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Finding Records of German Ancestors

(Note: a vowel followed by 'e' (ue,oe,ae,) replace the umlaut vowel)

Anyone researching their German ancestry has experienced the frustration of the proverbial brick wall. Perhaps the following will help some break through.

As most of us know it is probably harder to research family in Germany than anyother country. Face the facts. Germany was an undivided nation from 1871 to 1945, only 74 years.In the 17th and 18th centuries what we now consider Germany consisted of 1789 kingdoms, principalities,grand duchies,dukedoms,electorates,and free cities, right down to tiny personal estates. Although census were taken in Germany in 1871,they did not really cover all of Germany. For example, Wuertenbuerg had census as early as 1821, Prussia in 1831 and so on. The only centralizing force in the Germanic area wha the church, first the Catholic and then Lutheran.

Germany was only unified for a short period that ended in 1945.During that time little or no attempt was made to centralize records in one place, instead they remained in capitol cities of the original states. Therefore, even though your roots are German, your ancestors may have roots in other parts of Europe. Tens of thousands settled in Ukraine and the Volga Basin area, others in Transylvania (Hungary until 1919 and Romania since) and more in Hungary and Yugoslavia. Nearly 4 million Germans settled in Czechoslovakia but were expelled by force after WWII.

Today (since the unification of Germany in 1990) the districts of Germany were replaced by five original provinces or Laender) They are (with their capitol cities):
Baden-Wuerttemberg (Stuttgart)
Bayern (Munich)
Brandenburg (Potsdam)*
Hessen (Wiesbaden)
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Schwerin)*
Niedersachen (Hannover)
Nordrhein-Westfalen (Duesseldorf)
Rheinland-Pfalz (Mains)
Saarland (Saarbrueken)
Sachsen-Anhalt (Magdeburg)*
Sachsen (Dresedn)*
Schleswig-Holstein (Kiel)
Thueringen (Erfurt)*
(Those marked with * are the ne political divisions of the Old East Germany which replace the 15 districts. The names of these Bezirkes within each of the five provinces are:
Brandenburg: Berlin, Cottbus, Frankfurt, Potsdam
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Neubrandenburg, Rostock, Schwerin
Sachsen: Dresden, Karl-Marz-Stad (now referred to Chenitz), Leipzig
Sachsen-Anhalt: Halle, Magdeburg
Thuergingen: Erfurt, Gera Suhl

By now I'm sure you are totally confused, but don't be discouraged. There is still lots of hope. You just need to take the time to find out the location of your family and then head for the churches. See my journal : German records in local Churches.

I hope this helps someone narrow down that missing conneciton.


I have now posted the scanned pages as well as a large print version on my website. Here is the direct page link. Hope this helps some.

From "SKETCHES OF THE BOZEMAN FAMILY" by Loraine Bozeman Walker. 1956.
This is a continuation of the work by the Reverend Joseph W, BOZEMAN, D.D. to 1885.

The BOZEMAN Family in the United States

Howell BOZEMAN, 1780
Meady BOZEMAN, Jr.m 1784-1857
Luke BOZEMAN, abt. 1791
Colonel John BOZEMAN, 1793-1848
Sally BOZEMAN, 1795 - 1835
James BOZEMAN, 1796 - 1843
Nancy BOZEMAN, 1785
Elizabeth BOZEMAN, 1799 - 1823
Meady BOZEMAN, Sr., 1745 - 1809

"In 1985, the Rev. Joseph Woodruff Bozeman, E.E., while pastor o fthe First Baptist Church of Meridian, Mississippi, completed a family history of the Bozeman Family in the United States." Rev. Bozeman was born in Lowndes County, Alabama on 1 Nov. 1833.
He was a noted educator and preacher until his death about 1900. According to is research the first BOZEMAN immigrant came from Holland or Germany about 1650, and settled either in New York or Maryland.
"There were a number of BOZEMANs in the USA duuring the time of the Revolutionary War who fought and served with the Continental Armies." This is substantiated, according to this volume, by substantial records from Halifax, Chowan, Washington, Bladen and Columbus Counties of North Carolina, 1756.
Rev. Joseph Woodruff BOZEMAN presents an unbroken chain of this family back to 1730 when Samuel BOZEMAN was born in Bladen County, North Carolina in 1750. He married Ann RICHARDSON and they had nine (9) children.
Joseph BOZEMAN (oldest of Samuel and Ann) married Miss Wood in 1784 and their son Nathan BOZEMAN was the father of a celebrated surgeon Dr. Nathan BOZEMAN of New York.

