Category Archives: Germany

German Genealogy Research Online

With the exception of a few Ancestry records and those found in FamilySearch, there haven’t been many online resources for those researching family in Germany.

There are two up-and-coming, growing websites of which you should be aware if you have German ancestors.

The first is Genealogynet wiki, which describes itself as the German genealogy internet portal:

Choose: German or English Language Text

Notice first that there is an option at the top of the home page to view in English or German, so reading won’t be an issue if you don’t speak German.

Clicking on the link to the home page brings you to the GenWiki:


As you can see, there are a variety of options, including a place to log-in.

Website Options

A log-in account is free, but is only needed if you want to add your own genealogical information in their database.

I’m always drawn to the databases to see why type of information can be found:

Portal Databases

The first choice is Ancestors Database. The second choice is Metasearch, which I decided to try first.

Metasearch Page

The database names are all in German, but there is a spot at the top to enter both a surname and a place name. I entered “Stoppelbein,” which is know is the original version of “Stufflebean” and it is an uncommon surname even today in Germany.

A good sized list appeared:


There are plenty of Stoppelbeins for me to look into.

One downside to this website is that it appears not all of its pages have a translate button. I tried Regional Research, but text only appeared in German. Google Translate should help get around this issue. Be sure to take some time to delve more deeply into the resources on this website.

GenealogyNet wiki looks like a great resource for anyone with German roots.

The second website is Archion, a subscription site based in Germany:

Archion Prices by Month or Longer

I’m not quite sure what “natural persons” means in terms of subscribing, but there is a separate pricing schedule for professional researchers. I guess a natural person would be someone researching their own family lines.

Like Genealogy dot net, there is a tab to switch from German to English. It’s located in the top right corner of the home screen and says DE, (Deutsch, or German). Clicking gives the option to switch to English.

Archion is a collaborative effort among Protestant churches (only Protestant) to digitize their church books. It is an on-going project and NOT ALL TOWNS have records online yet.

Archion Collection

I have one straggling collateral ancestor who lived in Dusseldorf, but I don’t see the city listed in any of the collections. I don’t have a subscription, so haven’t been able to check for indexed records. I assume they are similar to Swedish records – page images available, but not yet indexed.

Check BROWSE to see if your town of interest is included:

Check for your towns before subscribing!

German genealogical records are finally entering the digital world! I think I might be able to make some headway on a few of my husband’s German lines that have had me stymied for a while!



Road Trip to Germany & Slovakia

“Road trip” is another one of those themes that I needed to ponder for a bit. Nothing really jumped to mind when I thought about car trips that our families have taken. I suppose ancestors migrating from the East Coast could be considered road trips of a sort, but no one in the family knows anything about the migratory trips they made except that they “went there.”

I decided instead to focus on a road trip that I had told Dave a few years ago that I would love to make. The plan hasn’t come to fruition yet, but it is a definite possibility for a future vacation.

I confess that I have been very, very lucky to have been able to visit some of my ancestors’ home towns, both in the U.S. and abroad – through the years. My dream road trip would take a bit more planning – and travel to areas where languages are spoken that neither Dave nor I speak, but the trip is certainly doable.

A Dream of a Road Trip
Map Image: Bing Maps

Why would this be my dream vacation? There are still two ancestral homelands in Europe that I have not visited – the German Palatinate home of Dave’s Whitmers and Stufflebeans and my father’s grandparents’ homes in Slovakia. All of the ancestral villages are quite small and we could fit in stops in some beautiful, historic cities along the way.

Here is my travel plan:

1. Arrive in Munich. Pick up the rental car.

2. Head west to BARBELROTH, Germany, which was the home of Dave’s 5x great grandfather, Johannes Whitmer, who was born in Barbelroth in 1751. He was a small boy when his family left Germany and settled in Frederick County, Maryland. Barbelroth has always been a small village. Today, there are about 600 residents.

3. Leaving Barbelroth, we would head north to LAUBENHEIM and LANGENLONSHEIM, home of the Stufflebeans, known as Stoppelbeins in 1740, when they emigrated to Columbia County, New York. Laubenheim is also a small village with a population of about 800. Langenlonsheim is a town of about 3,700.

