The 18th Century

1701 Friedrich, Elector of Brandenburg, renamed his duchy the Kingdom of Prussia. He was crowned King Frederick I in Prussia in Koenigsberg and proceeded to build a strong army. 1

1708-1711 The last and worst (1709) of the major plagues affected much of East Prussia.3 270,000 of the 600,000 residents in East Prussia died; the Lithuanian-populated area was especially seriously affected. 2 (Note: It is possible that during this time of the decrease of the Lithuanian population that German-Lithuanian marriages could have started to take place.)

1714-1740 Prussian-Lithuanian peasants settled in Insterburg, a kreis and a city in East Prussia. Lithuanians, among others, were part of the repopulation of southern and eastern East Prussia after the great plagues. 4

1722 Gumbinnen, in eastern East Prussia, became the administrative center of Prussian
Lithuania, called Little Lithuania by the Lithuanians. 5

1731-38 The Salzburger Protestants were expelled from the Austrian Empire. Some of them came to America; 17,000 went to East Prussia. In 1732 the arrival of 32,000 Salzburgers in East Prussia, 6 particularly in the district of Prussian Lithuania (Gumbinnen) resulted in Lithuanians becoming a minority and threatening their ethnic identity. 7

1736 The administration of Prussia was divided between the “Deutsch” (the western half) or “Koenigsberger Kammer” (Department) and the “Litauische” (the eastern half) or “Gumbinner Kammer” as part of administrative reforms. 8 Later the term Bezirksregierung (district administration) was used. 9

1740 Freedom of worship was decreed in Prussia. When Friedrich II, also known as Friedrich the Great, added more land to his kingdom, Prussia became the strongest state in Germany. His reign lasted until 1786.

1740-1748 As a result of the War of the Austrian Succession between Prussia and Austria, Prussia won new territories.

1756-63 The Seven Years’ War, involving all major European powers, led to a prolonged
Austrian-Prussian rivalry for German leadership. In 1757 Russia devastated East Prussia. An Anglo-Prussian alliance faced off against a coalition of Austria, Saxony, France, and Russia. Prussia won more territory and went on to become a great power. 10 This war was known in America as the French and Indian War.

1772-1795 This Partition of Poland by Russia, Prussia, and Austria occurred in three stages: 1772, 1793, and 1795. Prussia gained West Prussia and the Netze District in 1772; South Poland (including the rest of Posen), Danzig, and Thorn in 1793; and New East Prussia (roughly east of the Vistula) in 1795. 11 Prussia received the most prosperous, but smallest, amount of land. Perhaps one third was an area where there were many Germans although Germans were not a majority in more than one-tenth of the land. 12 Prussia recruited Mecklenburgers and southwest Swabians to settle during all three partitions, but mostly during the second and third partitions. Poland and Lithuania disappeared as independent countries until 1918. 13

The Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland, weakened politically, militarily, and economically, were unable to resist the three partitions of their territories by Russia, Austria, and Prussia. 14

1792 The wars against revolutionary France by Prussia, Austria, and other countries changed the boundaries of Prussia, Austria, Russia, and Poland. 15

1795 Prussia was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War. East Prussia was formed consisting of the rest of the territory acquired in the Third Partition of Poland; Prussian rule ended with the Peace of Tilsit in July 1807. 16

Prussia received southeastern Lithuania (Suvalkija) with Augustavas, Seinai, and
Marijampole. 17

Note: For a map of The Partitions of Poland 1772 to 1795 see Magocsi, Historical Atlas of East Central Europe, 71. This map shows that part of the area of New East Prussia later became Suwalki Province. Prussia gained 54,600 square miles and 2,600,000 inhabitants. It is most likely that during the Prussian era from 1795 to 1807 with the expansion of New East Prussia that the families with the –at names were considered German “colonists” who resettled into what became German territory. However, Prussian-German domination halted when Napoleon conquered Europe, and Prussia lost New East Prussia. German colonists in the Duchy of Warsaw came under Russian domination.

1795-1807 Suduva, southern Lithuania, also known as Uznemune, came under German
rule. 18 This was the era of Prussian rule. This area was also renamed the province of Neuostpreussen or New East Prussia. One of the three districts of New East Prussia was Marijampole. 19

1795-1835 Russia adopted laws establishing the Pale of Settlement (roughly Ukraine, Bessarabia, Belarus [White Russia], Poland, and Lithuania), the area to which all new Jewish residents were restricted. 20

1 Hall, The Atlantic Bridge to Germany: Volume VIII, ix.
2 Brandt, Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia, IX-16.
3 Brandt, Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia, IX-17.
4 Brandt, Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia, IX-17.
5 Brandt, Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia, IX-17.
6 Brandt, Germanic Genealogy, 582.
7 Brandt, Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia, IX-18.
8 Brandt, Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia, IX-18.
9 Brandt, Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia, IX-24.
10 Reimer, The German Research Companion, 4.
11 Brandt, Germanic Genealogy, 582.
12 Brandt, Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia, IX-19.
13 Reimer, The German Research Companion, 4.
14 Researching Lithuanian Ancestral Towns, 6.
15 Reimer, The German Research Companion, 3-4.
16 Brandt, Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia, IX-21.
17 Researching Lithuanian Ancestral Towns, 8.
18 Researching Lithuanian Ancestral Towns, 9.
19 Researching Lithuanian Ancestral Towns, 9.
20 Brandt, Germanic Genealogy, 583.

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About suwalkigermans

I started family research in 1993. My first two books focused on my maternal grandparents. Both families came from Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia, to Big Rapids, Michigan. I left the Spurgats from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire as the third book because of the difficult and challenging research it required. After I published the book in 2010, I wondered what to do next. I thought I might try to share some of my research with others and maybe at the same time, by going digital, someone would find me. When you read the comments, you will see that happened. The best part of all this is helping others.
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