Saturday, December 10, 2016

Finding ANOTHER Family's German Roots

I decided to see if I could trace another branch of my family back to Germany: the Werthers. They arrived in July of 1869 on the Carolina. Through, I have both their New York and Hamburg passenger lists. As I found out while researching my Peters immigrant family, the Hamburg passenger list gives information about the previous residence. In this case, it appears the family came from Bergan or Bergau in Sondershausen. [See middle columns.] Unfortunately, when I go to Meyers Gazeteer, there is not a place called Bergan or Bergau in Sondershausen.

"Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934," database, ( : accessed 10 December 2016), entry for Joh C Werther and family, line 60, aboard Caroline, Hamburg to New York, departed Hamburg 26 May 1869; citing microfilm K_1714.

I looked at the tree my great aunt gave me when I started genealogy, and she said the family was from Berka in Sondershausen. I do not know where she got that, but perhaps the information had been passed down in the family. I looked on Meyers Gazeteer for a Berka in Sondershausen, and it DOES exist. Berka is actually a village outside of Sondershausen.

Baptism transcription for Auguste Wilhelmine Friederike Werther born on 8 May 1861 in
Berka to Johann Günther Werther and Marie Dorothea Reinhardt. Paper in collection of
Beulah (Peters) Brewer now in possession of Jim Stewart of Kansas. 

Next, I decided to look through the documents and photos I had photographed at my uncle's house two years ago. Though I've looked through the documents many times, I haven't studied all of them. As I looked through them, I found 6 documents: a faded 3-page typed letter, a darker 2-page transcription of the letter with some words translated, and a document titled "Auszug aus dem Taufregister" which translates to "from the baptismal register." This last document was a transcription of the baptism of Auguste Wilhelmine Friederike Werther, the youngest daughter of our immigrant couple. And, the place of the baptism was the St. Viti Evangelical Lutheran Church in "Berka/Wipper!"

Image of St. Viti Evangelical Lutheran Church in Berka, Sondershausen, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen

So, now I know my Werther family came from Berka, a village outside of Sondershausen, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen in the present day state of Thuringia! The letter also included transcriptions of the baptismal records for two of the other children who were born in 1848 and 1855. With 7 known children born between 1847 and 1861, it is unclear why the other baptismal records were not found.

Unfortunately, it appears that the records microfilmed for St. Viti of Berka only went through 1846, though none of the children in this family were born until 1847! However, the years the parents were born are included. My next steps are to order those two microfilms, and to write the church to see if I can get actual copies of the baptism records for the Werther children. Hopefully, they'll find the records for the four children that were not found when my great aunt evidently wrote for these records! It's exciting to know where another branch of my German family once lived!


  1. It's always so wonderful when things are passed down and other family members have things to share! You really are making good progress.

    1. Yes, Michelle. I'm so thankful for all my Great Aunt Beulah did before me! And, that she passed her research down to my uncle who appreciates it & is preserving it.


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