30 March 2008

Whew! I am exhausted!

I've spent waaaaay too much time working on genealogy the last two days! However, as a result of the tip given to me by J. Rogenhagen, I've accessed a lot more records! A series of questions have been resolved, but a few have popped up, as one might suspect occurs frequently in genealogy. It seems that the wife of Johann Samuel August Till, Maria Dorothea Elizabeth Neumann, left Limbazi within a couple of years after her husband's death in 1827. They went to a regional city named Wolmar (Valmiera in Latvian), which is just east of Limbazi. It is a bummer that I won't ever know the train of thought that the widow went through when deciding to move to another area.

I found my first link to somewhere in Estonia, but it is by marriage and not by blood. Specifically, she is the wife of the 3rd great-grand uncle of mine. Her maiden name is Peterson. *yawn* Not even PetersoHn!

I think I found the death record of the widow who left Limbazi for Valmiera. The record does raise a question, however: the record lists her place of birth as "Petersburg", which I assume refers to St. Petersburg, Russia, which, at that time, had a lot of Baltic Germans -though not as much as Riga. However, I thought I saw her birth record in the Limbazi records. I will, of course, have to double check. Up to this point, I hadn't recorded her date and place of birth. That might be because I haven't actually found it. I know I found a bunch of Neumanns in Limbazi, but until I can make a definitive link, I don't input them into my software.

Before the last few days, I had a male Till whose name was too difficult to read in the birth record. Well, I found Heinrich August Till, his marriage record and death record. All of the dates and locations on said documents coincide the location and date of birth for this male in Limbazi. I've decided it HAS to be the one.

Another strange thing, is that in the various marriage records, the name Johann Samuel August Till is NOT mentioned, but what seems to be August Heinrich Till. I will have to re-examine the photographs I took of those documents to see if I can clear up the anomaly. These documents that refer to Samuel Till as, instead, August Heinrich Till, list Marie Till, geboren (maiden/birth name) Neumann. That would be an amazing coincidence if there was another Marie Till, with the birth name of Neumann who had a child born in Limbazi. It is too coincidental to be realistic!

The big picture is that out of Samuel Till's nine children, prior to today I only had additional information on 3, but now I have only 3 left without any information after their birth and baptism.

I should go to bed soon. If I start browsing another record, I'll probably stay up for another two hours and, despite being on spring break, I shouldn't stay up that late.

That reminds me, it is -sort of- funny to consider what I'd be doing on spring break if I were around 10 years younger and in graduate school again. *sigh*

28 March 2008

Wolmar Lettland oder Valmiera Latvia

I just got a message this morning from J. Rogenhagen in which he said that his father will be sending me some information that he has. Johannes did send me a couple of links that he thought might be helpful. They are both related to Germans in the Baltic region. So, I checked out the database and searched for a few names: Till, Ahrens, Puls, Truschinsky, etc. I found some of Till, Ahrens, Puls and something quite close to Truschinsky. The database gave what information it had. For example, in some situations it had birth location, but not death location or date, etc.

I found a Till entry around Wolmar -which is larger city around Limbazi. Limbazi is where my oldest Till records are!

I think this is going to allow me to find all of those missing Tills that aren't present in either the Riga records or the Lemsal records.

27 March 2008

Two messages from the Gangnus gentleman in Germany

I will paste them below. Oldest is listed immediately below, with most recent under that one. I feel comfortable posting them because Gustav okayed my doing it earlier and his email is not posted. It is pretty much an academic exchange of information (okay, it is him giving me information, not me giving him much, except those pictures.)

Hello Brian,

some ideas about Till ... I researched not only my colonists living in the colony. More interesting (and more difficult) is to research the fate of the colonists leaving Hirschenhof. When they could not inherit the farm of the father they had to go outside, regularly to Riga, 70 percent of all. I discovered some families in the surrounding manors as well. There were about 95 percent Latvian peasants, the German landholder's family and some German speaking craftsmen as smith, miller, inn tenant, administrator. Between them our colonists (and socially rising Latvians) found good jobs. If I remember rightly, I saw there (in raduraksti) some Tills and G�nthers. A few of them (Till and Truschinsky) can be found in the phone directory of Riga of today, especially Gintere or Ginters.

As to Erwin Gangnus: His parents were Georg Ewald, *Hirschenhof 15.11.1875 - Riga 15.5.1937. He married Riga 5.11.1900 Karolina Maria Dorothea Mauerhoff, *Riga 3.4.1880.

In the field of the Latvian history of the 19. century A. Plakans will be himself one of the best experts. We know him as a leading member of the AABS (Association of Advanced Baltic Stzdies).

