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Family Database – A Department at the Heimatmuseum

Isert, Ingo Rüdiger. "Family Database – A Department at the Heimatmuseum." Mitteilungsblatt, October 2012, 4-5.

Translation from the original German-language text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, CO.


Christian Fieβ, founder and long-time president of the Heimatmuseum, considered the Family Database as a cornerstone ingredient at the Heimatmuseum. The connection between the Bessarabian German descendants now living in Germany with the homeland of parents, grandparents and great-grandparents becomes evident via the Family Database. Its names of places, birth places, marriage dates, and names of burial villages all invite folks to become more involved with the history of those places. And thus family researchers are transformed into people versed in homeland research.

Marriage, birth, and death records that were issued in great numbers just prior to the Resettlement [of 1940] were collected, copied, and indexed. Added also were the official list of resettler names, the “questionnaires” used during times in the camps, naturalization certificates, lists or residents of specific locales and, finally, the card index of homeland places put together after 1945.

Although all of this made for a very large trove of data, establishing genealogical connections was normally possible only for small families. Not apparent was the big picture from the immigration to Bessarabia to the Resettlement.

A breakthrough came in 1991 when, subsequent to the Wende [generic German term now used to designate the process and period of the downfall and break-up of the Soviet system – Tr.], micro-filmed church records from Bessarabia (stored in the State of Saxon’s Archives in Leipzig) became accessible to us. Copies of the filmed records made it possible to work on those church books directly, right here in the rooms of the Heimatmuseum.

To this day these film copies remain the most important sources and the most important documentation for our family ancestral research. Since the Leipzig archives did not contain all church books, further paper copies of missing church books were made in the state archive in Kishinev. Analyzing all these documents will make for much work by many people that will take many years.

At this point we wish to remember all those people who at that time, under fairly unfavorable conditions, laboriously collected and processed the data. Friedrich Ernst, Arnold Seitz, Herta Schmidt and Ernst Gaugel tracked down the data, and then sisters Ida and Wilma Vossler and Johanne Eigenbrodt recorded the data in a card catalog.

The advent of the computer soon also made available software for recording and analyzing genealogical data. On this project, Klara and Otto Bollinger worked especially intensively between 1996 and 2007, and Albert Eisenbeiβ between 1998 and 2007. While the Bollinger couple concentrated on the many questions regarding the village of Wittenberg, Albert Eisenbeiβ specialized in information about Sarata and his own home village of Hoffnungstal. Their involvement on behalf of the Heimatmuseum in the most diverse areas was entirely selfless and quite remarkable.

In the spring of 2007 Martha Betz joined us. She had already been involved in private family ancestral research and was very familiar with the basic working methods involved in it. We decided to introduce the genealogy software program GFAhnen for working with the Family Database at the Heimatmuseum. It had been developed at the behest of the Franken Research Office and was also being used by the Verein für Wappen- und Familienkunde für Württemberg und Baden [Association for Family Coat of Arms and Family Information for Württemberg and Baden]. The Bollinger couple and Martha Betz worked together to become familiar with using the newly acquired program.

At the time the following allocation of work was decided on:

Betz (initial phase)                   82 data bases
            Bollinger (generally)                40,336 data bases
            Bollinger (for Württ.)               20,192 data bases
            Eisenbeiβ (Sarata)                    8,510 data bases
            Eisenbeiβ (Hoffn.Tal)              30,293 data bases
            Handel (Teplitz)                       31,509 data bases
                                                            ---------------------
            Bessarabian total                      131,022 data bases

The fact that there were multiple analysts made it unavoidable that some duplicate data sets, variously incomplete, were the result. Martha Betz was given the rather time-consuming responsibility of re-analyzing duplicate data sets, producing unique ones, and deleting the others.

In addition to handling general inquiries for confirmation of birthplaces and inheritance status, Martha Betz also works systematically on church books for places that were in the West and in the North of the German settlement areas in Bessarabia. In her work from her home she also received powerful support from her husband, a fact that is apparent from the multitude of by now analyzed data sets.

