Peter Dörling, Norderstedt
Jan. 22, 2007

Genealogical description of the population of Stormarn

How does one acquire the necessary information and how is it then processed?

1) Use of various sources:
In the last 100 years, many historians and genealogists have worked to record and describe the one-time population of a town or a parish. Their work can be found in a multitude of civic chronicles and genealogies. There are instances, however, where the work did not become published, and there is only a single exemplar of the manuscript. A pity considering the amount of work invested, particularly when entire parish registers have been copied as part of the research.

Historians normally don't study church records, however; instead, they prefer the files from the earlier municipal offices, manors, and other political administrators. The state archives at Schleswig-Gottorf include lists with tax payments, fines, files with wills, cadastres and land registers, and certificates of debt. In the latter, municipal office recorded who issued the borrower's note, but also who had sold or inherited a house, etc. etc.
Historians can then determine how many estates there were in a town and who each respective owner of each estate was in past centuries. Their work usually results in a published town chronicle.

There is a third group who records a population's history; this group processes old censuses. Censuses reflect the composition of households, because often a single home did not house just the parents and their children, as we know it today, but the grandparents and other people. For example, the eldest daughter married and her husband and their children also live in the house of the woman's parents. If the patriarch has a workshop, journeymen and apprentices usually live there, too. If the household is a farm, laborers, maids, and servants live there as well. An age is entered for each person; it is therefore normally possible to synchronize these entries with church records.

My goal is to pool this multitude of individual works, supplement it, and then evaluate the total.

Other useful sources are civil records and city address books as well as the populace lists that have periodically been compiled, such as in 1744 for determining serfdom.

Things get particularly interesting when a particular place has records from all three sources: copies of church record, municipal file transcripts, and censuses. It has been shown that rarely does one source provide all of the desired information. In church records of baptisms, the place of residence is sometimes missing; in marriage records, it is often not specified whether the couple will live in his or her house; the age is sometimes missing in funeral records. Transcripts of municipal files often lack information about when the couple married and when their children were born. In censuses where, for example, a widow is counted, her deceased husband is not named and the children are only counted if they live in the same household. Only by cross-referencing as many sources as possible can the information about individuals and families be truly complete.

2) Geographical and chronological division:
The populace of an entire county over several centuries obviously constitutes a vast amount of data. If this information is to be clear and easily understandable, it must be organized intelligently.
Politically speaking, Stormarn County consists of 55 large and small towns and villages which were under the political administration of Reinbek, Traventhal, Tremsbüttel, Trittau, and Reinfeld. From the Church's point of view, Stormarn comprised 13 parishes. Geographic classification will be orientated by the municipalities and parishes; that has not yet been determined precisely.

Population growth was considerably higher in the 19th century than earlier, necessitating a chronological division. The information is currently divided with personal data from 1500-1800 in the first group and the data from 1800-1900 in the second.

3) Structuring a sequence / standard names:
Among genealogists, there are many people who write village lineage books [in German, the well known “Ortsfamilienbuch”]. Each of these must consider how he defines “one family” and several have developed their own theories about this.
Because the surname of the patriarch, unlike that of the wife in earlier times, remained unchanged, it is ideally suited as first sort criterion. All authors therefore begin with an alphabetic listing of the surnames of the patriarch, but here already the differences begin.
Should a list of the same surnames be sorted by the year of birth or the year of marriage? What if the patriarch married more than once? Or is it better to use the first names as sort criterion?

Each of these methods of sorting has its pros and cons, but I don't want to bore anyone by naming them. One must simply choose a method and then maintain it.
My data is sorted within each surname by the patriarch's exact or estimated date of birth. If he married more than once, the wives are listed consecutively. Even with 3 wives and the children of 3 marriages, I have kept everything as one “family”.

There are problems with different spellings of the same surnames; e.g., Bassow, Bassau, Baßaw, and Passau. To be able to process these names with a computer, a standard name is selected arbitrarily and entered in its own column along with the original name. This method guarantees that all members of a family group are itemized chronologically correctly in the list: great-grandfather, grandfather, father, and son.
All families are given an index number. This number can be used to trace the genealogy without problem – from son to father and from there to the grandfather, and vice versa.

4) Internal structure of data for a family:
Husband: Surname, given names, date of birth (or date of baptism as needed), date of marriage (or date of engagement as needed), date of death (or date of funeral as needed).
Place of residence, occupation or profession, at best accompanied by a date (year).
In instance of several places of residence or several occupations, these are listed in chronological sequence.
Information about ancestry or parentage (usually the parents' index number suffices), info about the funeral: age, number of children living, etc.
Wife: Surname, given names, date of birth (or date of baptism as needed), date of marriage (or date of engagement as needed), date of death (or date of funeral as needed).
Information about earlier and/or later marriages, info about occupation if applicable (midwife, cook, maid).
Information about ancestry or parentage (usually the parents' index number suffices), info about the funeral: age, number of children living, etc.

Children: Number in the actual or assumed sequence, any applicable information about from which marriage, whether twin births, surname, given names, date of birth (or date of baptism as needed), date of marriage (or date of engagement as needed), date of death (or date of funeral as needed).
Reference to the new family index number if the child married.
Information about the spouse if the later place of residence is outside of Stormarn.
Information about the father if the child was illegitimate.
In special cases, information about the godparents.

Thereafter, source references and references to genealogists who are particularly interested in this family.

5) Conversion of data from diverse sources:
Data from local chronicles are not sorted alphabetically, they are sorted by manors. It was necessary to construct a completely new data sequence: name, location, manor, date, comments.
The age of the lord of the manor is always unknown, but the manor is transferred in most cases at the time of marriage. In this case, the age can be assumed to be about 25-30 and the year of birth is then rounded to a 5 or 0.
Example 1: The manor was transferred in 1623, making the estimated year of birth 1595 (age: 28 years).
Example 2: If the widow is named as lady of the manor, this is evidence that the owner a) was married and b) died before the date of transfer.
Here, we insert a (as yet unnamed) wife and limit the date of death (e.g., died before 1710).
Example 3: If the widow's name is followed by a different surname and then the original family surname, it can be presumed that the widow remarried (the new surname is then the interim lord of the manor) and that when the son married, the manor came back into “family” possession.
If we here again set the son's age at 25-30 years, we can also roughly estimate how old his mother was at his birth (25-45 years old, so the average would be about 35) and with that, about when she herself was born. Correspondingly, we can estimate the father's year of birth.

Although admittedly rather imprecise, this method does give a general idea of the family relations of the period. Often there is other information available from other sources so that estimates can be further refined.
In estate transfer records, it is often specified whether a son-in-law or stepson has taken possession of the manor, or whether the estate was sold. In the first two cases, we would then have evidence of a daughter or the previous marriage of the mother, respectively.
With some luck, this information can be confirmed in church records. This is especially interesting in the period where church records first came into existence; e.g., when people were buried, baptized, or married before the date when a church record begins.

Data in censuses only include the age. This is first used to calculate the date of birth, whereby one must assume a possible inaccuracy of 1-3 years. If a married couple has children who are still very young, one can estimate the date of baptism. If the children are already older, however, the eldest may live in another household and only the youngest children are listed in the census.
The entire household with all residents must be listed under a common name (name of the patriarch) so that the households can be put into alphabetical sequence. Within this sequence, the age/year of birth of the patriarch is now the deciding factor. Only then is it possible to compare the data with that from other sources.

If grandparents still live in a household, a separate family is created for them with a note that at the time of the census, they lived with their son or daughter. Likewise, where married children live with their spouse in the home of the parents, a separate family is also created for them. If a spouse is widowed, the deceased is referenced, even if her/his name is not known at the moment. The estimation of the date of death can similarly also be limited (died before the date of the census).
It may be somewhat confusing that a lot of the data here is estimated. Normally, genealogists require exact and reliable information. Nevertheless, estimated data can also be helpful. First of all, it provides genealogists and historians with clues about where and within what timeframe it would be worthwhile to perform their own search of records and files; for another thing, the author cannot evaluate all sources simultaneously and when viewing data from a new source, the estimations can be refined or replaced with exact data. If, for example, the next source is first found two years later, the estimations remain in the file as search tips.

6) Using this data pool:

At the very latest once the data from diverse sources has been compiled, the information is printed and made available to the genealogical and church archives. The data can of course also be periodically burned to CD. In this way, chronicles created over decades no longer exist in single copy, but can be viewed and used by any interested party.

Topics relevant to socio-historical research include, for example:
A) The dispersion of rural surnames (concentrations and migrations)
B) The formation and reformation of cities (Wandsbek, Bargteheide, and Eichede in comparison)

Statistics about name concentrations in specific places, about the number and origin of craftsmen, about the size of villages, etc., will be possible.

Additionally, the material is a search help for genealogists who do not know to which parish their ancestors belonged and can therefore avoid hours of vainly searching in the wrong church records. Even when the origin of the person in question is often only briefly mentioned in files and censuses, it is always a helpful clue as to where the family research can be continued.
Even just the knowledge of estimated years (of birth, death, etc.) can help to restrict a search to a specific timeframe. It is furthermore important to know how many people with the same name there were at a specific time, so that one does not confuse them.
It may seem unbelievable, but in the census from 1744 for determining serfdom, there were 4 men in the same place with the same name, only their ages and the names of their wives make it possible to distinguish between them. Without this information, provided by word-of-mouth in 1744, we would today probably only be able to shake our heads in desperation when sitting down to a chaos of data.

There is still a long way to go before we reach our final goal; it will take a few years yet. But we are currently on our way with 10 people to achieve this goal.

Thank you for your interest.
Regards from the Stormarn-Team

Herzlichen Dank für die Übersetzung an EvaSara Tullier

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