Maria Amalia was born June 16, 1822 in Wunderthausen to Florentine Beitzel from the house ‘Auf der Laye/Leie.’ Johann Franz Riedesel who lived in Altehäusers was acknowledged as her father but the parents did not marry and her father disappeared from local records. She would have grown up as part of the extended family but about as low in the social hierarchy as a child could be. Florentine Beitzel, her mother, died single in 1840. For a number of reasons, the incidence of children born outside of marriage grew markedly in the 1800s. In some cases the children took the father’s name and in other cases not. Legal niceties were not as much a factor at the time.
Most secondary material that mentions Maria Amalia calls her ‘Beitzel.’ However, the record of her marriage to Ludwig Heinrich (L. Henry) Riedesel on August 8, 1841 refers to her as ‘Riedesel.’ I think this is the best (and only) evidence we have of what she was actually called. She bore two children before the entire family of her husband left Wunderthausen forever to go to America. I don’t think she had much to regret by leaving.
Amalia had at least one more child in Ohio in early 1848 but was one of many members of the enclave who died in an epidemic and was buried in a small, family cemetery that was almost lost to history (we found it, though, as described in this paper).
In time her husband and two sons prospered in the new world but Maria Amalia’s short life was mostly one of hardship.