Another newspaper relevant to the area of Michigan’s Franconian settlements has been recently digitized. The Tuscola County Advertiser is now available on-line, free, spanning the years 1868-1943. The digitization project is sponsored by the Caro (Michigan) Area District Library. Along with the Tuscola County Advertiser, they have also digitized many years of Caro High School yearbooks from 1922-2006. The newspaper and yearbook collection can be searched here.
German government-sponsored newspapers often carried notices of intention to emigrate. These notices include the name of the emigrant, his or her place of residency, and occupation or status. Sometimes they contain additional information on the emigrant’s family. More and more German newspapers are being digitized and placed online.
This notice from 1845 contains the names and additional information on several of the original settlers of Frankenmuth, Michigan who came from Roßtall, Bavaria. It lists Martin Haspel, master weaver, with his wife and one child; Johann List, single journeyman carpenter; Johann Leonhard Bernthal (my second great-grandfather), single journeyman weaver; Johann Bierlein, single tenant farmer’s son; Kunigunda Bernthal, single wagon-maker’s daughter; and Anna Margaretha Walther, single ropemaker’s daughter.
Another notice from 1847 includes the family of Johann Michael Stern (my third great-grandfather). It provides his residency as Brombach. It also provides the full name of his wife, including her maiden name. It states that Johann Michael was a Gütler, or smallholder/farmer, and that he was emigrating with his wife and four children.
This notice for the Georg Gugel family who immigrated to Frankenmuth in 1859 is particularly valuable as it lists the full names of all of his children who are emigrating, as well as their birthdates.
Several websites include some of these newspapers where the emigration notices can be found including Google Books, Internet Archive, and Bavarica for papers specifically from Bavaria, Germany. These government-sponsored newspapers are usually titled “Intelligenzblatt” or “Amtsblatt.” Searching for one of these titles plus a locality (such as “Mittelfranken”) will return several results. Searching with the surname of interest may or may not return results; optical character recognition (OCR) is not perfect, and in my experience, even less-so with the Fraktur font used in these publications.
A helpful and amazing finding-aid for emigration notices published in newspapers in Mittelfranken, or Central Franconia, Bavaria from 1837-1874 was produced by the City of Gunzenhausen, Germany. Staff of the Frankenmuth Historical Association translated and compiled the information they provided. The finding-aid is published on the Saginaw (Michigan) Genealogy Society, Inc.’s website. This index includes not only immigrants to Frankenmuth and the surrounding Franconian colonies but throughout North America. Included in the index are the emigrant’s name, status and/or occupation, place of residency in Bavaria, North American destination when known, possible additional information on the emigrant’s birth or family, and, importantly, a reference to the newspaper where the notice can be found.
German newspapers are a great source of information on one’s ancestor’s immigration to North America, particularly when ships’ manifests can not be located or are extant. Emigration notices may hold the key to the ancestor’s village or town of origin, as well.
1. Königlich Bayerisches Intelligenzblatt für Mittelfranken: 1845 (Ansbach, Bayern: Brügel, 1845), 26 February 1845, cols. 361 & 62, item no. 8; digital images, Google Books (https://books.google.com : accessed 13 February 2016).
2. Königlich Bayerisches Intelligenzblatt für Mittelfranken (Ansbach, Bayern: Brügel, 1847), 24 February 1847, cols. 331 & 32, item no. 8; digital images, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Bavarica (http://bavarica.digitale-sammlungen.de : accessed 13 February 2016).
3. Königlich Bayerisches Kreis-Amtsblatte von Mittelfranken 1859 (Ansbach, Bayern: Brügel, 1859), no. 4, 15 January 1859, cols. 60 & 61, item no. 5; digital images, Bayerische StattsBibliothek, Bavarica (http://bavarica.digitale-sammlungen.de : accessed 17 February 2016).
My curiosity in the Stern families of Frankenmuth, Michigan stems from my paternal grandmother who was a Stern. She was a descendant of Johann Michael Stern and his wife Anna Sophia (Stern). (To clarify, Anna Sophia’s maiden name was also Stern.) They were the parents in the second Stern family to arrive in Frankenmuth, emigrating in 1847. The first Stern family to arrive there was headed by Georg Martin Stern and his wife, Anna Sophia (Kraus). They emigrated in 1846 aboard the Brig George Duckwitz with the second wave of settlers to Frankenmuth.
Early into my genealogical endeavors, I began to wonder how and if the two original Stern families of Frankenmuth were related. Odds are they were; both families originated nearby one another in Mittelfranken, Bavaria (see following paragraph). They both immigrated within about a one year span to the same settlement in North America. The two families shared not just a surname but many given names, as well. The challenge was finding evidence that the two families were indeed related. No examined North American sources provided this evidence. It would likely be necessary to explore German documents to find the answer to the research question.
