About 50 million Americans have German ancestral lines, including my husband. I’ve struggled through the years trying to find small European villages that have been renamed two, three and even four times. Those villages weren’t in Germany! If they had been, I would have been right here using Meyers Gazetteer, a free online tool to located towns that were once part of the German Empire.
The instructions are easy to follow – they are in English and explain how to enter a search for non-English letters and symbols.
If you click on the blue link at the bottom right, a new screen with more detailed information appears:
Introduction to the Help Guide
Here is how it works. I entered Langenlonsheim, home of the Stoppelbeins before they left for America in 1740.
Clicking on the town link opened this page:
All About Langenlonsheim, Germany
The text (very top left) in German Gothic script gives the historical information about the village of Langenlonsheim.
If I click on the map at the top left, it enlarges to show a historical map.
I can even zoom in further to see streets:
The detail list explains all the abbreviations found next to the map. Langenlonsheim is a village with its larger governmental bodies, such as the kingdom or state, province, etc.
If I were looking for church records, but was unsure whether the family was Protestant or Catholic, I’d have to search both sets of records as there is one Protestant and one Catholic parish, in addition to having one Jewish synagogue.
The Civil Registration Office for this village is located right in Langenlonsheim.
Meyers Gazetteer couldn’t be any easier to use. If you know the name of a German town where your family lived, This is a website you’ll want to bookmark.