Four years after the 2010 publication of my family history book, I had decided that by December 2015, I would send as an e-mail attachment to my first cousins and to a few other supporters an update of my research: information on the names ending in –at; information on New East Prussia; the search for my -at ancestors in East Prussia; a connection I had made through records from the International Tracing Service; and some images from our July 2013 trip to our grandfather’s manor farm and my grandmother’s village.
In August 2014 a young German man living in Belgium found me through a post on this blog. See https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/hassfortowo-and-kunigiszkikunigiskiai/
He shares same name as my grandmother: Hutop
He found me through contacting the pastor of one of the two churches we had visited in Lithuania, this one being the church of my grandmother, Pauline Hutop. His great-grandfather’s father (his great great grandfather with an unknown name) came from the same village, Gize, had the same occupation—carpenter—as my great grandfather, Johann Ferdinand Hutop.
He had been searching for a long time with no success. Were we related?
He only knew that his great-grandfather had two older sisters who went to America; he did not know their names or the names of the men they married. Well, my grandmother, Pauline, and her sister, Emma, both came to America. On this side of the ocean we had heard the story that Pauline and Emma might have had a brother, but out of their ten children, no one knew much about him.
The young German man also knew that packages from America had been sent during WWI. I knew only of packages sent after WWII to my –at family. Relationship with that branch of the –at family had been established in 2009 and 2010, but perhaps my grandmother had sent packages to her family as well. No one was alive that could verify this.
He also said they had a picture of American cousins. One such photograph of nine children from the 1920s exists, but we do not know if it is the same photograph they saw, now lost.
I had not done much research on this branch of the family. But if there was ever one person that I loved that I would like to know more about it was my grandmother, the only one I knew really well. She had made me nylon slips from parachutes bought in the post war years as war surplus. She had made me a “muffin” quilt from scraps of velvet and corduroy and stuffed them with tuffs of grey wool. She attended my confirmation and high school graduation. Today I am the lucky granddaughter, one of seven, to have her Noritake china, her blue and white Czechoslovakian canister set, and a chair from her kitchen.
In the 1990s the 1881 original Russian death certificate of her mother, Dorota Cering Hutop, had come my way and remains one of my most precious possessions.
Ben’s knowledge of the German and English language was invaluable; because he had grown up in East Germany, he had been schooled in Russian. Most important, was his desire to know the Hutop family origin.
I tried to find his great-grandfather’s birth record on FHL microfilm. Even though I had the last name in Russian and the date of birth, I was unable to recognize the name in Russian in the annual alphabetical register.
Ben and I proceeded cautiously. Neither of is wanted to be disappointed. I sent him everything I had published about my grandmother’s family in an appendix I had included in my 2010 family history book.
Some of this included a record of the second marriage of the father of Johann Ferdinand Hutop, named Johann Hutop. But since the focus of my book had been about the paternal lines of three families with the same last –at name who immigrated, I did not pursue the lines of maternal lines of those who did not immigrate. Besides, I had some of the story from the internal passport with the birth date and place of my great-grandfather, Johann Ferdinand Hutop, and the death of his first wife, Dorota Cering, my great-grandmother. See https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/hassfortowo-and-kunigiszkikunigiskiai/ and https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/internal-travel-passport/.
He sent me sketches about his great grandfather and pictures of his great-grandfather’s family and their descendants.
He had made a formal request to the Lithuanian State Historical Archives in Vilnius with an expected wait of 12 to 18 months. I suggested that he could contact my Family History Tour Guide who might be able to get the records earlier.
After we got to know each other better through e-mails, Ben decided to take the advice of a American woman he had never met and send a check to our Family History Tour Guide for a generational search.
What would be found?