Welcome to the new edition of the German Genealogy Quarterly eNewsletter—the German Schrift! This newsletter will highlight the Genealogy Discussion Group, featured German resources, research tips, and interesting places to visit.
German Research Discussion Group (GRDG) Review of the January 2021 meeting:
The quarterly meeting in January was held virtually. We introduced the German Surname Maps online. Those are particularly helpful if you are researching uncommon last names. The map shows the cluster of the names in which region or town the name is more frequent and concentrated.
Germans tend to stay in one place even for many centuries. When one or two ancestors moved away (to America, as well), there was always somebody who stayed behind – and his or her descendants might still be in the area your ancestor originated. If you’re interested in surnames, links are in the Online Research Tip section of this Schrift.
The next meeting will be April 17, at 2-3 p.m. on Zoom. REGISTER TODAY
This time, we’re focusing on Journal of the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association. This periodical is noticeable by the glossy yellow covers.Johannes Schwalm was a Hessian soldier who fought in American Revolution as a part of the German auxiliary troops for the British crown. He was captured at Trenton and settled in Pennsylvania along with many other German mercenaries after the war. The series covers the whole spectrum related to this part of American history.
Perhaps you might find your so-called Hessian soldier mentioned in one of the articles. Mercenaries were also from other parts of German lands but were recruited primarily from former Hessian lands.
Access the spectrum of many scholarly written articles, along with the book and learn about the association behind this periodical.
This book portrays German mercenaries (some of them were conscripts and collectively known as Hessian soldiers), in the American war of Independence. Krebs explains the motivation behind their recruit from six German principalities and their lives after capture by American troops. Many stayed and never returned to Germany. Written using German military records, letters, and diaries, the book portrays them as a community, rather than as individuals. As the author states, this part of military history was overlooked by historians, so it may provide refreshing insight into this subject.
This new book is a compilation of various stories written by descendants of German settlers in St. Louis and the surrounding areas. The book includes an index of all surnames with places of birth in Saxony, Bavaria, Rhineland Pfalz, Westphalia, Switzerland, and other.
A common way to start research is with obituaries. Three generations might be mentioned in one obituary. Search in the family, online newspapers, or library collection.
If your ancestors lived in MO, they might be mentioned in the digitized newspapers digitized on the State Historical Society of Missouri (SHSMO) website. Some are in German, but still searchable by typing the name into the search. Usually, only a few German lines may need to be translated. For help with how to search, feel free to contact us.
Online Resource Tip: Surname Maps in German As we mentioned previously, here are the links to search German Surname Maps:
To learn the varieties of names, visit this website (with a help of dictionary or online translator) https://www.namenforschung.net/dfa/downloads/. You need to scroll down and click the links under Inhaltsverzeichnisse (Table of Contents) (5 volumes).
Places to Visit
Jefferson City, Missouri Visit Munichburg, historic Southside German neighborhood of Jefferson City, MO. Mostly emigrants from Muenchberg, Upper Franconia, Bavaria, Germany, settled here in the 1840s. Over time, friendship between these two cities developed. You can participate in their oral history project if you have a connection to this area.
Another spot to visit in Jefferson City, is the Capitol building where you can admire the work of the German born painter Herman T. Schladermundt, famous for his stained-glass art projects. His work decorates the Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington, D.C., too. Of course, at the end of your trip,you deserve a good German meal. Stop at the German Stein Haus.
If Jefferson City is too close to home, visit Kleve, North Rhine Westphalia, Germany. This city will host the largest genealogy event of the year – the 73rd German Genealogy Day, the Genealogentag! Read the flyer Deutscher-Genealogentag.
Read a history of Kleve. (If you switch to German on the left, you get a larger article, then Google Chrome can help with translation to English.) Although their shoe museum is now closed, you can enjoy the work of the old shoemaker profession by watching a 3 min video from the open-air museum. You will see the reconstruction of the 1,000-year-old woman's shoe! Subtitles are provided, and I think you will enjoy the melody of the German language.
Earlier, we mentioned the Library of Congress – what an impressive German collection is there! The largest and most diverse in North America. Starting from early German tribes through the medieval empire, you’ll find literature, newspapers, and historical periodicals to immerse yourself in German history and culture. Did you know the LOC finally obtained the ‘Waldseemüller Map’ from 1507 as recently as 2003?
Here's an interesting excerpt from the German Collections at the Library of Congress article, written by Margrit B. Krewson, former German/Dutch Area Specialist, revised and updated by David B. Morris, German Area Specialist, January 2007:
“In May 2003, the German collections were enriched by one of the most important acquisitions in the two-century history of the Library: the 1507 map of the world by Martin Waldseemüller. The first document to bear the name "America," the map is often referred to as America's birth certificate. It is also the first map to depict a distinct Western Hemisphere and the Pacific Ocean as a separate body of water. The acquisition of the Waldseemüller Map, which is in extraordinarily pristine condition, culminated a nearly century-long effort by the Library to obtain one of the rarest and most important documents in the history of European cartographic thought.”
Fun and Learning
What is this German word? Dust off that German dictionary from your shelf.
A_c_ _ _ _ (Archives)
B i_ _ _ o _ _ _ k (Library)
F_ _ _ d _ _ f (Cemetery)
R a _ _ _ u s (Town Hall)
B ü _ _ e _ _ i (Library)
R _ i s _ _ ü _ o (Travel office)
“Irgendwann werden wieder Zeiten kommen, in denen das einzig ansteckende das Lachen ist!”
Sometimes in the future there will be a time again when the only thing that is infectious is laughter.