National Genealogy Society Conference Post 1

The EWZ series of posts will be interrupted to bring you four reports of conferences I have recently attended with emphasis on Suwalki Province and East Prussia.

The National Genealogical Society 2018 Family History Conference was held May 2-5, 2018. I have attended NGS conferences in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Kansas City, but this one in Grand Rapids, the city where my East-Prussian-Suwalki Province grandparents had arrived in 1905, called me to re-examine Thomas Wolfe’s belief, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Well, I did!

So what does NGS with its focus on American Genealogy offer East Prussian family researchers? There are sessions about “German Trails—Leaving European Homes and Locating across America”, “Migration Patterns of Germans within America” and “Finding a German Heimat Online.” But the prize has to be the subject of the next two posts.

”Researching Records of the Former Soviet Republics”

Greg Nelson, Content Strategy Specialist for Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the Records Division of Family Search. Although the one hour presentation included Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldava, Armenia/Georgia/Azerbaijan, the “Stan” countries, and the Baltics, this post includes information only on Lithuania.

Important Points about Lithuania
• Lithuania has more liberal laws about accessing than many other republics of the former USSR. These are released annually.
Births: 100 years (1917)
Marriages: 30 years (1987)
Deaths: 30 years 1987)
• The older organization of records was at the Gubernia, Uezd, Okrug, and Raion levels from circa 1815 to 1917. The newer organization is Oblast (region), Raion (county) from circa 1917 to 1990.

• Family Search divides records into 3 tiers. The top tier, Tier 1, includes Births, Marriages, and Deaths. Tier 2 includes school records and passports.

• Family Search has “No records from Kalinigrad (and I) don’t see us getting any.”

• Family Search lists three sources for Lithuanian records:

• The Lithuanian State Historical Archives has records from “13th century to independent Lithuania (1918) and contains civil registry and vitals to modern times.” http://www.archyvai.lt/en/archives/historicalarchives.html
• Central State Archives has “documents post 1919” to 1990. http://www.archyvai.lt/en/archives/centralarchives.html
• Epaveldas is a cultural heritage site, with many partners, who have contributed images. I have researched this site and found it to be very interesting. However, it has not helped me with my German Lutheran ancestors in southwestern Lithuania. If anyone finds anything helpful, please send a comment. http://epaveldas.lt/en/home
• Lithuania has more church records than the other Baltic countries. (Yeah!)
• Family Search has digitized 7.3% of the top tier records, but none have been indexed.
• Currently, there are two digital cameras in Lithuania, one in Vilnius (the capital) and one in Kaunas, the former capital. The camera in Kaunas may be more promising as Kaunas was at the northeastern most point of Suwalki Province on the Memel/Nemanus/Neman River. The part of Kaunas known as Prussian Kaunas lies on the west side of the river.
Revision lists are currently being filmed in Kaunas. https://www.litvaksig.org/types-of-records-in-the-ald/revision-lists-and-other-census-lists.
• A question about whether the metrical lists include Germans is often asked. The answer is yes. As Germans and Lutherans came to be synonymous, the metrical lists would include Lutheran or evangelische records. Experienced researchers know that this is about the only way to research our German Lutheran ancestors in Suwalki Province. Since Family Search has now digitized records ordered in the last five years, diligent researchers, some among the readership of this blog, would accept some thank yous from newer researchers!

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6th Anniversary

Can it be six years already? Over 225 Posts!

GOALS: Did I meet my Year 6 Goals? 6 out of 7!

The map has a few entries of ancestral villages, names, and events: births, confirmations, marriages, and deaths.

Three posts centered on Feefhs in Salt Lake, UT July 16 to 21

One post detailed the International German Genealogical Partnership July 28-30 in Minneapolis, MN, with special attention to East Prussia.

A recent post told about helping a researcher who follows this blog find a record on FHL microfilm. It was not the birth record she sought, but a marriage record that gave her new information about a collateral line.

Three posts in a long series about the results of researching the EWZ records has begun with exciting results.

The Lithuanian State Historical Archives in Vilnius became accessible in the fall of 2017. Starting in February, at least one researcher who follows this blog is making progress with the Archives.

