Thursday, April 21, 2016

All My Brick Walls are in Breslau

For some reason, I like the sound of this title: All My Brick Walls are in Breslau. It would make a good book, don't you think? And perhaps it will be made into a movie someday, with some sort of Hollywood title change to make it a bit more catchy. Breslau Bricks (2020), starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Breslau is hip right now; Polish author, Marek Krajewski has written a large number of Inspector Mock Investigation books, with titles like Death in Breslau, Phantoms of Breslau, and The End of the World in Breslau.

Breslau, when my ancestors lived there was German. It was the capital city of the Prussian province of Silesia. It became part of the German Empire when that was formed in 1871. In much earlier history, like around the year 1000, it was in the Kingdom of Poland (with a little back and forth between Poland and Bohemia), so after World War II it was given back to Poland. It is now the largest city in western Poland, and has been renamed Wrocław.

I've even created a Pinterest board for Breslau, to get a better feeling of what the old city looked like back in the day.

Why I am so far off topic, well I'm getting to that.  The gist of it is that doing German research in Poland while speaking English is quite an interesting task.  Many of the German records for Breslau are in Poland, and some are accessible via Polish-language websites that are starting to pop up.  But, all the records are in that old German handwriting I love and hate. I am getting much better with that. It turns out my personal problem with genealogy and family research is that I grew up in the United States. I didn't learn German or Polish in school. Luckily, Google's automatic translation is starting to get almost good enough to surf a Polish site. Almost.

Which is why my helpful color-coded family history wheel is missing a ton of information in Silesia.

The Brick Walls of Silesia

Is that a better book title? In any case, I'm throwing this out to the world. Here's where I am stuck. The area in and around Breslau of Silesia. I'd love to hear some suggestions. Can you help?

OBST - Louise OBST born in Breslau around 1845? Had a daughter, Emilie on 31 January 1863 in Breslau.  I need to find that birth record! I also found Louise's sister, Marie whose death certificate listed their father as Fritz OBST.  I have zero information on him. One clue that might help narrow the search is some old photos with the photographer mark listing the city as Deutsch Lissa -- now a part of greater Wroclaw (Wrocław-Leśnica).

POACH - Fritz's wife was listed on that same death certificate as Johanna POACH. I'd guess Johanna was born about 1825.  Daughters born about 1845 and 1855.

MANSEL - Carl MANSEL fathered daughter Emilie with Louise OBST, but it is suspected that they did not marry.

ZIMMER - I have never found an 1863 birth record for Paul John ZIMMER, whose father was very likely Eduard ZIMMER.    While not technically Breslau, the Zimmer family lived in nearby Reichenbach -- which took me a long time to figure out since there are 27 different Reichenbachs! My Reichenbach is now Dzierżoniów, Poland.

PETAU - Pauline PETAU, born 3 February 1836 was Paul Zimmer's mother.

Ideas for Searching Breslau

Here are some the suggestions I've had so far in my genealogy research; and I'll add more as they come in.

  • FamilySearch Films for Poland, Wrocław, Dzierżoniów - Church records; this is my next logical step after any online options are exhausted (in the old days I would have started here) 
Many thanks for any and all help!

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