Ich bin ein Preuße, kennt ihr meine Farben? Reasons to Learn Your Family History!

Hello everyone!

As of late I have been getting some questions about my ancestry.  Specifically about how I can be Prussian if the nation of Prussia does not exist anymore.  Today’s post will not just be about my family.  Rather, today’s post will be about genealogy.  I have been doing my family’s genealogy for quite a while now.  So has my mother’s side of the family.  It is ridiculous how much we know about her side of the family!  Of course, if you knew who was in my mother’s family you would know why it is plentiful to come by.  Yes, on my mother’s side I do have royal and noble blood and that makes finding out about various family members very easy.  I will leave it at that.  My father’s side. Not so easy.  Why?  Mostly because his family has had no interest in learning where they came from.  He is also American Indian and that complicates things a lot!  Scattered in today’s post I will have tips  for those of you who wish to trace your family back as far as they can. Without further ado, let us start digging into our pasts!

To answer the questions about my Prussian ancestry I will say this.  The farthest back that I can get in my Prussian ancestry is to a male ancestor, I will not mention names on here because of who members of my family are, and he came from Bartia.  Where the heck is Bartia?!  Bartia does not exist anymore so it is not too surprising if you have not heard of it.  In fact, it would really surprise me if you did seeing as how the only person that I have ever met that knew what I was talking about was a college professor of mine whose family also comes from that area.  Bartia is where the Bartians lived.  Before I get flooded with questions as to who the Bartians were I will answer that for you now.  The Bartians were one of the Baltic Prussian Tribes, of which there were between 9-13 (that depends on who you are talking to).  They lived in the area that is now part of Poland.  Wait!  Wouldn’t that make you Polish?!  Nope.  Way back in those times the Poles were a West Slavic group of tribes.  They did work their way up towards the Baltic region, but that was a bit later.  So, to answer the question outright as to whether or not I am actually Prussian.  Yes!  I am in fact very, very, very Prussian.  On both sides of my family.  I will get into this topic now.

As I said above finding out about my mother’s family is ridiculously easy because of their ridiculous record keeping about family births, baptisms, deaths, moves, and every other thing about the family.  My father’s side is the exact opposite.  Finding out about American Indian families is hard.  This is because they just did not keep records.  We can only trace my father’s American Indian lineage back so far and then it just stops.  Although we can get pretty far back!  Thanks to census records and oral history of the tribe we’ve got quite a bit.  There is however this wonderful, although some would argue it is horrible, quirk in our tribe.  Way back when, the Oto-Missouria tribe did love them some French and Dutch fur trappers.  Those French and Dutch fur trappers brought with them their need to keep records and keep track of every thing.  Of course, they also tried to convert us to our own religion, but we will forgive them for that.  They did not know any better.  This has helped finding out about my father’s family a lot easier.

Filling out a census is a pain in the butt.  I hate filling them out, but they are necessary.  They also are a great help to anyone trying to find out anything about their family.  Without these census records I would have never found out that part of my father’s family came from Canada.  Yep.  I have always known that the Oto tribe lived way up in the Northern United States, but I did not know that they actually lived for any length of time up in Canada.  Now, part of my mother’s family does live in and are from Canada.  So, having Canadian relatives is not that much of a surprise.  The surprise came with it being on my father’s side.  I even traced that part of my family back to Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson.  I am his 40th great grand-daughter.  If you know anything about Nordic history you should know who that is.  He was the King of Danmark and Norge.  The Bluetooth communication technology is named after him as well and uses his Rune initials. Funzies!  

Another surprise came when I was tracking down parts of my mother’s family that had not been explored.  That is when I found this lovely person on my family tree.  Who is that handsome devil?  That is a cousin of mine…kind of a distant cousin, but a cousin none the less (Distant cousin to my family is 3rd cousin and back).  That man is Georg Friedrich Ferdinand Prinz von Preußen.  Yep, that is the Prince of Prussia.  You can read more about him, his lovely wife, and the House of  Hohenzollern by clicking on that picture of him.  Like I said, I am Prussian.  There is a picture of the Prince of Prussia.  So, yes, you can be Prussian even though the country does not exist anymore.  We still have a prince!  He does not have any political power and he does not really want any.  Either way, I admire him.  He is pretty awesome and I found it interesting that I am related to this man. 
 
 
Is there a point to all of this?  Do you really need to know about part of my family’s history?  Not really, but there is a point to it.  I would have never known about being related to the Prince of Prussia or that I was even Prussian had I not had any interest in my family’s genealogy.  I had always been told that there was noble and royal blood in my family’s past and now I know where it comes from.  Actually, it comes from both sides.  Some of the stories that I had been told about my family turned out to be true!  You never know until you look it up.
 
Okay, okay, so the point of this post even though it is really long is this: learn about your family history!  You might even find out that you are related to someone famous.  You might even learn that your family was from a country that you didn’t even expect them to be from.  I was not expecting to have more of a family connection than my first cousins on my mother’s side be from Canada.  I defiantly was not expecting the Prince of Prussia to pop up on my family tree or the King of Danmark and Norge.  Learning about your family history is exciting and it can make world history more exciting if you know that your family had a hand in some of the events or lived through some atrocities that happened in the past.  It has defiantly changed my world view.  I look at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and it means more to me now because part of my family wanted that built that as a symbol of peace.  It is now one of the most recognized monuments in all of Germany!  You never know what you will find out about your family.  So go out and learn about your family and your history!
 
To help you along the way here are some of the most helpful sites that I have come across when doing my family’s genealogy.  Some of them are free and some are not.  RootsWeb is free and one of the most useful ones that I have come across and is basically a free version of Ancestry.  I recommend an Ancestry account if you want a paid for site.  It is wonderful and has the most resources of any site I have come across.

Have fun and I hope that you all find something interesting in your family history!

RootsWeb

Ancestry

My Heritage

Family Search

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