Articles from a German government-sponsored newspaper provided emigration information and the names of the villages of origin of the two Stern families. Georg Martin & Anna Sophia (Kraus) Stern hailed from the village of Gräfensteinberg, Landgericht Gunzenhausen, Mittelfranken, Bavaria. Brombach, Landgericht Gunzenhausen was given as the place of residency for Johann Michael & Anna Sophia (Stern) Stern. Brombach lies approximately 1.3 kilometers south of Gräfensteinberg.
Since civil vital-record registration did not begin in Bavaria until 1876, it was essential to consult German church records in an effort to determine the relationship between the two families. The 1801 birth and and 1832 marriage records for Anna Sophia Stern, wife of Johann Michael Stern, revealed her parents as Johann Michael Stern and Anna Sophia (Stotz). The 1797 birth record for Georg Martin Stern indicated the same parentage as that of Anna Sophia Stern. Both children were born at Gräfensteinberg in house number 22.
Thus, the two original Stern families of Frankenmuth are related. Georg Martin Stern, father of the Stern family to immigrate in 1846, was brother to Anna Sophia (Stern) Stern, wife of Johann Michael Stern and mother in the family to immigrate in 1847.
In an effort to construct my Stern pedigree, I continued research in the parish records of Gräfensteinberg. Stern proved to not be a particularly common surname within the parish records (which also includes the records for Brombach). It was plausible that Anna Sophia (Stern) Stern was related to her husband outside the bonds of marriage.
Johann Michael Stern, the husband of Anna Sophia (Stern), was born in 1806, the son of Leonhard Michael Stern and his wife. Records show the parents of Leonhard Michael Stern as Johann Conrad Stern and Anna Margaretha (Huber).
Parish records disclose that Johann Michael Stern, the father of Anna Sophia (Stern) Stern, was also the son of Johann Conrad Stern and his wife Anna Margaretha. This results in Johann Michael Stern, the 1847 emigrant to North America, marrying his first cousin Anna Sophia Stern. This Johann Michael Stern was also therefore a first cousin to Georg Martin Stern, the 1846 emigrant and brother to his wife.
Research is presently on-going to reconstruct the German lineage of the Stern families of Frankenmuth. Thus far, investigation reveals a continuous line of Sterns residing in the Gräfensteinberg parish from the middle-1800s extending back into the 17th century.
1. Elaine Huber, translator, “St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (Frankenmuth, Michigan), Book I: (1847-1857),” (typescript, 1990, St. Lorenz Lutheran Church Office, Frankenmuth), no. 41.
2. “8. Bekanntmachung beabsichtigter Auswanderungen nach Nordamerika,” Königlich Bayerisches Intelligenzblatt für Mittelfranken (Ansbach, Bayern: Brügel, 1847), 24 February 1847, cols. 331 & 32; digital images, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, Bavarica (http://bavarica.digitale-sammlungen.de : accessed 13 February 2016).
3. “7. Bekanntmachung der beabsichtigter Auswanderungen nach Nordamerika,” Königlich Bayerisches Intelligenzblatt für Mittelfranken (Ansbach, Bayern: Brügel, 1846), 31 January 1846, cols. 165 & 66; digital images, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, Bavarica (http://bavarica.digitale-sammlungen.de : accessed 13 February 2016).
“New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 7 February 2014), manifest, Brig George Duckwitz, Bremen to New York, arriving 9 May 1846, p. 2, Martin Stein [sic] family; citing National Archives microfilm publication M237, roll 61.
“7. Bekanntmachung der beabsichtigter Auswanderungen nach Nordamerika,” cols. 165 & 66.
“8. Bekanntmachung beabsichtigter Auswanderungen nach Nordamerika,” cols. 331 & 32.
“New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com, manifest, Brig George Duckwitz, Bremen to New York, arriving 9 May 1846, p. 2, Martin Stein [sic] family.
Huber, “St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (Frankenmuth, Michigan), Book I: (1847-1857),” no. 41.
6. “7. Bekanntmachung der beabsichtigter Auswanderungen nach Nordamerika,” cols. 165 & 66.
7. “8. Bekanntmachung beabsichtigter Auswanderungen nach Nordamerika,” cols. 331 & 32.
8. Reichsamt fur Landesaufnahme, Karte des Deutschen Reiches: Sheet 577, Gunzenhausen, composite (n. p. [Germany]: Reichsamt fur Landesaufnahme, 1893); digital image, David Rumsey Map Collection (http://www.davidrumsey.com : 2 March 2016).
9. Holly T. Hansen, compiler, German Research Guide (Morgan, Utah: Family History Expos, Inc., 2015), 88.
10. St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 407, no. 15, Anna Sophia Stern (1801); browsable images, Archion (https://www.archion.de : 11 February 2016).
