two daughters died as infants. Their daughter, Magdalene, was our ancestress. Anna died at Särka on 14 November 1858 and Andreas also died at Särka on 8 January 1870.



Magdalene Möhle was born at Särka on 19 November 1824. Her parents were Andreas Möhle and Anna, née Wuchatsch.

On 17 August 1845 she married Johann Biar, who was born at Gröditz, Saxony, on 16 February 1823, the older son of Michael Biar and Anna, née Schneider. They were married at Kotitz on 17 August 1845. It is likely that Pastor Johann Kilian performed the ceremony since he was the pastor there at that time. They made their home at Gröditz where he was the village blacksmith.

In 1854, Magdalene and Johann and two small sons, immigrated to Texas. Magdalene left behind two brothers and four sisters, while Johann left behind one half-sister, Anna Malke, née Biar. His only brother, Andreas, immigrated to Australia in 1854, the same year they went to Texas. 

Magdalene and Johann had seven children, five sons and two daughters. The first three children, all sons, were born at Gröditz. The first son died at birth. The other two, Johann, born in 1850, and Andreas, our ancestor, born in 1853, accompanied their parents to Texas in 1854.  At that time Johann was 4 years old and Andreas, 1. The other four children were born at Serbin. One daughter, Maria Theresia, born in 1859, died at the age of five. Those reaching maturity were as follows:

NAME                  BORN             DIED                   MARRIED

Johann (Jr.)         30 Aug 1850   20 Jun 1923          Agnes Handrick

Andreas              28 Oct 1853    8 Feb 1916           Maria Therese Hattas

Maria                  29 Aug 1856    5 Aug 1924         August Schulz

Ernst August       17 Jun 1862    10 Oct 1888         Anna Helene Zschech

Johann Hermann 27 Oct 1864    29 Nov 1950        Anna Lydia Miertschin

Magdalene died from typhoid fever (Nervenfieber) at Serbin on 18 September 1867 at the age of 42 years. Johann died at Serbin on 10 June 1885 at the age of 62. Both are buried in the Serbin cemetery.

Our Moehle line continues with ANDREAS BIAR AND MARIA HATTAS in the Biar family history entitled FROM BÄHR (BAEHR) TO BIAR.


With respect and love we remember Magdalene, the wife of Johann Bjar, a farmer at Serbin, whom the Lord God called from this world at 11 P.M. on Wednesday of last week, and whose mortal body, after the dismissal at her home, was buried with Christian benedictions on Thursday of last week and in whose honor a funeral sermon was held a week ago.

She was born on 25 November 1825*. Her father was Andreas Mehla, a farmer (Gärtner) at Särka; her mother was Hanna, née Wuchatsch, from Särka. When she received holy baptism, she was given the Christian name Magdalene. In the years of her childhood she was given a good upbringing and sent to school, where she received the necessary instruction in Christian doctrine and other knowledge. After she renewed her baptismal vow, she was a maid here and there, until, at the age of 20, she was united in holy matrimony with Johann Bjar, a farmer (Gärtner) at Gröditz, with whom she lived happily in wedlock for 22 years. By God's blessing she bore 7 children, of whom one son and one daughter preceded her into eternity. Four sons and one daughter are still living. In regard to her last illness and death, she became ill with typhoid fever (Nervenfieber) Tuesday, two weeks ago. On Monday of last week she received Holy Communion at home, and strengthened by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, she departed on Wednesday of last week at 11 P.M. at the age of 41 years, 10 months and 2 days+.                 

May the Lord comfort the bereaved widower; 4 bereaved sons, Johann, Andreas, Ernst and Hermann; and one bereaved daughter, Maria; in Europe, her father, Andreas Mehla of Särka; and one brother, Andreas Mehla of Särka; and 3 sisters in Europe, Maria, the wife of Johann Jentsch of Särka, Agnes, the wife of August Israel of Rosenhain, and Christiane, at home with her brother; and other relatives and acquaintances.

Thanks are extended to Johann Hattass and his wife, Magdalene, for their assistance and loving support; Jacob Moerbe and his wife, Anna, for their help; to Johann Miertschin and his wife, Agnes#, for their help; to Ernst Menzel for his demonstration of love; to Johann Zieschang for transporting the body; to the two grave diggers; to the pall-bearers; and those present at the funeral.

In final honorary memory, hymn 42, "My Jesus is blood, etc.," will be sung.

* A copy of her birth certificate supplied by Pastor Heinz Wiedmer, Weissenberg, indicates her date of birth was 19 November 1824.

+ Her date of death was on 18 September 1867.

