I'd like to start exploring the German side of my ancestry but don't know where to start.

+10 votes
My great grandfather was (Greime-1)Charles Herman Greime or Greim. He immigrated to America in 1877 when he was 24 years old because he didn't like the politics of the day in Germany. All I know is that his parents were probably Georg Greim and Henrietta Herman and that a sister, Elinore Greim immigrated in 1893 and lived in New York. I would appreciate it if anyone could point me in the right direction to find out more about his family.
WikiTree profile: Charles Greime
in Genealogy Help by J Taylor G2G6 (7.4k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

4 Answers

+10 votes
Before you can search in Germany, or any of the former German territories you need to know what town or village they were from.

Possible sources for this information are ship manifests, naturalization documents, obituaries, and possibly family documents or letters. If old family letters are still in their original envelopes, the town name in the postmark may be a clue. Don’t discount family stories for clues, either.

Death certificates may have that information, but usually just the name of the country.

Former German or Austrian territories will have the location name in German and the national language of the country today. Sometimes the two names are similar, sometimes quite different, for example,  Lednice in Czech and Eisgrub in German). There are gazetteers for both Germany and Austria that can help.

Church records can be in German or the national language depending on the ethnic make-up of the area. Older records are frequently in Latin. More recent records tend to be in the national language.

Knowing what religion your family was can be helpful. Northern Germany was frequently Lutheran (or Evangelical), southern Germany, Austria, and many of the former territories were Catholic, but this is variable. Jewish communities were in many areas, especially the area formerly known as Galicia.

Many Catholic and Lutheran records exist from the period of the Thirty Years War (1618-48). Records are sparse before this.

Jewish records can be sparse, but some do exist.
by George Fulton G2G6 Pilot (509k points)

Thank you George. I believe he was born in Staffelstein, Bavaria Germany. I don't know what religion, though my guess would be Lutheran. I'll see what I can find.

all I have is my ancestor's name.  have gone back as far as my English, but that's it, I don't know where to find records of this family, and one thing more, a very slim chance they may have been Jewish. that is a guess. so Warner is one, Gilbert, and can't leave out Way. also  Quaker in this group. I have researched the Quaker, and Nantucket and Guilford County, did find some but not German so how do I find them?

Another question, Immigrant Warner, where did he come from before England?
+7 votes
when you exactly know the town where your ancestors were from, you might have a look also on http://ofb.genealogy.net/index.php There are town family books of nearly 700 towns (and counting) currently online. I am lucky to have the family of my grandma there and it's a gem that delivers thousands of data.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
Thank you! I'll give this a try!
+2 votes
A  Charles Herman Greime,in 1911 living in Alaska,with son Frederik

who was born in Texas USA.I really do not have enough info too go on.
by Wayne Morgan G2G6 Pilot (922k points)
Thank you Wayne, Charles Herman Greime was my great grandfather and lived for a while in Alaska trying to make his fortune during the gold rush era. My problem is finding his family in Germany. No luck yet but I'm not giving up! :-)
Charles,what is it in German ???
+3 votes

First of all, Charles was mostly likely Karl in Germany, so you would be looking for Karl Hermann Greim in Staffelstein, Bavaria.  Bavaria is in the south of Germany and Bavaria was predominately Catholic, so you could try checking with the Roman Catholic Church in Staffelstein for a baptismal certificate..

Also, another place to write would be the Standesamt, or City hall - www.standesamt.com/Standesamt-Bad-Staffelstein/2099 .

And by the way, Bad means bath in German, so Staffelstein was a spa city where people would go for a cure - like Bath in England.

by Bev Weston G2G4 (4.9k points)
Aha!! Thank you Bev. I did not know Charles was probably Karl in Germany. Also, every time I looked for Staffelstein all I could find was Bad Staffelstein and I was wondering what was so bad about it and why couldn't I find just Staffelstein. This is great info! Thanks!
After the breakup of the Kingdom of Bavaria, Staffelstein is now administratively in Franconia.
Thank you Kathy!!

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