There was no specific post on the Autosomal DNA as not all first cousins responded to my request.

GOALS for Year 7:

Continue to post in the middle and end of each month. This change has worked well as it allows me to answer the best I can the comments and to continue my own research (so I have something to write about!).

Encourage everyone to keep reading of the blog by checking the Categories and Tags list which has been updated through January 2018. Several new followers have emerged: some are beginners just learning to use FHL microfilmed/digitized records for Suwalki Province. Many answers to their questions are already posted on the blog. Other followers include those who ask the most astute questions. Those lead me to think carefully before responding and provide ideas for future posts.

If I receive a question about a topic that has not yet been published, but I have a reasonable draft started, I have been known to send that to a researcher rather than make him/her wait for the answer to their question.

Provide a report on conferences attended or expect to attend: Germanic Genealogy Society, National Genealogical Society, and The Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe.

Continue the EWZ series with explanatory steps.

Share books of interest.

Include results of FHL microfilm/digitized records.

Discuss “Lithuanian” DNA and the results of another DNA “cousin.”

Provide an update on the future availability of records.

A new Facebook group, Lietuvos Liuteronų Genealogija, specific to this area, has recently started.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/LiuteronuGenealogija/

Also check out https://www.owenthegenealogist.com/. Owen the genealogist gave me the Facebook group link. It is exciting to connect with new, young researchers!

Thank you for your comments. They provide encouragement to reach the ten-year anniversary!

If a reader has made a comment that I have not responded to, please send another comment so we can communicate further by e-mail.

I am excited to continue!

 

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POST 3 Another EWZ Collection

One statement in the article “Immigration Records of the EWZ” by Steven W. Blodgett, A. G., copyrighted. Feefhs Quarterly Volume VI, Numbers 1-4 caught my attention as I had not read it anywhere else. It describes “An incomplete set of pedigree files dealing mainly with emigrants from Wartheland-Poland and Lithuania (69 rolls of film)” and are listed in the Family Search catalogue under Einwandererzentralstelle 1940-1941, FHL 1364501-1364568.
I thought that there might be additional information Germans in Lithuania so I used the Family Search catalogue
https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/252070?availability=Family%20History%20Library

The catalogue listed 1961 as the acquisition date. (EWZ Einwanderer and Stammblätter state the acquisition date as 1992!) The key words are “resettled in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Austria.”
At the bottom of the page I found the three films listed under “Umsiedler aus Litauen.”
Considering the disclaimer at the top, I was amazed to have them available on my own laptop.
There were almost 3500 images on the third film. The two case numbers I was interested in were listed in the Family Search catalogue toward the end of the film, the last 1000 images. In a quick perusal I noted: the many -at names, the evangelische religion, and the place of birth or residence. Many were from Taureggen, a long time evangelische parish; several had been born in Kovno, now Kaunas, where evangelische had settled during the 1795 to 1807 Prussia Era at the northeast corner, where the Memel River turns west, of what would become known as the northern border of Suwalki Province. Others were from Mariampol and Pilwischki, (near Vilkaviskis). Some were born in Kreis Traki farther east, some in Riga. Some were very young, a girl born in 1925, barely 15, in December 1941. One was a boy born in 1927, a student. So young.
This film also may help the researcher understand the processing of some of these 2.1 million people. It seems as if the people in this collection declared in some official way that they desired to be re-settled in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Austria. That decision meant their EWZ registrations fell into a different category than many others. The 1998 Blodgett article referred to in the earlier post states that the FHL acquired these records “some time ago.”
Although the above information is not a scientific overview, this lesser known resource may help some researchers who cannot find their Lithuanian ancestors in the two more widely known FHL EWZ records.
EXPERIENCE:
I put in the case number of first person.
For example, I was looking for someone whose case number was 502510.
The film description went from 502487 to 502517, but there was no 502 510 on this film.
Then I looked for someone whose case number was 516540. These files went from 516398 to 516552, but there was no 516 540 on this film.]
Perhaps the reason that this partial collection came to the FHL 31 years earlier than the more widely known EWZ collection follows: the resettlement pattern for this group of people, the majority of them from Taureggen, was an early, cohesive decision to remain together, just as their ancestors had for generations.
If you are searching for Germans in Lithuania and are reasonably sure that there were some relatives there at the beginning of WWII and did not find them in the previous EWZ collections, this often-overlooked collection might be worth a look.

