Tuesday, April 5, 2016

March 30th Program Review – Toni Perrone

     Toni Perrone was the speaker at the CVGS program meeting on Wednesday, 30 March on “The Land of Hansel and Gretel: Genealogical Resources for Hessen.”  

     She discussed the history of the area in Germany known as Hesse, including maps showing all of the boundary and jurisdictional changes since 700 AD.  Key events were the 1871 formation of the German Empire, the effects of world Wars I and II, and the 1991 combination of East and West Germany.  Hessen now is a state in west-central Germany with a population of about 6 million people, with major cities of Wiesbaden, Kassel, Frankfurt and Darmstadt.  In 1946, Hesse was formed with major districts of Hesse Nassau, the Duchy of Hessen, Waldeck, and Rhineland-Palatinate.  Persons traveled on the rivers.  The Rhine flows north and then northwest through Hesse to the North Sea.   Toni said a timeline and up-to-date maps for each historic period are essential in order to find records.  

     Emigration from Hesse to America started in 1707, when emigrants from Braunschweig settled in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  In 1751, more emigrants settled in Dresden, Mass.  Between 1776 and 1783, mercenary soldiers were hired by the British to fight the colonists in the Revolutionary War, and they were referred to as Hessians.  Many of them were from Hesse.  Thousands stayed in the United States after the war, with some receiving land grants in Kentucky and Tennessee.

       Hesse was the homeland for the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, who wrote folk tale and folklore books in the 1840s and 1850s.  Hansel and Gretel was one of the stories.  In the early 1800s, some Hesse families sent their young children to the USA to live with former Hessian soldiers and their families.  In the 1848-1861 time period, Kassel and Darmstadt paid for the passage of about 140,000 emigrants to America.  

      Toni described some of the major reference works available for researchers with Hesse ancestry.  These include the Emigration Books (Auswandern), Town Lineage Books (Ortsippenbuch), Military and Emigration records.  The handout for the talk provided source listings and links to these and many more resources, and many of them are in the Immigrant Library in Burbank where Toni works.  She also noted that many links for Hessen are online at www.genealogylinks.net/europe/germany/he.htm

     The handout for Toni's talk is available on the CVGS website (www.cvgenealogy.org) as are reference materials from the Immigrant Library in Burbank with information about researching in all of the German states.

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