Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Plainview Family History Center:the Stutzmanns of Grossbockenheim, part I

More and more over the past few years, I have become convinced that my German heritage is going to prove the most fruitful. (Those Germans sure did keep meticulous records!) The thing is, I know the information is there, but trying to get my Germans to give it up is like pulling teeth. Worse, actually. They don't like to be forced. You can't move too quick. You have to get to know them very well. They have to feel really comfortable with you. There has to be mutual trust. And then the doors open up and the information - all that beautiful, meticulous German record-keeping! - just pours forth. For the most part. There are always those stubborn ancestors that still hold out on you, like they're waiting for a formal invitation to join the genealogy party. But overall, it's unbelievable. And extremely exciting. And rewarding, from the standpoint of a genealogist, but also as a person - I always identified with my Irish heritage, because my name is Irish and it was the side I knew the most about. But the more I learn about my German branches, the more I realize I'm starting to identify more with my German family. (See aforementioned stubbornness...)

So on that note, let's get to it! I went to the Plainview Family History Center to look at the microfilm of actual records for my Stutzmann line for which transcriptions had been posted on the FamilySearch website. I cannot stress enough how valuable it is to have as specific a place as possible for your family, especially in German research, because often their meticulous records are organized by town name, not family name - case in point being that the German lines I have had the most success with are the ones for which I have the most specific starting point, namely the town from which they orginated.

In the case of the Stutzmanns, that town in Grossbockenheim, in the Rheinland-Pfalz region of Germany. The town of origin was recorded in an anthology of genealogy books, Schlegel's German American Families in the United States, published in 1916. While Schlegel's got a lottttt of info wrong, they at least got the town name right. Stutzmann is my paternal grandmother's line, and because her grandfather, Rudolph Stutzmann, was such an influential member of Queens County German society at the turn of the 20th century, his genealogy had actually been pretty extensively (though somewhat inaccurately) recorded, at least back to *his* grandfather, Peter Stutzmann. Rudolph's father, Friedrich - don't you love all these perfectly German names?? - was born in Grossbockenheim in 1844. He died in Ridgewood Heights, Queens County, New York, in 1906. Friedrich's father, Peter, was born in Grossbockenheim in 1812 and died in Brooklyn in 1892, about six months after arriving in New York. Schlegel's had listed parents for Peter - Christoph and Jacobine. Boy, did that throw me off forever, mainly because those were not his parents names! I don't care how official your sources look...unless its primary or secondary sources, you need to doublecheck. And you should doublecheck and verify anyway because even primary sources get it wrong!

Okay...

So, in the course of exploring the newly designed FamilySearch website, I discovered that they had a ton of Stutzmann information on there! The source they were using was mainly the kirchenbuch, or church book, for the Protestant church used by residents of Grossbockenheim. It was here that I discovered that Peter's mother was, in fact, Jacobine or Jacobina (Blasius, to be precise) but that his father's name was Johann Michael Stutzmann. And I'm working on a hunch, based on Michael's possible parentage, that while Peter's maternal family and maternal grandmother's family had been established in Grossbockenheim for centuries, that the Stutzmann line is actually from the nearby town of Asselheim. Anyway, these records were great, but they were transcriptions of original church records at best and transcriptions of transcriptions of original church records at worst, so in order to get a degree closer, I decided to order them to my local Family History Center.

On that first visit, I looked at several Stutzmann records in the kirchenbuch, namely Friedrich Stutzmann's baptismal record, as well as those of his two older brothers, Rudolph and Peter; the record of his father Peter Stutzmann's marriage to his mother, Luise Charlotte Schlick; and a possible death record for Michael Stutzmann. For anyone else doing Stutzmann (or Schlick or D'Huy or Blasius) genealogy, the exacts records I looked at were Family History Library microfilms #193800, #193801, and #193802, all covering baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials for the Protestant kirchenbuch for Grossbockenheim, 1633-1927. I also looked at #193970, the
parish register transcripts of baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials and sermons of J. P. Lattermann, covering Grossbockenheim between 1837-1848.

Unfortunately, I had a crap camera, so I didn't get the pictures I wanted the first time, and also, I ordered so many rolls and it takes me an hour and half to 2 hours to go through each roll, so I had to go back again tonight and I'm going to have to go back again at least two more times I'd say (and of course more times after that, since I have other rolls for other branches that I want to order, but that'll for a story for another day...)

But this post is getting long, so details and photos to follow!

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