I will be scanning this book in its entirety over the next few weeks and will post a link to the pages asap. Meanwhile, if you need info that may appear in this volume, please contact me and I will be glad to do a lookup.

7 comment(s), latest 8 years, 9 months ago

Searching for European Roots - Germany

Anyone researching their German roots may well have already discovered that many records were destroyed through a series of wars. What was once the bulk of the Holy Roman Empire,the home of our earliest German ancestors, has been broken into many smaller countries and provences. Thos searching ancestors born since 1900, may discover that they are now "Polish" relations.

On a trip to their homeland a few years ago, my mother and her two sisters planned to visit their home in what was Ludwigsruh,Germany (at the time they left during WWII, the Russians were on their heals, literally and they just did escape).

After quite a bit of research and paperwork, they discovered their little town was now a subdivision (of sorts) of Gorzow, Poland. During their visit they spoke with many people and each time they mentioned that they were born in Ludwigsruh Germany, they were (not always) politely informed that they were from Gorzow Poland. They were considered Polish although they have a long German ancestry.

If you have a relative with roots in Germany/Austria and Prussia, especially before WWI or WWII, you may do well to find a map of the area printed before 1940. By cross refencing the old map with the new one, you may discover that the records you are searching for are in a newly named or renamed town.

I have an atlas of maps printed in 1927 and am happy to do lookups.
Also consider trying to get the longitude and lattitude degree designation location rather than a place name only. Long. and Latt. do not change, no matter how many wars may come along.

I hope this helps.

2 comment(s), latest 11 years, 10 months ago


Hello again,
This line is the maternal line of my 2nd husband Theodore Brooks 1948-1986. His mother was Gwendolyn Bozeman 19??-1988 who married Claude Rowland Brooks, Jr. My son, Sean is the last surviving Brooks of this line and I wish to learn more. I do have a book that lists some information but I am against a brick wall with her g-g-g-grandparents.

Contact me for more details if you think you may have a connection or know where I might search.

Thank you

Gueisendorff family in Florida from Germany

I am trying to discover information on the family of my first husband, Richard Eugene Scott 1953 - 1978. His mother, Margaret L Gueisendorff (or Geisendorff) married Virgil Eugene Scott. Her parents, I met them once in 1972, Were Richard and Maggie Gueisendorff. I also recall she had a sister Sharon and a cousin Richard.
Virgil died about 1985 and although I believe Margaret has passed on, I cannot find anything on her, yet.
Because I have two sons, Ricky and David Scott, and a grandson, Jackson Scott, from this line, I would really like to include at least a few generations for the future generations.

My husband had a sister and three brothers. Christine Scott m- Dudley with son Mark Dudley. Patrick Dale Scott - deceased, Rex Barry Scott - deceased, Michael Scott last known to be married with 2 children in Alaska, in the US Air Force I believe.

ANY information would help.
Thank you

Photos from old Negatives

Do you have a bunch of old (35mm) photo negatives that you have discovered in the course of your research? The cost to have those old negatives printed can mount up very quickly, as I'm sure anyone who has begun to have some printed, will attest. So, what is the alternative?

I discovered that with a relatively inexpensive scanner and photo editing program, you can make digital "prints" that you can save and share. While these are not of the quality of a professionally produced print, they allow you to decide which negatives are viable or desirable for reproduction.

