Landsmen: Suwalki Lomza Interest Group

Introduction For many years I have wanted to read articles from Landsmen, the publication of the Suwalki- Lomza Interest Group for Jewish Genealogists. Even though this publication is directed towards Jewish subscribers, its contents focus on the geography, history, and records of Suwalki Province so there may be some glimpses for German Lutheran researchers. What follows is a brief summary of articles I thought would be of interest to others researching German Lutherans in this area. The reader is urged to read the complete article as these brief summaries do not include information of value to all readers. Rather they focus on topics in and around Wylkowiszki and Marijampole, Lithuania. Note that the title on the website and the actual title of the article vary a bit, but I have consistently used the title of the article. The way the articles are listed on the website has changed over time. Sometimes the actual title is given, sometimes a paraphrase is listed, and sometimes articles are grouped together by the kinds of information they included. Every attempt has been made to provide the correct location of each article, but there are a few exceptions. From time to time the Suwalki-Lomza Interest Group has had an informal agreement with the Lithuanian State Historical Archives to compile research for their organization. We are the beneficiaries of this effort. Even though the names of any German Lutherans in Suwalki Province are not included, it has helped us become aware of the records that exist and the information therein. If an article refers to research compiled by the Lithuanian State Historical Archives, it was most likely funded by the Foreign Research Fund. This is the first post in a series of about 9. Vol. 4 – Nos. 2 – 3 Double Issue (1994) East Prussian Origins This article presents an interesting picture of one Suwalki gubernia family through three centuries of life in this border area. Experiences mining German archives are recounted; appendices discuss other Jewish sources and the border town of Jurbarkas. The first page of this article gives a very good history of the peoples who settled East Prussia: • East Prussia was sparsely populated by the Pruzi, a Slavic people, until overcome by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century.

Author’s Note: Although this article identified the Pruzzen as “a Slavic people” other authors have not made this distinction. For example:

The Old Prussians or Baltic Prussians (German: Pruzzen or Prußen; Latin: Pruteni; Latvian: Prūši; Lithuanian: Prūsai; Polish: Prusowie; Kashubian: Prësowié) were an ethnic group of indigenous Baltic tribes that inhabited Prussia, the lands of the southeastern Baltic Sea in the area around the Vistula and Curonian Lagoons. They spoke a language now known as Old Prussian and followed pagan Prussian mythology.

• As the native population was decimated, immigration of mostly German colonists followed. Of particular interest to me was the description by the author of Schmalleningken/Smalininkai, the author’s ancestral home. Because his ancestor was an innkeeper, and in July 2013 we had stayed overnight in a large home that Lithuanians call “countryside tourism” in Schmalleningken/Smalininkai, I was especially interested in his descriptions of this village. See Vol. 4 – No. 4 (1994) Not So Protected: A Footnote on the Berlowitz Experience in East Prussia in the next post for a follow up on this topic. Also of help was the editor’s seven page “Research on East Prussia” section as he discussed the archives which house available records. Although a bit dated, as some records have now been moved to other locations, the information makes the researcher aware of German language resources for East Prussian research. One “hunch” in the pursuit of East Prussian ancestors is the possibility of filmed records of the “Lithauische Kreigs und Domanenkammer 1723 to 1808”, the highest body administering the Lithuanian department of East Prussia. The possibility exists that a link to an East Prussian origin of an ancestor might follow.

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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