Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Johann Bessler's Family and his descendants?

Someone recently mentioned the possibility that there might be a living descendent of Bessler's who might have inherited some information about the wheel.  I'm not convinced that there is a chance that this might be possible, but I don't like to rule it out. So what follows is the only information I have to date on his parents, brother, wives and children. It may be that someone might be more familiar with ancestry research than I, and find the limited information below of use in their research.
Elias Bessler, (he assumed the other names Johann Ernst at a later date) was the son of the day-labourer Andreas Bessler, and his wife Maria, née  Maucke.  He was baptised in Zittau on 6th May 1681; his parents having been married in Zittau on 11th February 1680.   Customarily, baptism took place no more than three days after birth.

His brother, Gottfried, was baptised in Zittau on 26th May 1688.  There were three other children who all died early or were still born.

Dr. Christian Schumann, the mayor and physician of Annaberg,was persuaded to ask  Bessler to heal his desperately ill daughter. The girl recovered and became Orffyreus’s wife.  Her name was Barbara Elisabeth Bessler née Schumann.  She died 10.05.1726 at the age of 40 from tuberculosis 

Bessler had four children with Barbara Schumann, they were;

1. Name unknown, died before 1726.

2. Maria Barbara Elisabeth, born 5.1.23, married George Conrad Gercke in 1735.  He was a widowed preacher.

3. Johanna Maria Christina, born 9.12.23, died 4.2.24 - aged just three weeks.

4. Carl Friedrich, born 6.10.25. His Godfather was the Landgrave, but he wasn't present at the baptizing. Died 5.5.26  aged seven months.

Infant mortality rate was high in those days regardless of class.  Karl and his wife Amelie, had
seventeen children, fourteen of whom lived long enough to have names, but only nine reached twenty years of age or more. 
On January 31st in 1731 Orffyreus married Catharina Elisabeth Krone (born in 1713)
They had five children only one of which survived to adulthood.as below

1. Johanna Magdalena Elisabeth, born 6.4.31

2. Johanna Wohlradina [very strange name] Sybilla, born 15.7.34, died 16.09.43

3. Catharina Conradina 30.10.37

4. Magdalena Catharina, 25.11.39

5 Margaretha Maria, 25.7.45, married Amtmann Kurtzbube in Fürstenberg.

Catharina Elisabeth Krone was the daughter of Castle blacksmith, Johann Adam Krone, who died 14.6.50 in the age of 76.

Besslers father, Andreas, died 19.6.27 in the age of 87, he lived with Bessler for his remailng years as did his mother, Maria.

His brother Gottfried, died 3.5.65 and was buried  in "Orffyreischen Begräbnishaus" (Bessler's crypt) 

'docfeelsgood', a well known and respected forum member of Besslerwheel forum, sadly no longer with us, was convinced that the court blacksmith, Adam Krone might have passed on the secret of the wheel's construction to his children because there is a letter in which, in return for his daugjhter's hand in marriage, Bessler would share everything about his wheel.  There is no evidence that he did so, but just in case there is such a possibility the only potential source might be Margaretha Maria, who married Amtmann Kurtzbube in Fürstenberg.  I do not know whether Adam krone had any other children, but that is also a possble avenue of research.

I think the following explains that 'Amtmann' is a title. ' 

The Amtmann was usually a member of the nobility or a cleric. In towns, he was also often a member of the wealthy classes amongst the citizenship. He resided in an Amthaus or Amtshaus and collected taxes from the district (Amtsbezirk), administered justice and maintained law and order with a small, armed unit.  [wikipedia]

Alternatively a search for any descendants of his first daughter’s marriage to George Conrad Gercke might be worth researching.

Good luck to anyone who wishes to take on this task, please share anything you discover even if it results in a dead end.

EDIT - Some additional informationhas come in from a similar post I made on BW forum.  'Helmholtz' posted the  following.

"1. There was another daughter called Dorothea Christina Sophie who married Emanuel Christian Wolff.
2. One of her sisters married Johann Georg Musi, Hofgeismar, who still lived in 1792.
3. Not Gottfried but his widow died in 1765 and was burried in Carlshaven. I think it would be more interesting if one could trace Gottfried, not Crone, because Gottfried was familiar to Bessler, not Crone.

It was one of Besslers "Privilegia" that he himself as well as his descendants & compagnons should be remitted from paying taxes. When Bessler impregnated Crone's 17-year-old daughter, it might have been a good compensation to call him a compagnon not to share any secrets (why should he?) but the exemption of taxes."



  1. Nice to know, thank you! Great. Do you know who else was buried at the Orffyreischen Begräbnishaus? Orffyreus and his Brother? or also their parents and maybe his other children.. And who erected/payed for it? Thank you.

    1. Bessler’s father and mother were buried there but I don’t know about his first wife as she died before he moved to Carlshafen. Also I don’t know if his children were buried there. I don’t know he paid for it, but Bessler did move there with five years salary, perhaps he paid for it with some of that money. He did get permission from Karl to have the grave in the grounds of the house, so he must have planned it from the time Karl gave him the use of the house.


  2. God! What a wonderful post John! Thank you very much. You are like the shrine of knowledge :)

    For me the most important information is that Karl was the grandfather of one of Bessler's children. The date is 1725, it is way after the event in the castle. I always assumed Karl gave up on Bessler. But on the contrary, it seems Bessler achieved something extraordinary with his wheel even for Karl.

