The Three Families

Throughout the 20th century family stories from multiple sources have always indicated that there were three Spurgat families who immigrated to the United States: The oldest immigrant, Adolph Spurgat, lived first in Passaic and Paterson, New Jersey, then in New York City and Brooklyn, New York, and by 1910 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His younger half-brother, Josof Spurgat, also lived in Passaic, New Jersey; Brooklyn, New York; Passaic again; and then in Jersey City and Matawan, New Jersey.

The third Spurgat family, the second Spurgat family who settled in Grand Rapids, was that of William Gustave Spurgat. The Adolf Spurgat family and the William Spurgat family kept in close contact with one another, probably because of their geographical proximity (they lived a few blocks apart in the northwest part of Grand Rapids) and also because Wilhelmine, William Gustave’s wife, considered Pauline, Adolf’s wife, her best friend.[i] These two Spurgat families were “distantly related” to each other. The relationship was uncertain, but some of their children thought that the grandfathers of Adolf and William Gustave were brothers, making Adolf and William Gustave second cousins and their offspring who knew each other so well, third cousins. The two groups justcalled each other “cousins.”[ii]

The Records

 Two researchers have taken every possible means over a decade and a half to determine if this relationship (Adolf and William as second cousins) is correct through a meticulous search of records in Wylkowiszki and other nearby locations. The following posts illustrate the parentage of Adolf and William Gustave, but not the parentage of their fathers. All that the two families have in common is “I-ku-nen: i. e., Eydtkuhnen/Eydkuhnen (See a previous post.) and that they lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The ever-elusive birth records of Johann (John) Spurgat, the father of Adolf, and Mathäus (Matthew) Spurgat, the father of William Gustave, in the area around Wylkowiszki or in locations around Eydtkuhenen/Eydkuhnen, East Prussia, have not emerged. Without the records to prove the relationship, these two Spurgat families cannot be tied together with written birth records.

 In genealogical study the researcher must report the findings as accurately as possible and provide conclusions for the reader. Sometimes the records do not “fit” exactly as one would wish. Nevertheless, all the records must be reported. The following list contains the possible gaps in the records from this area:

·         The absence of death records for first and subsequent wives.

·         The lack of subsequent marriage records.

·         The lack of detail on birth records.

·         The possibility of an error in recording the first name of a mother or a father on a birth record or a death record of a child in an area in which several Spurgat families lived.

·         The lack of detail about survivors on death records.

·         The lack of confirmation records for all years.

 The lack of all these details has hindered a definitive conclusiveness after years of exhaustive research.

 Further complications include:

·         Not all the births were registered within a few hours or days. In at least one case, the birth was registered four months later.[iii]

·         The names being recorded were mostly those of illiterate peasants who were not able to spell their surname for the civil registrar/pastor.

·         A transcription from the “original piece of paper” to the civil/registrar/pastor made by the local teacher with “nice writing skills” may have allowed for errors.

·         The same civil/registrar/pastor was responsible for the records of several churches so the information may not have been not been completely copied until several days after the event.

·         The ages may not have been exact and can vary from record to record.

 The reader may notice variations in the consistency of the format of the records as maintained by two men, Pastor K. Lange and Pastor D. Brueggerman, the latter who wrote in both Polish and Russian. In all the records the reader will note that the information was read aloud, as in each case, neither the bride or groom (if a marriage record) nor the parents (if a birth record) nor the witnesses (if a birth, marriage, or death record) knew how to read or write. Even the names of witnesses can provide additional relationships. In spite of all this, the records contain a wealth of information about these Spurgat families.

 [i] Interview with Alfred Spurgat. Mr. Spurgat is now deceased.

[ii] Interview with Dorothy Spurgat Anglin.  Mrs. Anglin is now deceased.

[iii] Pauline Spurgat entry, Kopie księg metrykalnych, 1843-1898, [Wylkowiszki] Birth Register, no. 81 (1878), Wojewodzkiw Archiwum Panstwowe, Warsaw, Poland.

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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