Geneablogy: An occasional Journal about our experiences exploring our heritage

Sunday, October 8, 2000

After all these long posts, here's a relatively short one. About a month ago, I got e-mail from Carol saying she had been back to the Hoyt library in Saginaw and gone through the Germans to America books, and had found a listing for Emil Prillwitz, although not for Helen or her mother. Also, the listing in the book had his village as "unknown". I told her that it would be a good idea to get a copy of the original ship's record, because the people who did the books didn't always do a good job, particularly on villages, and they might have just missed Helen. She asked about the Mormons, so I e-mailed her about what to expect when she went to a Family History Center. In the meantime, Laura and I went into the city a couple of weeks ago to meet friends of hers from college for a day in Central Park. Unfortunately, her friend got sick, and they just missed us when they tried to phone, so we wound up going into the city and meeting the husband, who had been sent in to let us know that the day was blown. Anyway, after having lunch with him, Laura and I went over to the NYC Public Library on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. I had entered the details Carol had sent into my Palm Pilot, so it was pretty quick work to find the actual film that had Emil's passenger list on it. He came over on the ship "Slavonia" from Stettin (today Szeczin, Poland), arriving in New York on March 16, 1888, aged 35. All that was in the Germans to America books. What they had missed was that his home town was listed. Emil, and presumably Helen, were from Pyritz, Prussia, which is known today as Pyrzice, Poland, about 30 miles or so south of Szeczin. That's a fact that Carol has been looking for for a long time, and she was pretty happy to find it out. I looked through the rest of the list, but there was no evidence that Helen came over on the same ship, something I thought was pretty strange, since she was in Saginaw by 1889 and married to Ralph Sr. in 1890. I would have expected that they came over on the same ship, but I guess not.

Looking for information about Pyritz, I came across the sad story of the town's obliteration in World War II (search for "Pyritz"), complete with the claim that no genealogical records survived. However, the Family History Center catalog records for Pyritz shows church records from 1796 to 1873 in their holdings. Helen was 17 when she married Ralph in August, 1890, which means she was born between August, 1872 and August, 1873, and her birth might be recorded in the church records. 1872 appears to be missing from the microfilms. There's civil registration records, but they run only from 1874 to 1877, too late for Helen, although they might have information about Anna or one of the other sisters.

Posted at 11:57:57 PM