The Winterbach clan probably originates from Rothenburg ob der Tauber
, which lies on the “Romantic Road” in Germany. The
original dwelling is now a well-known hotel, the
still has the Winterbach crest above the main
entrance. Some paintings of prominent Winterbachs of
those times can be seen in some of the rooms (see the
The von Winterbach family
was part of the upper class (at least in those days!) and
had a prominent place in the society. The
“von” before the surname disappeared in 1552
after the town Rothenburg ob der Tauber had to surrender to the emperor
(read the history of the town below).
Here follows a short history of Rothenburg ob der
- Circa 970 AD:
- The East-Frankish noble “Reinger”
establishes a church in the present city quarter of
Detwang. He also builds the castles Comburg at
Schwäbisch Hall and Grafenburg on the mountain
extrusion over the river Tauber.
- The family of Count von Rothenburg becomes extinct.
Count Heinrich bequeaths all his possessions, including
the settlement Rothenburg, to the Comburg monastery.
This donation is not confirmed by emperor Heinrich
- Konrad III becomes Emperor of the Germans and makes
Rothenburg his court.
- Rothenburg gets city status. The first city wall is
built, of which the “White Tower”, the
“Markus Tower” and the
“Röderbogen” can still be seen
- Foundation of the gothic city hall started.
- Emperor Rudolph I awards the town its charter of
Free Imperial City on May 15. This privilege
initiated a great prosperity for Rothenburg. Later the
town developed into a trading centre.
- Building of the St. Jacobs Church commences
(inaugurated in 1884).
- Rothenburg acquires independence from the empire and the “Blood Court”.
- An earthquake destroys both castles (Comburg and
Grafenburg). The double bridge is built across the
- Circa 1400
- The city has a glorious time under mayor Heinrich
Toppler, who is also Field Marshall of Ulm,
Nördlingen and Dinkelsbühl. He renovates the
Blasius chapel, rebuilds the public baths and builds
himself a small summer palace.
- Toppler is arrested together with his eldest son
and cousin due to suspicion of conspiracy against king
Ruprecht and thrown into the dungeons under the city
hall. Toppler died there three months later, but his
family members were pardoned.
- The eastern wing of the Gothic City Hall burns
- Mayor Johann Hornburg and Honourable
Christian Philipp von Winterbach start working towards a Protestant reformation.
- Count Albrecht von Brandenburg-Kulmbach forces the
city to be part of the Schmalkaldic Conspiracy
against the emperor. The count is defeated and
Rothenburg is forced to surrender and pay an enormous
amount of “war damages”. It also caused the nobility to lose the “von” before their surnames, including the von Winterbachs.
- The main church becomes Protestant.
- Around this time the population was strictly
divided in classes, which even had their individual
Members of the “governing first class” were
the mayor, the nobility, noble patricians, the 16
senators (of which one was senator
Johann Ludwig Winterbach ), the notary, the city
physician, the superintendent and the high school
principal. They had to be addressed as
Members of the second class were all academics, the
clergy, the 48 senators of the external council, the
officials of the administration, patricians and
Members of the third class were the commoners,
lieutenants, procurators, clerks, scribes of the city
administration, goldsmiths, copperplate-engravers,
painters, watchmakers, bellfounders, bookbinders and
- The city aligned with the Protestant Union.
- The Protestant Union holds a meeting in the city.
Beginning of the 30 Year's War between the Catholic
Confederation and the Protestant Union. The city
contributes to the costs and has to provide winter
shelter to the troops moving through. Plundering hordes
cause severe damage in the small towns and
- At the time the Free City was on the side of the
Protestant Union. Late in October 1631 the imperial
General Count Tscherklas Tilly besieged the city with
an army of 60,000 war-proven men. After 3 days of hard
fighting the city fell into Tilly's hands and the
soldiers of fortune went plundering and marauding
through the streets and alleys of Rothenburg.
In the imperial room of the city hall, Tilly and his
generals held trial over the city and its council. The
councilmen (one of which was a Winterbach) were sentenced to death
and the city was to be pillaged.
In their anguish the councilmen offered the angry
General a splendid tankard, holding 3.25 litres of
wine. The General became lenient and gave the
councilmen a last chance:
“If one of you is capable of emptying this
tankard with one draught, then I shall have mercy on
This feat was accomplished by ex-mayor Nusch and thus
he saved the lives of the councilmen and prevented the
destruction of the city. This act later became known as “Der Meistertrunk”
- When peace was signed the city had to pay an extra
50,000 guilders, which they had to borrow.
Johan Carel Winterbach
[ind00001] arrives in South Africa on 13 Feb 1757
aboard the ship Overschie. He was born in Cleve,
Germany on 11 March, 1734.
- Rothenburg loses its independance and is
incorporated into the province of Bavaria.
- The historic play “Der Meistertrunk”,
which depics the story of Nusch's saving of the
town in 1631, is performed for the first time.
- During the Second World War, Allied bombs partially
damage the city. An American general prohibits the
total destruction of Rothenburg. During the next few
years the city is restored to its original style with
financial help from the German goverment and other