July 31 – Bertha Hermine Friederike Dorothea Schmidt

23 years ago, on July 31, 1991 Michail Gorbachev and George Bush sign the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) between the  Soviet Union and the USA for reducing strategic atomic weapons.

On July 31, 1948 opens the New York International Airport which is known today as John F. Kennedy Intl. Airport since December 24, 1963

In my family tree we move back to my father’s paternal side.

We meet my great grand aunt Bertha Hermine Friederike Dorothea SCHMIDT, the oldest child of the master carpenter Gustav Bruno SCHMIDT and his wife Henrica Elisabeth Dorothea PETROWSKY.

Yes, you remember correctly.. he is the one that just vanished.

Bertha was born on July 31, 1880 in Güstrow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany and received her christening on at the Pfarrkirche in Güstrow on August 22, 1880. One of the godparents is given with “Elisabeth Schmidt née Klinckmann, carpenter’s daughter here”. I wonder if this COULD be her grandmother, but I’ve already seen cases where the relationship was mentioned in the churchbook entry.

After her father left the family and her mother remarried and moved to Grubenhagen, Bertha got confirmed there in the church on April 7, 1895

The 1900 census of Mecklenburg-Schwerin shows that she moved back to Güstrow, working as a domestic servant.

And that was the last trace I have of her.




#52ancestors No. 10 – one of the many “illegitimate” children


My this week’s contribution to the 52 ancestors challenge from Amy Crow of “No story too small” is my half great grand aunt.

Do you remember my 2nd great grandmother Henrica Elisabeth Dorothea PETROWSKY?

Well, my half great grand aunt is her first child: Frieda Emilie Marie Sophie Caroline PETROWSKY. She was born on September 22, 1875 in Neu-Lüblow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany as an illegitimate child to her mother and an unknown father.

I actually think it’s very strange that my 2nd great grandmother who was born herself in 1845 wasn’t married by the age of 30 years. And I actually wonder if she had more children before, but so far I couldn’t find any.

In the 1919 census Frieda Emilie Marie Sophie Caroline goes by the name of Frieda. I will stick to that, too.

Frieda married on November 2, 1900 in Grubenhagen. And I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the name of her husband to be. His name was Carl Wilhelm Heinrich SCHMIDT.

Oh no, please not again a SCHMIDT. That is the second most common last name in Germany and I already have not only 2 major SCHMIDT lines (both my paternal grandmother and grandfather carry that name) but also various minor SCHMIDT branches on my tree.

And to top that, her mother would also marry a SCHMIDT, my second great grandfather. Which means, I have 2 SCHMIDT & PETROWSKY connections on my tree.

According to the 1919 census Frieda and Carl had 5 children being born between 1904 and 1915. Their first two children were born just 10 months apart.

  • Else * January 6, 1904 in Hamberge
  • Hedwig * November 5, 1904 in Neu Pokrent
  • Lucie * February 11, 1907 in Teterow
  • Alfred * May 15, 1911 in Teterow
  • Grete * December 23, 1915 in Teterow
census 1919

census 1919

The death records are just published til 1918. Therefore I couldn’t find any death record for Frieda yet.






#52Ancestors No. 6 – “Malicious Abandonment” WHAT????

I admit that is quite a catchy header I used there, but that is what is said in the wedding record of my 2nd great grandmother for her second wedding.

I already told you about his wife (Henrica Elisabeth Dorothea PETROWSKY) and their son (Friedrich Bernhard Robert SCHMIDT), now it is time to tell you about my 2nd great grandfather Gustav Bruno SCHMIDT.

The first time I saw his name was on the baptism record of his son, my great grandfather Friedrich Bernhard Robert from November 22, 1883 in Güstrow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany.

baptism Friedrich Bernhard Robert Schmidt

baptism Friedrich Bernhard Robert Schmidt

Gustav is stated as “carpenter from here”.

The first indications

You can see in the column named “Namen der Gevattern” (names of the godparents) that Gustav and his wife chose two godparents which weren’t local: Friedrich Schmidt, a shoemaker from Neubrandenburg and Robert Schmidt, a teacher from Leipzig in Saxony.

Only later I should find out that this was the first hint of Gustav’s origin.

I checked the churchbooks for the wedding record and after I found one older child born in 1880, I could also find a matching wedding entry.

wedding entry Schmidt & Petrowsky

wedding entry Schmidt & Petrowsky

Here his birthplace is given: Lausigk in the kingdom Saxony. Excuse me?? If you take a look at the maps here, you see that there is quite a distance between the grandduchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin up north and the kingdom of Saxony in the southern east.

I have to admit that my geographical knowledge of this area tends to zero.. at least when it comes to small villages. But again I asked Auntie Google and I came up with Lausigk in today’s Bundesland Saxony-Anhalt, which is Saxony’s neighbour.