St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Trauungen [Marriages] 1812-1870, pp. 6 & 7, no. 3, Stern-Stern (1832); browsable images, Archion (https://www.archion.de : 11 February 2016).
11. St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 377, no. 8, Georg Martin Stern (1797); browsable images, Archion (https://www.archion.de : 17 February 2016).
12. St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 407, no. 15, Anna Sophia Stern (1801).
St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 377, no. 8, Georg Martin Stern (1797).
13. St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 473, no. 47, Johann Michael Stern (1806); browsable images, Archion (https://www.archion.de : 11 February 2016).
14. St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 163, no. 25, Leonhard Michael Stern (1774); browsable images, Archion (https://www.archion.de : 11 February 2016).
15. St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 130, no. 18, Johann Michael Stern (1768); browsable images, Archion (https://www.archion.de : 3 March 2016).
16. In genealogical terms, this illustrates what is known as pedigree collapse; that is, a reduction in the number of distinct ancestors of an individual. (And before the jokes begin, let me remind you that pedigree collapse exists in the family trees of every human.) For more information see “Pedigree collapse,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedigree_collapse : 2 March 2016).
If you’re as anxious to search for your German ancestors in original German records as I am, you will want to check out Archion. Archion is a relatively new German subscription website that provides digital images of church books (records of baptisms, marriages, burials, etc.) from Germany. I’m a recent subscriber, and it is keeping me busy!
Archion’s holdings are extensive but by no means comprehensive. At this time it appears only Evangelisch (Protestant) records are available. Many of their church book images are not available elsewhere outside the holding institution, although I have noticed that some had already been made available on microfilm via FamilySearch. FrankenGen readers may be interested to know that the site does include some holdings from the Mittelfranken region of Bavaria, from where many of the settlers of the Saginaw Valley’s Franconian colonies emigrated. Records from Gunzenhausen are offered, for example.
The website is in German, of course; however, an English translation is available for parts of the site. The majority of records available are written in German Gothic script. There is no digitized index for the records. Images of hand-written indexes created by the record-keepers are available for some parishes. It will likely take some persistence for users to find their desired records.
Archion is easy to navigate, and the website allows viewers without a subscription to see what parishes have records available. Record sets highlighted in green are available to search; records highlighted in white have not been digitized.
The current subscription cost for individual users is 19,90Euros (currently about 22.00USD) for a month’s access including up to 50 image downloads, or 178,80Euros (currently about 200.00USD) for a year’s access including up to 600 downloads.
I’m very excited about my family history discoveries via Archion, and I hope to share some of them on FrankenGen soon.
One hundred years ago this June, on the evening of 21 June 1916 at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Springfield, Illinois, twenty young men graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary. The Reverend Frederick Brand addressed the soon-to-be Lutheran ministers to “Go out in the name of the Lord, preach the gospel in the name of the Lord and do it under the protection of the Lord.” My grandfather, Conrad Albert Rook, was a member of this class.
It would be forty years before many of these men would see one another again. On 16 June 1956, thirteen members of their class (which included a classmate who, though an original member of their class, graduated in 1915) held a reunion in St. Paul, Minnesota.
To help commemorate the occasion, the class members each wrote short autobiographies and compiled them into a folder with the Latin title, “Spes Mea Christus” [My hope is Christ]. Each pastor wrote his biography differently; many include reminisces of their early, college, and later years, providing what are probably rare glimpses into the lives of these men.
These were the “good ole days” in Springfield, especially the three years I roomed in the third story of the “Kaffee Muehle”. Never will I forget the two years of fellowship in Room 302 with “Dad” Strickert, “Dutch” Heilman, Fritz Wegener, Herman Schleef, and my older brother who considered it his bounded duty always to keep a watchful eye over me.
-Rev. Conrad Albert Rook
The following men contributed autobiographies to the typescript:
- Rev. J. August Birnbaum
- Rev. August F. Bobzin
- Rev. Herman Dubbe
- Rev. Edward C. Hauer
- Rev. Gotthilf Hermann Hentschel
- Rev. Paul R. Jank
- Rev. Bernard W. Jannsen
- Rev. Ludwig Karcher
- Rev. Henry F. Krohn
- Rev. George E. Nelson
- Rev. Fredrick W. Parduhn
- Rev. Herman J. Reinking (graduated 1915)
- Rev. Conrad Albert Rook
- Rev. Arthur Schulz
- Rev. Arthur F. Wegener
- Rev. Fred A. Wegener
- Rev. Edward L. Wittkopp
The folder, passed down to my mother, is a family history treasure. A digital copy of the typescript was given to the Concordia Historical Institute in St. Louis, Missouri in 2015. (For more information on the Concordia Historical Institute, see this post.) Copies of the autobiographies should be obtainable through them. I am also able to share them with family members and researchers (see my contact information under the “About” section). I hope this posting finds its way to the descendants of Springfield’s Concordia Theological Seminary Class of 1916.
