Wittbrodt Roots Project

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Surnames/tags: Wittbrodt Project Whitbrodt Germany
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The goal of this project is to share resource as well as to unite our efforts in sharing Wittbrodt, Witbrodt, Whitbrodt, Witbrot, Witbrod and all variations and misspellings (Wibbrook, etc.) of this German, Prussian, Polish name heritage in tracing genealogy. Read below for the origins tracing to the Netherlands.

Wittbrodt Name Study https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Wittbrodt_Name_Study

UPDATE: This WAS a project. We are now moving elements to the One Name Studies Project listed in the link above. This is for the surname Wittbrodt, Witbrodt, Whitbrodt, Weisbrot, Waisbrot. Research and history are also listed below.

Wittbrodt Family History Wittbrodt Name Meaning, North German form of Weisbrot. Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press Similar surnames: Wittkopf, Wittkopp, Witthoft, Wiltrout, Wintrode, Wittrock, Wittkop

Note the name variation Waisbrot seemed to occur after the Wittbrodt family emigrated to the USA in the 1870s. What started as Wittbrodt on immigration documents, for John Friedrich and Marianna continued as Witbrodt for them (Wittbrodt gravestones) and for others, Waisbrot, Weisbrot, Whitbrodt or Whitbrot, etc. Much earlier genealogy traces to Wittebroods in the Netherlands, listed below.

Photo from Germany WWI period
Bernard F. Wittbrodt (1892 - 1961)

Wittbrodt Genealogy Research On an genealogist email I possess, from my father's records, dated December 2002 from Martin Berdau I have this communication to the Wittbrodt family with a few spelling and grammar corrections, as the writer's first language appears to be German. Notes in brackets are mine unless otherwise stated. ~ Deborah Wittbrodt Nystrom

Genealogist email research "I found two lines of Wit(t)brodts. Note the spelling of Witbrod, Witbrodt and Wittbrodt is commonly used in Germany. Please always leave the original spellings." [Assuming source documents, what is preferred.

1. The Evangelic or Westphalia Wittbrodts The first line originates from the Borgholzhausen area northwest from Bielefeld in Westfalen / Westphalen today, part of Nordrehein Westfalen and before [it was] part of Prussia. [The] neighboring village is Neuenkirchen belonging to Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). [The] first Wittbrodts in this area appear [in] 1650. They were evangelic. [Lutheran]

My ancestors belong to this line. I believe that also Don's ancestors [Either Don Ebbeler, from Upland California listed below or Donald Arthur Wittbrodt Sr., my late father] belong to this line, but we cannot connect both lines.

My ancestors went around 1850 to the Uckermark (old part of Prussia, rather than pure region) 100 km north from Berlin.

1. The Catholic or West Prussia Wittbrodts These Wittbrodts originate from the area northwest from Danzig / Gdansk [which belonged to Germany] until the end of WWI. ...This line originates from Zarnowitz. Chris's line originates from Neustadt [Christine Swoboda, present day cousin.] This town is close to Zarnowitz.

I phoned some Wittbrodts in Germany. I found only one from the Uckermark and none from Westphalia. All other Wittbrodts originate from the West Prussia area! I found also one Wittbrodt with a Polish first name. He informed me that in Karwen (Poland) lives a lot of Wittbrodts. Karwen has or had 1/3 of [its] people with the name Wittbrodt. This small village is at the Baltic Sea and some kilometers from Zarnowitz.

Map of West Prussia

The name Wittbrodt might have the meaning, "white bread" = Weißrot (weißes Brot, a special German letter ß = sz.) The German spelling might indicate an origin from the Netherlands. [Wittbrodt Name Meaning, North German form of Weisbrot.]

I also received the following email: "Well the only thing I know is that the earliest Wittebroods known in Holland originated from Noord-Holland. However, there's an uncle I know who has done some 'investigation' and has a trail to as early as the 1200's. I can ask him if he has more specific information."

There are some additional complications with my line: I found my ancestors back to 1740. However, the name of the father of my father's ancestor, Peter Henrich Wittbrodt might be Johann Jürgen Wittbrodt born Quest. Yes, you read it right! In Westphalia, the men sometimes got the name of the wives. The Johann Jürgen Quest was a widower as he married. It is possible he got the name from his first wife. In this case, the older Wittbrodts were not my ancestors. I will try to clarify the situation.

The reason the men got the names of the wives is that the wives own a farm and the name originates with the farm. I will try to get more information about this tradition. I would be interesting how the farm got its name. I will see if this farm exists. Maybe the name of the farm was its first owner."


[Written to Don, my father or perhaps to Don Ebbeler, from Upland California] "Don, I think Heinrich Philipp Wittbrodt aus Borgholzhausen, 7 Apr 1833 Maria Ilsabein Wittbrodt emigrated secretly before 1856 is very interesting for us. This indicates that the St. Louis line comes from Borgholzhausen area.

