Those doing research in the former region of Württemberg are fortunate for several reasons:
- The ministers in Württemberg not only kept track of births (christenings), marriages, and deaths (burials), but also kept family book registers (Familienbücher) which list the vital records for each person in the family, the parent's marriage, birth, and parent's names. These books are an index to the church records and make it possible to extend a person's genealogy back several generations in a short period of time. Some areas they go back into the 1500s, but for all of Württemberg they begin at least by about 1790. An extraction form in English showing the typical format of these records can be printed from the KinQuest site on the Internet.
- The church records in Württemberg generally go back to the early 1600s and into the 1500s.
- There are several articles available in English available on the Internet by genealogists who have done research in Württemberg in sources other than just church records. In particular, there are several articles by Friedrich Wollmershäuser on this site who has over 26 years of specialized genealogy research from this area. Some of these are in German. There are also three articles by Lisa Petersen on her experience making research trips to Württemberg.
- Much information about Württemberg research and background is also found on the Genealogy.Net and WorldGenWeb Sites.
- A wonderful index to the Württemberg Germany Emigration records is also available through the Ancestry site. An index to Württemberg passport records is available through the Family History Library. Also Friedrich Wollmershäuser also has an index of emigrants from Württemberg gleaned from newspaper announcements.
So why another site on Württemberg? Well for two reasons:
- I want to add my own perspective to those give above
- My own family comes from Württemberg
Although I haven't got much on this Württemberg site yet, I am hoping to add a series of parish maps similar to what I did for Schleswig-Holstein. I am also going to make a trip to Germany next month and hopefully will be able to add my own experience to those of Wollmershäuser and Petersen. In the meantime here is a little background history on Württemberg:
Württemberg in the 18th Century
Most histories of Württemberg begin with the decline of the Hohenstaufen ruling family (ruled this area 1079-1268) and the raise of the Württemberg family (from 1200s). Some go back even earlier to talk about the Alemanni and Suebi (Swabian) tribes who occupied this area in the 3rd century AD and who were conquered by the Franks in 506 AD.
Although a history of the Württemberg ducal family is interesting, it does not represent a comprehensive history for this area during the 17th and 18th centuries. The area that we think of as Württemberg during the period of the German Empire (1870s-1918), was quite different prior to 1805. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Duchy of Württemberg and the County of Hohenzollern made up only part of this region. Much of this region was ruled over by other nobility and institutions. To understand the history of this region, these other ruling families and territories needs to also be taken into account.
During the period of the late 1500s-1805, like the rest of Germany, Württemberg was a patchwork of different ruling families and their various land holdings. Our ancestors were feudal tenants paying tributes for use of their land to the nobles who ruled over them. Once you begin to go beyond church records, it is important to identify the ruling families and jurisdictions over the towns where your ancestor lived in order to find wills, court, land, and other types of records.
For example, my Horlacher family lived in the following Württemberg towns during this period of time:
|Years||Town||Jurisdiction to Which the Town Belonged|
|1818-1900||Rüblingen||Part of the kingdom of Württemberg. (before 1806 Hohenlohen [Hohenlohe-Waldenburg] family)|
|1789-1818||Unterregenbach||Hohenlohe (Hohenlohe-Langenburg) family. In 1806 became part of the kingdom of Württemberg.|
|1756-1789||Döttingen||Hohenlohe (Hohenlohe-Kirchberg) branch during the 1700s.|
|1756-1719||Zottishofen||Frankish Knights of Odenwald (Stetten-Buchenbach family).|
|1500s-1719||Jagstrot||Came under control of Hall (City State), part in 1541 from Limpurg and part in 1580 from v. Vellberg family.|
Although my Horlachers were from Württemberg in the 1800s, if I really want to understand the history of where they lived and the jurisdictions that the records are found under during the 1600s and 1700s, I need to learn more of the history of the territories of Hohenlohe, the City State (Reichsstadt) Schwäbisch Hall, the Frankish Knights of Odenwald, and Limpurg. A wonderful map showing these various jurisdictions from 1790 is, Herrschaftsbegiete und Ämtergliederung in Südwestdeutschland 1790 (FHL 943.46 E7bw sect.6, map13). The section which included my Horlacher family can be used as an example to see how this map works. Also the eight volume series, Das Land Baden-Württemberg : amtliche Beschreibung nach Kreisen und Gemeinden (FHL 943.46 E6bw, volume 8 includes place index), will list the different jurisdiction that each village belonged to at different times. A very similar, although a little less detailed, map of the jurisdictions in Württemberg in 1789 is available on the Internet.
During the Napoleonic period, many changes took place in Württemberg. Württemberg entered a peace treaty with France in 1796. In an alliance with Napoleon in 1805, Frederick of Württemberg was able to help defeat Austria. As a result January 1, 1806, Württemberg was proclaimed a kingdom and Frederick became King of Württemberg. In July 1806 Württemberg joined Napoleon's Confederation of the Rhine and by 1810 its area had doubled to encompass most of what we think of as Württemberg. Frederick abolished the powers of the estates, ending the feudal system as it had been in the territory.