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Posts Tagged ‘Prussian history’

Introducing my BRICK WALL of genealogy:

My great-great-grandparents, Gottfried and Alwine (Noffke) Waldeck. Gottfried was 1841 – 1913. Alwine 1846 – 1912.

Back row:  Fred (in a terrible accident and lived out the rest of his life at the Kalamazoo State Hospital) married Caroline Meier, Ada (Helene/Lena Ida) married Frederick Steeby, Anna (who was married, but I still need to iron out this “mess”–she was at least married to William Alexander Stewart), August (died in WWI, a bachelor)

Front row: Gottfried, Clara (my great-grandmother), Alwine, Godfrey married Anna Ruehs

There were other children who died young, but exactly who they were needs sorting out.

The family story in America may have started with Alwine’s older brother August. I wrote about him here: Pioneer of the Family

I have written many posts about my great-grandmother Clara and have also written about Fred and his accident and his wife and her family in other posts (search Waldeck).

Gaps might be a ridiculous word for what I have missing from this couple’s lives. I do not know where in Prussia either of them were born, although if the information is correct about August, it is possible that Alwine was born in Pomerania. However, together, the couple seem to have lived in West Prussia, where they may have worked on a large estate or two. I do have birth and/or baptism records for several of their children, but I can’t read them well enough and the place names for Prussia are soooo confusing. I will need help with this portion to create a timeline of locations.

If you are not familiar with Prussia, East Prussia was the province furthest east, but West Prussia is just to the west of East Prussia–still in what is now Poland and on the Baltic Sea. Pomerania, also on the Baltic, is just to the west of West Prussia. Posen is to the south of these provinces.

I don’t have a marriage record for the couple, so I don’t know which area of Prussia they were married–or how they might have met.

Gottfried and Alwine did arrive into Baltimore from Germany in 1882, but I don’t have any other immigration and naturalization records.

I do not have a headstone for either, but have put in a request through Findagrave. I also requested management of their memorials, but have not received a reply. I can only hope for the kindness of the current holder because at 2x greats, they are one removed from my right to manage their memorials. Hmm, but my mother could do it!

I don’t have any military information for Gottfried. Or an obituary.

So what in the world DO I have then (besides anything mentioned above)?

*Gottfried’s death certificate: he died of chronic nephritis. His place of birth is gibberish; nobody has ever heard of such a place.

*Alwine’s death certificate; she died of interstitial nephritis. Her place of birth is just listed as Germany. Notice they both had a form of nephritis and died a year apart.

*Land ownership map in Caledonia, 1894.

*1900 and 1910 census records. The 1890 doesn’t exist, and Gottfried died a few years after the 1910. When there are only one or two census records it really brings home how many of these immigrants only lived 10-20-30 years in this country before dying.

*I know it’s above, but let’s face it, having a photograph of your 2xgreats is pretty cool :).

*Alwine’s obituary, although it’s very limited–and spells her first name Albina. (Alwine is pronounced Alveena)

Finally, I would like to post the property map. The parcel owned by Gottfried is near the bottom, in the center darkened area. His land is a small piece. Do you see the darkened section in the middle at the bottom? His parcel is second from the farthest right (of the darkened section) and the second from the bottom. Although Gottfried and Alwine’s son-in-law, my great-grandfather Charles Mulder, eventually owned a lovely farm in Caledonia, 1894 was long before he purchased his property.

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At the end of this post, I wrote an update.

Instead of griping about not having time to do genealogy research, I’ve decided to change my attitude. I am so blessed with so many old family photos, that my time is best spent right now trying to identify the photos!

Today’s photo is labelled, but it still presents a few problems. The date is 1951. I don’t know the location, but believe that the location is probably in southwest Michigan. The names are Cora, Fred, Godfrey, Anna.

Waldeck surname

Godrey has to be Gottfried Waldeck (Jr), born 18 December 1880 somewhere in “Germany”–most likely Prussia. He was married to Anna Christine Ruehs. She was born 2 December 1882 (same birthday as my mom!). My mother knew them as Uncle Godfrey and Aunt Anna. I’ve written about him before–how he drove his tractor down the block to work in his fields when he was blind. How I saw him do just that.

I asked Mom, and she confirmed that the two on our right are definitely Uncle Godfrey and Aunt Anna.

I like the photo without the orange a bit better.

But who are Cora and Fred? Godfrey had a brother, Fred. He’s the one who lived at the state hospital. He had brain damage from a terrible accident that happened when he was young and newly married with a young child. Fred was born in 1869 and died in 1953, so he would have been 81 in 1951. You can read more about him at Waldeck Family Research. This man does look the right age, but would he have been in good shape like this? Dressed up in a nice suit and tie?

