German Genealogy Connection

May 21st, 2008, 02:00 PM
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German Genealogy Connection

I have always wondered how many US citizens who are going to Germany as tourists are at least partly going to satisfy a genealogical interest.

I have substantial German roots and enjoy building my yearly itineraries around visiting the cities of my ancestors. I am lucky I know 'where from I came.'

Its not the only reason I go, but it does add a very personal and satisfying component to walk the turf of my ancestors.

Anyone else have this interest? And where are your ancestors from? Mine are primarily from the Angeln Schleswig area, the Rhine Trier region, and the Inzlingen Lorrach region of Baden.

iwannagonow is offline  
May 21st, 2008, 02:25 PM
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2 branches of family came from Germany and another branch came from Poland. I know where 1 set of German ancestors came from, which is surprisingly close to where the Polish ancestors came from. That area is now Poland and was Poland when some of my ancestors left, but was East Prussia when others of my ancestors left. One of my goals is to go there and see the area.

The other branch from Germany - I have yet to be able to determine where exactly they came from. I haven't been able to find any records that say anything other than "Germany". Still looking though.

Other branches of the family - I know where the Swedes and the English originated, but I haven't been able to figure out where the Scots came from. I would love to go see all the places.
november_moon is offline  
May 21st, 2008, 02:42 PM
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All branches of my family claim to be of German roots. Research has shown that a few actually are from the Alsace, but they argue that their ancestors left they are under German rule, and that makes them German! Given that I am fully 6th generation American I'm not really sure I'm too worried about being French or German. But, I was fortunate enough to live in Boeblingen for a few years in the '80s (IBM). What did I learn? I am decidedly of German roots. I'm passionate about organization, structure, planning and cleanliness....making me a true Schwabian. I love going there - I always feel some how at home - I cant explain it - it just is what it is!
seafox is offline  
May 21st, 2008, 03:04 PM
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One side of my family is from Erfurt the other, the most specific I can find is Bavaria. I love family roots research and hope to take a trip to Germany someday...
bettyloo is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 07:52 PM
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On several trips we've been able to integrate a few days of "root-ing". It adds much more depth to what one sees and experiences.

A little over a year ago we were able to travel to Saxony where her father had come from immediately prior to WWI. With the help of the records dept. at the Rathaus we were able to find the very house where he grew up and visited with the current owners ... my wide's grandfather and sold it to their grandfather in 1912.

In the mid 1700's many Germans immigarated to Bessarabia and other places in south Russia. My wife's ancestors on her mother's side were among them, coming from Schwabia and the Alsace ... her mother immigrated to Canada from there ... and next year we'll travel to see the countryside there.

And to bring it all full circle ... At the same time in the mid 1700's many emigrated from the same Alsacian and Schwabian areas of Germany to the US ... most of my ancestors were among them.

Our next trip, after our Bessarabia trip and after we retire, will be to live in that area for a few months.
elbegewa is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 08:30 AM
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My great-grandfather came from Germany and wrote a speech regarding his experiences in the US Civil War. In it, he gave details about where he was from.

I have twice visited the village. I looked up the family name in the phone book and saw several with that name (both the original German spelling and the Americanized spelling)

I mentioned this to my uncle and he informed me that my great-uncle had kept in touch with his German cousins. My uncle and aunt had visited them. My aunt's response --- "They are peasants"!!
bigtyke is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 09:28 AM
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No, not at all. My ancestors came to Pennsylvania from Germany almost 300 years ago, so while I enjoy visiting Germany for many reasons, genealogy is not one of them. I figure they had their reasons for leaving, that part of my family history is done. If I want to do family research, I look into our own collection of documents, many of which have been donated to the historical societies in Lebanon, Lancaster, Bethlehem and Germantown. We think of ourselves as Pennsylvania Dutch, not German-Americans.

We will be in Saxony later this year and while we do plan to visit Herrnhut, where a few of my ancestors passed through, the purpose is to visit the worldwide headquarters of the Moravian Church, of which we are members.

The only other "German German" family connection (on my side) would be looking at some of the places where my grandfather served in WW I. We have a large collection of photographs taken of him, his friends, and various bits of daily life during WW I, including some pretty gruesome images. A museum has expressed interest in having them on loan. After the war, he stayed on in Germany for a while as part of the remaining forces, living in the home of a German widow who kept trying to marry him off to one of her three daughters (he was a handsome, charming young man who spoke fluent German, although, of course, it wasn't "true" German, but rather the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect).

OTOH, my husband pays closer attention to ancestral sites in Germany because his father is German, originally East Prussian. After WW II, his family left EP for Baden-Baden and Bad Wimpfen and the Ruhr Valley, which is where most of his relatives still live. The family has traced its roots back to the 13th century, but none of the Tilkes seem that interested in pursuing more in-depth research.

By the way, if any of your ancestral hunting takes you to the cemetery in Baden Oos, outside Baden-Baden, please relax a few moments on the beautiful carved granite Tilke family memorial bench. Whenever we are in the BB region, we stop by the cemetery to give the bench a proper cleaning (it is maintained by the cemetery, but they don't give it the same care that family members would).
BTilke is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 10:52 AM
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My gggrandfather and his father where born in Rohl (near Trier). On our last visit to Germany in 2002, we took the back roads to Rohl. Oh my gosh, standing in this tiny village where my ancesters where born made me feel SO connected to my mother's family. Somehow, I began to understand why they settled in Wisconsin. The terrain was very similar.