All data entered into the Heimatmuseum’s data bank is accompanied with source information, providing better checking in cases of doubt. Martha Betz’ entries of dates of birth also contain baptismal dates as well as the names of baptismal sponsors; in the case of death dates, also the place of burial and cause of death. Concerning Russian source texts, though, we decided to forgo the names of baptismal sponsors, simply because transcription into the Latin alphabet is not without its problems.
           
List of the Church Books Analyzed by Martha Betz

Albota
Births                           1890 – 1908
                                    1909 – 1940
                                    1909 – 1915 (Russian)
Deaths                         1892 – 1908 (Russian)
Family book                1939

Alexanderfeld
Births                           1908 – 1914
                                    1908 – 1920 (Russian)
Deaths                         1908 – 1934
                                    1908 – 1920 (Russian)

Alexandrovka
Births                           1908 – 1913
Deaths                         1908 – 1913
                                    1914 - 1938
                                    1914 – 1920 (Russian)

Alt-Oneschti   
Births                           1896 – 1936
                                    1937 – 1938
Deaths                         1896 – 1937
                                    1938 – 1939

Alt-Posttal      
Family book                1910 (Russian)           

Baimaklia       
Births                           1914 – 1938
                                    1914 – 1919 (Russian)
Deaths                         1914 – 1938
                                    1914 – 1919 (Russian)

 

Bajusch          
Births                           1911 – 1940
                                    1911 – 1919 (Russian)
Deaths                         1911 – 1940
                                    1911 – 1918 (Russian)

Balaban          
Births                           1925 – 1940
Deaths                         1928 – 1940

Blumental
Births                           1886 – 1892
                                    1900 – 1940
Deaths                         1886 -- 1940
                                   
Bortschak
Births                           1864 – 1881
Deaths                         1867 – 1881
Confirmations              1867and 1878
Weddings                     1867and 1878

Dankesfeld
Births                           1893 – 1901
Deaths                         1894 – 1901

Dennewitz
Births                           1863 – 1891

Jakobsonstal
Births                           1843 – 1879 (near Braila)
Deaths                         1868 – 1880
Weddings                     1868 – 1879

Jakobstal
Family book                1939

Josefsdorf
Family book                1939

Kishinev
Births                           1835 – 1869
                                    1870 – 1877
                                    1877 – 1883
                                    1883 -- 1886
Confirmations              1883 – 1891 (Russian)
                                    1892 – 1900 (Russian)
                                    1900 – 1909 (Russian)
Weddings                     1838 – 1877
Banns                          1890 – 1897

Leipzig
Births                           1888 – 1899
                                    1892 – 1899 (Russian)

Moskovei and Pelinei
Births                           1887 – 1908
                                    1897 – 1899 (Russian)
Deaths                         1887 – 1907
                                    1897 – 1904 (Russian)
Confirmations              1901
Weddings                     1898

Neu-Strymba
Births                           1886 – 1911
                                    1911—1935
                                    1935 -- 1940
Deaths                         1886 – 1921
                                    1932 -- 1940

Rohrbach
Births                           1887 – 1940
                                    1910 – 1918 (Russian)
Deaths                         1887 – 1937
                                    1909 – 1918 (Russian)

Ryschkanovka
Births                           1872 – 1899
Family book                no date (Ca. 1882)      
Deaths                         1882 – 1887
                                    1921 -- 1931

Scholtoi
Births                           1876 – 1899
                                    1909 – 1940
Deaths                         1883 – 1909
                                    1909 – 1940

Sofievka
Births                           1892 – 1920
                                    1913 – 1920 (Russian)
                                    1921 -- 1937
Deaths                         1892 -- 1940
                                    1913 – 1920 (Russian)

Strymbeni
Births                           1929 – 1936, 1938
Deaths                         1894 – 1939
                                    1913 – 1917 (Russian)

Unter-Albota
Births                           2882 – 2940
Deaths                         1882 – 1940

All in all, this constitutes around 44,000 data sets. Added to the above-mentioned 131,000 data sets, this amounts to a total of around 175,000 data sets. During recent weeks, Martha Betz has received reinforcement in the person of Elisabeth Albrecht. And so this work will continue!

 

A sample Family Tree.

Our appreciation is extend to Alex Herzog for translation and for Nancy Herzog for editing this article.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
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Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
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