A German discussion of Ancestry.com

I haven’t investigated what I’ve read in a German mailing list, but it sure is interesting (and I’ve seen similar comments before):

(translated) “In the collection Rheinland are hidden, among other things, military church books from East Prussia, church books from Leipzig and much more….”

Germans are divided on Ancestry.com, with several being critical of transcription errors by persons unfamiliar with the locality of the documents, and (of course) of errors in family trees that are then perpetuated by others.  Generally, however, they recognize that using it with care is far preferable than having to travel to read documents the old way.

Moral of the story:  It’s always good to explore online resources thoroughly!

The Joy of Digging Deeper — A “Christmas Present” !!

I’m always looking for that “new thing” that makes it all worthwhile exploring the wonderful world of German genealogy.  Which, for this mostly monolingual American, can indeed make me feel at times like Indiana Jones!  And today was one of those days.  Come with me as I retrace my steps….

In my email inbox from before dawn this morning was this daily digest of my German mailing list for East Prussia:  OW-Preussen-L Nachrichtensammlung, Band 147, Eintrag 78.  The very first item caught my attention, partly because it contained a link to a webpage somewhere, and these are often interesting.  Furthermore, I did not fully understand the subject line:

Subject: Re: [OWP] Bedeutung von Zahlen und Buchstaben in Prästationstabellen

and that raised my curiosity.  What was that strange word, “Prästationstabellen”?  It does not appear in either Ernest Thode’s German-English Genealogical Dictionary, or my cherished 1936 edition of Cassell’s New German and English Dictionary.  And Google Translate said only that it meant “pre-station tables.”  Which means what, exactly?  I had no idea.  And so I went to the link in the message to see where it would take me.  And I found myself at:

1.  GenWiki Portal:Pillkallen (for Kreis Pillkallen – Schloßberg)
This didn’t appear to be related, on the face of it, and so I went looking for that word.  In the fourth section, pertaining to history & population, there it is — buried part way down the list of links — that strange word, “Prästationstabellen.”  Clicking the second link takes us to a further page:

2.  Hinweise zu den Prästationstabellen und Mühlenconsignationen, Erläuterungen von Prof. Erwin Spehr.
And near the top is this statement, first in German and then in “my” translation (using the above-named sources):

Prästationstabellen (PT) sind Listen, in denen die laufenden Abgaben (Prästationen) der besitzenden ländlichen Bevölkerung an das Domänenamt aufgeführt sind.  Da diese Abgaben nur von Grundbesitzern erhoben wurden, sind in diesen Tabellen lediglich Bauern, Handwerker und Eigenkätner namentlich aufgeführt, nicht jedoch z.B. Landarbeiter.  Auch wurden Bauern und besitzende Bürger der Städte sowie Bewohner und Bauern adliger und geistlicher Territorien nicht erfasst, weil diese dem Domänenamt gegenüber keine Verpflichtungen hatten.

Pre-station tables (PT) are lists in which the current taxes (pre-stations) of the propertied rural population are listed at the (state-owned) estate offices.  Since these were levied only by landowners, only peasants, craftsmen, and cottagers with their own garden are mentioned in these tables.  Farm workers, peasants and wealthy citizens of the cities as well as inhabitants and peasants of noble and spiritual territories were not included because they had no obligations to the estate office.

So there it is — a new type of German document of which I had been unaware.  Placed in the IGS Library vertical files in the folder covering miscellaneous document types, it may perhaps smooth the way for a researcher seeking answers.  Merry Christmas!!

Digitized Civil Registry Documents for East Prussia

Earlier this month, on Sunday the 11th, we had a successful discussion on IGS Library resources on East and West Prussia that was attended by eight researchers.  But did we forget to mention that many new records for East Prussia are now being digitized and made available online through the State Archive in Olsztyn, Poland (formerly Allenstein)?  The details about the new releases and links to the digitized records can be found at:  http://allenstein.draschba.de/neues.php.

The current additions are from the following locales, as announced on Saturday the 17th through the OW-Preussen-L mailing list:
Klaukendorf (Kreis Allenstein)
Gross Kleeberg (Kreis Allenstein)
Gutsbezirk Wartenburg (Kreis Allenstein)
Willenberg Land (Kreis  Ortelsburg)
Ortelsburg Land (Kreis  Ortelsburg)
Landsberg-Land (Kreis  Pr. Eylau)
Saalfeld Land (Kreis  Mohrungen)
Neidenburg Land (Kreis  Neidenburg)
…and with apparently a few scans from Lochstädt in today’s Kaliningrad Oblast of the Russian Republic.