This project began as an attempt to find one researcher's ancestors in Schwenningen, Württemberg, Germany. Due to the small size of the town and the limited number of surnames, the project grew to include documentation of the entire town from at least 1650 (and in some cases further back) to about 1875-1900, and in some cases to the present day in the U.S.
This all volunteer effort has resulted in numerous U.S. families finding their Schwenningen origins as well as distant cousins. (So far, if one person is descended from someone from Schwenningen, they are related to all other persons descended from someone in Schwenningen.)
Sources of Information
A variety of sources have been used to build this town genealogy, including (but not limited to):
About Spellings in this GEDCOM
To ease the finding of relatives in the database, a consistent spelling for specific surnames was chosen for pre-emigration individuals. Therefore, while original church records may have used JÄKL or JÄKLE, the surname used in the Schwenningen GEDCOM is JAECKLE.
Reading the old German script has been challenging. There are some names that look VERY similar to each other. Therefore, if you see such names, you might want to check out their potentially misspelled "partner" name:
All four of these names can be mistaken for each other, although Kaefer and Kaiser are easier to confuse, as are Lauffer and Hausser to each other. (If you saw them in the old script, you'd see why.)
Because the initial purpose of this GEDCOM was to find relatedness to direct-line ancestors of the initial researcher (Jillaine Smith), she used UPPER CASE SURNAMES to distinguish her direct-line ancestors from others in Schwenningen. This enabled her to easily and visually determine her relatedness to other Schwenningen descendants. Those upper case surnames may or may not remain so once the GEDCOM has been installed at WeRelate.
Here is a more-or-less full list of surnames that appear in the Schwenningen database.
This town "recycled" a fairly limited palette of given names. These names appear again and again. In fact, it's often easy to determine who was NOT from this town by finding a name that does not appear on this list (when the same name has different spellings, those in bold are used in the database):
You will notice the near-complete absence of such German names as:
Telling them Apart
While this recycling of given names in a town with a limited number of surnames was workable early in the recorded life of the town (i.e., 1600s), as the 1700s progressed, the pastors needed to better distinguish the heads of household. They did this by using nicknames (e.g., "Maendliss") or adding the given name of the male's father (e.g., casparsohn for son of Caspar, or Vallis, for son of Valentin). If the male's father held a prominent position, the pastor might use that (e.g., vogt sohn, heligen pfleger sohn).
Additionally, in this GEDCOM, we used I, II, III and IV, etc. to distinguish a continuous line through a family of a given male name. In general, Schwenningen records do not record the names this way, but this designation was added to help identify a line of male descendants and further distinguish repeated names.
It's very easy to confuse:
In addition, early records included such month names as:
Towns Covered in the SCHWENNINGEN GEDCOM
While the primary focus of this project is the town of SCHWENNINGEN,
the GEDCOM also includes individuals from at least 33 different towns in Southern Germany, including:
Early 1800s: to Bessarabia
1847 Town-Subsidized Emigration to North America
North American Emigration 1850-1900
USA Towns Where Schwenningers Settled:
Part of this effort includes tracking what happened to the emigrating Schwenningers. Areas in the U.S. where Schwenningen-region emigrators (or the first generation after) settled include (grouped by STATE):
Ship: City of Berlin (Liverpool; arr NYC 1 Sep 1879)
This ship had many Schwenningers on it, including (starting on page 6):
This needs contributors more familiar with the Canadian descendants of Schwenningen...
Complete Recording the BMD from the Kirchenbuchs
See the "Our Schwenningen Ancestors" Source Table for what has been transcribed/recorded and what remains to be done.
De-Dupe This GEDCOM
Attempts have been made to de-dupe entries in this tree prior to its upload; this is an ongoing effort especially difficult for the following reasons specific to this town:
So please be very careful when merging any records related to this town.
Priorities for de-duping are finding the appropriate full-date births (and marriages) for those records that currently say "abt (YEAR)". In many cases, notes already exist in the Comments areas for possible candidates for such people.
Prior to this project being installed at WeRelate.org, many wonderful people generously contributed their research and data and time, including: