Pomerania

History Pomerania (Pommern) is a beautiful land of lakes and forests, quaint and picturesque villages with steepled churches, and stork nests. The land looks surprisingly like Minnesota and Wisconsin. Many Pomeranians chose the Midwest for their new homes in the 1840’s and 1860's. Pomerania was scraped by glaciers thousands of years ago. The sandy ground left behind was good for growing rye and potatoes. Parts of Pomerania joined with Prussia in 1648, 1720, and 1815. For many years after World War II, communism held back progress and development. This meant that you could see the land and villages much as they were in the German times. Now with the fall of the Iron Curtain, people have money and are fixing up the old, and building anew. It can be a surprise to the visitor to see an old barn crumbling next to a row of brand new homes. In many instances, the old German cemeteries are now used as the new Polish cemeteries. Some people find an old gravestone here and there. The reactions of tourists to the conditions of the cemeteries vary from disgust due to neglect, to the joy of a newly discovered relative. Someone reminded me that if this were Germany, you would not find any old tombstone unless the family had renewed payment for the site, so a broken, knocked over tombstone is better than nothing at all.

Researching Pomerania can be difficult for several reasons:

  • When you do run across an old record it is usually in old German script this is hard to read.
  • Much of the territory now belongs to Poland which involves yet another language to deal with, as well as polish bureaucracy.
  • Damage to many towns and churches created a scarcity of records. One should not hold out a false hope that the churches are going to have books not filmed by the LDS. I have found only one or two instances of that.
  • In Pommern, any records that exist are usually only in archives and/or microfilmed by the LDS church. Pommern was predominately Lutheran (Evangelical/Evangelische). Only as you go east toward Kashubian lands do you start to see more and more Catholic churches.

Do you recall what sparked your interest in genealogy? Some inherited a box of photos, for others, a tombstone with their surname piqued their interest. Genealogy is for people who like to solve a mystery. The answers lead to you! This book will help you trace your Pomeranian (German = Pommern) roots.

Where is Pommern?

The Province of Pommern was located in northeastern Germany on the Baltic Sea. All of the area of Pomerania east of the Oder River was given to Poland following WWII. In former times this area was called Hinter Pommern while the area west of the Oder was called Vor Pommern and is still part of Germany

At different times in history this land on the Baltic Sea shores has been populated by tribes such as the Goths, Wends, Pommerani and Kaschubi. The Pommerani tribe name means, “People of the Sea.” A Slavic tribe to the south called the “Polani,” means, “People of the Plain,” which became Poland.

During the 1800’s many Germans came to America for various reasons. Some came because of religious differences while others came for opportunity and the availability of land. Many settlers of Minnesota and Wisconsin came from the province of Pomerania.

Books

Pomeranian Genealogy, Culture and History has good general background information. Each county is described and depicted in photos.

The Stadte Atlas Pommern is a great book for small maps (city and county) that can fit on the photocopier.

Pomerania - Atlantic Bridge to Germany lists villages from, A -Z and has maps too.

Pommern in 1440 Bildern has photos of major towns in every county - also aerial views.

Our large map collection (Pommern, drawer in the flat map case) has maps by county useful for finding the nearest church, cemetery, manor home, windmill, watermill, etc.

Web Sites

Are there records, church or civil, for my village? http://pommerndatenbank.de/ (click church books and civil records, then search, then type in your town name)

Is anyone else researching my surname? http://pommernkontakte.de/ click search a the left, then type your surname in the box.

What is the current Polish name of my village? To check for photos of your village:http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mnprgm/PRG.html Click Kreis Pictures, search for your village under Google images.

Good luck with your research.