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POST 2: TWO SOURCES FOR THE EWZ (Einwanderer-zentralstelle) COLLECTION

NARA II, COLLEGE PARK, MD

For a broad look at this collection of records, check the Guide to the Captured German and related records on microfilm at the National Archives website.

http://www.dpcamps.org/capturedRecords.html

https://www.archives.gov/research/captured-german-records/foreign-records-seized.html#center

Look for the following categories:
Collection of Foreign Records Seized
National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized (Record Group 242)
Microfilmed Records Received from the Berlin Document Center

Einwandererzentrale. Microfilm Publication A3342, Series EWZ. 7,320 rolls.

The Four Parts of the EWZ Collection:

EWZ 53, Antrage, contains the naturalization applications of Germans who resided in the Baltic states prior to World War II (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia). 73,000 on 587 microfilms
EWZ 56 contains the “racial” assessment of Germans who resided in USSR, Romania, Poland, Baltic states, Yugoslavia, France, Bulgaria, and Sud-Tirol.
EWZ-57 contains the Einwandererkartei (Immigrant Card) and Gesundheitskartei (Health Card). Sometimes it is called E/G Kartei. 2.9 million cards in phonetic order on 1964 microfilms.
EWZ 58 contains the Stammblätter (pedigree chart). (Sometimes this is a repeat of the EWZ 57 files.) 1 million forms on 742 microfilms.

FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY

The Family History Library purchased the Einwanderer (index card) and the Stammblätter (family group sheet.) The Family Search Catalogue entry has an excellent description of the Einwanderer and the Stammblätter collections.
https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/730589?availability=Family%20History%20Library
https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/734631?availability=Family%20History%20Library

To find an individual, one first goes to the Einwanderer, the (mostly) alphabetized index card, to find the case file number, also called the Control Number, of the individual. Then the researcher uses the case number file to locate the Stammblätter, the family group sheet, which usually has up to three generations of the family listed.

A recent search showed that many of these are now digitized and due to contracts and privacy issues of living persons are now available at Family History Centers and their affiliates, but not on your home computer.

 

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POST 1 Introduction to the EWZ Records

Ever since the EWZ (Einwanderer-zentralstelle), the Immigrant Control Center, records became accessible in the mid 1990s, I have thought that they might have information about the family ancestors who did not immigrate. When I started to study these records in January 2017, I had to no idea where I would be by the end of the year.

The best information about the history of these records comes from the copyrighted article, “Examples of Successful Stammblätter Research” by Steven Stroud in the FEEFHS Quarterly Volume VI, Numbers 1-4.

The EWZ records, were created in 1939 when ethnic Germans were re-settled in areas controlled at that time by the Third Reich–Germany, western Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Austria.

Every person had to be registered and identified by race and nationality. The SS (Schutzstaffel [Protection] Squadron) was in charge of this process for about 2.1 million people.

Author’s Note: I requested FEEFHS to include this article on their website, but copyright restrictions may apply.

Later these records were taken to Munich to be destroyed, but they were captured by the Americans, brought to the United States and microfilmed. In 1991 the originals were taken back to the Berlin Document Center, and are now in the German Federal Archives. The microfilmed copies are available at the National Archives II (NARA II) in College Park, Maryland. The Family History Library (FHL) with its emphasis on births, marriage and deaths purchased two parts of this collection.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Two additional articles are also helpful:

1.      “East European Emigration and the EWZ” by Dave Obee, past president of Feefhs and Canadian immigration research expert.

http://feefhs.org/sites/default/files/guide/emigration_and_the_EWZ.pdf

 Obee reported that the “The information on the forms is remarkably accurate.” (Obee, page 56.)

2.      “Immigration Records of the EWZ” by Steven W. Blodgett, A. G., copyrighted. Feefhs Quarterly Volume VI, Numbers 1-4.

Blodgett provides an over view of the FHL EWZ collection including the Einwanderer (aka (E/G Kartei), Gesundheits (health summary cards), ADREST index cards and Stammblätter. He also discusses the parts of the collection not at FHL, the Antrage and miscellaneous files. 

