In November 2014 we had the answer: 15 records were enough to establish our relationship: His great grandfather, Ludwig Hutop, and my grandmother, Pauline Hutop Spurgat, were half brother and sister! My grandmother was the daughter of the first wife, Dorota Cering, who died in 1881. Johann Ferdinand Hutop, my great-grandfather, remarried, and Benjamin’s line traces back to his great grandfather, the son of the second wife, Charlotte Simoneit.
Not only that, but we learned the name of a 2nd great grandmother, her four children; the names of Benjamin’s great-grandfather’s siblings, enough to compose a 19th century Hutop family tree in Germany and America!
The work from the archivist at the Lithuanian State Historical Archives showed a very thorough investigation. Not only did we get the 15 records and the translations, we also got the archivist’s thoughts about the exhaustive search, how s/he had pieced things together, new questions asked, and further research completed and explained. It was above my expectations.
Later I was able to find these records on FHL microfilm and realized that had I even thought that these people existed, I could have found them myself.
I soon realized that the project had to include new information about our grandmother’s Hutop family and so what started out as a few simple e-mail attachments grew into a 200 page 2015 Addendum to the Three Spurgat Families from Wylkowiszki. Part of my decision to write semi-monthly blog posts starting in June 2015 was to allow time for the additional research it took to complete this project in twelve months.
So this series of posts includes the research used to complete this task. The posts are not presented in a rigid chronological order as all researchers know that serious study involves following several leads at once.
The following topics will be covered in these posts:
1 and 2 Introduction: Contact from Ben Hutop
3 and 4 Ethnicities behind the Name
5 and 6 New East Prussia
7 A Passport from the Ober Ost
8 Two Approaches to Additional Hutop Research
Willuhnen, Kreis Pillkallen, East Prussia
9 WORKING WITH THE ESSEN ARCHIVES I
- City directories
- Civil birth records
10 WORKING WITH THE ESSEN ARCHIVES II
- Archivum Patriae
- International Tracing Service
11 WORKING WITH THE ESSEN ARCHIVES III Ben, Cynthia, Circus World Museum, Harvard University
12 My heritage.com
13 International Tracing Service
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 Spurgat research and resources in East Prussia through the centuries.
21 Summary in 2 column format
22 Epilogue: What is to come
REMINDERS FOR THE RESEARCHERThe purpose of this blog has not been to share my own family story. Rather it has been to help others with their own research based on my experiences and examples. Some of the research strategies are based on 500 Brickwall Solutions to Genealogy Problems published by Family Chronicle Magazine in 2003.
Use others as sounding boards and network
Revisit the information you already have
Maintain an open mind
Pay attention to the smallest piece of information
Be prepared to spend money
Take classes and get involved in the social side of genealogy
Make educated guesses
Stay abreast of the latest technology
Remember that the original documents might contain clues that are missed or mis-transcribed
Visit the places your ancestors lived in
Do on-site research
Study the collateral lines
Above all, never give up
Sources: Lithuanian State Historical Archives, FHL Microfilm