Genealogy - Mecklenburg

Contents: Schmidt | Boldt

Which way to go?
Can we get there from here?

Researching my Dutch ancestors has been relatively straight-forward since the birth records for both of my Dutch grand-parents are contained in the LDS microfilms.

I'm not so lucky with the German side of my family. Getting into the LDS microfilms has not been easy, and there are still big gaps in my pedigree.

Here are some stories describing how the research has begun in discovering my ancestors in Mecklenburg.

How did I discover my Schmidt ancestors?

Church at Neuenkirchen
Church at Neuenkirchen, near Reinstorf

Starting in 1992, I had the following information from my father and grand-mother:

  1. My great-grandmother was Anna Schmidt, born in Satow 17 May 1877.
  2. Anna Schmidt had a half-sister named Marie Diederich who lived in Hohen-Luckow. Her maiden name was something like Elerd.

During my vacation trip to Germany in May 1992, I found a gravestone in Hohen-Luckow with the following inscripton:

         Hier ruhen in Frieden!

  Mein lieber Mann, unser guter Vater
          Werner Diederich
     * 3. 2.1920   + 14. 4. 1959

          Unsere lieben Eltern
  Marie Diederich  |  Wilhelm Diederich
    geb. Ehlers ---+---
  * 10. 6. 1887    |    * 5. 3. 1887
  +  4. 3. 1972    |   + 25. 3. 1975
                   |
                   |

When I returned home, I verified with my father and grandmother that Marie Ehlers was, indeed, my great-grandmothers half-sister.

I searched the IGI and found the following record:

   EHLERS, ERNST CARL JOSUA   M 13MAY1880  MECKL-SCHWERIN  SATOW-DOBERAN
             ELISABETH SOPHIA MARIA H SCHMIDT

Assuming Ernst Ehlers was the father of Marie Ehlers, could Elisabeth Schmidt be the mother of my great-grandmother Anna Schmidt?

Since Anna Schmidt was supposedly born in Satow, I ordered the microfilmed church records of Satow. Unfortunately, the birth record of Anna Schmidt wasn't there. I did find the marriage record of Ernst Carl Josua Ehlers and Elizabeth Sophia Maria Hennerike Schmidt on 4 Jun 1880. Now, if Anna Schmidt was the daughter of Elizabeth Schmidt, wouldn't she have the name of her father instead of her mother?

I was getting rather discouraged by this line of research and was about to give up for the evening when I decided to have a look at the confirmation records on the film. There, I found a confirmation record dated 22 Mar 1891 for Anna Dorothea Frederike Schmidt born 17 May 1877 in Reinstorf. Certainly, this was my great-grandmother! Her mother was listed as Elisabeth Sophia Maria Hennerike Ehlers, nee Schmidt, of Satow. It is interesting that in all other confirmation records, the father of the child is listed. But in this case, the name of the mother is listed. Clearly, I was dealing with an illegitimate birth here.

I then ordered the microfilm for Reinstorf and found Anna Schmidt's birth record. As expected, it was an illegitimate birth - the name of the father is left blank in the record. Interestingly, in all other records where the name of the father is unknown, the entry states "unbekannt". Perhaps they knew full well who the father was? Perhaps this child would have been an embarrassment for him? I have another question about this birth: Anna Schmidt was a twin. But Anna's twin brother was still-born. If an illegitimate child was an embarrassment for the father, could the son have been murdered?

Connecting with my Boldt ancestors

Church at Kirch Grambow
Church at Kirch Grambow

When I began my research in 1991 at the local Family History Center, I started looking at church records for the area where my Boldt ancestors lived. Unfortunately, the records for the parish of Kirch Grambow only went up to 1871 and my great-grandfather Heinrich Boldt was born in 1873. I looked through the microfilm anyways, and found a Wilhelmine Johanna Elise Boldt born 5 Jan 1870 in Hindenberg, the same village where Heinrich Boldt was born. I worked my way back through the records to determine her ancestors. But, although she was very likely the sister of Heinrich Boldt, I couldn't really be sure until I found his birth record.

In 1997, we vacationed again in Germany. After settling in at a bed and breakfast in Seedorf, we took a drive to Hindenberg, about 20km away. While suffering through some rough back roads, we chanced upon the church at Kirch Grambow, an old stone building surrounded by gravestones and trees. Several of the gravestones included the name Boldt, so we knew we were at the right place. We decided to return on Sunday when we would have a better chance of finding someone.

On Sunday, we arrived shortly after 10AM and found about a dozen people inside the church, with the service already in progress. The minister came back to greet us and was impressed when we said we were from Canada. He showed us to our seat and asked if either of us could play the organ, pointing out a new instrument in the organ loft that no one knew how to play. It was unnecessary, as he quite ably led the singing a capella.

After a very pleasant and informal service, we talked some more with the minister who showed us around. When I said I was researching my ancestors who lived in the area, he offered to show us the records. The church office was in a well-maintained house across the road from the church with sheep grazing in the front yard.

All of the records were there, even the oldest centuries-old books. We easily found Heinrich Boldt, and he was indeed the brother of Wilhelmine.

One final note about the church at Kirch Grambow. Along the edge of the parking lot, there are a number of stones: One large stone and about a dozen smaller stones, each listing the names of men from the parish who were killed during the First World War. The stone for Hindenberg lists two names, Ludwig Boldt and Martin Boldt, both half first cousins of Heinrich Boldt.