- “Young Pastors Given Diplomas,” Illinois State Register (Springfield), 22 June 1916 (Thursday), p. 8, col. 4; digital images, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 4 February 2013).
- “Lutheran Pastor Completes 40th Year in the Ministery,” clipping dated 1956, from unidentified newspaper (probably from Battle Creek, Michigan); Collier Collection, vol. 65, p. 12, Willard Library, Helen Warner Branch, Battle Creek, Michigan.
- Concordia Theological Seminary (Springfield, Illinois), Class of 1916, “Spes Mea Christus, 1916-1956” (typescript, 1956); copy in possession of Mary Bernthal [address for private use], 2016.
- Concordia Theological Seminary (Springfield, Illinois), Class of 1916, “Spes Mea Christus, 1916-1956,” upaginated, autobiography of Conrad Albert Rook.
If you’re curious to learn more about the history of Frankenmuth’s St. Lorenz Lutheran Church, check out the videos posted on the St. Lorenz Lutheran Church and School website. The first video shares the history of St. Lorenz Lutheran Church and showcases the stories behind the edifice’s stained-glass windows. The second video, titled The Church You May Not Know, shares some “behind-the-scenes” footage including views from the bell tower and the transept’s dome.
If you’re looking to hone your German genealogical research skills, it may be worth your while to check out this year’s offerings at the Ohio Genealogical Society’s annual conference. This year’s theme is “Tracking Your Ancestors.” The conference will take place April 28-30 at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati. The conference includes six simultaneous lecture tracks to choose from, including an all workshop track, as well as an exhibit hall and several banquets and social events. And it’s located at a pretty sweet indoor water park.
I have attended the OGS conference twice, and both times found there to be an impressive variety lectures and nationally recognized speakers. There is no such equivalent conference offered in Michigan, so it’s a great opportunity for those of you who live in that state to attend a large genealogical conference nearby. Presumably, most of my readers are interested in German and German-American research. This year’s conference is rich in these offerings. The following lectures and workshop have a German research focus:
- Elizabeth L. Plummer: German Resources at the Ohio History Connection.
Find out what the Ohio History Connection’s archives/libraries have to offer that will help you with your German family history research.
- Teresa McMillin: So, You’ve Found Your German Town of Origin, Now What?
If you’ve found the name of your ancestor’s German town of origin but are new to researching in German records, this will get you started.
- Teresa McMillin: He Took Her Name: Understanding German Farm Names.
In certain areas of Germany, a man had to change his surname to inherit a farm. Learn about this custom and its impact on research.
- Michael Lacopo: German Genealogy on the Internet: Beyond the Basics.
Learn about online sites that all German-American genealogists should be aware of. There will be a strong concentration on lesser-used German sites.
- Sharon MacInnes: Desperation, Displacement, Determination, and Deuteronomy: Colonial Germans.
Leaving one’s home behind was a momentous decision. Why did they leave? Why did they come here? How? What records did they leave?
- Jenni Salamon: From Deutschland to Ohio: German Newspapers at the Ohio History Connection.
Learn about the German-language newspapers at the Ohio History Connection and how you can access the vast amounts of family history information they hold.
- Teresa McMillin: Read the Tabloids: German Church Records.
German church records sometimes deliver extra information, like modern tabloids. This talk is an entertaining learning experience, providing insights into our ancestors societies.
- James M. Beidler: German Handwritten Script and Fraktur Font. (Workshop/3 hours/additional fee).
This skills workshop teaches vocabulary and formats so participants can read tombstones and church records of German-speaking people. Included is practice writing and deciphering.
- Robert Rau: Reading German Church and Civil Records.
This presentation will discuss some of the aspects of old German handwriting, and give many examples of church and civil records used in studying German ancestry.
- James M. Beidler: Online German Church Registers, Duplicates and Substitutes.
Many German church records are coming online. Learn whether you’re looking at originals, duplicates or extracts from these records and why you should know the differences.
- Robert Rau: Eissfeller Vorfahren – Searching for Gertrud Eissfeller and her Ancestors.
This presentation is a case study of the search for a distant ancestor and extending her lines back three more generations in a small village in Hessen.
- Teresa McMillin: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Hanover Military Records.
Learn about the Kingdom of Hanover’s military records available to researchers in this country. This collection spans 1514-1866 and includes nineteenth century conscription lists.
All session descriptions are taken from the conference brochure. More information is available on the OGS Conference website, including the full conference brochure.