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Finding the Village of Your Origin

(In alphabetical order)

1. Ahnenpass

Not just anyone is going to have this. You have to have a relative in your family who became an officer in the Third Reich
and had to prove they were not Jewish. Hitler Youth also went around researching their families at town halls and churches.

An example of an Ahnenpass from the Neustrelitz area.

The person numbered 1 at the bottom is the owner of the pass. 2 & 3
are the parents and 4-7 are the grandparents.

2. Archives

Archival records can be found for Pomerania at Greifswald, Leipzig and Berlin in Germany. In Poland there are
archives at Stettin, Köslin, Stolp, Plathe, Stargard and Neustettin. In addition, the county town halls have records offices with records
going back 100 years. One thing we have learned over the years is don't just show up. Let them know you are coming, ask if they have
what you are looking for, ask if one must have an appointment, ask if they can have the materials ready and waiting for you and bring
money. Ask if you can take photos. Be sure and search for your records on the LDS website first (
and the Polish archives website ( or (

This is the city hall in former Schlochau, Germany and still is so
in Czluchow, Poland. They keep the records back 100 years. Then they go to an archive in Stolp.

Here is an example of a birth certificate from the Schlochau records office. It is full of great information. The girl Ilse, born 1928 in
Hammerstein, County Schlochau; name of the father and maiden name of the mother. Useful archive info has been stamped on the right margin.

3. Bibles

Check with the oldest sibling

Here is a listing of births from the Neumann Family Bible.

4. Cemetery Records/Mortuary Records/Tombstone

Cemetery Records can include:
an Index of Deceased (name, burial date, plot, grave, headstone and possibly cause of death, funeral home, and parents names).

Plot Details - The name of the owner and purchase date, plus the names of everyone who is buried and where they are located.

A Plot Map -

Rarely is a tombstone this helpful. (internet image)

An example of a Mortuary record from Minnesota. (internet image)

5. Census

1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 Federal Censuses give immigration information.

An example of a census page from 1900. (Internet image)

6. Church Records

Birth, Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Death

(Internet image)

7. Civil Records

Civil records usually mean birth, marriage, and death certificates. Vital records can include adoption, immigration/emigration, divorce,
name change and deed/mortgage. Civil records are usually at the state level and vital records may be at the county level.

An example of a Minnesota Marriage License Application from 1900. (Internet image)

8. Correspondence and Postcards

Here is a postcard in my Grandfather's papers that no one saw until after he died. It shows the mixed choir of Neuguth. Neuguth was a
village in County Schlochau that was considered West Prussia until 1938 when it became part of Pomerania. My Grandparents are not in
the photo but many of the town's people are. It was not that large of a village. Neuguth had no employment after WWI. People joined
musical groups and entertained people. An additional train car had to be added to accommodate all the visitors! 466 people lived in this
village in 1939. 45 people, about 10 percent are shown in this one photo.

It would have been beneficial to have found this years earlier when I had no idea that Neuguth had a silent "h" on the end of it.

9. Death Certificates

Check the name of the cemetery too in the lower right corner.

This Death Certificate is a double whammy. Not only is the birthplace listed as only "Germany," but the informant, the son, gave
his own mother's maiden name instead of the deceased mother's name. Note: The information is only as good as the memory of the informant.

10. Diaries

The diary of Erich Sternberg of Neuguth, County Schlochau.

11. Ellis Island website - Operated 1892-1954.
Castle Garden operated from 1855-1890.

12. (Join an) E-mail list

Is anyone else working on this surname

13. German cousins

Here is my German cousin with a painting of her town, Preussisch Friedland.

14. Google the surname

Try "Images," too. In addition see if there is already a list for your name at:

15. Interviews with oldest relatives

Also consider interviews with people born in your town. You would have to attend a Heimat meeting in Germany for this.

Here Anneliese and Aunt Herta are studying a map of the Rummelsburg area. Aunt Herta will be 102 in 2012.