As to the percentage of the social strata of the Baltic Germans I am unsure. It depends on time and locality. The relation between Latvians and Germans in general never was lower than 90 : 10, excepting in the towns, where the Germans had the majority until the 19. century. The leading group (nobility), the richest people ((commercial world of Hansa) always was of more importance than number. They themselves had strict forms of apartheid both against the Latvians and the lower classes of the own "nationality". As their importance was low and their attention even more, the upper families did not see them, even authors, writers, historians who made history. But I beg your pardon. I don't want to teach you; I tell only my opinion about that what I read and heard the last 25 years.

During the last decades before the emigrations of 1939 and 1941 most of the formerly leading families had left the country: during the russification era, during World War II and foundation of the Baltic republics, after and because of the agrarian reforms, during the Latvian politics growing more and more nationalistic (as in Germany, too).

These facts explain some of the reasons why many Germans didn't leave their homeland at the end. They had become Latvians on a considerable scale. There was an irrational hope, the lower the class the more spread, that the homeland even under Stalin would be better than the incertain future in the foreign "Vaterland". Mixed marriages had become a quite normal case although condemned in the NS ideology some years later. A husband or a wife had a serious problem when he/she was a Russian, Latvian, Estonian, Pole and when he/she spoke all languages except German. And in Germany the imigrants of 1941, who had "refused the hepful hand of the F�hrer" in 1939, were not recognized as Germans, but as refugees to be observed and may be educated in camps of "deplaced persons".




Hello Brian,

the four attached photos are o.k. The first one (obituary of Adolf Deifel) is blameless, number 2 and 3 (Santa Claus with boy or with boy and girl) are good, the fourth picture (man in the garden, face in shade) difficult to identify. As I understand in picture 2 - 4 is Helmut, in 2 maybe with son, in 3 with son and daughter, in 4 alone. Deifel doesn't seem to be a Baltic name. But there were variations of this name in the Volga colonies.

As to your requests: I haven't got any picture of Leontine, Erwin, Helmut, Gertrud. Only Erwin's father (Ewald) is in my book. As I corresponded with a cousin of Helmut, the only person who survived in Germany, I wrote her a letter to ask for pictures.

As to the earlier history of German immigration into the Baltics: Until 1766 there were no German peasants at all except landholders/nobility with Latvian bondmen or citizens of Hansa towns.

About 1766 Catherine II., a woman of German nobility by birth, one of the greatest Russian czars by life and biography, around 30 000 German settlers from the southwest of Germany (which didn't exist in those times) come in invited to colonize underdevelopped landscapes. About 1 percent of them founded a colony in Livonia, today Latvia. They spoke German until their elimination in 1939. In the beginning they were peasants, but most of their descendants at Riga and elsewhere became craftsmen. The later the more they developped into the upper classes and par example married daughters of the nobility, too. Irrespectively of that, from 1400 to 1850 immigrated as individuals tramps, workmen, and so called literates (teachers, parsons, physicians). I think people as Till, Guenther etc. came into Livonia as craftsmen. Under the multicultural conditions of life some of them became Latvians, some of the Latvians - after the serdom was abolished about 1820 -became Germans until the national awakening after 1870.

The German (Baltic) population which Latvia and Estonia in 1939 has been registered in alphabetical publications of the Latvian and Estonian states (dismissal out of citizenship). I have fotocopies of them. In 1941 only hectographed papers were written without system or order. A paradoxon: The emigrants of 1941 who did not estimate Hitler were punished for that fact having remained two years longer in the east. In many cases they got the German nationality only by becoming SS specialists.

The best and greatest archives for details of persons (maybe only relatives?) is

Finckensteinallee 63
Postfach 450 569
D-12205 B e r l i n

or: berlin@barch.bund.de

The most important details to identify a person are the names and birthdate (and birthplace).

I wish you all the best.


----- Original Message -----
From: Brian
To: Gustav Gangnus
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 1:39 AM
Subject: Re: more Gangnuss and Truschinski

Hallo Gustav,

I've attached a few pictures of Helmut. I will explain the picture of the gentleman in the military uniform later in this message. I will send a few more pictures after you let me know that you received these pictures. I do not know who the child is in the one picture with Helmut. Remember, all of the pictures that I send you have been identified by my grandmother within the last year. They are her pictures, but she will be 95 years old this May, so her memory is not very good.