    But look at how many people involved in this. There were too many.

    I don't think he was able to keep the secret for just himself in those circumstances.

    What a marvelous story this is. I wish I had a time-machine to see all these people.

  3. John, what about the Keno brothers mentioned on bw.com? I thought someone traced lineage to the land owner of the "buzzsaw" wheel which then led to the Keno's.

    1. I wondered when someone would raise that question :-)

      Although I read all the posts about the Keno brothers I never quite saw a connection with the name Krone, other than similar letters in a different order. I read the details about the book etc and the ‘buzzsaw’, but other than that I see no connection.

      As I said at the beginning of this post, I doubt there will be anything of use to us even if someone finds a descendant of Bessler’s, but I put what information I have out there just in case I’m wrong - I hope I am, it would be amazing just to find someone who had family gossip to share.

      BTW I’ll add some more information to the blog sometime today thst has surfaced already.


  4. If Bessler passed the secret to anyone, it probably would have surfaced after his dead. It didn’t so this is absolutely going to be a dead end. If you really want to study something and discover his secret you should study Newton’s Principia. It was published in 1687 and states Newton’s laws of motion and his universal laws of gravity. Because Bessler had a great interest in mechanics he undoubtedly studied it. At that time it was completely new and revolutionary. It might even be so that Newton’s Principia triggered his interest in mechanics.

    Whatever the design of the wheel might be, it has to comply with the laws of physics.

    1. Yes, and Bessler stated that his wheel complied with "The Laws of Mechanical Perpetual Motion". A principle that could be demonstrated! If Bessler's wheel worked, this law have to be true! If so, Newton's Laws of Motion should have a fourth "law". The fourth law should act according to the three prior laws. If there is no fourth Law, or a Law of Mechanical Perpetual Motion, there was NO Besslerwheel acting as Bessler described it. When we see this principle we may decide if there exists a "fourth law". IMO Øystein

    2. Yes, I agree. And because Newton was not aware of this and thought he had it all, he was absolutely convinced it could not be done. Newton was considered as a god in those days and his word was final. Imagine how Bessler felt when he saw his wheel turning for the first time. He could compete with the greatest mind of his era and practically prove that Newton wasn’t that omniscient after all. It is no wonder that he became conceited.

    3. That being said. I will never understand why he did not simply publish. It would have made him immortal. If he were to dedicate his knowledge to a king or emperor, he would probably have been rewarded for life and perhaps even being elevated to the nobility.

      Completely blinded by greed, he has played and lost an egoistic game.

  5. Marinus is right about the secret. It should have surfaced till now but Karl had no reason to keep the secret. I bet he told someone about the details of the wheel. At least casually. But they probably couldn't replicate what Bessler achieved.

    1. That is possible but I consider it as highly unlikely. Karl was an honourable man, he kept his word. Unfortunately Karl died before Bessler. If it would have been the other way around Karl probably would have revealed it.

    2. I don't know, there were too many actors in this play. Karl's wife and children, other people in the castle, Bessler's brother, wife, children, etc. Some of them probably knew a little bit of the secret.

      What do you think about MT, Marinus? It would be very nice to hear your opinion. That book is the weakest point of this whole affair for me. We know it would have been his grand treatise on PM, but the notes he wrote. they are weird. There are multiple designs which he declares that they would work if he used his method which he will show after the reveal... Wasn't that book supposed to be "the place" where he shows the secret? Why he wrote something like that I don't understand at all...and it's very fishy to be honest.

    3. The only pages I find intriguing are the toys page and the gnomes he draws. The gnomes perform work by rocking. You can ‘combine’ the toys into a single ‘mechanism’. You could utilize it as a seesaw at 3 and 9 o’clock positions. (It is probably not pivoted in the middle.) Use it as a swing at 6 o’clock and pole vaulting at 12 o’clock. Timing will be essential but gravity is very consistent.

      The rest of MT is merely a report of the work that he has been doing since he started it. I think it was intended for his own use but later, when he found the design, decided to include it in the sale. The design was probably so simple that he felt better if he included something more in the trade then just the wheel. But MT as a whole is a proof that he has seriously researched the matter which does contribute to his credibility.

    4. Thank you for the reply Marinus.

      One page containing the entire mechanism..Nah, I don't think so. It's against his foreword. He probably left it for other purposes.

  6. WOW.... sure looks to me like the infant mortality rate really was a serious event in every ones lives. I have seen the effects of losing a child and it is a life altering experience. That Newton was alive, and that Bessler could have had access to his work is an extremely interesting line of thought. If Newton had said that it was not possible and Bessler did it, then that would make for some conflicts of enormous proportions. Even today, most of my friends and relatives who are engineers have an extremely defensive stance when talking about the possibility of a working example. Fortunately for me, I do have a couple of them who have an open mind and will talk about the system itself and are open to any ideas I throw at them, which of course, they eventually apply their training and thought processes to but still leave me the latitude to experiment as much as I want armed with their sound advice.

    John, are you back from Holiday yet....? If so, how is your build coming along?

    1. Hi yes I’m back. You know I put a brief account of Newton’s idea about perpetual motion in my account of Johann Bessler? It even includes a drawing of how he thought it might be achieved, so don’t believe everything you read about Newton, he considered pm possible. I don’t know the page number but it was close to the beginning of the book, ‘Perpetual Motion; An Ancient Mystery Solved?’

      My build progresses thank you.



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