An extremely high concentration of Pomeranian immigrant families settled in Milwaukee and attended what was then known as Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church. A chance find two weeks ago hastened the chase, as I pursued a new clue. Reading through the books, it seems that numerous families in the church originated in Kreis Kolberg-Körlin.

The books can be viewed on FamilySearch and contain the following vitals:

  • Film #1392662, Items 8-10: Baptisms (typed English transcript) 1866-1876 Kirchenbuch 1866-1879 (contains baptisms 1866-1876, marriages 1866-1878 and deaths 1866-1879) Kirchenbuch 1877-1889 (contains baptisms 1877-1884)
  • Film #1392663, Items 1-3: Kirchenbuch 1879-1889 (contains baptisms 1884-1889, marriages, and deaths) Kirchenbuch 1889-1908 (contains baptisms, marriages, and deaths) Church records 1909-1949 (contains baptisms, marriages 1909-1936, and deaths.

Personal Discovery

One of my research contacts, also interested in the Sturm family, emailed me a link to a baptism. While I already had the index, I was missing the image. Looking at his tree, I saw someone linked in and thought, “Surely, this must be an error.” However, upon further inspection, there was another child of Gustav and Johanne that I was not privy to. Interestingly enough, her marriage certificate listed Johanne’s surname as “Dewus” and birthplace as Belgard. Even more interesting, a Henry Dewus was a witness to her marriage.

Following down the line, I discovered their lineage traced back just a few villages west of where my research had been concentrated to the villages of Plauenthin, Groß Jestin, and Neurese (also typeset as “Neu Rese.” Could this be the more direct family of Johanne Dewuske? Her death certificate listed her place of birth as the nearby Klaptow.

Furthermore, as I read through the church book line by line, it became apparent that many of the immigrant families could have their trees partially, if not completely, reconstructed to their places of origin. Death entries were specifically useful to learn the exact birthplaces and dates of these Pomeranians.

In the case of Friedrich Dewus (whose death certificate listed him as “Debus”), his full name was learned, along with his wife’s maiden name and pertinent facts, like the number of surviving children and that his wife was previously married.

In fact, the entry helps place the Biesel family that emigrated with the Dewus family from Neu Rese and helps make sense of a larger untold story.

While this only adds a deeper layer of confusion to my own surname study, it’s provided one of the most important clues to uncovering the history in a war-torn area devoid of many records. Even more troubling, surviving records hardly record the non-important lives of poor day-laboring families. This church book in Milwaukee addresses these concerns with precision. Even if the full records cannot be reconstituted, this book plays its part to help those seeking answers assemble fragmentary pieces.

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