Last night was a good night for genealogy in the Rathkamp house. My third great grandparents, August and Henriette (Viergutz) Wesenberg were the first of my ancestors to emigrate to America. They arrived in New York on August 10, 1846. I’ve never put a lot of time into this branch of my family, so last night I thought I’d dive in. Sometimes when you hit a brick wall, it helps to research sideways, and this worked for me last night. I suspected the Wesenbergs came from Pomerania, and this was verified as their port of departure was shown to be Stettin, now a city of 406,000 in Poland.
When you’re researching your ancestors, you often have a tendency to look at a document fixated only on your ancestors names. I’ve learned over time that there are often clues surrounding those names. The name Zastrow kept popping up next to or near the Wesenberg name. Charles Zastrow and his family are listed on the passenger list just above the Wesenbergs. The 1860 US Census showed the Zastrows, again just above the Wesenbergs. I then searched the US Bureau of Land Management’s website and found the documents showing that Carl Zastrow and August Wesenberg both purchased land in Herman, Dodge County, Wisconsin Territory on February 2, 1848. August bought 40 acres and Carl, 200. These documents show the exact locations of each of these plots, so I used that information and plugged it into the virtual plat map on Dodge County’s website.
I knew I had something here, so I searched Ancestry.com for Carl Zastrow and found a tree showing his birthplace as Pflugarde, Pommerania. I then searched Google for Zastrow and Pflugard and found the real gem I was after: A page on Google Books showing a list of Old Lutherans who had fled Pommern seeking religious freedom. Sure enough, August and Henriette are shown just below Carl. Their name here is spelled Wasenberg, but also shown is their home town: Wismar, now Wyszomierz, Poland. Wismar is only a mile or two from Pflugarde.
Here’s another interesting thing about this last list. Many of the names on this list are familiar names. I’ve worked with with or have known people having the last names of Gennrich, Roehl, Eggert, Hammel, Goetsch and Pankow.
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