Searching for WOCKENFUSS in Germany
Every time I've done genealogy, the farthest back I've been able to go on the WOCKENFUSS line (my dad's side of the family) is my great-great-grandfather Friedrich William WOCKENFUSS and his second wife Augusta Fredericka RISTAU, whom he married in 1874 in Germany. His first wife was Wilhelmina WITKOWSKI, who died along with five of their children (so I've heard) leaving one son Gustav Ernst.
Friedrich William was born on August 17, 1838 in Strasburg, Uecker-Randow district, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany. According to my records, he has at least one brother, Herman Julius; and one sister, Wilhelmina Ernestina.
Friedrich and Augusta had 7 children - 1 daughter, 6 sons. The first four children were born in Germany, while the rest were born in Baltimore, Maryland. Helen Augusta, born Jan 27, 1875; Johannes Philemon, born in 1877; Paul Frederick, born April 18, 1882; William Frederick, born in 1884; Carl Henry, born December 21, 1886; my great-grandfather Louis Martin, born Jan 22, 1888; and Edward John Conrad, born Nov 29 1890.
I've been searching for Friedrich's parents/ancestors for years, but keep hitting brick walls (mostly brick walls that cost $70-$300 a year). It almost appears as if nobody existed before him, which I know isn't true. I have no idea where to look. I've tried ancestry.com, which has him in a census record which I can't look at unless I get a membership (one of those brick walls that I can't afford); I've tried genealogy.com, familysearch.org ... I'm not sure where else to look.