[paragraph in German translates to] There is a Wittbrodt from Borgholzhausen listed in a Regierungsbezirk Minden emigration index and also in American passenger arrival indexes:

Beiträge zur westfälischen Familienforschung Westfälischen Auswanderer aus dem Regierungsbezirk Minden II: Heimliche Auswanderung Band 47/48 1989-1990

10420 Heinrich Philipp Wittbrodt aus Borgholzhausen * 7 Apr 1833 Mother: Maria Ilsabein Wittbrodt Emigrated secretly before 1856

Ship: Ernst Mortiz Arndt from Bremen Arrived 26 Nov 1852 Heinrich Wittbrodt, Age 29, male, farmer, from Borgholzhausen Destination: St. Louis

[After this is a list of about 10 listings from ship manifests listing Wittbrodts emigrating to the USA. At the end of the this listing of ships & Wittbrodts is the name Don Ebbeler, Upland California. I researched his name. He appears to be a researcher who lives in California and is also a descendent of families that came from Lienen and Lengerich in Westphalia.] [1]


This researcher has also listed ship names and Wittbrodt names that go with the 2nd half of the 1800s great migration to the United States. For example, for my difficult to locate 2nd great uncle, Jacob Wittbrodt, I have the note in his email: SHIP: Columbus, From Bemen to New York; Arrived 5 Aug 1972; Jacob Wittbrudt, Age 33; male, farmer, from Germany; Therese Wittbrudt; age 28; female, from Germany; Johanne Wittbrudt; age 2, female, child; from Germany; Felix Wittbrudt; male infant, from Germany; all have destination, USA.

The vintage maps are courtesy of the Kroeger-Whitbrodt family collection. To check for ship logs, like the one listing many Wittbrodts below, look here: https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Hamburg_Passenger_Lists

Some facts about Prussia

William (Wilhelm) II, German Emperor, King of Prussia

The Prussian kings were very progressive, very educated, very modern and very popular with the people. It was the nobility that blocked progress.

• 1794 Abolition of serfdom. (Friedrich Wilhelm II) The landlords had to pay for the work.
• 1807 (after the Napoleonic Wars) abolition of hereditary subservience.
• 1810 Liberation of peasants on royal domain estates (Private landlords released later and reluctant their peasants).
• Until 1918, landlords were allowed to punish their subjects.
• Between 1840 and 1910 over 700,000 people emigrated from East Prussia alone, mostly young people.

For example, there was the Scharwerk / Frondienst. This was unpaid forced labor for the squire 7 days a week from sunrise to sunset. The farmers were only able to cultivate their own fields after sunset. And sow their own seed too late in June instead of in March.

The king put down work on his own estates 3-4 days a week to serve as a role model for the nobility. The king forbade the chastisement. The nobility did not succeed. It was logical that people would emigrate as soon as they were given freedom.

West Prussia, Poland and Germany Geographic history relevant to our family: History West Prussia was inhabited by pagan Slavic tribes before the Teutonic Knights moved in the early 1300’s. The Knights kept the land they conquered and eventually cut off Poland from the sea. This caused a lot of friction between the two groups. The Knights also bought land from Poland rather than just taking it. The Teutonic Knights lost important battles to Poland in 1410 and 1466 and signed over most of West Prussia to Poland and became a subservient state to the Polish King.

Pre-war buildings in Marienburg, West Prussia

(click photo for translation)

Germans had been colonizing eastern Europe for centuries; most church records started between 1650 to 1750, but a few go back to the 16th century. The original land, (often called Polish Prussia), that was to become West Prussia, was predominantly Polish. West Prussia came into existence during the first Partition of Poland in 1772 when Prussia (later known as East Prussia) gained the area called Polish Prussia.

Poland disappeared as a nation until 1918. With Brandenburg on the west, West Prussia in the middle, and East Prussia on the east, Prussia became a dominant power. In 1824 West Prussia and East Prussia were combined into one area, but were separated again in 1878. West Prussia was divided into two civil districts, Danzig in the north and Marienwerder in the south. By 1831 70% of the residents of West Prussia (population in 1880: 1,405, 898) spoke German as their primary language. Between 1881 and 1890 emigration from West Prussia to the United States (where most West Prussians settled) increased significantly.

After World War I West Prussia ceased to exist, and Poland reemerged as a nation, the first time since the 18th century. After World War II Prussia was dissolved by the Allied Control Council in 1947. Today all of what was West Prussia (14, 320 square miles), is in north central and northeast Poland. Then it was called the Polish Corridor. A few eastern counties were joined to East Prussia and a few Western Counties were joined to a de-militarized zone called Grenzmark Posen-WestPreussen. Some of these counties would later be joined to Pomerania. The loss of West Prussia in WWI was a sore spot to Germany and part of the reason the National Socialists were able to come to power. Germany took back West Prussia by force in 1939 only to lose it all and more by 1945.

