|Greathouse Point > Greathouse Archives > Germany (DEU) > Grothaus of Grossdornberg > 2015 - Corrspondence: Thomas Hutzelman to Greathouse Researchers|
Greathouse of Germany (DEU)
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Grothaus of Grossdornberg, Westfalen
2015, Nov 2 - Correspondence: Thomas Hutzelman to Greathouse Researchers, Subject: Grothus records in Bielefeld area
My name is Tom Hutzelman. Many years ago I looked at the records at St. Michael's Germantown and identified some discrepancies in Jack Murray Greathouse's interpretaton of these records. Since then I have become a specialist in German records, and I do research in German records as a part time profession. I am now a subscriber to a German website that posts images of German church records, including those in Bielefeld, Rheda and in numerous parishes in the vicinity of Bielefeld. I found records of the American Greathouse family in the Dornberg records.
Attached are the Greathouse/Grothus Family records found in the church records of Dornberg, a town a few miles west of Bielefeld, and which is now part of the city.
Significant items are:
According to the above, we can be relatively sure that:
There is another factor which I have observed in conducting other research in this part of Germany. This part of Germany was full of independently owned farms scattered across the landscape, rather than being clustered in compact villages like they are in southern Germany, and different from the more eastern reaches of Prussia, Pomerania and Mecklenburg, which tended to have larger estates owned by nobility.
In Westphalia, (which is a generic regional description, rather than a political entity), men did have traditional family names. However, they were frequently known by the name of the farm which they operated (or at least where they lived.) If a man married a widow, or the daughter of a sonless farmer, he would usually assume her family name - the name of their family farm. Depending on circumstances, one man could be known by 2 - 4 different family names over the course of his life.
So not everyone with the Grothus family name was actually related to all of the other Grothus people. I did not see any indication of "farm names" in the records of Dornberg or Rheda, but they were common enough in the vicinity. It does not appear to have affected the first 2 generations in Dornberg, but it is certainly reasonable to consider that the Grothus family in Rheda may not have been related to the Dornberg Grothus family at all.
The Dornberg, Rheda and Bielefeld records are terrible in their lack of biographical detail. Even with good records it is very difficult to trace more than 2-3 generations because people could be born under one name, married under another name, and died under another name.
As a side comment, I think it is clear to any serious Greathouse researcher that the stories about being from Heidelberg, and the multiple generations of ancestors posted on Ancestry.com are totally erroneous. I think the Greathouse Point web site would perform a service if they would call attention to the erroneoud information so the legions of new researchers do not keep reposting the errors.
Thomas H. Hutzelman
Thomas Hutzelman, Email to Greathouse Researchers, Subject: Grothus records in Bielefeld area, November 2, 2015.
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