Here is the process:
1.Place the negative on the scanner bed and cover with a clean sheet of white paper. I like to use a glossy cardstock as it seems to give a better 'read' of the images on the film.
2.Scan the film to your computer and open in your photo editor. A really good one for under $100 is Paint Shop Pro. It is easy to use and has all the features of most of the more expensive software.
3. Now you have the image you want to do a reverse. Basically you do a negative image of the negative, which gives you a dark positive. (This process depends on your software but is usually a one or two click operation)
You should save the negative before commiting the changes, just in case.
4. Lighten the photo by adjusting contrast and brightness until you have an image that you can easily recognize. Save it as a copy of the original file. I use a -b appended to the original filename.You can now print or post the image.

This process, while not a replacement for standard print, allows you to send a copy to others for identification, or share copies for fun and info. My aunt was thrilled to get some copies of her family that she had thought wer long lost, and offered to have real prints made, in addition to offering invaluable identificaiton of people in the photo.

I hope this gives some of you a chance to "see what you've got" without the added expense. After all, these days it is imperative that we put our money to our research, especially when on tight budgets.

Good luck.

16 comment(s), latest 7 years, 10 months ago

Family Stories contain a wealth of information

Does that box of unlabeled photos haunt you? Most genealogists learn very quickly to label their photos with names, dates and places, but what about your parents, or grandparents photos?
Often, old letters and circulating family stories may help you to identify old photos from the descriptions they contain. Of course, there is nothing that can beat the memories of older relatives. If possible, make a little trip to grandma and take those photos with you. Remember, storage in acid free media (pages or boxes) and labeling with acid free ink will help preserve those priceless images.
You may also want to scan your photos and save a couple of copies on disks.

Here is a portion of a letter My grandmother (Irene Rogers 1900 - 1978)wrote to my father (Franklin Miller 1929 - 1973)when he began asking about her relations many years ago.

as noted by Mabel Irene Rogers
Benjamine Rogers was born in Caernarvonshire, North
Wales and married Marguerite Jones also of
They appear to have migrated to Prince Edward Island
Canada and settled on :Lot 16", county unknown.

The Rogers men were described as:
Huge with big, red or black curly beards and brillint
blue eyes. They looked like Pirates. All were musical
and sword melodiously in rumbly bass voices--Irene
Rogers Miller

Benjamine Rogers had black hair and beard, son Joseph
had red, and son Thomas had blond (light) hair and

Old family Newsletters

If you find, or inherit, a box full of old letters and snippits of papers, don't rush threw them. They may contain some interesting tidbits about family members that can lead you up a new limb or out to the tip of existing ones. Below is a jewel I almost tossed because it was so yellow you could barely read it. But, I took many hours and transcribed it. When I come back to read it, I am surprised at how much information it actually contains. Enjoy this little piece of my family's history.
Note: The Rounder was a letter that was sent out and passed from one family to the next. Each family would add their news and send it on.
"Birds" was the pet name my ggrandfather used for his children's families (my grandmother)and likewise "ducks". Interesting that this farm family used animals as 'pet names' quite often.

