Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Family Kolberg/Colberg...Part Eleven


The amazing story of my Kolberg ancestors continues with Part Eleven.  It is hard for me to fathom that I have been able to have as much success with this line as I have and to have been able to continually find information to allow this series to grow.

One of the roadblocks in this research has always been the varying way that the surname has been spelled.  There has been no rhyme or reason as to why sometimes the name will be spelled with a "C" as in Colberg and other times with a "K" as in Kolberg.  I have found old records, from the late 1700's and early 1800's where children in one family have been listed with both spellings.  While I originally thought the name was always with a "C" and was changed when my great-grandfather, August, and his brothers, Heinrich, Otto, Paul and Ferdinand, immigrated to the US that wasn't accurate either.  These variances in spelling have made the search more difficult but certainly not impossible.

As my story has unfolded through the past 10 episodes I have shared how I was able to successfully research my great-grandfather's life and those of five of his six brothers - again, Heinrich, Johann, Otto, Paul and Ferdinand.  However, brother Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. and his life has eluded me. 

In the sequence of children born to my 2nd great-grandparents, Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Sr. and Henriette Amalie Kautz, son Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. was their second son and the first child of theirs to survive childhood.  Family documents here in Michigan seemed to indicate that Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. had inherited the Colberg family farm in Klein Tuchen and he had remained in Klein Tuchen for his life.  This practice was quite common with the eldest son inheriting the family property and that story seemed logical.  It made sense as well that 5 of the brothers would take their chances by immigrating to the US while brother, Johann, chose to settle in Berlin.  However, family stories (while helpful and interesting) are not always accurate and the story of the life of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. did not include a life on the family farm in Klein Tuchen nor a life in Klein Tuchen at all.

To flesh out this story and find further data on Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. was a journey that I could not take all on my own.  Without the unbelievable help of three researchers, two in this country and one in Germany, I would not have been able to finally fill in most of the gaps on this brother of my great-grandfather.

Special thanks must go to a wonderful researcher in Germany, Marion H, who helped me find more than I could ever hope to find on my own as well as researcher and cousin, David M, in Arizona and a long time research friend, Steve M, in Illinois.  

To begin this story, at the outset of my research, I had the following basic information on Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Jr.:

1.  Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. was born  28 Sep 1852 in Klein Tuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern, the second son of Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Sr. and Henriette Amalie Kautz.  At the time of his birth, son #1 Albert Johan Carl Colberg was still living at age 1 1/2 but he would pass away in 1863 at the age of 12.

2.  Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. was baptized on 3 Oct 1852 at the Evangelische Kirche, Groß Tuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern.

3.  Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. remained in Klein Tuchen his entire life with his family which included a wife and 6 children and inherited the Colberg family farm upon the death of his father, Friedrich-Wilhelm, Sr., in 1900.

4.  A photo, taken in Bütow, Pommern, was shared with me with the caption on the back which read "Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Sr. and wife with son, Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. and wife standing behind, 1898".

5.  Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. passed away in 1918 in Klein Tuchen, Bütow, Pommern.

The above information had been shared with me by two cousins of my grandmother, sisters Ruby Kolberg Berndt and Edna Kolberg, daughters of Paul Kolberg.  The information they possessed was from written notes that their father wrote of his life in Klein Tuchen and which they had inherited.

Some of the above information (#1, #2) proved to be accurate though parts were not (#3, #4, #5 ).  These are common occurrences with written memories; so helpful to have as starting points but not something that can be used as primary sources.

Over the years I tried to expand on this information but never really succeeded.  When I connected with cousin, Gerhard Kolberg, in Berlin he also had the above information from points 1 and 2 in his notes from his grandfather, brother Johann Colberg, but nothing further either.

With the interest in genealogy growing, the use of the Internet in the picture, a huge ongoing project to transcribe church books from the Pomeranian counties of Bütow and Stolp in place and the generosity of researchers helping others to discover facts about their ancestors I have managed to find the following on Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Jr.:

1.  On 07 Jan 1881 Friedrich-Wilhelm married Hermine Augusta Melchert.  They were married in Reinwasser, Kreis Rummelsburg, Pommern, a neighboring county to Bütow and the county of birth of Hermine.  Hermine had been born 14 May 1848 in Friedrikenfelde, Kreis Rummelsburg, Pommern to Gottlieb Melchert and Henrietta Winkel.

