A Marriage in Mecklenburg-Schwerin

Although more and more genealogical records are being digitized and made available online, images of German church books—those faded ledgers filled with seemingly indecipherable old script that record baptisms, marriages, and burials—are often few and far between. That’s why it was a cause for celebration when I discovered that the scope of Ancestry.com’s “Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1519-1969” encompassed the middle-of-nowhere German communities where a number of my ancestors lived and worshiped in the nineteenth century.

I knew something about the lives of Ernst and Friederike (Wegner) Stübe in America, where they had immigrated with their two-year-old daughter in 1869, but I had known little about their lives in the old country, the former Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Thanks to this record collection, I learned the following:

  • Ernst was christened Ernst Daniel Joachim Stübe following his birth on 29 January 1839 in present-day Starkow, Thelkow, Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, the son of Hans Arend Heinrich Stübe and Maria Elisabeth Twert.1 He was baptized on 3 February 1839 at the village church of nearby Walkendorf, which still stands today.2

“Dorfkirche in Walkendorf,” 2008, Walkendorf, Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany; Wikimedia Commons, copyright Ch. Pagenkopf.

  • Friederike was christened Friederike Johanna Dorothea Christiana Wegner following her birth on 9 August 1841 in present-day Selpin, Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, the daughter of Johann Wegner and Regina Lewerenz.3 She was baptized on 15 August 1841 at the village church of nearby Vilz, which still stands today.4

“Kirche in Vilz bei Tessin,” 2008, Vilz, Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany; Wikimedia Commons, copyright Schiwago.

It is likely that Ernst and Friederike grew up on the manorial estates where their fathers were day laborers (Tägelohner).5 Serfdom had ceased in Mecklenburg-Schwerin only in 1820; landless men remained tied to the land where they toiled as contracted laborers on these estates, their wives often working alongside them.6 As children, Ernst and Friederike would have lived in estate-owned huts that were shared with their immediate families as well as, perhaps, their extended families or the families of other laborers.7

Childhood, however, was brief; by the time they were seven years old, Ernst and Friederike may have been hired out to work, or at the very least by the time they reached adolescence. Granted room and board for their services as a farm hand and maid, respectively, they would also have received a modest annual wage.8 Throughout their years of service, they may have moved among different estates and had the opportunity to mingle with a number of other young people at local festivals, and perhaps this is ultimately how they became acquainted.9

  • When they married on 24 October 1866, Ernst was twenty-seven and Friederike was twenty-five; they were married at St. Johannis in present-day Tessin, Stadt Tessin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, which still stands today.10

“Stadtkirche St. Johannis in Tessin,” 2008, Tessin, Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany; Wikimedia Commons, copyright Schiwago.

As it so happens, Ernst and Friederike’s wedding day fell upon the date that the contract year for laborers typically concluded; as this was the beginning of a three-day holiday after which contracts might be renewed or laborers shifted to different estates, the young couple may have decided that this would be a practical time to marry and set up house once permission had been granted for their marriage.11 Indeed, as marriage restrictions in Mecklenburg-Schwerin remained strict at this time, a wedding was a true celebration and traditionally included several days of feasting.12

Following their marriage, Ernst and Friederike appear to have lived on the grounds of the estate Friedrichshof, located between Selpin and Walkendorf, where Ernst, like his father before him, was a day laborer.13 Friedrichshof is no more, although notably, it was the birthplace of Richard Wossidlo, a renowned folk historian and ethnographer.14 It was likely here at Friedrichshof where the Stübe couple’s first child, Emma, was born on 27 September 1867.15 Two years later, amidst a stream of emigrants from Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Ernst, Friederike, and Emma Stübe boarded a ship at Hamburg, and the rest, as they say, is history.16 

Copyright © 2017 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.


SOURCES
1 “Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1519-1969,” digital images, Ancestry.com, entry for Ernst Daniel Joachim Stübe, 29 Jan 1839, Walkendorf.
2 “Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1519-1969,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 April 2017), entry for Ernst Daniel Joachim Stübe, 29 Jan 1839, Walkendorf, and Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org), “Dorfkirche Walkendorf,” revised 17:41, 14 March 2015.
3 “Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1519-1969,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 April 2017), entry for Friederica Johanna Dorothea Christiana Wegner, 09 August 1841, Vilz.
4 “Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1519-1969,” digital images, Ancestry.com, entry for Friederica Johanna Dorothea Christiana Wegner, 09 August 1841, Vilz, and Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org), “Dorfkirche Vilz,” revised 14:58, 14 March 2015.
5 Christiane Harzig, Peasant Maids, City Women: From the European Countryside to Urban America (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1997), 29.
6 Harzig, Peasant Maids, City Women, 30.
7 Harzig, Peasant Maids, City Women, 30.
8 Harzig, Peasant Maids, City Women, 34.
9 Harzig, Peasant Maids, City Women, 38-39.
10 “Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1519-1969,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 April 2017), entry for Ernst Daniel Joachim Stübe and Friederike Johanna Dorothea Christiane Wegner, 26 October 1866, Rostock, and Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org), “Stadtkirche Tessin,” revised 14:58, 14 March 2015.
11 Harzig, Peasant Maids, City Women, 37.
12 Harzig, Peasant Maids, City Women, 41-42.
13 “Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, Census, 1867,” Friedrichshof, Ritteramt Gnoien, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, Emma Stübe; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 05 April 2017), citing Mecklenburg-Schwerin (Großherzogtum), Volkszählungsamt, “Volkszählung am 3. Dezember 1867,” Landeshauptarchiv Schwerin, 5.12-3/20 Statistisches Landesamt (1851-1945).
14 Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org), “Richard Wossidlo,” revised 21:03, 13 December 2016.
15 Cook County, Illinois, death certificate no. 31298 (reg. no.), “Emma Wiese,” 6 November 1937; digital image, Cook County Clerk’s Office: Genealogy Online (http://cookcountygenealogy.com : accessed 04 March 2013), and “Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, Census, 1867,” Friedrichshof, Ritteramt Gnoien, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, Emma Stübe; digital image, Ancestry.com. Emma lived at Friedrichshof with her parents a year after her birth; her father was also a resident of Friedrichshof a year before her birth, at the time of his marriage, which suggests that the family’s residence there was continuous.
16 “Hamburg Passagierlisten, 1850-1934,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 05 April 2017), manifest, Silesia, Hamburg to New York, leaving 29 September 1869, Ernst Wiese; citing Bestand [inventory no.] 373-7I, VIII, A1 (Auswanderungsamt I [Emigration List – Indirect]), Band [vol.] 023 B; Staatsarchiv Hamburg microfilm series K1701 -K2008, S17363-S17383, 13116-13183.

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2 thoughts on “A Marriage in Mecklenburg-Schwerin

  1. Nancy

    This was a great post, Melanie. Very interesting and the photos of the churches are beautiful. I’m glad to learn about the book Peasant Maids, City Women, which I’ll try to find. I don’t know that any of my German grandmothers moved to cities but I’m sure some of them were peasant maids. As more and more German records come online I continue to have hope that I might find more information about my own German-born ancestors.

    Reply
    1. Melanie Frick Post author

      Thank you, Nancy! I was able to find portions of the book available on Google Books, but I ended up ordering a used copy on Amazon for the complete version as I found it so interesting. Wishing you luck with your German research – I have several other branches I hope I’ll be able to fill in one day as well!

      Reply

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