For the last six years or so I have been working on family genealogy and that's what I've been back to working on this past week. My ancestors came from Germany, several of them from the island of Fehmarn, off the Baltic coast. Until the bridge from the mainland was built in the 1960's Fehmarn was rather isolated and the families tended to stay there. Or the ones who moved to the mainland stayed fairly close in that part of Schleswig-Holstein. That makes research both harder and easier. Many church records are available in the church archives in Neustadt but some are only at the churches on the island and haven't even been microfilmed by the LDS Family History Center.
I always considered family research back further than my parents & grandparents to be futile because I didn't know where to start researching the old Germans, didn't speak or read German, didn't have the money to go to Germany for research or the money to pay someone over there to do it. Then six years ago I stumbled upon the web site of John Kostick and he sent me 174 pages of my family history on both sides, dating back to the 1300's. That got me started and now I try to add a little bit more to it from time to time.
Lately a gentleman on the island of Fehmarn has been researching the church records from the 1900's and more recent information is coming to light. I'm sure some of it would be controversial in my family because I've never heard anything about it before. Do I ask my aunt if she knew her aunt had a child in Germany before she immigrated to America? Do I ask the woman's son if he knows anything about this older half brother? See what I mean? And is my great-great-grandfather Fritz the same man as Johann Friedrich? And if he is, what happened to him after 1860?
My mother's side has been a little more straightforward. I got quite a bit of information about one of her grandfathers from a gentleman in Heiligenhafen, Germany through Mr. Kostick who had met him on one of his trips over there. I got information on one of my mother's grandmother's from another gentleman in Germany who had seen one of my queries on a genealogy message board.
I don't spend all that much time on the project anymore but every once in a while the bug bites and I start running searches on ancestry.com, rootsweb, usgenweb and the Fehmarn site to see what I can find and add. I DO have piles of paper with stuff I need to enter into my database so maybe I'll have to start spending a little more time at it.The pile on this chair is the paperwork I've accumulated on my family and my husband's mother's family. Do ya think I need a file cabinet? And then there's the box of old family photos under my bed. They really should be scanned & added to my database. They should also be copied and shared with my brother & cousins...whether they care or not.
Just in case anybody's interested, the names I'm interested in are: Reiss, Vadersen, Blunck or Blunk, Pruess, Sienknecht,Suckstorf or Suchsdorf, Veenker, Bailey, Stolp.