East Prussian Gazetteers Part I

A recently- approved comment on the blog is partially responsible for this posting: The writer wanted to know if Ekakow could have been Eitkunai.
On my “Blog To Do List” is writing a post about the various gazetteers for East Prussia while also posing some questions.

I checked Kevan Hansen’s long-awaited Map Guide to German Parish Registers: Kingdom of Prussia—Province of East Prussia III REGIERUNGSBEZIRK GUMBIONNEN, (Family Roots Publishing Company, 2014) which I had purchased in May 2015. My only regret is that I did not purchase it as soon as it was published in 2014! I did not find either name.
So much information is at your fingertips. The organizational pattern is very helpful to researchers. The Foreword, Table of Contents, Introduction, Historical Background of East Prussia, Rulers of East Prussia, Kingdom of Prussia, East Prussian Genealogical Resources, How to Use This Book, and Province of East Prussia Overview Map provide an introduction. This volume, Part III, has an over view of the kreise in Regierungdbezirk Gumbinnen, the first section of Lutheran Parishes and the second section of Catholic Parishes. This is the specific administrative area of north eastern Prussia that the readers of this blog are especially interested in.
(Part I, a separate publication, uses the same format in Regierungdbezirk Allenstein. Part II, also a separate publication, uses an identical format for Regierungdbezirk Kӧnigsberg.) More about that in a minute.

The historical background of each kreis is given in large print. The maps are clearly labeled with a map key. Kreis lines are evident. The initial FHL film for a particular parish is also give if there are films available. The alphabetized list of towns includes identification of the kreis. After the last kreis which lists Catholic parishes, a section titled Other Churches follows.
The next two parts are also helpful: East Prussia III Town Index with page numbers for this volume AND Province of East Prussia—Kingdom of Prussia Parts I, II, and III—Master Index which also tells is each location is in Part I, II, or III!

As I tried to focus on researching the origins of my family in East Prussia, or at least other people with the same, somewhat rare, last name, the maps of each kreis and the list of towns has been invaluable. If there was one book, I actually took to Salt Lake in August, this was it!
Because I am writing an addendum to an earlier family history book, which includes an update of my East Prussian research, I wrote to the author for permission to use one of his maps in my addendum. He replied affirmatively.

After examining the organization of the book, I had two questions: The Lands of the German Empire and Before http://www.genealogyblog.com/?p=28995 shows two divisions in East Prussia—Konigsberg and Gumbinnen—and I have always based my research around those two divisions. I also understood that the Gumbinnen Administrative District was made up of 16 kreise.

Map Guide to German Parish Registers: Kingdom of Prussia—Province of East Prussia III shows three administrative divisions in East Prussia.

Why the difference? Neither publication addressed the date in which East Prussia was divided into two or three administrative divisions in their “Timeline” or “Historical Background of East Prussia.”

Kevan Hansen replied in an October 23 e-mail:

…for the Map Guide series I used various gazetteers for the different areas of Germany depending on what has been published for each region. Most of them represent the boundaries in the late 1800s or early 1900s. For Prussia the gazetteer we have used is the 13 volume series Gemeindelexikon für das Königreich Preußen : auf Grund der Materialen der Volkszählung vom 1. Dezember 1905 und anderer amtlicher Quellen. This provided consistency for the Kingdom of Prussia over the series that involved those areas. Ostpreussen (East Prussia) is Volume 1 in the gazetteer series. It represents the official boundaries in 1905. The third region that you were asking about, Allenstein, was created in 1905 and covered the southern areas of Königsberg and Gumbinnen. It existed until 1945 when the area was divided following World War II. Even some of the district boundaries (Kreise) have changed over the years which is reflected in the FHL catalog that shows them in a neighboring district from what the gazetteer reflects

Another answer was located at http://memim.com/gumbinnen-region.html
…Numerous parishes were assigned to the district Gumbinner….Was then revised the delimitation of constituencies, as the landrätlichen circles did not meet the requirement because of their large extent, after which it should be possible, within a day, from the farthest place of the circle in the circle city – to travel – and back. As a rule, the greatest distance three miles, so just under 22 km, not exceed. Since a circuit should also have 20000-36000 inhabitants, the cutting of the circles in the sparsely populated ” Lithuanian ” circles was quite a chore, especially as old allegiances were taken into account. Upon completion of the reorganization of the lower administrative authorities then existed since April 1, 1819 a total of 16 counties…

With effect from 1 November 1905, the four southern counties (Johannesburg, Lötzen, Elk and Sensburg) were separated from the government district Gumbinnen and summarized together with the southern part of the district of Kaliningrad to the new administrative district of Olsztyn.

Another question arose about Kreis Ragnit: Page 530 states that after WWII Kreis Ragnit “became part of Russia and is part of the Nemansky District in Kaliningrad Oblast….The three northern places are identified as Szugken, Wischill, and Schmalleningken. My husband and I visited these three places in July 2013 when we were in Lithuania! We stayed overnight in Schmalleningken/Smalininkai, Lithuania! We met with a local guide in Szugken/Zukai, Lithuania, and traveled through Wischwill /Viseville, Lithuania, both directions! As I understand it we were in the former Kreis Ragnit! We did not have visas to enter Kaliningrad Oblast so all of the former Kreis Ragnit is not in the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia.

Additional gazetteers will be discussed in future blogs.

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.
This entry was posted in Books, East Prussia, Resources, Uncategorized, Web Sites and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to East Prussian Gazetteers Part I

  1. Bill Gates says:

    This site certainly has all of the information I needed about this subject and didn’t know
    who to ask.

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