How to find out if my German ancestor was adopted in Germany?

+3 votes

Hello friends and fellow researchers!

The person I need help with is my 2nd great-grandfather.

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He is Andrew (Andreas) Schweitzer, DOB 25 Nov 1844, and I currently have his parents as Simon Schweitzer and Maria Anna Fechter.  That's who he emigrated here with at age 8, as per the passenger and crew lists and Ellis Island arrival listing.  Furthermore, it's who is on our local Washington County, WI Historical society records as his parents.  I was there this Friday with my mother doing research on her side of the family.

Now, to my predicament.  The following note is attached to his birth record on his profile:
Adopted; original surname is Lerchenberger.

I have not dealt with any adoptions before in my research, and certainly not any that would have occurred in Germany. He was born in Munich (Munchen).  Obviously, in order to trace a correct genealogical record, I would need to determine his biological parentage.  I don't know who put this note on record or where it came from, but I do want to find out if it is legitimate and if I should pursue it.  Where do I start???

I look forward to your guidance.

Sarah Sterling 

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WikiTree profile: Andrew Schweitzer
in Genealogy Help by Sarah Sterling G2G3 (3.8k points)

2 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer

Hi Sarah:

We know he was Catholic and born 25 Nov 1844 in Munich. The Catholic parish books for Munich are online at, so I'm thinking the first step would be to find his baptismal record. Unfortunately, there appear to be 28 Catholic parishes in Munich (, andy they have NOT been indexed by or, so this might take a bit of effort to manually go through them all.

by Living Geschwind G2G6 Mach 9 (90.1k points)
selected by Dieter Lewerenz

Do you know if there is a way to determine which of the 28 parishes were functioning in 1844? Maybe that would help narrow the search?

Thank you!

I'm afraid all 28 of those were already in action back then (I narrowed the search to list only those active from 1839 to 1862). Munich had a population of 100,000 in 1852, so this gives an average of around 3,500 per parish, which seems to be about a normal parish size for back then. By the time of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) there were apparently 61 Catholic parishes in Munich.
I do have to admit that I have not been able to get the actual church books to load for me today, either earlier this morning or just now. Don't know whether that's an issue with the server or with my computer.
Holy Smokes! Thanks for your quick reply.  Well, that's what I get when dealing with an ancient city such as Munich.  In 1852 we were only fledglings here in the States! This will be quite the undertaking for me since 1. my German is almost non-existent and 2. the handwriting at that time was elaborate. I did peruse old Swiss records (in German) to find ancestors on my paternal side this way, and it took me so long.  I am not looking forward to it, I will admit.  I may wait to hear back from the Adoption Angels first :)

I just remembered a trick I recommended to someone else the other day who was looking for a baptism among the 40+ parishes in Vienna - and that is to look first in a city directory to get the street address for the family and then determine which parish that street address might belong to.

There are indeed digitised street directories for Munich for 1842, 1845, and 1850 (see the list at The bad news, though, is that there is no Simon Schweitzer (or similar spelling) listed in any of those three directories. This suggests the family did not come from the city of Munich, but rather from the surrounding countryside. Oh, and for completeness sake - there is also no Lerchenberger listed, either.

So what is the evidence (besides some unsourced Findagrave memorial) that he was indeed from Munich? All I see from the census records is "Bavaria"

There is one other possible source of information - from I see that his widow got a Civil War widow's pension. In my experience, the pension application files at the National Archives can have some good information on immigrants. Unfortunately these records are not online, and you need to go in person to the National Archives to look at them, for which we will need to wait for them to reopen after COVID is over and done with (I happen to live near Washington and thus have been able to look at pension application files for my own people).

+4 votes

Sarah, I would start with our own Adoption Angels. They are a group here on WikiTree, and are very successful in researching these exact matters.

I am going to send you a link that you can use to either join the angels, or you can contact them.

I hope you get the results you hope for.

Good Luck.

by Cheryl Hess G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
Thank you! I have just submitted a request to them.  We will see where it leads.


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