Monday, September 20, 2010

Schlegel's American Families of German Ancestry

Before I knew anything at all about my father's side of the family, before I had done any research on my own, I had my grandmother's binder of information and research she had gathered over the years, and even though she is my mother's mother, I think she realized, as any true genealogist does, the importance of knowing all sides of the story, not just your own, and so she was the first person to research my father's family tree. In that great big binder full of Raynors and Dauchs and Bergs and Cronins and Caseys, four handwritten, photocopied pages were stuck in the back, devoted to my father's mother's family, the Stutzmanns.

So that was that, for awhile. I didn't look into it further, I didn't wonder where the information had come from, and even once I started doing genealogy more seriously, I kind of forgot that those four pages were there. Eventually I noticed that my grandmother had also copied a title page, which said those pages had come from something called Schlegel's German-American Families in the United States. An internet search revealed that this was a four-volume compendium published by the American Historical Society between 1916 and 1926, and so, just so I would have an original source and not just those photocopies and also in case my family research turned up my relation to any of the other families mentioned in the books, I ordered my own copies, which are now part of my genealogy research collection at home.

As it turns out, the genealogies in it are not entirely accurate - I found a few discrepencies when I went to verify the info on my own. But it's fairly accurate and it gave me quite a detailed place to start my Stutzmann research, from the name of the town in Germany that they hailed from to great great grandpa Rudolph's rise to one of the most prominent German-Americans in early 20th century Ridgewood. I highly recommend these volumes for anyone researching their 19th century German-American roots. This is what the review on has to say about the compendium (including the names of families covered in the volumes):

"Of all the information-rich sources of German-American ancestry, none is this comprehensive or as useful to the researcher, as illustrated by its coverage of the following families:

Ackermann, Aichmann, Altenbrand, Ammann, Auer, Barkhausen, Bauer, Baumann, Becker, Bender, Bermel, Biertuempfel, Boos, Bossert, Brandis, Braunstein, Breidt, Broking, Burger, Cordts, Cronau, Dangler, Dannenhoffer, de Kalb, Deck, Dippel, Dittenhoefer, Dochtermann, Dornhoefer, Doscher, Draesel, Dreier, Dressel, Drewes, Dreyer, Eichacker, Eichhorn, Eimer, Engelhardt, Espenscheid, Faber, Faller, Fink, Fischer, Flammer, Focht-Vogt, Frank, Frey, Fritz, Froeb, Funk, Gaus, Gobel, Goebel, Goepel, Golsner, Grell, Gretsch, Groborsch, Gunther, Hauenstein, Haug, Haupt, Haussling, Havemeyer, Hechtenberg, Hecker, Helwig, Hering, Herkimer, Herlich, Herrmann, Hoecker, Hoffmann, Jaeckle, Jahn, Janson, Junge, Just, Katz, Keene, Kern, Kessler, Kiefer, Kircher, Kirsch, Kleinert, Kline, Kny, Kobbe, Kochersberger, Koelble, Komitsch, Korth, Kost, Koster, Kraemer, Kramer, Kroeger, Kuhn, Lafrentz, Lamprecht, Lausecker, Leisler, Lexow, Liebmann, Limbacher, Lohse, Lotz, Luckhardt, Luhrsen, Lutz, Marquardt, Martin, Maulbeck, Maurer, Meeker, Mehlin, Mende, Meurer, Meyer, Mielke, Mietz, Moeller, Moser, Mueller, Muhlenberg, Muller, Naeher, Nissen, Nungesser, Oberglock, Offermann, Otto, Pedersen, Peter, Pflug, Poppenhusen, Prahl, Rasch, Rath, Reichhelm, Reisinger, Reppenhagen, Reuter, Ridder, Riedman, Ries, Ringler, Roehr, Runkel, Ruoff, Sauerwein, Schaeffer, Schalck, Schering, Scherrer, Schieren, Schill, Schilling, Schissel, Schlegel, Schlitz, Schmelzer, Schmidt, Schmieder, Schneider, Scholzel, Schortau, Schrader, Schroeder, Schultz, Schumann, Schurz, Schwarz, Sebold, Seyfarth, Sigel, Solms, Specht, Spengler, Stadler, Steiger, Steil, Steingut, Steinway, Stemme, Stengel, Steubner, Steurer, Stiefel, Stier, Stohn, Strebel, Stuber, Stutz, Stutzmann, Sutro, Thumann, Vogeler, Vollweiler, vom Hofe, von Bernuth, von Briesen, von Steuben, Wahlers, Weber, Weimar, Weismann, Weitling, Wendel, Wenk, Wesel, Wilhelms, Wintjen, Wischmann, Wolffram, Zaabel, Zechiel, and Zobel

This is a reprint of the largest collection of German-American genealogies ever published, a full-blown compendium of family history and biography unknown to all but a handful of specialists. The first three volumes were published somewhat inopportunely between 1916 and 1918, with a fourth volume added in 1926. Each volume was limited to 200 numbered and registered copies, and consequently only a dozen or so three-volume sets can be located today, while the fourth volume is all but unknown. This is a complete paradox, for like similar compendia by Virkus and McKenzie, this work should be available to all students of genealogy and should be the very first resource for anyone researching German-American ancestry.

Unlike other great compendia, however, Schlegel doesn't just start out with the immigrant ancestor; rather, each family history usually begins two or three generations back, examining the family in its historic setting before bringing it forward to the immigrant ancestor and his descendants in America. Averaging about ten pages in length, including portraits and coats of arms, the family histories are no mere catalogs of births, marriages, and deaths but are rich biographical and genealogical studies, each depicting the education, service, achievements, life, and career of the various family members, and each tracing the roots of the first four or five generations in America, usually commencing in the 18th or the 19th century, naming thousands of related family members."

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