Some thoughts:

I have a few pictures of a female named "Trudy" who is sitting with Leone Truschinski and Helmut. I now think that this may be "Gertrude" Gangnus. I still don't know if she is adopted or born to Leontine. My grandmother did not say that she was related to Helmut or Leone T., but I will ask my father to inquire with my grandmother a second time. I will include those pictures in the next message.

My father has placed a call to Latvia to inquire with our relative about a phone number/email/postal address for our Australian relative, Helmut. I will let you know when we meet with some success.

I do have a couple of requests if you are able.

First, do you have any pictures of Leontine T. or Helmut or, more importantly, Erwin? I would appreciate it if you could send me a scanned image or, if it is easier, by post. The image of the gentleman in the uniform is an obituary, of course. I have three or four relatives on my mother's side of the family who died in either WWI or WWII. I have an image of each obituary. So, if you had an obituary, some other image of Erwin, and/or other military records, I would be very appreciative. I am trying to learn more than just birth, marriage and death dates when it is possible. It is very tough, though, as you may be aware, I have only been doing this for less than one year.

Second, as I may have mentioned earlier, no matter the success I have in going further back in my research, I have no idea of how to find records of my relatives when they leave for Germany, pre-WWII or for when they may have left Germany or Prussia or the Volga region for Latvia. Do you have any suggestions? I think this will be my biggest and most meaningful challenge.

The third and related to the previous item is about a relative named Otto Konstantine Till, b- 4 Nov 1910, who died while serving in the German military, but I have been unable to find records to that end. All I know is that he died in 1942. He was born and raised in Riga. Is there a Latvian source that you might recommend?

Of course, I am not asking you to do any research for me, but only to give me any ideas that you might have based upon your experience.

Do you need me to send the immigration records that I have copied from Australia? I already have Leontine's record on my website from which you can download. Is there any specific information that you would like to receive from me? Please let me know.

Thank you for your help!


I am unclear if he wants/needs any more information from me, but I imagine if he does, he'll send me a note. Either way, if my dad somehow manages to get contact information for the gentleman in Australia, I'll forward that to him.

The information he gave me about Germans in Latvia is good. The most interesting thing to me was the comment about there being no German peasants prior to about 1760 in Latvia. So, a date to establish portions of my family tree were something other than peasants is around 1760.

I'm still waiting for a response from the Rogenhagen gentleman. He said that his family is sure of a link to Riga, but the only information I have is in Limbazi (Lemsal, at the time). I think it would be very, very cool if they were NOT aware of the link and found it because of my work!

I just ordered a book from Germany

It is over 500 pages and, according to the LDS website, familysearch.org, has in it a

"List of Baltic-Germans who died as a result of World War II. Names are arranged alphabetically--the index indexes names embedded in the entries which include date and place of birth, disposition (killed, missing, taken prisoner, etc.), date and place of death, profession, and spouse's name. Not all entries include all pieces of information."

Pardon me, but this had damn well better give me some information on Otto Till. If it does that, anything more will be, as we say (for some reason) in America, "gravy".

Wurttemberg, Russia and Deifel

I was just reading in my book, Germanic Genealogy: A Guide to Worldwide Sources and Migration Patterns about the Germans in Russia. One thing that would be most interesting to me is to establish a link between some Deifels from the Volga region of Russia to the Deifels to which we are related in Germany. According to my aunt Diane's research, many of the ancestors of "our" Deifels are from the Wurttemburg region of Germany. What I just read is that many of the Germans who left Germany for the Volga region came from the WURTTEMBERG area! This is BIG news and something that I will investigate this spring or summer. I cannot recall, but for some reason I thought I saw that that there was a couple of Deifels in US immigration records, but their origin was in Russia. If that is the case, they may be related to us AND their descendants are in the US!!

26 March 2008


I had a student today say that they saw online that I was into genealogy. He went on to say that he didn't know much about it, except that it has something to do with Genies.

20 March 2008

Deifel: My mother's side of the family

A whole lot of genealogical research has already been completed by my aunt Diane, but my mother -who on occasion seems quite interested in the genealogy- asked that I create a page for her side of the family. So, here are the names for which she is most interested:

Deifel and Teufel

Contact me if you are doing research on these names and maybe we can establish a link and exchange information.


I got an message for a "Rogenhagen" from Germany this morning. So, as they requested, I emailed them after which I suppose they will send me a note again inquiring what I know. I asked them in the email if they were aware of any relation from Latvia. I'll keep you posted.

