My –at name may or may not have been native to Suwalki Province in the Russian Empire as families with the same name have been located in East (and West) Prussia. The unusual name and tracking the locations of people with that surname in Protestant “German” East Prussia were the reasons behind my search.
By 2010 the oldest entry I had found (Justine Spurgatis 1795) stretched back to the late 18th century at the time of the Third Partition of Poland when Prussia acquired New East Prussia. See https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2016/06/ and https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/2012-2015-research-post-6-colonization-methods-of-new-east-prussia/.
My prior research had not resulted in any close connections and had offered no clues to connect my –at family to any of the other many families with the same name in East Prussia. Some were not even geographically close. Above all, it did not answer the question, “If there were so many -at families in East Prussia, how and when did ours (and others) come to live in the Russian Empire?”
As the research continues, the following questions arose: What is the best way of presenting this information for the researcher? A narrative? A table? By source? By geography? By Chronology? Because my purpose is to write for the researcher, I decided that the narrative format explaining the chronology of the research process was best.
Connections between My –at Family in Suwalki Province and East Prussia
The oldest members of my ancestral –at family identified in 2010 were born in the first two decades of the 19th century: Andrzej Spurgat circa 1818; Henryk Spurgat circa 1800; and Andrzej Spurgat circa 1802 (relationship undetermined). Their birthdates and locations remain unknown. Were they born in Suwalki Province? Maybe. Were they born in East Prussia? Also, maybe.
Searching in Suwalki Province: The Civil Registration records kept by the German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mariampole started with births in 1838 and in Wylkowiszki, a sister congregation, with births in 1843. Records in surrounding areas in Suwalki Province (Kybarty and Kalvaria) have also been carefully examined.
Searching in East Prussia: Another approach was to seek a possible connection in East Prussia. Many references to my -at name have been located in East Prussian sources in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, the most promising connections would be to locate Spurgats in East Prussia in the late 18th century or early 19th century. Perhaps a search would result in the birth or marriage records of Andrzej circa 1818, Henryk circa 1800, and Andrzej circa 1802, any of which would give the names of their parents.
The maternal surnames of the wives of Andrzej circa 1818 (Rozalia Kuczynska circa 1819), Henryk circa 1800 (Rozalia Keller circa 1805), and Andrzej circa 1802 (Karolina Walat circa 1812) have also been searched with similar results. The last name (Walat/Wallat) was located in several located in East Prussia, but not a Karolina Walat.
2011 to 2015
I concentrated efforts to locate people with my –at name in previously unexplored East Prussian sources. The work is presented in several parts: Upcoming posts explore connections in the 18th century in Kreis Gumbinnen; 18th research in Kreis Insterburug; 18th century research in Kreis Tilsit; –at entries in the mid to late 19th century; amd records in a specific locality in the 20th century. See https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/schmalleningkensmalininkai/
During the Napoleonic Wars in 1808 East Prussia was divided into two administrative districts (Regierungsbezirke) — Gumbinnen, the eastern part of the former Duchy of Prussia and Königsberg in the west. Although those with my -at name have been located in both the Gumbinnen and Kӧnigsberg Administrative District, the Gumbinnen Administrative District, closer to the Russian Empire, was the most logical place to look for possible ancestors of my –at family who ended up in the Russian Empire.
Here is an example of the two series of maps in these posts that I published in 2015. The two sources are below. Kreis Stalluponen is on the left and Kreis Gumbinnen is on the right.
http://wiki-de.genealogy.net/Ostpreu%C3%9Fen/Genealogische_Quellen/Kirchbuchbest%C3%A4nde_Kreis_Ebenrode_%28Stallup%C3%B6nen%29. Stalloponen: This series of easy to read maps shows only the locations of the Lutheran church records for the parishes identified on each map and not all the locations in each kreis.
https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/east-prussian-gazetteers-part-i/ Gumbinnen: a description of the Map Guide to German Parish Registers: Kingdom of Prussia—Province of East Prussia III REGIERUNGSBEZIRK GUMBINNEN. An alphabetized list of each location a parish served accompanies each map.
Gumbinnen Administrative District
In the 1700s three Kreise in the Gumbinnen Administrative District, also known as the Lithuanian Province, in particular were home to the Spurgats—Gumbinnen, Insterburg, and Tilsit.
Again, it is not the intent of this author to use this blog to relay her family history. What follows is a list of locations and resources I have used. Examples are provided to help explain the type of information in each resource.