We have also visited sights in the US to satisfy my genealogical interest. I traced my ancesters back to coming over on the Mayflower (I am related to four Mayflower PAX). I visited places they lived in MA, upstate NY and Wisconsin. Great way to learn about history.
BarbAnn is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 12:33 PM
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My husband's great-great-grandfather immigrated from Germany to southern Illinois in the late 1800s. My husband is half German, his name is German, and he really connects with that part of his heritage. It was thus a pleasure for him to have the opportunity to live and work in Germany for the past 2.5 years. My husband likes to point out that the German language has only missed one generation in his family (his father never learned it, but remembers hearing it spoken as a child) and he hopes to pass his knowledge on to future generations.

We planned our final trip within Germany last fall to include a day spent in the area around Minden, west of Hannover, which is where my husband's ancestors emigrated from. We visited several small towns in the area that were identified in birth and marriage records (found online) but didn't make any pre-arrangements to look at church records, so we simply wandered around the graveyards and admired the beautiful countryside, wondering why they left it for southern Illinois! (Actually, they probably found the flatlands of Illinois ideal for farming.) We even found a specific farm that possibly belonged to a member of his family, although we can't be sure.

Hopefully in the future we will be able to pass that way again, and make plans ahead of time to do a more thorough search.
hausfrau is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 12:51 PM
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I was wondering if you ever noticed that there are a couple of (usually very small) villages in Germany which bear famous US names.
You will find Texas a bit southeast from where hausfrau has been (Minden, actually much closer to Hameln). Philadelphia is only some 30km East of Berlin. And, of course, Amerika in Saxony.
Most of these villages or hamlets got named by people coming back from the States, or by those who planned to emigrate.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 01:05 PM
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My mother is of German descent on both sides and my father was half German descent. I have a brother who is deeply into genealogy and has identified many villages connected with our ancestors and we reestablished contact with some relatives on my father's side (more recent emigration). On my March 2 week trip to Germany, we visited and photographed many of "our" villages in the Southern Black Forest (some were no more than crossroads). I thought they were pretty cool, but my daughter (20) informed me, "I don't feel any cosmic connection with these places!"

Later in the trip I drove around and photographed towns in two regions near Frankfurt. Unfortunately I ran out of time to visit the last remaining group of villages. I'm hoping to return and check these out on a future trip.
noe847 is offline  
May 30th, 2008, 07:23 AM
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Thanks for the replies. Interesting stories.

BarbAnn, my gggrandfather was from Trier also and emmigrated to Washington county Wisconsin(north of Milwaukee) in the 1840's.

BTilke, my wifes mother was born in Kappelrodeck (10 minutes from Baden Baden). Next time I am in the Baden area I will stop by and help keep the Tilke memorial bench clean.

I was born in Milwaukee which is probably the most German of US cities. (Germantown, Pa people may disagree).

Milwaukee was nicknamed the 'German Athens' in the 1880's. The area north of Milwaukee is a dead ringer for the rural Angeln country side in the Schleswig area of north Germany.

My relatives joined many of their local countrymen in a Wisconsin community called Fredonia that looked very similar and climatically felt similar to where they left. No coincidence I am sure.
iwannagonow is offline  
May 30th, 2008, 08:22 AM
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I would say that the historic center of Bethlehem, PA, is among the most "German" of U.S. cities, although its influences are markedly Saxon (thanks to Saxony's Count von Zinzendorf, who founded the city) rather than Bavarian, Black Forest or Rhineland.

(Germantown is part of Philadelphia)

And of course, there are a slew of cities and small towns in the PA Dutch country that have strong German affiliations. Once you leave the Lehigh/Northampton area, they do not have the Saxon influence.

One day, while staying with our relatives in the Ruhr Valley, we drove a back winding road into a suburb of Essen. It was just like taking the road from Kozy Korner over South Mountain into Emmaus.
BTilke is offline  
May 30th, 2008, 09:53 AM
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My ggg-grandfather came to Missouri from Hackenstedt (Hildesheim region) in 1851. I visited there in 2006 and am heading back in June. The house is still there, though greatly restored. Much of the geneology work has been done, so mostly I just bask in the wonder of standing where my ancestors lived.
missourimom1974 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2008, 07:27 AM
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My grandfather came from Germany and was born in Lunen Sud. I originally was told he was born in Lippstadt and dont know if there is any connection there in towns. No one I know has ever heard of this place. My family came from the Dortmund area. They were all miners and moved to Ilinois probably becasue of the mining industry.

My ggrandmother I beleive is buried in Dortmund. I have recently found that I may have living relatives in the Dotrmund area and I am excited that we will be able to meet when we travel to GDR in the fall.
skubachick4 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2008, 07:33 AM
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Most of My German ancestors on my mothers side came to PA in the early 1800's but my Dad was the only one of his family who immigrated. Consequently, I have close connections to his family and we visit back and forth...
SusieQQ is offline  
Jul 6th, 2008, 07:38 AM
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Skubachick, you'll have some problems travelling to the GDR because it ceased to exist in 1990 (and Dortmund has never been part of it, by the way.)

Sorry to be arrogant, but that's one of the things a visitor to Germany can be expected to know.
quokka is online now  
Jul 6th, 2008, 07:54 AM
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Or maybe that the "D" is just a few millimeters below the "E" on a standard keyboard. ;-)
logos999 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2008, 11:00 AM
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nice try
quokka is online now  
Jul 6th, 2008, 11:04 AM
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G"E"R vs. G"D"R
logos999 is offline  

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