ONLINE RESOURCES:

A few Internet examples follow: There are other online articles. If you find one that pertains specifically to Lithuania, please comment on this post.

https://www.sggee.org/convention/2015%20EWZ%20-%20SGGEE%20handouts.pdf

A nice powerpoint presentation from the 2015 SGGEE conference, this presentation carefully explains the basics of EWZ in a colorful, easy to read format. This example is an excellent starting point.

http://www.volhynia.com/res-ewz.html

Although this article appears to focus on Volhynia, it also provides basic and important information about the collection.

http://volga.niedermonjou.org:8000/EWZ.html

            This article provides the history and overview of the EWZ collections.

http://www.grhs.org/vr/ch/captured-german-records.htm

This article provides a history of Germans in Russia and provides a most detailed look at the vast collection of these records. This article could serve as a comprehensive overview for the experienced researcher. I recommend reading this article last.

There are many other excellent internet resources.

SUBSEQUENT POSTS

POST 1: Introduction

POST 2: Two Sources for the EWZ Collection

POST 3: Another EWZ Collection

POST 4: Goals: Comments, Questions, and Hypotheses

POST 5: Experiences with the EWZ Records

POST 6: Highlights of EWZ Records: Hutop

POST 7: A Major Breakthrough

POST 8: Highlights of EWZ Records: Spurgat

 

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Collaborating with Another Researcher

One of the best parts of continuing this blog is to receive comments from readers. With each comment I try to send a personal email to see if there is anything else I can do to help. Although I know I have missed a few, contacting others remains a high priority.

In March 2017 I received a comment from another researcher, also named Cynthia, whose permission I have to publish this post.  We exchanged several emails. In May and June I was able to provide solid information to further her research.

Research Problem: Find the 3 March 1866 birth record of Berta Balcziunas, born in the parish of Kudirkos Naumiestis/Wladyslawow/Neustadt.

This researcher worked across two continents with archives and a professional researcher, both online and through mail.

Here is a partial list of the resources she consulted, many of them mentioned somewhere in this blog, but not all. Where I was able to help, I have indicated with a reference to G-GLISP.

Archives:

 Suwalki State Archives, Poland

Lithuanian State Historical Archives, Vilinius

Evangelical Central Archive, Berlin http://www.ezab.de/familienforschung.html

Leipzig Archives

Researchers:

Vilius Vasekis, Vilnius, Lithuania

Researcher in Goldap, Poland who found my name at kartenmeister.com (G-GLISP)

German researcher and cousin (G-GLISP)

Databases:

Ellis Island

Steve Morse—Gold Form for Searching for Ellis Island Passengers in One Step (G-GLISP)

Kartenmeister.com (G-GLISP)

Family Search.org (G-GLISP)

Map from Bilder aus der Geschichte des evangelischen Deutschtums in Litauen by Hermann Jaekel (History of the Protestant German Settlement in Lithuania)

FHL Films:

Maps.lt (G-GLISP)

SGGEE https://www.sggee.org/research/parishes/church_parishes/LutheransI(G-GLISP)

I do not know the complete geography and history of all the evangelische parishes in Lithuania, but I do know some and can research others. By going to Family Search, I able to recommend three microfilms that might have the 1866 birth information.

Results from the researcher:

I did not find her birth. However, I did find Kiersztyn marriages which may be helpful to that tree. Kiersztyns married Kilianskis. I did find something much more interesting; an 1873 marriage for a Martin Kilianski to a Helena Kiersztyn. I am in process of having it translated from the Russian. I have a great uncle by this name who came to Detroit, but he married a Lutermoser in Detroit. His younger brother, Friedrich Kilianski married Berta. I have both these brothers’ pictures. This great uncle named a son Martin.

…your suggestions for films led to an exciting discovery; that is, the first time connection between two of my maternal German Lutheran clans: a marriage between a Kilianski and a Kierszytn.  I have continued to pursue the Kiersztyns with help from my Gen group.

