Foundation of Eastern European Studies
The next three posts will be devoted to a recent conference I attended in Salt Lake City. I have attended twelve Feefhs conferences since 1996 as it has been the most reliable source for information about researching ancestors from eastern Europe, including Suwalki Province.
Preparation for My Research
I decided to try to locate those hard to find “German” ancestors in East Prussia.
I had only two clues, the first, the name Eydtkuhnen , the border town that separated East Prussia from the Russian Protectorate. And two, a great grandmother’s 1874 Suwalki Province death record which had stated simply. She “was born in Prusia.” That plus I knew that people with my same last name were scattered all over East Prussia, but especially in the northeastern part now in Lithuania and Russia.
I further narrowed down my search to the 16 kreise in the Gumbinnen Administrative District.
Using the “concentric arc” theory suggested by Dr. Darius Petkunas in July 2013, I concentrated on those Kreise closest to Wylkowiszki: Stallupoenen first; then Pillkallen, Ragnit, Insterburg, Gumbinnen, Goldap, and Ortlesburg. I knew I would not be able to examine all the microfilm for all parishes within each kreis, but I wanted the information handy.
I found a great map of each kreis showing each parish at
Next I used the Kartenmeister website to locate and learn about each parish in each of the seven kreise http://www.kartenmeister.com/preview/databaseuwe.asp
Still in Kartenmeister, I clicked on the link to Google Maps and printed a colored map of each parish in each kreis.
Next, I used the Family History Library Catalogue [FHLC] (in September 2014 it will be known as the Family Search catalogue) to find appropriate microfilm for each parish.
I compiled a list of names and possible dates of births and marriages of great grandparents and great great grandparents of the Spurgat families, including the maiden names: Berz, Gudat (Guddat), Henning, Keller, Kuczynska, Raudonat, Spurgat, and Wallat as revealed in birth and marriage records from Suwalki Province.
I compiled a priority list of films that would have indices or confirmation records so I could look at as many names as possible in the shortest amount of time. This list also included birth and marriage records without an index within a five year span of a birth or marriage date suggested by the age on the records.
I also wanted to examine
• three books on Prussian names from the FHL
• a prioritized list of Landsmen (the journal of The Suwalk-Lomza Interest Group for Jewish Genealogists) http://www.jewishgen.org/SuwalkLomza/ articles
another prioritized list of Altpreussische Geschlechterkunde (The Study of Old Prussian Genealogy) www.vffow.de/info/publikationen.htm articles for possible translation and lists of names.
I also intended to donate a copy of The Three Spurgat Families from Wylkowiszki to the Family History Library.
The next post will include information about the conference.