I called the local archive in Lausigk and told the very nice gentleman what I found and asked where I could take a look into the churchbooks.

We have a 30 minute phone conversation in which he explained the local history AND geography “(the left riverbank documents are archived here, the right riverbank documents are archives somewhere else”) and a short remark I made close to the end turned everything upside down. I said something like “well, since he had the saxon nationality..” and his reply? “Saxon? Well, that is TOTALLY different”… great, here I was, thinking that I found the right place.

But a german historian wouldn’t be a german historian if he couldn’t tell me where to find this “Lausigk in the kingdom of Saxony”.

There is a small place close to Leipzig in Saxony which is called today Bad Lausick. He told me that this would be the right place.

I am so often really astonished about how helpful people are when they feel the enthusiasm I put into my research. I could have talked for hours with this man on the phone.

After using Auntie Google again I called the offices of St. Kilian‘s church on where I could find the churchbooks. Guess my surprise when they told me, all the books are stored in the office and not in any state or city archive.

“Help yourself”
St. Kilian Bad Lausick

St. Kilian Bad Lausick

A few months later we finally found a timeslot where I could take a day off and the office was open and I could go on with my research about Gustav.

And another surprise as the lady invited me in the office, gave me a desk to use and opened a cabinet and said “help yourself” – there they were: churchbooks from TODAY til early 18th century, as far as I could see it.

“Help yourself.. hmm.. okay” I thought.

But that is what I  did and since I had the exact birthday mentioned in his wedding entry, it didn’t take me long to find his baptism entry. I took some pictures with my iPhone and the lady delibaretly looked the other way ;)

I had to take two pictures per entry since they were recorded over the full page

baptism Gustav Bruno Schmidt (1)

baptism Gustav Bruno Schmidt (1)

baptism Gustav Bruno Schmidt St. Kilian (2)

baptism Gustav Bruno Schmidt St. Kilian (2)

His father is stated with Friedrich Theodor SCHMIDT a local carpenter and Elisabeth Henriette Sophia Maria née KLINKMANN from Güstrow in Mecklenburg. What? Wait.. His mother went from Güstrow to Lausigk just that Gustav moves back to Güstrow? I am still trying to find more pieces to the puzzle of this moving around. Especially because it wasn’t only from one village to another but from one grandduchy to another kingdom.

One thought I have, if Elisabeth’s father, a carpenter from Güstrow came originally from Lausigk and he started this “migration” (note to myself: Barbara, hold that thought).

But I am chatting again, back to Gustav. Who is my 2nd great grandfather, just in case I totally confused you by now.

Just a quick recap what we have so far:

  • born in Lausigk, Saxony in 1847
  • married my 2nd great grandmother in Güstrow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1879
  • my greatgrandfather born 1883
  • I’ve found two other children born 1880 and 1885

“Where does this malicious abandonment come in” you might ask. Well, we are getting closer.

It was a coincidence I already described in my blog about her, that I found a wedding entry for Gustav’s wife for her second wedding.

Petrowsky Henrica Elisabeth Dorothea 1845-01 Trauung No. 2

In the last column the previous wedlocks are described. And in regards of Gustav it says

“Gustav Bruno Schmidt, carpenter in Güstrow, missing. Divorced in Güstrow on September 12, 1894 due to malicious abdandonment”

And that’s it. That is the last thing I’ve ever heard about him. Divorce records are only stored for 30 years in Germany, as well as records of missing people. I guess he was declared dead at some point, but so far nobody could tell me where I could find out more about it.

I wonder if he went back to Saxony? Leaving a wife is one thing, but leaving behind three children? The youngest just being 10 years old?

Ideas, anyone?

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January 18 – Henrica Elisabeth Dorothea Petrowsky

The Wars of Roses between the Houses of Tudor and York are finally ceased with the marriage of the English king Henry VII (Tudor) and Elizabeth of York on January 18, 1486.

Following the victory in the Franco-Prussian War, Wilhelm I. of Prussia is crowned Emperor of Germany in Versailles on Januar 18, 1871. That is the beginning of the German Empire or better the German Realm.

With one of my first blogs called “Go back to the data you already have” I told you how re-working a census record from 1900 helped me to find more information about my greatgreatgrandmother Henrica Elisabeth Dorothea PETROWSKY.

And since it is her wedding anniversary today, I want to tell you a little bit more about her.

Henrica was born June 10, 1845 in Neu Lüblow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany as an illegitimate child of the housemaid Elisabeth Maria Friederike PETROWSKY.

1875 she gave birth herself to an illegitimate child, a daughter called Frieda Emilie Sophie Caroline.

On October 28, 1879 she married for the first time. Her husband is my greatgreatgrandfather Gustav Bruno SCHMIDT, a carpenter from Güstrow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin. So far I found three children for the couple being born between 1880 and 1885. All of them in Güstrow, where the family lived.

