Multiple Language and Cultural Self-Identities Post 2


The paragraph on page 198 should help researcher A. S. answer his questions about first names. Not much difference between Protestant and Roman Catholic first names: all came from same sources—Latinate Romance, Biblical, Prussian or German history and Lutheranism, and feminine derivatives.

Great for researcher A. H. that his home parish was part of this study. Eventually the reading of this article led him to find the records from Seirjai online at SGGEE!

For me it is informative and pleasing that two fellow researchers found this helpful and invaluable.

10 important points:

Orthographic norms were used for German names. This is why I can pick out and read the first names in German in many, but not all Russian records.

1. Most Russian German pastors and secretaries (presumably those who copied the information for the records and maybe in some cases the records themselves) were bilingual native or near-native Polish speakers.

If registrants could write their name (no Spurgats in records I saw signed their names), the way they spelled it, was not usually the same way that the pastor wrote it.

Sometimes German and Lithuanian names were treated (in orthography) as if they were Polish. This might explain the Szpurgat as well as the Spurgat and Spurgaitis.

Bergemann was the same pastor in Vilkaviskis as in Seirjai! He also had Virbalis, I think. Wow!

Mention of –at name: Haverzat.

2. Important: The Germanization and Polonization of Lithuanian surnames: Lithuanian names that would have been in a German-speaking family for several generations tend to be written in a Germanized unsuffixed form, i. e. Bucherejt/Buttchereyt, Jan Barzdar, Justina (Mar 1842 baptismal index). This means that the name was written only one way and not correctly declined, showing the possible lack of language skills by the scribe or pastor.

Seirjai reformed records use the Polish label “kolonista” for Russian German landowning farmers, suggesting they were “outsides.”

Researcher A. H. says our people were not serfs, but I am not sure whether the Spurgats owned any land or not. I do not think so!

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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