In Henry Climenhagen’s will the name of his wife is given as “Barbary,” a common Germanic form of Barbara. But, if you look at any given genealogy source pertaining to the Climenhaga and Climenhage family trees, chances are you will find Catherine Damude named as the wife of Henry Climenhagen. This is a reasonable assertion given that some Damude family members did settle in Bertie and Thorold Townships. Yet, as argued below, there does not appear to be any evidence to support the assertion that Catherine was the wife of the Climenhag* patriarch. Even more striking, there is no clear evidence to indicate that she ever existed. In what follows I ask a series of questions and attempt to offer evidence to support my conclusion that Catherine Damude was not the wife of Henry Climenhagen.
What is claimed about Catherine Damude?
According to various genealogical sources, Catherine Damude is assumed to be a sister, or half-sister, of Henry, David, and Samuel Damude (also spelled Deamud, Deamude, Demuth, Damewood, etc.) who hailed from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. These brothers may have been born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, near to Rapho or Lampeter Townships. It is said that Catherine was born in Rapho Township, and that she and Henry Climenhagen were married in Baltimore, Maryland sometime before 1793. It is known that the couple later moved to Upper Canada with their two children.
What is known about the Damude brothers?
There are a number of written accounts of the Damude brother’s arrival in Upper Canada. Much of what we know about this Damude family comes from a detailed account by Anna Elizabeth Damude, granddaughter of Henry Damude, in her description of the arrival of the Damude family in Upper Canada as found in “a History of the Brethren in Christ Church” by Asa W. Climenhaga (Anna was Asa’s first cousin twice removed):
“Henry Damude and his two half brothers, Samuel and David, came from Pennsylvania the same year, and went back and then came in again the next year, bringing with them another span of horses. Some of their horses died with Yellow Malaria from lack of hay. Anna Winger came the same year that Henry Damude came to stay. In her party there were her sister, Mrs. Sider and husband, and her brother, Hounsley Winger, and a large number of neighbors. They were United Empire Loyalists. Although they were Tunkards, they were loyal in spirit to their Sovereign, and though they could not fight, they would not live under the United States flag. Henry Damude came from Bucks County, Pennsylvania; Anna
Winger came from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania…The sister, Mrs. Sider, was married, as was also Hans Winger, before going to Canada.”
The Damudes came to Upper Canada about the same time as the arrival of the Winger/Wenger party which included the Tunker minister Hans (John) Wenger, his wife Mary Eishelmann, and his children, his sister Anna Wenger, Jacob and Mary (Wenger) Seider and family, and the John Groh/Crow family, amongst others.
“With them, the family brought two cows, a yoke of oxen, seeds and the materials necessary for a garden.”
“They arrived at their new home the year before the great famine, and there was no time to store up a food supply. As well, winter’s cold snows overtook them before they could finish their log cabin. [The Damude brothers] made a dugout in the side of the hill and with logs felled over the entrance, there were warm quarters for themselves, as well as quarters for the horses and cattle.” 
“After the hurricane about two years, when burning off the pine brush on the fallow, the fire got beyond control and burned up everything. This discouraged them so that they concluded to go back to Pennsylvania, but they took another notion when they got to Black Creek, as they liked the soil there. They decided to settle on a farm by the Black Creek a few miles from the river.” 
More information about Henry Damude can be gleaned from other sources regarding the Damude brothers:
“…Henry Damude settled on Lots 153 and 154 in Thorold Township, while his brother David settled in Lowbanks on Lake Erie, where many of his descendants still live today.” 
“…[Henry Damude] was a weaver by trade, but after coming to Canada he only worked at weaving during the winter season, his time being fully occupied the remaining months of the year. The first grist mill…was situated at Niagara Falls, a distance of twelve miles from his home. [Henry] used to take a bag of wheat on his back and carry it to this mill…” 
Is Catherine Damude a sister to the Damude brothers?
Based on the written descriptions of the arrival of the Damude brothers, and in Anna Elizabeth Damude’s account in particular, there is no mention of a sister. Anna Elizabeth names the three Damude brothers and describes their journey to America. She also gives their family history originating in Switzerland and an account of the religious persecution that prompted her family to leave the old world. However, although no records have been found to link Catherine with the Damude brothers, this does not mean that she was not their sister.
Is there a Damude-Climenhag* family connection?
The Damude family is related to one branch of the Climenhag* family through marriage—that being through Henry Climenhagen’s eldest son Martin. Reverend Martin Climenhaga (1794-1876) was married about 1815 to Elizabeth Damude, the daughter of Henry Damude and Anna Winger (1790-1853), and had four children by this union: Moses, Anna, David, and Martin, Jr. After the death of Henry Climenhagen in 1805, David Deamud may have been influential in helping to raise Henry’s son Martin Climenhaga. It is speculated that David Climenhaga, second son of Martin and Elizabeth (Damude) Climenhaga, may have been the namesake of David Deamud.
