FINDING an ANCESTOR’s Birthplace: Mittelstadt, southern GERMANY

Many Germans immigrated in the 1800’s and later due to war, scarcity of food or poverty. My ancestry is predominantly English; however my mother’s great grandfather came from “Prussia.” After a little bit of research and discussion with relatives, I discovered Mittelstadt, the village he came from, is on the banks of the Neckar River in southern Germany. (Prussia more often refers to northern Germany, but some immigration person may have assumed Prussia included Germany – a common error.) Specifically, Mittelstadt is near the Black Forest, northeast of Freiburg and southeast of Stuttgart and Heidelburg in the province of Baden-Wurtenberg.

 

Map of Rhine, Main and Neckar Rivers

Map of Rhine, Main and Neckar Rivers by Ostasieninstitut

Goose on bridge  entering the village.

Goose on bridge entering the village.

 

Mttlstdt am Neckar 0211 ps

Mittelstadt on Neckar River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made a point of visiting while we were in the area even though I had heard that the church had burned down with all the records in the last century. We, husband Tom and I, discovered the church had been rebuilt and in more recent years been converted into a grade school

Mittelstat schule_0212 ps

Across the street was the graveyard and Tom and I browsed the headstones in search of the name Rudell ; I also looked on war memorials for ancestors of that name and queried some locals. Alas… no Rudells.

chapel in cemetary Mttlstdt_ps0214

Chapel in cemetery

Entering Mittelstadt

Mittelstadt

Mittelstadt

 

I then proceeded to the Rathaus where a nice young gentleman explained their records only went back to 1875.

RAthaus - photo by Panaramio

Rathaus – photo by Panaramio

At first he was frustrated either with my “tourist German” or with the problem I presented him (my ancestor was born in 1830), but then he reached back into his high school English and found it was better than he thought it was (certainly better then my German) and he rose to the challenge. We found if I tried to speak German and he replied in English we could communicate better than trying to use either language exclusively. He ended up giving me half an hour of his time and gave me several leads in different towns and dioceses. It turns out that the Protestants (“Evangelisch” he called them) have a different system than the Catholics and the records are kept in separate towns! I don’t even know which religion claimed great-great grandfather Charles (Karl) Eduard. I only had time to drive to one town(where the records had been moved yet again) so I will pursue the others by email when I have more time.

Karl Eduard Rudell immigrated to Arkansas – which I always thought a bit strange, but have since found out quite a few Germans ended up there. Some who fought in the Civil War were awarded a piece of land in northern Arkansas.

Photo of his Descendants in the late 1930s(?): from left to right, my Aunt Helen (his great-granddaughter) and his three granddaughters – my Grandmother (she looks just like my mother), great Aunt Essie Lucinda and great Aunt Grace.

Helen, Birdie, Essie, Gracelyn  mid 1930's 10108

This was/is an interesting and fun experience even if I eventually meet a dead end.  I have an ancestor to track down in Cornwall someday too.  I’m named after my great grandmother Lucinda Rudell, as is my mother and Essie Lucinda (in the picture above).  Amazingly I found the name Lucinda goes back mother to daughter for almost 200 years!

Have you worked on your family tree or visited the lands of your ancestors? And of course I would love any advice from you ancestry buffs – I’m a real novice.

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7 thoughts on “FINDING an ANCESTOR’s Birthplace: Mittelstadt, southern GERMANY

    • Well a few. Public transport ran efficiently and Germans are excellent drivers – you can count on them obeying the rules of the road! The food was very good quality and fresh – heavy on the meat and potatoes however. Everything was neat and clean except, inexplicably, it seemed that dog poop is not commonly picked up or was it just a fluke in two different parks? :{ …They love their dogs!

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    • I noticed that (the dog poop) too. Another anomaly ( I thought) is the aversion to queue – it doesn’t fit with the orderly, efficient nation! The efficiency is refreshing compared to some places around the globe.

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  1. We visited Wismar Germany once but couldn’t find any Wissmars there. That’s because they’re all up in Sweden. Lucinda is a beautiful name!

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