Martin Luther and the Probst Family

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Martin Luther and the Probst Family

By Bill Brobst

From the Spring 1998 Issue, Brobst Genealogy News

I received an E-Mail recently from Kevin P. Probst of Cataula, Georgia, that really caught my attention. Kevin is a descendant of Christophel Probst, father of the Probsts who immigrated to America in 1732 and started the Brobst dynasty. (Kevin, Leslie, Arthur, Frederick, George, Heinrich, Daniel, Mathias G, Johann Michael, Christophel.) Kevin had been leafing through a stack of documents in his genealogical odds and ends, and found a copy of a page from a book on the Holy Roman Empire which related to Martin Luther and the Probsts.

Martin Luther had a connection with the villagers of Kandel, Der Pfalz, although the details of that connection are not known at this time. In the summer of 1525, Martin Luther came with Mathias Joseph von Kandel to preach in the Kandel cathedral. The Probsts who came to America in 1732 lived in Kandel, although not until the mid-1600s.

In the years preceding 1545, Luther had denounced the Roman church in severe terms. He had earlier married, and his wife Katie knew her husband better than anyone else. She believed his heart was right even though his speech and writings smoked with brimstone. However, the campaign of reform had taken its toll. One of Fr. Luther's friends was named James Probst. (That friend may actually have been a probst or propst in the heirarchy of Luther's diocese.

In the 1500s, many people did not actually have a family name, but used the name of their profession as their last name.) That Luther was living under excruciating strain in the mid-1500s is indicated by a letter he wrote from his home in Saxony to James Probst on January 17, 1546:

I am writing, my James, as an old man, decrepit, sluggish, tired, cold, and now one-eyed … I am now overloaded with matters on which I have to write, speak, negotiate, and act.

It is not known if this James Probst is directly related in some way to the Probsts who emigrated to America in 1732 and who founded the Brobst family. It is possible but unlikely, considering that the Brobsts' Probsts trace back to Switzerland in the early 1500s rather than Saxony in central Germany.

The name Probst usually refers to the Swiss, while the name Propst refers to the Saxons. Who knows? A Probst may have emigrated from Switzerland to Saxony back in the early 1500s. It certainly is an interesting connection, particularly in light of the fact that Martin Luther had preached in Kandel some twenty-one years earlier (1525).

Thank you, Kevin. One never knows what can be found in old family files and boxes!

This page was last updated on Monday, 21-Feb-2011 18:18:52 MST
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