Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Family Kolberg/Colberg...Part Nine


Following the successful discovery of the family of Johann Colberg, after many, many years of research, cousin, Gerhard Kolberg and myself had now successfully traced the descendants of 6 of the 7 Colberg brothers...August, Heinrich, Johann, Otto, Paul and Ferdinand. We were pleased with our success and pleased with the shared connection between ourselves.

The question remained, however? What happened to any descendants of the eldest sibling of the 6 Colberg brothers? Where had these descendants ended up? How would we begin to learn anything new about this family?

Gerhard and I compared our records and pooled our information. What we knew was the following:

(1) Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Jr. had been the second son of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Sr. & Henriette Amalie Colberg. He was, though, the first son to survive to adulthood.

(2) We had the following photo of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. and his wife:

Henriette Amalie (Kautz) & Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg (sitting)
Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. & Hermine (Melchert) Colberg (standing)
ca 1899
Bütow, Pommern

(3) Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. had been born September 28, 1852 in Klein Tuchen, Bütow, Pommern and he was christened at the Evangelical church in Groß Tuchen on October 3, 1852.

(4) He and his wife supposedly had had at least 6 children, whose names were unknown.

(5) He was to have stayed on the family farm in Klein Tuchen when brother, Johann, relocated to Berlin and his other 5 brothers immigrated to the US.

(5) He died in 1918.

This was the extent of our shared information and was not much to go on.

Over the course of the next several years we both did some research in the LDS microfilms both here in Michigan and in Berlin. With this research, we did discover some further data:

Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr.'s wife was named Hermine Melchert. Together they had at least 6 children that we discovered, namely:

(1) Martha Maria Franziska Colberg, born May 28, 1882 in Klein Tuchen.
(2) Paul Willi Colberg born December 25, 1883 in Klein Tuchen.

Then the family must have relocated to the nearby village of Zemmen in Kreis Bütow because the next 4 children were born there:

(3) Fritz Wilhelm Colberg, born May 27, 1885 and died April 21, 1886, both in Zemmen.
(4) Erich Ernst Franz Colberg, born November 12, 1886 and died January 24, 1887 in Zemmen.
(5) Ernst Friedrich Paul Colberg, born January 17, 1888 and died February 11, 1888 in Zemmen
(6) Max Friedrich Adam Colberg, born November 1, 1889 and died November 20, 1889 in Zemmen.

This information opened up new possibilities for us:

(1) With 4 of their 6 children dying in infancy, was it possible that the oldest two died as well before having any children of their own? We could find no records of that happening.

(2) If the 2 oldest children DID marry and have children, is it possible they died during WWI or even WWII when many German people were killed while fleeing from what became Poland?

(3) Was it even possible that there were NO descendants remaining from the family of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. & Hermine?

It became evident that we had reached a brick wall. However, I have learned more times than not that one should "never say never". There is always hope of learning something new.

A few years ago something fell in my lap that I hope proves to be a connection to any descendants still remaining today from the family of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. & Hermine Colberg. A cousin here in Berrien County contacted me and explained that she was a granddaughter of younger brother, Ferdinand Kolberg. She and her husband were involved in genealogy as well and wanted to meet with me. They came to my home for some discussions and to my surprise brought with them the German photo album of her grandfather, Ferdinand. They explained that when Ferdinand Kolberg and his family came to the US in 1910 that Ferdinand had carried with him this old photo album. Growing up she had seen this album many times and the family here always referred to it as "Grandpa's German album of his Kolberg family".

There were 21 photos contained in this album. All were professional cabinet photos and were in mint condition. They were all taken in Germany, some listed the photographer's name and location, some were taken in Bütow, some in Stolp (a neighboring county), some in Berlin and other areas as well. They allowed me to borrow the album and I scanned all 21 photos into my computer and then returned the album to them.

There were no identifications on any of these 21 photos. I e-mailed the 21 photos to Gerhard Kolberg in Berlin and he immediately responded that 4 of the photos were from the family of his grandfather, Johann Colberg. There was a photo of Johann in his military uniform, another photo of the wedding of Gerhard's parents and two other photos of daughters of Johann Colberg. The other 17 photos were unknown to Gerhard as well as the other Johann Colberg cousins he shared them with.

This led us to wonder - IF some of the photos were from the family of Johann Colberg, was it possible that the rest were from the family of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr.? Is it possible that the two first born children of Friedrich-Wilhelm & Hermine DID marry, have children, grandchildren, etc and that they had shared their photos with "Uncle" Ferdinand? We don't know but there was no other explanation we could think of for the identity of these 21 photos given the album was always known as Ferdinand's German family album.

The 17 photos follow. It is my hope that by posting these photos here, that perhaps someone will recognize one and we can move closer to learning more about brother, Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Jr.


And, the search continues!

Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte


T.K. said...

What a great collection of photos, Cheryl! I wish you and Gerhard the best of luck in finding out who these people are. Once again, a lesson to us all to write identifications on our photos!

Cheryl said...

Thanks, TK. They really are a group of photos in great condition that have survived near 100 years.

J.M. said...

What a great series. I've read it with amazement and with great joy. I can only say: I am very happy that I began on my genealogical journey after the advent of the internet! But, you are correct, sometimes snail mail and actually going to an archive or other location can get you information that can't be found on the internet.

Cheryl said...

Thanks so much for your comments, JM, and I look forward to following your blog as well.

Becky said...


I've finally had some time to read your posts in this series. It was exciting to follow you on your quest over the years. It should also be an inspiration to "newbie" genealogists with two main points - don't give up, and not everything is on the internet! A Great Series. Thank you.

Nancy said...

I just read your series and thoroughly enjoyed the story. You are a great writer and family researcher. I have connections in Pommern, or as they recorded it - Pomerland. But I haven't delved far enough into the family yet to answer more questions. You are inspirational! Thanks.
Nancy Hurley

Cheryl said...

Becky, good to hear from you and I have been following YOUR adventures as well. Thanks for the comments!

Cheryl said...

Thanks, Nancy, for the comments. I appreciate it.