2.  Friedrich-Wilhelm and Hermine began to create a family of their own but tragically each of their children died - either at birth or shortly thereafter.  Birth, baptismal and death information was found in the church books being translated by the Stolp group and shared with me.  Sponsors for all of these children were listed as well and were helpful in proving other familial lines.  It was common in those days, in those particular church books, to list descriptive data on sponsors such as "uncle of the child", "brother of the father of the child" and in many cases "grandmother of the child", etc.  I learned as well that a male child would have three sponsors with two being godfathers and one godmother while a female child would have three sponsors as well but two godmothers and one godfather.  It was very interesting.  It was also notated that all of these children were born in Zemmen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern which was a neighboring village to Klein Tuchen and father, Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. was listed on various records as farmer or landowner or tenant farmer.   Here are the 7 children of Friedrich-Wilhelm and Hermine Colberg:
  • Martha Marie Franziska Colberg (1882-1882)
  • Paul Willy Colberg (1883-1886)
  • Fritz Wilhelm Colberg (1885-1886)
  • Erich Ernst Franz Colberg (1886-1887)
  • Ernst Friedrich Paul Colberg (1888-1888)
  • Max Friedrich Adam Colberg (1889-1889)
  • Clara Marie Emilie Colberg (1893-1893) 
3.  Hermine Melchert Colberg passed away on 05 Jan 1898 with the following notation from the church books of Groß Tuchen:
  •  "Died 5 Jan 1898 in Zemmen,  Death Nr. 1 of 1898, Hermine Kolberg, geb. Melchert, 49 Years, 9  Months and 9 Days old, buried on 9 Jan 1898.  
With the death of Hermine in January of 1898, and the fact that none of her 7 children had survived, I felt this indicated the end of the line of this family.  My hope that I would be able to find descendants of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. still living today was thwarted.  While tossing this information around in my head I remembered the photo I had of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. and "his wife" and his parents which was dated 1898.  Upon further examination of the photo I found it hard to believe that "the wife" indicated was a 49 year old woman as in this photo Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr's wife certainly looked much younger.  A thought was brewing in my head.  Could Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. have remarried?  He was 46 at the time of Hermine's death and it could have been possible he would have married again even though he had no children to raise that he needed help with.

I posed this question to my researcher friends who quickly sent me back the following information:

1.  From the church books of Groß Tuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern was found the following record:
  •  Marriage Nr. 12 of 1898 on 25 Mar 1898, Friedrich Colberg of Zemmen, born on 28 Sep 1852, First Wife Deceased, To Jungfrau Therese Lewitzke of Zemmen, born on 7 Feb 1868, Never Married, Daughter of Carl. 
  •  Baptism Nr. 13 of 1867 in Groß Tuchen on 31 Jan 1867, Therese Louise Mathilde, daughter of Carl Lawitzke and Albertine Gaul, baptized: 7 Feb 1867, Godparents:  Mathilde Lawitzke, Mathilde Lawitzke (correct, two with exact same name), Ernst von Domarus, all from Groß Tuchen.
 2.  Further information followed in the form of 4 children for Friedrich-Wilhelm and Therese as follows:
  • Max Erich Colberg (born 1899 and confirmed 1913)
  • Anna Meta Therese Colberg (born 1901 and confirmed 1915)
  • Paul Otto Colberg (born 1903 and confirmed 1917)
  • Helene Martha Minna Colberg (born 1905 and confirmed 1919)
3.  Confirmation dates were found for the above children as well indicating that they had certainly survived childhood and were living at the time they each reached 14.  This was positive and hopeful information that perhaps these children went on to marry and have families of their own.

4.  Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Jr. passed away in 1918 with the following church book entry as proof:
  •  Death Nr. 63 of 1918, 7 November, Friedrich Colberg, Pächter (tenant farmer) of Zemmen, Age 66 Years, 1 Month, buried 10 Nov 1918. 
5.  Therese Colberg's death was recorded as follows:
  •  Death Nr. 25 of 1928 in Zemmen, Therese Kolberg, geb. Lawitzke, 61 Years, 5 Months Old, died on 23 Jun 1928 and buried at 3PM on 30 Jun 1928.

To say that I was overwhelmed and totally excited would be understating how I felt with all this information.  It only took 30+ years of research to finally fill in the blanks on Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. to add to the information on his six brothers - August, Heinrich, Johann, Otto, Paul and Ferdinand.  To have the actual excerpts from the church books gave me primary source data and to have made connections with generous researchers willing to search these records for me and share them was phenomenal.  I cannot thank these researchers enough.

But what about the 4 children born to Friedrich-Wilhelm and Therese Colberg?  Did they marry and create families of their own?

Part Twelve of this continuing saga will share that data as well.  And to conclude, this is the photo showing Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. and Therese Colberg with Friedrich-Wilhelm's parents, Friedrich-Wilhelm, Sr. and Henriette Amalie (perhaps a wedding photo as the photo is dated 1898 and Therese is holding flowers?).

Standing:  Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. and Therese Colberg
Sitting:  Henriette Amalie and Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Sr.
Bütow, Pommern 

Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte
Copyright (c) 2013, Cheryl J. Schulte