FEEFHS Conference and Research at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City

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.

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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