POMERANIA * RESEARCH
THE FIRST OF OUR ZIEMER
LINE to step off the boat onto American soil was Martin
Gottlieb Ziemer. The year was 1881. Across the sea behind him, his
past -- and all but a few details of the family's origins -- faded into the
Pomeranian mist... Yet recent discoveries have allowed us a glimpse back into the history of our Ziemer family.
Martin was born January 21,
1851. His father, Carl Ziemer, died when Martin was still an infant. It
was said that Martin's mother was supported by the lord of the estate where they
lived, somewhere in the German province of Hinter Pommern.
It is also reported that Martin had at least one sister, a Mrs. Schulz who stayed behind in Europe, and that Martin was exempted from military service as the sole support of his mother. Our first actual record of Martin Ziemer describes him as a laborer in Viverow, a small village about 15 kilometers SW of the city of Koeslin, in 1874. At the parish church of Manow, at age 23, he married 27-year old Caroline Bonow, the daughter of Friedrich Bonow. Bonow was a resident of Zewelin, a larger village which stretched out before a Gut or Estate about 10 kilometers to the east.
Click here to view
Manow Church record of Martin and Caroline's wedding
At least four Ziemer children were born in Germany: Charles,
1876 (whose hand-written chronicle
recorded much of this family history); Herman, 1877; Annie, about 1879; and
Minnie in 1881.
We have heard the frightening tale
of their difficult voyage across the Atlantic - 31 days at sea in a sidewheeled
former freighter with sail; the squalor of their quarters in steerage, the
hunger and thirst; Caroline collecting crumbs in her apron for the baby,
standing in line with a porcelain teacup for their water ration. No doubt
they rejoiced to reach the shores of America; yet shunted from New York Harbor
to Baltimore, and finally finding their new home in Chicago, the trials of the
Ziemers were just beginning....
VIEW CHARLES A. F. ZIEMER'S FAMILY
OF CARL ZIEMER
FAMILY in CHICAGO
FAMILY PHOTO ALBUM
IT WAS THE BONOW
FAMILY, apparently, who assisted Martin Ziemer and his family in
their move to the New World. Friedrich Wilhelm Gottlieb BONOW was born in Kreis Koeslin, Pomerania
in 1821. In March of 1847, at the age of 25, he was a servant in the village of P÷niken southwest of K´┐Żslin when he married 20-year old Dorothea Louise KRUCKOW. Louise was the daughter of Christina HEISER and Jacob Krueckow, a property owner from Martinshagen, about 20 kilometers NE of Koeslin.
Click here to view
Manow Church record of Friedrich and Louise's wedding
Friedrich and his wife Louise
Krueckow started their family quickly, beginning with our ancestor Caroline, born in 1847; then the first son August in 1849; William in 1853; Johanna in 1856; Carl in 1859; daughter Friederike born in Zewelin 1861; Wilhelmine in 1863; and a stillborn daughter was lost in 1874. Louise's parents, Jacob and Christina KRUCKOW, both died in Vangerow in 1872.
The Bonows and all their surviving grown children were destined to leave their
homeland... beginning with Wilhelm, their single son, who went ahead to prepare
the way, settling first in Chicago. Daughter Caroline was next, with Martin
Ziemer and the children in 1881. A daughter Johanna, with her husband
Frederick ROEPKE arrived; a son Carl, and daughter Wilhelmine; and finally
August Bonow and his family, who accompanied the parents, arriving in Baltimore
via Bremen aboard the SS.Braunschweig on April 17, 1884. They would
all be reunited and spend many years as neighbors on the South Side of Chicago,
their stories recalled by grandson Charles A. F. Ziemer.
FREDERICK BONOW DEATH RECORD - St.Peter's Ev. Lutheran Church, 39th
& Dearborn, Chicago
Bonow Families of Chicago
THE LAND BY THE SEA,
Pomerania (Pommern in German) curves along the coast of the Baltic
Sea, bisected by
the Oder River, with Hinterpommern to the East, Vorpommern to the West. A
lowland with thin and sandy soil, it has been torn and battled over, passing
back and forth between the slavs and germans for centuries. Christianized and
settled by Germans in the 12th century, Pommern was ruled as a duchy under
ever-changing lines of sovereigns, from the Polish Dukes to Brandenburg Electors
of the Holy Roman Empire. Reformation brought dissent and the
ravages of the Thirty Years War. Swedish occupation and rule lasted
over 150 years in some parts of Vorpommern. From 1814 Pomerania
became a province of the Kingdom of Prussia, and in 1871 a part of Bismarck's
Greater Germany (See Map).
The inhabitants spoke the plattdeutsch, or
low German, dialect. The Evangelical Lutheran faith was the state
was the dominant lifestyle, with many large estates raising rye, wheat, and
potatoes. The largest city and capital of the Pomeranian Dukes was Stettin
(Polish Sczeczin) with its shipyards on the Oder River. County-sized
districts were called Kreises. This was the Pommern our immigrant ancestors left
behind in the 19th century.