Dodgeville, Wis. May 13, 1917

Dear Birds,
The Rounder came yesterday and Charley brought it
home just as I got home from a twenty mile ride over
rough roads, so tired that I could hardly sit up. But I
did sit up and take notice of every letter in the pack.
I sat down by my fire and read and read and when I
finished I found my face wet with tears. This rounder
has been a long time on its toad and has hatched several
chickens on its route. I vote tha Lethe and Irene beat
us all to a stand still, when it comes to writing an
interesting letter. Father's letter sent me back to old
times. Uncle John LeVake and I used to go over there to
see the girls and there is where he got acquainted with
the girl he afterwards married. We used to walk down
the river on the ice. It was only twelve or fifteen
miles and as far back again, but what did we care for
that. Maybe none of you ducks son't know where that
school was.
It was at old Richland City. The Old Academy was
afterwards moved to Spring Green and it is now a
dwelling house. Professor Silsby that father speaks of
afterwards went into the Army as Captain of heavy
artillery, and after the war published a newspaper at
Selma Alabama and I believe died there. I went to that
school the next year with the girls. Nearly all my
class went into the army and some of them distinguished
themselves, and many of them lie now in soldier's
graves. Uncle John LeVake was the last one of the old
settlers of the valley and the last old soldier there
out of 37 who went from the town of Wyoming. Some are
still alive but they live now in other places. *****Well
I had to stop just now to take Bobby a ride down the
walk as Rob is dressing for church. She takes him over
to his grandmother's while she goes to church. Lethe's
boy is somne smart boy, but you all must remember thathe
is a whole lot older than our Bob and don't weigh as
much by 2 or 3 pounds. So don/t run away with the idea
that he is the whole cheese in the baby show. Ask Andy.
He has seen them both lately and if he don't say that
considerin' all the circumstances and the chance he had
that our Bob is in the show to stay yet awhile. Oh i
could spin yarns for an hour yarn about with her but
postage is going to be raised soon and I do not want to
break the bunch. One thing I will say and nobody can
prove to the contrary, our Bob knows O and can point it
out on a Quaker Oats boc. That Sawyer county kid can't
tell O from a pig's tail. Ajiamo has it about right
about women folks finding a hob for a man around the
house. I never was out of a job since I got married.
The kid's round robin get around about twice to your
once and keeps me busy guessing riddles and doing the
stunts that Helen Hones thinks up. I hope she does not
run away with the idea she is a poet. There is no money
in that and it does not help mother much. Poetry is all
right in its place but I would rather be able to write
such a letter as Lethe or Irene can write that be able
to write all the poetry in the world. As father says in
his letter, a good conversationalist is the rarest thing
in the world. My last stry in the Chronical got micxed
up in the mill some way and the printers made hash of
it. I have to take a lot of kidding about it. People
that have been reading them ask me what kind of dope I
smoke. I son't wonder. The printers make my story that
was all paged and arranged so I thought they could not
get it mixed,sound like the ravings of delirium I am
going to tell the editor that when he gets over his
drunk I will lwt him have another, and not before. They
don't cost the paper anything snd the trouble to keep
them straight should be raken. A short story is as much
a work of art as a building, and to put the windows
where the door should be and the roof in the cellar
would be as sensible as to cut a story in the wrong
place and print it hindside before.
My garden is all up but corn and potaotes. My tomatoe
plants in the box in my window are turning yellow from
some cause after all my care of them. I guess I
willhave to buy some after all. I have soil in my
garden and my neighbor's garden as fine as dust. The
neighbor is complaining that he can find nothing to hoe.
I don't intend he shall unless he hoes plain dirt. I
would like to get a whack at Beula's garden with my
garden plow. Several of the neighbors have bought themn
a plow like mine and threw away their old planet Juniors
hoes and rakes. So I won't find so much to do as usual,
and I'm afraid I will run out of work which would be a
calamity. Some times when I see those old differs
sitting around on boxes down town I envy them their
ability to take it easy, and then when I see the
expression on their faces and listen afor a moment to
their whining pessimistic talk I thank my lucky stars
that I am not built that way, and glory in my tasks even
if they weary me. I am well and as contented as can be
besides having all my real want supplied.
The ancient Gander, (mistakes are as copied from copy
of original letter.)

Seeking family of MARGARET ADAMS ABT 1771-1866

Hello all,
I am researching my paternal line which contains references to Cythiana Lucus, daughter of JOSIAH LUCAS 1838 Ohio, and MARGARET ADAMS 1771 - 1866 (est dates).
Old family letters tell of Cynthiana attending a dance at which a Peter Boyalton Adams attended and danced with her. Her mother (MARGARET told her he was a cousin).
I can not find anything else to document this other than other old family letters and stories.

If anyone can help, please let me know.

I am currently posting many of my documents on my website at www.cagleonline.com

I also have a world atlas printed in 1927 that may help someone find old place names. I would be happy to scan and send any map it contains, but as I would scan in hi-def, the files are too large for the website, so please contact me.

Searching for Elschner from Taura, Sitzenrode and more in Germany

Seeking family connections for Hans Frederick Wilhelm Elschner and Hildegard Kloenne, of Ludwigsruh, Germany (before WWII, now Gorzow area Poland).
Interested in discovering history of family crest. So far no luck.
Have many document copies, many posted at my website at www.cagleonline.com