4. Leaving Laubenheim, we would head east and stop in Dresden, Germany and Cracow, Poland. Both are said to be beautiful cities, but, as they are not ancestral homes, I won’t do more than mention them here.

5. Next, we will cross into Slovakia, homeland of my paternal ancestors. Both my grandfather, George Kucharik, and my grandmother, Julia Scerbak, were born in the United States after their parents emigrated. The Scerbaks were in Passaic by 1890, but decided to return home about 1898, when my grandmother was about five years old. Her father, Michael, was from the village of UDOL, (known as Ujak back then) and which today has only 400 residents. Her mother, Anna Murcko, was born in HAJTOVKA, about a mile from Udol. Hajtovka’s population today is 75! These villages are a short distance southeast of Cracow as the crow flies and they sit in the foothills of the mountains separating them from Poland.

My grandmother’s youngest brother’s family never came to the United States so I have a number of second cousins still living near Udol. We have exchanged letters and photos through the years, but they don’t speak any English and I don’t speak Slovak. We’ve needed intermediary translators to help with the correspondence.

6. The last ancestral stop would be about forty miles southeast of Udol and Hajtovka. My grandmother had no idea where husband George’s family lived in Slovakia. Unlike the Scerbaks, when the Kuchariks left about 1885, they were never to return to Europe. It took years to unearth the name of their village. While part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, it was called Felso Sebes and was in Saros County, Hungary. Today, it is called VYSNA SEBASTOVA and is a small town of about 1,000, a bit east of Presov, Slovakia.

7. As we would head west back towards Munich, visits would be made to Vienna, Austria and Salzburg, Austria.

The total round trip would cover about 1,650 miles and, ideally, it would be wonderful to spend about two weeks there.

Now, I just need to talk Dave into planning out an actual trip!

The Case of the Missing Bible Collection

OK, how can an entire Bible collection go missing? To make matters worse, the 1736 family Bible of Johannes (John) Whitmer of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky is part of it.

To begin at the beginning, Christus Gardens opened in 1960 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It was a huge religious tourist attraction that presented Biblical scenes from the lifetime of Christ and was best know for its carrara marble face of Christ.

It also housed a large collection of Bibles that had been donated to them, mainly from Ohio and Kentucky.

Sometime after October 1971, the children of Philip and Anna Roth of Evansville, Indiana donated the Whitmer family Bible to Christus Gardens  in memory of their parents, who had died in 1948 and 1957, respectively.

John Whitmer’s family Bible was very large, over 1000 pages,  weighed 13 lbs and was quite ornate. The Bible was something of a showpiece at Christus Gardens because it was always housed in a glass display case for viewing.  It was in very good condition when I viewed it in the 1990’s. I have looked high and low for a photograph of it, but have found nothing. My husband thinks that no photos were allowed and that may be true. Our visit there was part of a three week vacation back east and I was already well addicted to genealogy. We have many other photos from that trip and there is no way I would have left without multiple photos of the Bible, if photography was allowed.

LAST MINUTE UPDATE: One Bible photo found:

Linda & Michael with Whitmer Bible
Christus Gardens Visit, circa summer 1997
with the Johannes Whitmer family Bible

Here is the problem that led to this mystery.  Christus Gardens closed in 2008. Its inventory was purchased by Trinity Broadcast Network, based in Santa Ana, California, packed up, hauled off and no one seems to know where the Bible collection is today.

Here is every bit of information I have about the Bible. First, there was a letter of inquiry back in 1991:

Next, the translation done in 1949:

Story of the Bible Ownership & Translation

Lastly, the closest thing I have to a photograph of the Bible, which is a photocopy of the inscription inside the Bible:

Johannes Whitmer’s Bible Inscription

A phone call to the Trinity Broadcast Network in California led to a directive to send them an email, which I did. To date, I have only received an automated response that the email had been received.

I am just sick over the idea that a Bible almost 300 years old may be gone.

There is a lesson to be learned here. If you have an item that you are thinking of donating somewhere, particularly if it is something valuable, think long and hard about to whom the donation will be made. Christus Gardens took good care of the Bible, but when they went out of business, they lost control of their holdings. I am hoping against hope that a religious broadcasting network like TBN has safely housed these Bibles.

Will this case be solved? Only time will tell.