Note:  The above obituary was translated from the Wendish into German by Dr. Helmut Fasske, Sorbian Ethnological Institute, Bautzen, in 1971 and translated into English by the writer shortly thereafter. My German copy of the Wendish original ended at the place marked #. For the translation from the place marked # to the end I am indebted to Dr. Joseph Wilson, Houston, Texas.

three comments


With interest I read your post. Please allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Maurice Möhlen and I was born in 1984 in The Netherlands, Europe.

Since 2012 a far family member is investigating our family ancestors/roots. With the information we have now, we believe the origin is German. At the moment, the investigation got stuck, so we try to find some more information on the web. While searching, I saw your entry.

It was interesting to read that origin might not be German at all, but Sorbian, as you wrote: In old Sorbian records the name was spelled as Mehle and in church records as Möhle.

Although my name is spelled as Möhlen, the origin is Möhle, because this turns out in our investigation.

Let me explain, at this moment; the following record is the oldest we were able to find:

Johann Heinrich Möhle was born in 17?? and married to Catherine Marie (or Maria) Rodefeld. Johann Heinrich Möhle died in Hille, Germany on 03-04-1834. (DD/MM/YYYY)

Johann had (at least one) son: Heinrich Möhle,born in Hille Germany (on 02-11-1801 DD/MM/YYYY)

Heinrich Möhle emigrated to the Netherlands and was married to Neeltje Breuklander. There were 5 children, 2 of them were sons.

1. Jan Möhle, born on 31-10-1837 in Aarlanderveen, Netherlands
2. Hendrik Möhlen,born on 19-10-1843 Zevenhuizen, Netherlands.

The Surname of Hendrik was mistakingly registered as Möhlen instead of the correct form: Möhle. Nowadays, both branches(Möhle and Möhlen) are still exists in the Nethelands. Möhle members are descendants of Jan Möhle (1) and Möhlen members are descendants from Hendrik Möhlen (2)

The oldest members of our Family tree, (Johann Heinrich Möhle) died in Hille, Germany. Because of this area, I have my doubts the Möhle family name could be Sorbian. For that, I would have expected my ancestors would have lived more closely to a Sobian area. But, I have to keep all options open, to succesfully continue the search. In the area of Hille/Minden there are still people with the surname Möhle.

Is there anything you could suggest, any advice, to give a new impuls in my search. Is there anything that could point to the direction the roots are indeed Sorbian? (maybe even typical looks?) Of course, this could be very hard, by now it is a few generations back. But you never know.

Thank you in advance and thank you for your time

Kind regards,
Maurice Möhlen

Maurice - 05/26/2015 22:56
Milan Tyler-Pohontsch

Dear Maurice,
I have to agree with you. I would be very surprised if your Möhle ancestry from the Hille area and the Sorbian Möhle family are related. The chances are very very slim, maybe 1:1000 (or more).

Following reasons:
1) Möhle is a German family name, not a Sorbian. According to the German Meyers lexicon the name has its origin in the Middle Lower German language, a German dialect group spoken in an area north of Colonge (Germany), up to Schleswig in the north, and into Pommerania in the east (today occupied by Poland). In these dialects Möhle means “mill”, meaning someone living at a mill or working at a mill.

2) The name distribution according to GeoGen (=Geographical Genealogy) shows that the most dense population with this family name lives in the counties Minden-Lübecke and Hannover, which is the very area of your ancestry.

The chances are bigger that the Sorbian Möhle ancestor came from your area than that your ancestor came from the Sorbian area.

You should concentrate on the research in the Hille area (in Hille was a Lutheran parish). The church records might be either at the Lutheran archive in Bielefeld, Germany (contact them to make sure they still have them; http://www.archive.nrw.de/kirchenarchive.. ) or Lutheran archive Hannover (http://www.landeskirchlichesarchiv-hannover.de/).

If they are in Hannover, you kinda lucky because this archive decided to put their content online (via https://www.archion.de/). Before you subscribe to this pay-for website, make sure your parish records are already online – otherwise you waste money.

If both archives do not have those records, you will have to visit the parish in Hille and hope that they grant you access to the parish books. If this is not possible, then there is another possibility. The Lutheran parish records of Hille are microfilmed for the years between 1726 and 1925 and available here in Salt Lake City, Utah. It always possible to hire a local researcher here – such as myself :-)

I hope you will find the ancestors you are searching for. If I can be of further help don’t hesitate to contact me. I am not the fastest with answers, but they do arrive eventually.

All the best,

Milan Tyler-Pohontsch - 05/29/2015 16:32
Kirsten (Cadra) White


My grandfather was Godfrey Cadra. I ran across this page when I was randomly searching his name. May I ask how you knew him? Isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing? :)

Kirsten (Cadra) White - 07/22/2015 04:05

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