POST 1 Germans from Kreis Wilkowsichken/Vilkaviskis, Lithuania Facebook Group

The East Prussian Series on Political History has concluded. I interrupt this series to bring you three posts about my recent researh. The East Prussian series will continue in November with posts on Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction and Research Strategies

The Beginnings:

While attending the National Genealogical Society Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in April-May 2018, I was delighted to discover the initial post of the Lietuvos Liuteronu Genealogija (Lutherans in Lithuania) aka LLG Facebook group. I was actually able to show this site to one of speakers from the FHL library with whom I had made an appointment after his two presentations on the future availability of records from Eastern Europe. and The value of LLG and the amazing transcription work of other records LLG members have done cannot be overstated.

A few months later Siga Pliodzinskas, one of the group’s founders, asked Owen, the genealogist, to administer the site. Since the LLG really includes ALL Lutheran churches in Lithuania, Owen felt it made sense to create a sort of ‘sub group’ or ‘sister group’ that was specific to Deutsche aus Litauen from Kreis Wilkowischken.

Along the way two important people connected this effort: Margarethe Schrecker-Kebbel of Berlin, Germany, and Lorinda Heidie, who hired a researcher to photograph books for her family research and then donated those images to the Lietuvos Liuteronu Genealogija LLG Facebook group.

Since January 3, 2019, when Owen announced that he was going to post not only the alphabetical registers of birth, marriage, and death records in an Excel spreadsheet but links to the records themselves, on his new Facebook Group, Germans from Kreis Wilkowischken/Vilkaviskis Lithuania, my life has not been the same. Even the confirmation records read as an alphabetical register or index.

Since I had been researching on microfilm and to a lesser extent digitally, these very same records since 1994, this new approach was simply overwhelming.

I was able to help Owen early on by simply exchanging information. When he located a Spurgat family record, he would send it to me. I would check my 2010 book, The Three Spurgat Families from Wylkowiszki, hopefully find the record, send him my professional translation of it to him, which he could then use to analyze his own Polish and Russian translations. I felt I was proving my worth to him: by sending me the records he found, it proved I had been a thorough researcher. I already had them. By my sending the translations back, it reassured him of my status as a serious researcher and helped him along the way. I like to think that every record he found, I already had. Whew!

In the five months that he and two others continued with this digital indexing project, I lost track as genealogical research fell to the wayside while I moved from a home to 38 years to a condo with its own designated genealogy room! It took several weeks to become organized enough to resume my research. “Mining” my family in Germans from Kreis Wilkowischken/Vilkaviskis, Lithuania has become an obsession as I worked to catch up and understand the significance of this effort.

In the next two posts I will explain my work with these records.

Owen told me, “It is certainly very warming to know that Grete’s, Lorinda’s, and my efforts are helping researchers, and I have no doubt that they will continue to be inspired by our obsession with transcribing these records.”

“Knowing that our work has helped you find even just one record, makes the whole thing worth it. There are many Americans who have no idea that they’re not just German–but Deutsche aus Litauen! One day I hope that more people are interested in the ‘Deutsche aus Litauen.’ Wouldn’t that be great?”

Please continue to support in every way possible the work of Owen, Margarete and Lorinda, as they continue their work.



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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