Saturday, July 14, 2007

Writing to German parishes

Back in January, I sent a letter to the rectories associated with what I felt were the three most likely parishes that my great great grandfather, Frank Geyer, could have come from. I picked these three because, after looking in the German white pages, I found that there were a fair number of people with the last name Geyer or Geier, and Freund (his mother's maiden name) living in the parish. These three rectories were: Johannesberg just north of Aschaffenburg (PLZ 63867), Johannisberg in Geisenheim (PLZ 65366) and Fulda-Johannesberg (PLZ 36041). Clicking on the links will take you to the answer received from the rectories. PLZ stands for Postleitzahl, which is the zip code.

Well, it's finally occurred to me that I should post the letter that I sent out! I've translated the text after each paragraph. For help with translation, try LEO English-German dictionary or Babel Fish Translation. I also included a 15 Euro donation with each letter. My husband, a native German speaker, helped with the composition of the letter.

---------------------------------------------


*my name*
*my address*
*my telephone number*
*my email address*


An das katholische Pfarramt
Johannesberger Strasse
36041 Fulda-Johannesberg

/ to the Catholic rectory
/ *address of rectory*

*date*

Sehr geehrter Herr Pfarrer,

/ Dear Mr. Priest

mein Name ist Christina Geyer. Ich bin US-Bürgerin und lebe seit einigen Jahren in Deutschland. Meine Vorfahren waren auch Deutsche, die in die USA ausgewandert sind. Ich weis, dass sie aus einem Ort namens Johannesberg (o. Johannisberg) stammen, aber ich weis nicht welches Johannesberg. Können Sie mir eventuell weiterhelfen? Über meinen Ururgroßvater weiss ich bis jetzt folgendes:

/ my name is Christina Geyer. I am a US citizen and have lived for several years in Germany. My ancestors were also Germans who emigrated to the USA. I know that they came from a place named Johannesberg (or Johannisberg), but I don't know which Johannesberg. Could you possibly help me? About my great-great-grandfather, I know the following:

Er hieß Franciscus Geyer und wurde am 16. April 1862 in Johannesberg, Deutschland geboren. Er wanderte am 23. 09. 1876 zusammen mit der Familie seines Onkels (Bruder der Mutter) Josef Freund aus. Wir wissen, daß die Mutter Maria Anna Geyer geborene Freund 1866 gestorben ist und sein Vater Vitus Geyer (o. Geier) wieder heiratete und in Deutschland blieb. Franciscus hatte eine Schwester (Elisabeth Geyer) und 5 Halbbrüder, die auch in Deutschland blieben. Die Familie ist katholisch.

/ He was named Franciscus Geyer and was born on April 16, 1862 in Johannesberg, Germany. He emigrated on September 23, 1876 together with the family of his uncle (brother of his mother) Josef Freund. We know that the mother, Maria Anna Geyer nee Freund, died in 1866 and his father, Vitus Geyer (or Geier) remarried and stayed in Germany. Franciscus had a sister (Elisabeth Geyer) and 5 half-brothers, who also stayed in Germany. The family is Catholic.

Könnten Sie mir mitteilen, ob Sie es für möglich halten, dass diese Personen in Ihrem Johannesberg gelebt haben? Wenn Sie Verwandte meiner Familie kennen, wäre ich Ihnen dankbar, wenn Sie ihnen meine Adresse geben könnten, damit sie mit mir Kontakt aufnehmen können, falls sie möchten. Ich wäre Ihnen auch dankbar, mir eine Kopie von möglichen Dokumenten mit Informationen zu meiner Familie zuzuschicken. Falls solche Unterlagen nicht in Ihrer Pfarrei sind, könnten Sie mir bitte die Anschrift des zuständigen Archivs mitteilen.

/ Could you tell me whether you think it is possible that these people lived in your Johannesberg? If you know relatives of my family, I would be grateful if you could give them my address so that they can contact me if they would like. I would also be grateful if you could send me any copies of documents with information on my family. In case these documents are not in your rectory, could you please send me the address of the archives where they are located.

Für Ihre Mühen möchte ich mich mit der beiliegenden Spende für Ihre Pfarei bedanken.

/ For your efforts, I would like to thank your rectory with the enclosed donation.

Mit freundlichen Grüssen,

/ Sincerely yours,

*my signature*
*my name*

3 comments:

Janice 7/15/2007 2:21 PM  

Christina,

What a great idea it was for you to post those letters. I'm sure there are many others in the position where they need to write to Germany for information, and do not know how to compose such a letter.

Janice

ChristinaG 7/15/2007 8:02 PM  

@Janice: I know! I can't believe it took me so long to realize how useful it could be as a template!

ChristinaG 7/15/2007 8:07 PM  

Oops! Clicked "publish" prematurely.

I thought I'd mention that when I showed my husband the German letter-writing guide that is up at the FamilySearch website, he said most of the German statements are completely ridiculous, which is why I ended up having him help me write this one.

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