Were Henry and Catherine married in Baltimore?
The short answer is probably not. No documents have been found that name the exact year, or place of marriage for Henry Climenhagen and wife. So, why do some sources claim that the couple were married in Maryland? This is where things get a bit tricky. It all comes down to competing theories as to who exactly Henry Climenhagen was. It is commonly agreed that the Climenhag* patriarch was named Johann Henrich Kleimenhagen, and that he hailed from a small village in Waldeck Germany named Ober-Waroldern. Several decades ago a classified ad was discovered dated April of 1789 in which a William Kleimenhagen, who had just arrived in Baltimore Maryland, was searching for his brother John Henry Kleimenhagen who was believed to be living in Baltimore. William soon left the area to live with a farmer in Martic Township, Pennsylvania.
As the Climenhag* patriarch’s name was already known, based on several Upper Canada documents, as Henrich Kleimenhagen, John Henry Kleimenhagen was assumed to be the same Henrich Kleimenhagen who had removed to Upper Canada. Since, from the advertisement, John Henry was assumed to be living in Baltimore, it was an easy assertion that he was also married there. At the time it was not yet known that William Kleimenhagen’s full name was Johann Henrich Wilhelm Kleimenhagen.
It is now believed, by some, that Johann Henrich Wilhelm Kleimenhagen is the real Climenhag* patriarch. As this Henrich Kleimenhagen arrived in 1789 and indentured with a farmer in Martic Township, Lancaster County, PA for three years (An assumption based on family folklore and typical Pennsylvania contracts of indenture at that time), he would more likely have been married in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, rather than in Maryland.
If you subscribe to the first theory then the story has some merit. John Henry met Catherine Damude before her brothers relocated to Upper Canada in 1788. It makes sense therefore that Henry and wife chose to live, at least for a time, in Maryland, and later Pennsylvania (as eldest child Anna was born there), before immigrating to Upper Canada in 1797. But, if you instead subscribe to the second theory, the dates and places do no align. First, if the couple were married it is most likely that they were wed in Pennsylvania, having never lived in Maryland. More importantly, as the Damude brothers were settled in Upper Canada in 1788, and Henry Climenhagen arrived in the new world in 1789, it seems more probable that Catherine would have gone with her family and neighbours to Upper Canada the year before Henry’s arrival.
Was Catherine Damude the wife of Henry Climenhagen?
First, as already stated, Henry’s wife is named in his will as “Barbary.” Some have suggested that “Barbary” may have been the middle name of Catherine Damude. As Henry’s will is the only source to name his wife this suggestion can neither be confirmed or denied.
However, other connections, or rather, a lack thereof, call any relationship between Catherine and Henry Climenhagen into question. For instance, an old hand written genealogy by David Climenhaga (1826-1913), a grandson of Henry Climenhagen, and son of Martin Climenhaga and Elizabeth Damude, names his grandparents on his mother’s side as Henry and Anna Damude. Yet, he makes no mention of his grandparents on his father’s side. This suggests that he knew very little about the identity of his Climenhag* grandparents. Putting aside the fact that Catherine Damude is said to be the sister to Henry Damude (which would make Martin Climenhaga and his wife Elizabeth first cousins), if David Climenhaga’s grandmother was a Damude it seems probable that this information would be common knowledge within David’s family. This is especially true since David personally knew his grandfather Henry Damude, and surely would have known that his Damude grandfather and Climenhagen grandmother were siblings. In a letter he wrote to his grandchildren David writes:
“Now I will try to tell the way we went to go to grandpaps. We would try to get ready the day before, then all get in the poor wagon, put in some straw or hay, the hay was always scarce, for there was not much clear land. The cows would run in the bush. We had to go to the Black Creek to Niagara River, then along the river to Chipawa, then down to Niagara Falls, then down to the Lundy’s Lane, then west to Allanburgh, then across the canal on a poor bridge, then up on the Canbory road tilr we could perty nere see grandpaps’ place. Then we would feel glad that we were perty soon there. They had an old house down the big hill that was some 80 feet down. There was grandma and aunts. Their first children were all most girls. The four oldest were girls. The house was small and poor, but we were satisfied just as we that she would include information ell as now. But poor grandma was an invalid. She had to work hard to make things go. She had a sore on the side that she could not get around, but there the girls could get to the work.” 