Take a look at this photo of one of the old Kalamazoo State Hospital photos. It could be the building behind them.

Here is the family photo that includes Fred as a young man. Fred is back row, left side. Godfrey is front row, right side.

I am hoping that I can get verification that this is, indeed, Fred Waldeck who lived at the State Hospital. In comparing the younger Fred to the older Fred in the photos, I do think it is the same person.

If I could find out who Cora was that would be even more amazing!

UPDATE:

Thanks to Linda Stufflebean from http://www.emptybranchesonthefamilytree.com/ I was able to put together the pieces of who is in the photo and who is probably holding the camera.

All along I have been imagining Fred as abandoned at the “asylum” all those years. After all, his son was still almost a baby when Fred was injured. His wife Caroline Meir had to work for a farmer and leave her son Edward with her mother in Grand Rapids. Eventually she became a nurse and lived with her mother and with Edward. Caroline probably worked very hard her whole life and raised Edward to become a pastor. She passed away in 1946.

This new “find,” the photo identified as Cora, Fred, Godrey, and Anna, 1951, shows that the family visited Fred. Cora is Fred’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Edward who must be taking the photograph. So on this day in 1951, Fred’s son and daughter-in-law, and his only surviving brother, Godfrey, and Godfrey’s wife Anna visited Fred who was dressed up in a suit and tie for the occasion. The only close family members not in the photograph, in fact, are my great-grandparents, Clara and Charles Mulder. Clara was Fred’s only surviving sister by 1951.

Little tidbit of info: Fred was to die less than two years later, in January 1953. Clara died mere months after her brother, on 6 September 1953.

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My maternal grandmother’s mother’s family emigrated from somewhere in Prussia. Ancestry has further refined some of the ethnicity findings, and now they are showing me with 6.1% Eastern European (this has been there in varying amounts both here and on 23andme from the beginning). What is different is that Ancestry now believes that this small portion of my ancestors came specificially from an area right around and including Krakow. Their prediction is considered “strong.”

None of my ancestors were supposedly Polish, but approximately 12.5% were Prussians living in an area that is now considered Poland. They spoke German. The descendants of ancestors who stayed behind in Europe were probably relocated after WWII when the Poles expelled the Prussians. Some Prussians also fled the area on their own. I find this an interesting fact of history. I studied history throughout college and even did some graduate work in history, yet I never learned this information until I was researching my own family history. Have we swept the ethnic cleansing of ethnic Germans under the carpet because it came during the complete revelation of the extent of Nazi atrocities? Was it “payback” for what the Nazis did?

What might this Krakow DNA result mean?

I don’t know!

I started to go through the calculations and comparisons with my mother’s DNA again, but that really leads nowhere as they still have not refined things enough. For example, they haven’t found Krakow in my mother’s results. I checked my father’s just to see, and he has zero Eastern European DNA, so all this EE I have comes from Mom’s family. Interestingly, both my parents have DNA from Norway and Sweden, and mine shows up as all Swedish, but we know that means very little. What all this can mean is that Krakow is probably a clue to the Prussians.

More importantly, can this DNA result help me find my Prussians back in the days when they lived in Prussia?

I had it figured out that my Prussians might have come from Schwetzkow, Pommern (Pomerania), Prussia, based upon one record that I found that might apply to one of my Noffke relatives.

Where is Krakow in relationship to Schwetzkow? Krakow is at the south end of Poland, very near the border with the Czech Republic. It’s about 432 miles south of Schwetzkow (which was in Sweden at one point, although it’s on the continent).  I guess Krakow is just another clue I have to stick in the back of my mind for possible later use, I guess.

Or maybe Ancestry will take away Krakow when they update their results next time. Who knows.

Here is what I would like to learn: what does Prussian DNA tend to look like? Does it look German? Because German DNA according to Ancestry is spread out in rings around what we think of as Germany today. This includes a large portion of Poland. Does it look Scandinavian? Some of Prussia was, in fact, in Sweden, as I mention above. Does it look Polish, since so much of it was on the land that later became Poland? I have not really gotten a straight answer about this from anybody. Maybe they don’t really know yet!

In the meantime, I think DNA is not going to help me find my Prussian ancestors. I need RECORDS for that. Something I still do not have.

Back to the drawing board.

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On another note, I often write about my Dutch ancestors. Here is an interesting article that relates to the first wave of Dutch immigrants to the United States. It’s about a church building in Brooklyn that is over 200 years old–the church itself, a Reformed Church, was first founded in 1677. Can a Church Founded in 1677 Survive the 21st Century?

 

 

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