Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Anita Springer's Story of Finding Her Pommeranian Ancestors

The text below was sent in by Anita Springer and is her story of finding her Pommeranian ancestors.  Enjoy!

My name is Anita Springer, my mother's name is Elizabeth GRÜNBERG Springer and she was born in 1922 in the small town of Nipperwiese (today Ognica) on the east side of the Oder River.  It was part of Kreis Greifenhagen, south of Stettin (Szcecin.)  She lived through the horrors of WWII in Germany, in which her brother was killed on the Russian Front, and was the only one from her family to emigrate to the US, in 1951 where she was able to make a new life after her family lost their home and everything they had when the Russian troops took over that part of Germany to give to Poland in 1945. 

In Nipperwiese her family leased fields and did farming, growing vegetables and tobacco.  She described her childhood as very happy.  My mother had an excellent memory and knew a lot about her family, including the names, birth and death dates of her great-grandparents.  I later found out that her grandmother Louise KÜHNKE's family was descended from Huguenots who were invited by the Prussian royal family to settle in Brandenburg in the late 1600s. They settled first in Schwedt, just over the river Oder in Brandenburg and moved to Nipperwiese in 1800. There is a Huguenot church in Schwedt that has all of their church records.

I posted my family information on German websites and the Pommern mailing list and over time, received responses from people related to me in Germany.  I made contact with a fifth cousin who is a professional archivist in Germany and he told me about our Huguenot ancestors and gave me huge amounts of historical information about my family.

Nipperwiese has been very difficult to research because it was heavily bombed during the war and no church records remain. There are some civil records which I found in the LDS microfilm library and hired a Polish researcher to look through in the Stettin archives.  The breakthrough came when I was contacted by a third cousin, a GRÜNBERG who found my postings on line, and by another man in Germany who is compiling an Ortsfamilienbuch of Nipperwiese. They told me that the name of my 3rd great-grandfather was Christian GRÜNBERG, born 1805, and that he was originally from the town of Nahausen, just a short distance south of Nipperwiese but over the provincial border in Brandenburg.  This was a huge stroke of luck because the Nahausen evangelical church records have survived and are on line.  I am in the process of tracing my GRÜNBERG and related families from that area back to the 1600s.

Through my DNA test, I found out that I am related to a family from North Tonowanda NY who are descended from a founder of their Lutheran church in Martinsville NY, named Maria Elisabeth Henriette GRÜNBERG who was born in 1793 in Fiddichow, a small town right next to Nipperwiese. She and her husband Michael KUBE emigrated to the US in 1843 along with a large group of religious dissidents called "Old Lutherans" who left in protest of changes being made in the German churches.  

In researching the story of the Old Lutherans I found out that the emigrants included 80 people from the town of Nipperwiese.  Interestingly, this provided a clue about my 2nd great-grandmother Bertha (Albertine) SCHULZ who I had come to believe was not originally from Nipperwiese.  Included in the people who left Nipperwiese in 1843 were several shoemakers.

A shoemaker who later came to Nipperwiese named Albert Heinrich SCHULZ was born in Gross Tychow, Kreis Belgard, in 1843 and is listed in surviving address books as living in Nipperwiese in 1875. Perhaps not coincidentally, Bertha's son Karl GRÜNBERG b 1860, is listed in that address book as apprenticed to a shoemaker in Nipperwiese in 1875 when he was 15 years old. Did my great-great-grandmother apprentice her son to a family relative?

There are other linkages (intermarriages) between Nipperwiese and Gross Tychow involving the SCHULZ family.  I found this very interesting since Gross Tychow is not very near Nipperwiese.  It is south of Kolberg near the Baltic Sea.  Another interesting fact is that my mother told me that her father had relatives near Tilsit and that he would visit them and bring home Tilsiter cheese.  My DNA always turns up a lot of matches with Lithuanians and Russians too.  So I now think that my SCHULZ family was originally from those far northern reaches on the Baltic, possibly as far east as Königsberg.

I also had a DNA match with a person whose family is named SCHULZ and MEIER from the city of Bahn which is also in Kreis Greifenhagen.  

I am still researching the GRÜNBERG and SCHULZ families, have not exhausted the possible resources although they are getting harder to find.  Other surnames possibly associated with my SCHULZ family are JAHN and ROTTSOLK.

Isn't genealogy fascinating?