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Schiller Family Mysteries

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Location: [unknown]
Surnames/tags: Schiller Hein Hoffmann
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I have persistent problems to some degree with all of my great-grandfather Eduard Schiller's brothers and sisters. It is likely that most of them got caught up in the World War I deportation of Germans from Volhynia in 1915, but the Lutheran churchbook indexes (which are available up to 1939) do not appear to suggest that any of them returned to Volhynia after the deportation was lifted following the war.

Some may have died during that time, but it's remarkably unlikely that they all did -- I do know of a cluster of living descendants of one of their cousins around Kaliningrad, but have had no success finding any indication of whether there are any living descendants of the brothers and sisters.

  • Julia Schiller Hoffmann and her sister Ernestine Schiller Hoffmann purportedly "moved within Russian territory" with their husbands Ludwig Hoffmann and Wilhelm Hoffmann, but we don't know where. The Volksbund suggests that there are war graves in a cemetery in Bruel for a Wilhelm and Ernestine Hoffmann who have roughly the correct birthdates, but I have not been able to confirm whether they're the right ones or just an unrelated coincidence.
  • My great-grandfather's Canadian naturalization application declared that Wilhelm Schiller (wife Regine Nehring) and George Schiller (wife Hulda Krause) were living in Schuryn (the town in Volhynia) in 1918. I have not been able to confirm this, and have no information about them after that.
  • Gottlieb Schiller was apparently married, although I have not yet been able to locate a spouse's name as it appears to have happened after 1909 (the last year for which the Rozyszcze Lutheran marriage books are directly scanned to the web.) I'm told that the Zabuzanski collection in Warsaw purportedly has the marriage books for 1910-1918, but I'm also told that it's difficult to access and would appreciate assistance from anybody who knows how. He was apparently living in Dusseldorf after World War II, though I have not been able to confirm this.
  • Paul Schiller is the only brother I don't have a major problem with -- he moved to the United States, and I was able to confirm that through records. Yet I still have the problem that throughout his entire US paper trail, he consistently declared that he was the widower of a woman named Bertha, whom he married in 1908 and then she died in 1913. I can find no trace of a marriage record in the Volhynian churchbooks, however.

Tracing my ancestors on this side back in the other direction, I also seem to be brickwalled at about 1827 and am looking for assistance. Prior to 1827, Lutheran Germans living in Poland are supposed to have their births, marriages and deaths recorded in the Catholic books, as the Catholic church served as the registrar of all such events among Lutherans and Jews as well as Catholics. In Grodziec, however, there appears to be very little trace of any German names in the Catholic books at all even though many Germans were already living there -- and, in fact, the Catholic books in Grodziec do list several "Hollendrys" as being part of their coverage area, but the one I need, Borowiec, is not on that list. However, Christian Schiller already turns up as a witness or godparent to other people's births in Borowiec in 1827, so the family was already there. Which means Germans in Borowiec were going to some other Catholic church besides Grodziec's to register their BMDs prior to 1827, but I can't find where.

These events have to be recorded somewhere, but I can't find where that is -- and I'm very close to the point at which my line is going to pick up and move back to other old ancestral towns as well, because Borowiec only started to be settled around 1780, but I have to get through the 1827 wall before I have any chance of figuring out where the next town is.

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Categories: Family Mysteries