Another clue is that although Asa Climenhaga and Anna Elizabeth Damude were first cousins twice removed (i.e., Elizabeth (Damude) Climenhaga, David Climenhaga’s mother, and Anna Elizabeth’s father David Damude were both children of Henry and Anna (Wenger) Damude), Anna Elizabeth never mentioned a great aunt named Catherine. Being aware of Asa’s relationship to the Damude family it seems likely that Anna Elizabeth would include this information to him in her family history. As Anna Elizabeth was able to provide a very rich and detailed account of the Damude’s arrival in the new world, as well as the goings-on in the old world and accounts of religious persecutions her ancestors endured, it seems even more likely she would add her great aunt’s information to the story. It may be however that the information was not pertinent to the point Asa was making in his book about Anabaptist history. However, even if Asa chose not to include that information in his book he had a genuine interest in family history and would have surely passed down this vital information to his nieces and nephews. Yet, in all his writings about the family history the Christian name of the Climenhag* family matriarch is never mentioned.
What can we conclude about Catherine Damude?
Based on extensive record searches over an approximate 30 year span (my own and other researchers), no evidence has been discovered of a Catherine Damude living in Bertie Township, Upper Canada, or in Lancaster or Buck’s counties in Pennsylvania, during this time period. In fact, another family researcher, David C. Climenhage, looked extensively for late 18th and early 19th century records for Catherine Damude. Although he personally visited the Lancaster and Bucks counties archives he found no evidence pertaining to Catherine Damude.
However, we must err on the side of caution. Simply because no records have been found for Catherine Damude does not mean that she did not exist. Still, the lack of evidence is puzzling. Furthermore, the story of Catherine Damude appears to have been built up over time with one piece added here and another piece added there. As Sherlock Holmes was fond of saying, “’It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” To me, it appears that some mistakes were made early on as to the identification of the Climenhag* matriarch. And, rather than reinterpret the data in light of the facts, or lack thereof, facts were twisted to suit the theory.
At present, I am inclined to believe that this particular Catherine Damude, as named above, never existed. But, if new evidence does present itself that clearly implicates a Damude (sister or otherwise) as the Climenhag* matriarch I will readily incorporate that information into the Climenhag* family narrative. As yet, I have seen none.
Updated 3 Apr 2015
- Estate file for Henry Climenhagen, probated June 7, 1805, Lincoln County Surrogate Court estate files, RG 22-A35, Microfilm MS 8408, Archives of Ontario. [In his will Henry states, “…I give and bequeath unto Barbery my beloved wife all my lands that I now possess and all my movables goods and chattels as long as she remains my wife…”](↵)
- On 27 Feb 1815 Henry Damewood affirmed before Amos Chapman J. P. that his brother Samuel Damewood left this Province four and twenty years ago and to the best of his knowledge is residing in Maryland in the United States of America and that he has not left any children in this country. Signed Henry Damwood. (Thorold Township Papers 0396)(↵)
- Climenhaga, Asa Winger. History of the Brethren in Christ Church. Nappanee, IN. E.V. Publishing House, pp. 93-94.(↵)
- Nigh, Harold. The lost tribes of the Niagara plain folk. Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario, Vol. 4, 1986. (↵)
- Betti, M. Township of Thorold, 1793-1967 : Centennial project of the Township of Thorold. Toronto, ON: Armath Associates, 1967, p. 160-164.(↵)
- Climenhaga, Asa. History of the Brethren in Christ Church.(↵)
- On 2 Jan 1795 Henry Damwood aged 32, born in Pennsylvania, weaver appeared before John Small and took the prescribed oaths and was recommended for a grant of two hundred acres of land. On the same date Acting Surveyor General D. W. Smith assigned to him two hundred acres in Lots 153 and 154 Thorold Twp. (Thorold Township Papers 0359)(↵)
- Biographical Sketches section of the History of Welland County Ontario. Welland, ON: Welland Tribune Printing House, 1887.(↵)
- Archives of Ontario; Series: MS935; Reel: 27. Ancestry.com. Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. [John Deamud, son of David, died 13 June 1881 at the age of 77 years. On his death notice his place of birth is named as “Bertie township Ont.” As his age indicates he was born abt 1804].(↵)
- Archives of Ontario; Series: MS935; Reel: 21. Ancestry.com. Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. [David Junior, son of David Deamud, died in Sherbrook 12 July 1879 at the age of 72. His place of birth is named as Bertie, Ontario. He would have been born abt 1807.(↵)
- William Kleimenhagen Ad/Classified, Maryland Journal, 10 Apr 1789, , News; digital images, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com: 30 March 2012), citing original.(↵)
- Sider, Harold & Sider, Ron. Two hundred years with the Siders. Erin, ON. Boston Mills Press, 1986, pp. 29–30.(↵)
- Conon Doyle, Arthur. A scandal in Bohemia. The Strand Magazine, 1891.(↵)