The major source of genealogical information for immigrants from West Prussia is parish records, many of which have been filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah. Almost 5,000 rolls of microfilm exist for parish registers from 1523 to 1900; over 100 rolls of parish transcripts record events from 1808 to 1876; and about 350 rolls contain civil registers from 1874 to 1900. To use these records effectively, one must know the village of origin of at least one ancestor. Source: https://ggsmn.org/cpage.php?pt=39

Stella and John Bernard Wittbrodt & young family,
Auburn, Michigan, 1900s

Pictured on the right is my great uncle, John Bernard Wittbrodt ([Witbrodt-13][1]) and Stella Luczak Wittbrodt & young family of the Wittbrodt - Wazney family line. Another great uncle, August Wittbrodt is the twin brother of John Bernard. Both were young when they emigrated to the USA from Germany with their parents Joseph Friedrich and Marianna. Note the Prussian style hat.

Who I am Deborah Nystrom

Another great uncle, Johan Henry (Wittbrodt) Witbrodt Johan Henry Witbrodt [2] emigrated to the Tri-Cities area of Michigan. He and his second wife Dorothea is pictured below:

John H. Wittbrodt with Dorothea and family

Tools to Help https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Hamburg_Passenger_Lists

Wittbrodts settled in many different states in the USA. Clusters of family settled in the Tri-Cities area of Michigan Bay City, Midland and Saginaw (I include Auburn, Michigan, Fisherville, Monitor Township in this.) Others settled in the Flint area, others in Wisconsin. Feel free to comment on where you know there to be Wittbrodt, Waisbrot, etc. families.

Unfortunately, many immigrant ship records from Bremen, Germany were also destroyed. Here is what is available: http://www.passengerlists.de/ Bremen Passenger Lists A Project with the Bremen Chamber of Commerce and the Bremen Staatsarchiv

Here are links to Michigan search sites for family history:

Family Search

There is a link to Family Search from our watch lists called FS match. The app is quite useful for filling in missing relatives and data.



Tasks Here are some of the tasks that I think need to be done. I'll be working on them, and could use your help.

  • Sharing sources and photos for the W. lineage
  • Helping identify W. family in group photos
  • Sharing maps
  • Sharing family immigration history
  • Clarifying who's who, as often first and middle names are switched, and last names are spelled differently over time and by location

Please join in! Feel free to comment here on this page, in G2G using the project tag, or send me a private message. Thanks!

Resources includes maps, notes, and exchange, for example, from Family Search, here is a link to online Family Search records in Prussia..


May our family tree discoveries be fruitful. ~ Deborah A. Wittbrodt Nystrom

More Resources:

Please check it out: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Wittbrodt_Name_Study

German Roots German Genealogy Research Information for Americans of German Descent https://www.germanroots.com/

Eastern Prussian Provinces, Germany [Poland], Selected Civil Vitals 1874-1945 Östliche preußische Provinzen, Polen, Personenstandsregister 1874-1945


Zarnowitz, West Prussia Assorted Birth Records (partial extracts) The information on these pages is derived from FHL Microfilm Roll #1619079 (Marriages 1854-1890; Deaths 1840-1890; Births 1860-1890) and #1619041 (Births 1847-1890); Roman Catholic parish register of baptisms, marriages and deaths for Zarnowitz, West Prussia, Germany; today: Zarnowiec (Puck), Gdansk, Poland.


Please send useful research links, and I will test them and add them

Also look into the tags German Roots, Polish Roots

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Hey everyone, there is also, now, a Wittbrodt Wazny Ancestry page on Facebook that is public, for now.


This is amazing. I come from the Wittbrodts that made it to Wisconsin. John was my great grandfather, and I heard so many stories about them. Do you happen to have where the family tree leads from John to his Dad Jacob and back to Europe?
posted by Henry Wittbrot
Hi Henry! How nice to read your note. I have John H's father as Michael and Florentine, although a Mary B. is listed as his mother on his marriage certificate to Dora, his second wife. Do you have some other records to show differently regarding parents? Also, we have only a few photos. If you have anything besides what's listed, I'd love to post them on their profiles. Tracking Jacob is challenging. I have some leads listed.

Check out the tree connected to John Henry Wittbrodt here: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Wittbrodt-50

There's also a Facebook page where we chat. If you are on FB, come join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/263127441837197 ~ Deb

posted by Deborah (Wittbrodt) Nystrom
edited by Deborah (Wittbrodt) Nystrom
Joseph Friedrich Wittbrodt is my 2nd Great Grand Father, his son, Leon, my Great Grandfather, through my Mother's side.
posted by Colin Haggerty
Thanks for responding. Did you see Leon's (Leo's) profile? I remember my grandma talking about Leo and the Wittbrodts. Do you recognize Leo, perhaps in this photo? https://www.wikitree.com/photo/jpg/Brown-85462

There's also a Facebook page where we chat. If you are on FB, come join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/263127441837197 ~ Deb

posted by Deborah (Wittbrodt) Nystrom
edited by Deborah (Wittbrodt) Nystrom