Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What I learned today...German Farm names

I'm a little slow when it comes to reading some of my journals. Typically I read my NGSQ right away. This summer has seen me reading it more casually as I wait out swimming lessons poolside. I like the NGSQ because I always learn something. That's what makes it my favorite genealogy journal.

Today I read an article from the June 2010 NGSQ called "Johann Henrich Klocke of Lippe-Detmold: An Identity Hidden by a German Farm Name" by Carolyn L. Whitton, CG.

Now I have to admit to you that I know nothing about German research. Honestly, I know nothing about European research with a slight exception for the UK. Really, I mean nothing, it kind of scares me. But part of the fun of genealogy for me is reading about topics that I know absolutely nothing about. I always find it interesting.

Well, I was floored when I read this article and learned about German Farm names. I never knew there was such a thing. In the back of my mind I made a mental note for my German ancestors in case I am ever brave enough to research them.

This article introduced to me the concept that a man could give away his own surnames and take his wife's if she happens to be a farm owner and he is not. I'm sure that is an over simplification of what is really going on. Carolyn Whitton did a thorough and excellent job of explaining what a farm name is and how to use it in German research and provided a complicated example to boot. And now I am an inch closer to trying to research my German ancestors. But honestly, I think it will take a little bit bigger push than that.


  1. Marian, I guess it depends on when your German line arrived in America. I have some who arrived in NY in 1710, and there is so much information. I'm sure you will do just fine once you begin. I have confidence in you.

  2. Barbara,

    I have Palatines who arrived in NY like you in 1710. Thanks to Henry Z. Jones I have a slight handle on those. But the ones who arrived in the 1860s - my goodness, I just don't know what to do with them. :)

  3. Yes, exactly, and I use his books all the time. Sorry, but I know nothing about those arriving in the 1860s. Somebody may help you, after reading this.

  4. Marian-
    If your 1860 German immigrants are like most of mine, they didn't own a farm in the first place. I've tracked most of mine acros the pond and for those it has been migration chains, settlement clusters, etc. as successful approaches.

  5. I enjoy it. I was lucky because mine married land owners,and the land owners are in books that have words like familienkunde. [Raven, and Borstelman for Luneburg stadt], I would check for books in your persons area. Look for chronik too of villages online. A good place is that most villages have cemetery memorials for dead heroes of the villages. And I find the newspapers, also the local fire fighters chapters ususually has a little history which is a start. And Schutzenfest publishes some names too.

    Ancestry has two directories for the people of Hannover, if that was the case. 1929 and I forget the other one.

    Other wise I would have had to rely on the church. My areas are not much filmed so not morman archives/ films.

    There is that book out that has villages by name and the archives churches. I'll have to hunt up the name if your intersted.But googling on maps, I notice they just give it.

    My one was Bartel Gennant Kanning, or was it the other way around.

    I wondered sometimes how you would know receiving documentation if it had been the case with some ancestor you hadn't discovered yet?. I'd like to read that article, just to see the time reference. Usually the document will identify the father and if a bride say geb. Or * and then the surname. Not just (Nee Luhmann.)

    Rats, I suppose then we have to be familiar with all the passing hereditary documents and local " stuff" like one finds at AIDA online.

    It would be a great read, as you say How to know.

    Great Post