This researcher added:

While I have yet to find the birth of great aunt Berta Balczunas and her passenger manifest, I would highly recommend to anyone doing family research to take advantage of those who have decades of research and “tricks” under their belts. G-GLISP is one of those.

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What’s in a Name Revisited: German Family Names of Prussian Origin) by Max Mechow

The first ten posts on this blog discussed -at surnames in East Prussia and Lithuania.  See

https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/whats-in-a-name-5/ and the following nine posts.

In May 2016 I revisited this subject in the post below and the one which follows  it.

https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/addendum-post-3-ethnicities-of-a-name-prusi-and-maps/

Now more than two years later, a few parts of another important source has been translated: Deutsche Famiiliennamen Prussischer Herkunft) German Family Names of Pussian Origin) by Max Mechow. Mechow is also the author many scholarly articles published in the German language genealogical Altpreussische Geschlecterkunde (Old Prussian Gender Studies)

Page 24/25

  • Development of family names in East Prussia: fixed inheritable family names were first used by the nobility, then the middle class in the towns, and later in the lower class.
  • Before then, people were generally known by only one name.
  • The Prussian and German population chose their names according to their language.
  • Germans often had a family name based on their craft. Prussians, who remained as serfs or peasants, often had their name referred to by the village they came from.

Page 26/27

  • As long as the Teutonic Order of Knights was in charge, German and Prussian villages were strictly separated.
  • This policy changed after 1500 A. D., but by this time the development of family names had been
  • In conclusion, in general, a person with a Prussian place name is a Prussian.
  • If there was a German with a Prussian place name, it had to be a person who came to a town (with a name of Prussian origin) and this person was still without a fixed family name at this moment. (It should also be noted that most towns did not accept Prussians as citizens. Only around 3% of the town’s population was of Prussian origin, the so- called ”loyal Prussians.”

Page 28/29

  • In his overview Mechow offered some explanations regarding the names.
  • In particular, Poles and Lithuanians in East Prussia are not part of the original population, but are to be considered as migrants just as the Germans are.

Page 30/31

  • After the Black Death (1345-1353) Lithuanians colonized the northeastern part of East Prussia and gave new names to former German or Prussian villages. After some time, only the newest name was in use.
  • First, the Teutonic Order of Knights and later the government of Prussia simplified the name assignment. This caused a blurring of the origin, and a lot of people think all –at, -eit, -ull, etc. names are Lithuanian.
  • However, there are a lot of names with an old Prussian root word which gained the suffix –aitis,

-at, etc. later (e.g. Lekute became Lekutat). There are also names which had already been changed to the suffix –at (from –aude, or -(i)oth) before the Lithuanian migration after the Black Plague (e. g. Bubat, Kaupat, and Sankat). There are also –eit names in the central area of East Prussia (with no Lithuanian migration and before this period) as Tuleweit from Tuleswayde and Wissigkeit from Wissegeyde, both of which can be traced to about 1350 A. D.

  • Mechow’s conclusion: -at names can be both Lithuanian or Prussian origin!

Page 32/33

  • Only in East Prussia, not in Lithuania itself, is there an adjustment of the original German or Christian names with –at, or -eit suffixes, e.g. Simoneit, Balzereit (from Balthasar) or Beckereit, or Schneidereit. Even the names of colonists from Switzerland and France have been adjusted in this way…
  • The same thing happened in the southern region of East Prussia – Masuria – by the migration of Masovians and Poles: original Prussian place names got the suffix –s(z)ki (e.g. Eybuth became Heibutzki and Sambarte became Samborzki.

Page 34/35

  • The Prussian language was mainly influenced by the German language and disappeared more or less about 1700 AD as most Prussians switched to German.
  • The High German consonant shift also influenced the German language of East Prussia. Lower Prussian German became the main dialect.
  • However, in this region there were more changes for the vowels: e.g. a became o; ay/ei became -at/-eit (!) -and aude became –at; and long i became ei (e. g. Sankite became Sankeit…).
  • There were also two consonant changes: b became p and d became t.

For this researcher, Mechow’s conclusion in 1991 is still valid today and echoes the conclusion I made in May 2016. My -at name can be either Prussian or Lithuanian.

My thanks go to my fellow researcher Ben for this translation.

 

 

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