16. LDS website

Type in the surname

From the main page choose Menu then Family History.

17. Local Histories

County museum or city library. Hennepin County has a museum near the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

These photos were found in a centennial book for Traverse County in MGS Library.

18. Military Documents or Awards

This is an Iron Cross, 2nd Class. The W stands for Kaiser Wilhelm II, 1914, the year it was issued. In the First World War,
approximately four million Iron Crosses of the lower grade (2nd Class) were issued.

19. Misc – Furniture, Probate packet, Police Records

An internet image heirloom chest with the family tree.

A family tree painted on a wall of Karlstejn Castle near Prague.

20. Naturalization Papers

Declaration of Intent (applied for after 1894). There are first papers for naturalization and final papers.

Here are examples from 1907 and 1926. Both examples list the ship traveled on to America which can lead to another line of research:

Internet images of the President Grant and the Gellert.

21. Newspaper articles

Find at Minn. Hist. Soc.

Be sure and write the source and date on the back or edge of the article.

22. Obituaries

Not one of these obituaries really got it right. The town is supposed to be Klein Karzenburg, Pommern (German) or Pomerania, Germany.

Here is Klein Karzenburg, a village formerly in Kreis Bublitz.

Here is the cemetery in Klein Karzenburg with an amazing 94 graves still in existence.

23. Photographs

Label the backside for future researchers.

Here someone has labeled the front of this photo of my Great-grandparents. Ferdinand Klugmann (1828-1910) and Emilie (Wodtke)
Klugmann. Ferdinand was born in Bublitz (city), Kreis (county) Bublitz, Pomerania, Prussia. His last residence is listed in
Naturalization Papers as Klein Karzenburg near Bublitz. Most likely this is a Carte de Viste popular between 1854-1870.

24. Pommernkontakte - Hit search, enter surname.

25. Ship Records/ Passenger Lists

Try an online search at

Notice on the right that this will search New York Passenger Lists from 1820-1957 among the many other lists including Hamburg.

An example of a 1925 ship's list from the Resolute Ship of the Hamburg-America Line from 1925. The wide center column lists the village of origin.

26. Sponsorship

Sometimes, sponsorship, who sponsored whom, to come to America, can give you at least a clue of where someone came from based on family
groupings. This chart seen right to left shows that Ferdinand and Emilie came to America in 1891 from Klein Karzenburg, County Bublitz.
They came with their son Gus Klugmann who sponsored his nephew from Flötenstein, County Schlochau, Carl Baumann. Carl sponsored his sister
and brother-in-law Fred Sternberg from Neuguth, Schlochau. Fred sponsored his nephew Eric, also from Neuguth.

27. Surround the roadblock

Investigate the children, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles.

Once you know your village:

1. Know if your village had a church – know what services your village place, windmill, etc.

Let us say for example that your village is Zimmerhausen in Regenwalde.

Search maps:
This will show you the village in German times.

We will choose Plathe (2157) since Zimmerhausen is near Plathe.

Here is a view of the village Zimmerhausen, in County Regenwalde in Pommern. What can we tell from this map?
1. They have a church in the middle of town surrounded by a cemetery.
2. They have another cemetery to the left of the church.
3. Gut = manor home, notice a park with trails.
4. Bf = Bahnhof, trainstation
5. Vw = Vorwerk, a group of homes close to the fields.

2. What is the Polish name of Zimmerhausen today?
Search Kartenmeister at:

Type in Zimmerhausen at the Geman name and it will tell you that Mechowo is the Polish name. If this village did not have its own church
it would tell you the parish too.

A Google maps search with satellite photo, will show what is still there in Mechowo. Notice the manor home and park are still there.

Now Google Image search both the German and Polish names to see what photos are out there.

Here we find old and modern photos and a bit of history too.

2. Source correctly – Village, County, Province, Country (Germany is used as the country starting in 1871.)