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Pomeranian Roots

ZIEMER     *     BONOW     *     POMERANIA     *     RESEARCH     *     LINKS     *     ZIEMER'S TREE

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. Church at Manow

   Click here to view Martin Ziemer & Caroline Bonow Wedding Record 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....


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 Friedrich BONOW & Louise KRUCKOW Wedding Record 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, Chalk Cliffs at the Baltic Coast on Ruegen Islandbisected 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).
Old German church somewhere northeast of Koeslin (Koszalin)
  The inhabitants spoke the plattdeutsch, or low German, dialect.  The Evangelical Lutheran faith was the state religion.  Farming 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 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Color Map of K÷slin area
  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 from Pomerania:
View Dawn's Family Tree at  Rootsweb.


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, 1994.
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.
The 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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