Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Immigrant Ancestors and the Elusive Town of Origin

I have 17 direct ancestors who were immigrants in the United States. The earliest arrival appears to be my Rüttger branch in 1846, which is very different from those of you whose families have been in the U.S. since colonial times! My immigrant ancestors include great-grandparents (4), 2nd great-grandparents (7), and 3rd great-grandparents (6). Most of my immigrant ancestors (12) came from Germany, three from Canada (though two were born in the U.K.), and two from France.

I have A LOT to learn about them, with the most important unknown being that often elusive town of origin. The only towns that I'm sure of are Artolshiem and Dambach-la-Ville in France, Pirmasens and Miesenheim in Germany, and Seneca Township in Ontario, Canada. That's not good. I have 10 direct ancestors where my research is stuck in the U.S. unless I determine the German towns where these ancestors used to live.
From the 1890 U.S. Passport Application for my 
2nd great-grandfather who arrived in the U.S. on 1 May 1854

Online trees from sites like Geneanet.org, index-only records on FamilySearch, and sibling church records have given me a place to start, but there's more work to do before concluding that these are definitely the towns. These places in Germany include Bettingen, Großkarlbach (2), Lambsheim, and Wiesbach (2). And then there are the 4 German ancestors who have given me zero clues pointing to where they came from. Sigh.

A recent birthday gift has given me renewed inspiration to continue the search for these towns. I've just read a few chapters of James Beidler's Trace Your German Roots Online, which was released at the end of April, but it's pushed me to revisit these immigrant ancestors. I'll definitely post any progress I make.

If you have any success stories about locating the towns of your German immigrant ancestors, please share them with me!


  1. James Beidler did a Legacy Family Tree webinar today. If you missed it, you can watch it for free for the next few days.

    1. Yes, I saw the post about it--great timing! It's definitely on my to-do list. Thanks for taking the time to let me know, Linda!


Do you have a genealogy problem or need guidance on where to search next? Send me a message if you'd like me to help!