Historical Place Names--again-- how do I find them?

+8 votes
What other kinds of things need a German tag? All of my father's known relatives are German, and the further back they go, they are spread into other relatively near parts of Europe. The historical place names are very different from the ones now in common parlance. If I find a record in someone's tree, I would also not presently know if that place name is accurate or if one has changed. Example: Oberoewischeim and Unteroewischeim are not on any maps. Perhaps they are villages too small and now obliterated; perhaps they're districts of a larger town (Karlsruhe), or perhaps renamed.

I am feeling like a first grader in my knowledge of the older principalities (& regions), which one needs to suggest as locations for historical records (on anc.com or other places).

I've been amazed to find some relatives fairly far afield. Lack of transportation means didn't stop them from moving. My gggma Rosa (Rosalin) Schmid Herrmann Baer after age 73 traveled to the US (CT) briefly, then back to Baden-Baden, and then to Offenberg, where she might have died. Her son August Karl Baer had found his way to a district of Hamburg where he died in 1942 (no place of birth at this moment).
WikiTree profile: Anonymous Burnett
in Requests for Project Volunteers by Roberta Burnett G2G4 (4.5k points)

7 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
Germany underwent a major merging of smaller villages in the 1970's. However, most if not all of these formerly independent towns can still be found: a Google search for Oberöwischheim produces among others a German Wikipedia article on Oberöwisheim, now a part of the city of Kraichtal in the county Karlsruhe. A sort with -oe- instead of -ö- does not.
by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (547k points)
selected by Roberta Burnett
Helmut, I've made a list and will steadfastly use the umlauted words in my searches--with umlauts! In the US sites like ancestry.com, they sometimes find a town when I've used "anglicized" spellings.Yr answer is exceptional for the detail of the merging of smaller villages and that date, and then to provide the Kraichtal, Karlsruhe detail too. Thanks so much!
+2 votes
Here's a set of 3 increasingly simplified maps of Germany fromWorld Book Atlas : http://www.worldatlasbook.com/germany/germany-political-map.html

I'm puzzled:  Near Poland in map 1 is a town named Frankfurt to the east of Berlin. In the lower left is Frankfurt am Main in an area called Hesse. Is Hesse here in the correct location? Are these historic maps? If so what era?

In this: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/Map_of_Baden_%281819-1945%29.png  This map is an entirely different animal.


by Roberta Burnett G2G4 (4.5k points)
The maps from World Book Atlas show Germany today. There are two Frankfurts, one in Hessen and one in Brandenburg. All locations in these maps seem to be correct.
Thanks!--and you do mean correct for today's locations, right?

My father was b. in Frankfurt in 1907. I always thought : only one Frankfurt (am Main). How can one determine which it was?

If you know of an ancestor with a somewhat unusual family name (probably not Berg or Baer or Schmidt, but something less common), there are some German websites where you can see where in the country that name is concentrated. This could be helpful in differentiating between two different parts of "Germany."

I thought that these websites were listed on the German Roots Project's resources page, but I'm not finding them there today. I think maybe that page has been revised. I'll keep looking...

Updated: Found it! See http://www.wikitree.com/g2g/120248/what-is-the-state-of-german-records-from-the-1700s for some good information about German research resources. I was thinking particularly that Geogen and http://gen-evolu.de might help you, but the other resources listed in that G2G might also be useful to you.

If you have some german document, there is after "Frankfurt" always noted "am Main" or "an der Oder" (or in abbreviated forms). Another posibility ist to look at the (birth-/marriage- etc.) locations of relatives. Are they near the western or near the eastern Frankfurt?

You can also search on the german website http://gedbas.genealogy.net/ for your father's surname and look for results in Frankfurt.

Or you search on the website http://www.verwandt.de/karten/ and you get a map with all german districts ("Kreise") with the today frequency of your father's surname.
You better get used to it. For instant, there are 36 cities in Germany named "Neustadt", 600 world wide. There are also 5 "München" (Munich) plus some historiuc places that once were named "München"...
+5 votes

I just go look at old maps :) Just a little bit of cartographic detective work and ta-da: See as an example this Map from 1825

Near the top of the map you'll find Bruchsal. Zoom right in and to the Northeast you will see two nearby places Ob. and Unt. Owisheim - Upper and Lower Owisheim

Or, if you get the zoom just right, you will see these particular names on Google maps too.

by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (275k points)
+2 votes
Oberöwischheim and Unteröwischheim are now a part of Kraichtal. Here are the pages on Wikipedia:



(Sorry no englisch pages).

The reason you could't find it was because Oberoewischeim was written with "oe" instead of the correct umlaut "ö". If you need more details, let me know.
by Ronnie Grindle G2G6 Mach 1 (17.2k points)
+3 votes
Hello Roberta,

do not give up when not finding a town in the maps.

I always try (German) Wikipedia next. If that does not help Google or http://gov.genealogy.net/search/index (only German, sorry). Until now I did find most places.


From my point of view the bigger problem is if you have only a name of a town and several possibilities which one it might be...
by Alexander Huber G2G1 (1.8k points)
Yes, I have one of those multiple named towns: my father's birth was in Frankfurt. I've always thought of it as Frankfurt am Rhine. But I do have a way to check, I think.

Another problem is that the names of things 70-150-300 yrs ago are not their current names.

Thanks for much for the link and your perceptive comment.
+2 votes
The German Wikipedia (de.wikipedia.org) tends to have the most complete compendium of places (especially German places!)...usually when I am looking for a place that I can't find on the English Wikipedia, the German one is my next place to look. Countless times I have had places in my research that appeared only on the German Wikipedia.
by Rob Schnautz G2G Rookie (260 points)
Mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut.

Reading a wikipedia article (unless it offers a translation) would be DIFFICULT. (But not as hard as reading Schiller for a master's exam ;> ) --which was decades ago.)  I will muddle through. Thanks.
+2 votes
Google Earth is always my first option. I have found many  links between names and places in East Anglia, France, Burgundy and Brittany.
by Shelley Freestone G2G6 (6.2k points)
So how do you phrase the question:  Where is xxx (name of town only) in Europe? (Surely we'd needs be more accurate than that--right?)
Google the old or new name of the place and take it from there. You can then link to google images and google earth. I have found many places this way, even German and Italian towns from the french or latin name. eg the town of Craon used to be written Credonia in Latin, google and you will find it.

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