So far I thought that they had lived happily ever after.

But then came the day when I found the 1900 census record I mentioned above. The full story can be read in the blogpost, but here the short version:

Due to malicious abandonment by him she got divorced from my greatgreatgrandfather on September 12, 1894. He is missing since then. And having three children to raise (her oldest daughter Frieda was already 20 years old), she actually just HAD to marry again.

I don’t know how she got to know him, but on January 18, 1895 she married the farmhand Wilhelm Johann Christian Ludwig DÜSE from Grubenhagen, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany.

The 1900 census shows her living in Bockholt, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany.

And that is the last trace I have of her. One of her daughters married in 1903, but in that record only the fathers of bride and groom are mentioned.

So, here my question: Does anyone have the PETROWSKY in their family tree?





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November 22 – Friedrich Bernhard Robert Schmidt

A sad day: November 22, 1963 – President John F. Kennedy gets killed in Dallas, Tx.

My Dad once told me that this was one of the two days where he was really scared what would happen next. You see, even in Germany this assassination had a huge impact.

And on November 22, 2005 the German Bundestag elects Angela Merkel as first woman into the office of German Chancellor in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.

And it is happy day on my family tree!

My greatgrandfather is born on November 22, 1883 in Güstrow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany. This is my father’s paternal line. The Diedrichshagen “clan” is his maternal line.

His birth certificate is one of the first documents I ever requested from a registry office. Just click here, to have a look at it.

 Schmidt Friedrich Bernhard Robert birth certificate

I remember when I obtained information on his son (my grandfather) from the Lübeck city archive, the archivist mentioned in a half-sentence that his father (this Friedrich) would be of Saxon nationality. And that nationality always comes from the father. I remember thinking “What??” No, that must be a mistake. Part of my mother’s family comes from Saxony, but not my father’s. Never heard of it. So I stored the information somewhere deep down in my notes. Til the day I could check the Güstrow churchbooks for his baptism entry:

Friedrich Bernhard Robert Schmidt Taufe

In the second column from the right you see the header “Gevattern” which means “godparents”. And there I see a shoemaker Friedrich Schmidt from Neubrandenburg (which is southeast of Mecklenburg-Schwerin), a Bertha Schmidt (a housekeeper in Güstrow) and a Robert Schmidt, teacher from Leipzig – which is in Saxony! When I read this I remembered the statement from the archivist and pulled out my notes. Why would my greatgrandfather have a godfather from Saxony if there is no relationship somehow?

So, I added this to my “somehow he comes from Saxony” notes to look further for his parents (another blog to come ;))

Another good example why you should always look for the original records and never to ignore godparents.

Friedrich was the second of three children from Gustav Bruno SCHMIDT and Henrica Elisabeth Dorothea PETROWSKY (I stick to the y at the end, although in the baptism record above she is written with an i at the end, but that is the only record where I have seen this).

By the way, his 3 year older sister is called Bertha – I wonder if Friedrich’s godmother Bertha Schmidt is his father’s sister?

I told you already a bit about Friedrich’s mother Henrica in this blog: Go back to the data you already have

Friedrich’s father left the family when he was just an 11 year old boy. His mother remarried and they moved to Grubenhagen, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany.

That’s where he received his lutheranian confirmation on April 3, 1898.

Although I found his mother, his sister Anna and his stepfather  in the 1900 census in Bockholt, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany and his sister Bertha in Güstrow, I couldn’t find Friedrich yet. Neither in the 1890 nor in the 1900 census.

The next trace I have is his marriage with Emma Wilhelmine Elisabeth Freytag on April 16, 1909 already in Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany (where my family still lives). I actually wonder why he moved from Güstrow to Lübeck.

The couple had 3 children: my grandfather Wilhelm Ferdinand Christian, his brother Friedrich (he is part of my “Volkstrauertag” (Remembrance Day) blogpost) and a sister Gertrud of which I don’t have any dates yet.

I have an entry in the adressbook from Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany from 1914 for him. I have the original at home. The only real family heritage I have.

Here is a scanned entry I have from 1920

adressbook Lübeck 1920

adressbook Lübeck 1920

I checked the index of the Citizenship Register of the city of Lübeck to see if he became a Lübeck citizen, but couldn’t find him there.

I need to check on military records (definetly for WW I) – I feel my first mindmap coming up ;)

My mom always described him as a gentle soul who could spend hours with the greatgrandchildren. And he would always smoke cigars… and if he didn’t light them up he would chew on them. He was never seen without a cigar in his mouth.. hot or cold!

Friedrich died on June 10, 1975 in Lübeck. Unfortunately, I was just barely 2 years old. I don’t have any memory of him at all.