15 March 2008

Puls update

I have found the birth record of Katherina Elisebeth Puls. I found it after finding her death record. She and her family went to Jesus' church in Riga. She was born in 1821 and had 6 siblings. Interestingly, her parents married over 7 years AFTER she was born. Obviously, I found their marriage record. That means, of course, that I've found another family name, though this one is FAR less interesting. The name is...BERG. There were a TON of them in that church! Anyway, I would now like to find the death records for either (preferably both) of Katherine's parents, as that may help me find their birth location. I'm still waiting for a city/location outside of Latvia for some blood relative. The best I have thus far is a Sperber whose father was born in Lodz. Maybe there is a Lotz in Latvia, but I know there is one in Poland and is a reasonably major city, so I am just going to assume he is from there. Regardless, I will not be pursuing that family line any further.

14 March 2008

Blood relatives

The picture below is made up of individuals spanning four generations and are direct descendants of the people I am researching and showing on this website. It is a picture from 2005. I am on the left, while my father is next to me. We sure look like we're from northern Europe, huh? We are all in the US right now, but the three oldest in the picture are originally born in Latvia.

13 March 2008


I know I had promised more information, but I have been working on fixing a computer for many hours over the recent days. (I still haven't been told those records I am waiting for from the LDS have arrived yet...)

Anyway, I do have some good news from today. Someone did a google search for "Trusinskis" and found this site! I am hoping that they know and/or are related to a Trusinskis in Latvia. The search did originate in Latvia, so maybe I will be lucky.

If you are that person, post a message on how to contact you!

09 March 2008

Latvian Surnames oder Lettisch familiennamen

Well, maybe not really "Latvian" as most would claim that they are in fact German and not Latvian. While I tend to agree, they are all from documents that originate in present day Latvia. The following is a list of names that I have compiled from my research thus far in which I am trying to map out my family tree. I will update it as I learn more. ALL of the names are important to my research. My grandparents' names have two stars (**), while my great grandparents' names have one star (*). PLEASE contact me if you are of any relation to any of these names, even if you are unsure of a relationship to Latvia! The Truschinski names in the second row below are especially important as they are the different versions of my last name and there have been very few found with some connection to Latvia at this point.

**Trusinski or Truschinski or Truschinsky or Trusinskis

08 March 2008

Research update

I still have not received notification about the Trusinskis records arriving in Oakdale. I think that there will be some very interesting and useful information in those records. Their usefulness will be limited, however, because I think they are going to be primarily in Russian. It takes much longer for me to identify names and it is very, very difficult for me to gather much more information from them. *sigh*

I have received another communication from the gentleman from Germany. He is originally from Latvia, and, like my father and his family, left Latvia when he was very young. He has extensive knowledge of the Gangnus family line and it seems may have some that might overlap with some other areas in which I am researching. For example, he mentions an "Alexander Till" and his marriage to someone. I will be curious to find out more about this particular Till, because I have one that was born in the same year (Eugene Alexander Till) but I have specific records about him having another marriage at a preceding time. Maybe there was a second marriage or, more likely, it is some other Till. The Till line that I have amassed thus far is from Johann Samuel August Till who had 9 children. I've only established a line from one of those children! From that child (August Theodor Till) who had 11 children, I have found three who have been married and a couple who had died when they were young. Of those three marriages, I have only one that continues another generation. That one has 7 children all of which were married at some point.

My point is that there are a lot of Tills out there for which I have been unable to find information. So, who knows who this "Alexander Till" may be...

Speaking of Tills, I have a death record for August Theodor Tills second wife, Katharina Elisabeth Puls. The record lists her as being married, not widowed, so that means that August T. Till was still alive at that point! Also, it lists her birth place as Riga, so that is where I must look to find more Puls records. As a part of my research, I am trying to play closer attention to "witnesses" in birth records. If they appear, that means that they must still be alive, which helps me in establishing a death date for said individual at a later point.

Other than the obvious limitation of how far I can go back in time to find records, I am going to have to figure out how to go about finding when these Tills (and others) left Latvia for Germany and elsewhere... I really, really want to find a link to some Tills who are currently alive in Germany -as does my Dad! In fact, it seems as if that is the goal in which he is most interested.

07 March 2008

I've received an email from a Gangnus!

It's been posted on one of the comments in a message dated 28 September 2007. See, Diane, this internet trolling, as I'd like to call it, has already reaped some rewards! :-) Ironically, Diane, some sort of link through the Gangnuss name leads in part to the Volga Germans. Remember, that is where some Deifels lived??

03 March 2008

More records online!

I have a lot of pretty good stuff coming up. There aren't any "breakthroughs" in them, but they do seem to further along some lines of research. They develop the Till line which, ultimately, I hope, will lead to a connection with some Tills in Heidelberg, Germany. Stay tuned!