Germany's defeat at the end of
the World War I resulted in Pomerania being cut off from East Prussia by the
"Polish Corridor" to the sea. After the Russian occupation at the end of
World War II, the surviving German population of Pomerania was brutally driven
from the land at cost of millions of lives, and the entirety of Hinter Pommern
was taken over by Poland. Only part of Vorpommern remained in East
Germany. Since Reunification those areas are part of the German Land of
The Kreis of K÷slin (Polish Koszalin) centered around the city of the same name, a market town dating back to the 12th century, in the Middle Ages a bishop's residence and also a seat of the Pomeranian Dukes. Rural K´┐Żslin was much like the rest of Pommern in its land and agriculture. The color map gives an indication of the marshes and wetlands, forests and hills of the area. Large estates called Guts dominated the villages where the workers lived. Many Ziemers, including our ancestor Martin Gottlieb Ziemer, lived in the areas to the west, east, and southeast of the city. Specifically, note on the map the small village of Viverow where Martin ZIEMER and Caroline BONOW lived, and east of there the larger villages: Zewelin, one-time home of the Friedrich BONOW and Louise KRUECKOW; and Manow, site of the church serving those surrounding villages for christenings, weddings, and funerals. Also note in the extreme southwest corner P´┐Żniken where Friedrich BONOW lived in the early 1800's; and in the upper righthand corner, Martinshagen was the home of Jacob KRUECKOW, Louise's father and our earliest-identified Pomeranian ancestor.
Several immediate problems relate
to the Ziemer-Bonow Family Research:
The surnames of some of my wife Dawn's family also stemmed
MISCH, KRUEGER, VOLKMAN, FUHRMANN, BOGDA, STRAUSS,
ADLER, LORENZ, DAHLKE, SCHIMKE
View Dawn's Family Tree at Rootsweb.
- NATURALIZATION - Martin G. Ziemer filed "first
papers" to become a naturalized citizen; the index card and actual form offer
little useful information. I might try August Bonow or some of the other adult
males who went through the process; Friedrich Bonow never did, nor did the
- SHIP'S PASSENGER LIST - That sidewheel steamer
which took so long getting the Ziemers to America has not yet been
identified. The 1900 census record and family tradition give their
arrival in New York or Baltimore, 1881. Baby Minnie, born in Germany, died in
June, 1882 at 10 months. That would seem to narrow the time frame down to the
last months of 1881. Anyway, I'm working on it. Maybe I'll get some some
help from the experts on the Ships List.
- SWEET HOME
POMERANIA - We have identified the home village of Martin Ziemer and Caroline, at least in 1874 when they were married. In addition, Caroline's parents' home, first in P´┐Żniken and later in Zewellin, have also been pinpointed, as well as the Kr´┐Żckow residence in Martinshagen. All this came from marriage records; the birth records for Martin and Caroline have not yet been found.
In the meantime, there are plenty of microfilmed records to go through. Furthermore, several other Ziemer and Bonow families have been noted, and it may soon be possible to prove our connection to other Ziemers and Bonows in the U.S. and abroad. Genealogist Doug Plowman of Wisconsin made the latest discoveries, and other researchers continue to help when they come across the Ziemer name in various Pomeranian towns.
This has been the biggest breakthrough of the brick wall separating us from our German past!
Ziemer of Woedke-Ruhleben, Kreis Greifenberg: Could this be the father of
our immigrant ancestor Martin G. Ziemer? As yet, no direct link has been found.
Pomerania: 1945 -- Echoes of the Past Heinz Chinnow, iUniverse, Inc., 2004. "A Teenager's Diary of Peace, War, Flight and Expulsion"
Crabwalk. G´┐Żnter Grass. Harcourt, Inc./Steidl Verlag, G´┐Żttingen, 2002 (Novel's narrator sidesteps his way to an examination of the tragic WWII sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff.)
The Vanished Kingdom. James Charles
Roy.Westview Press,1999 (Mostly About East Prussia)
Letters of a German
American Farmer. Johannes Gillhoff. University of Iowa Press, 2000.
(Translated from the German Text)
A Terrible Revenge - The Ethnic
Cleansing of the East European Germans 1944-1950. Alfred-Maurice de Zayas,
From the Ruins of the Reich - Germany 1945-1949. Douglas
Botting. New American Library, 1985.
Hour of the Women. Graf
Christian von Krockow. Harper Collins, 1991.
Matriarch of Conspiracy.
Ruth von Kleist 1867-1945. Jane Pejsa. Kenwood Publishing,1991.
Flounder. Guenter Grass. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978. (Crazy, ribald,
fantastic novel with interesting tales of "Pomorshian" history).
German Boy: A Child in War. Wolfgang W. E. Samuel. Hodder and Stoughton, 2002. (Memoir of flight from the East and childhood as a refugee in the postwar occupied territories.)
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