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German Genealogy: Finding Your German Ancestors

The United States of America is a country with diverse races and is considered to be the melting pot of cultures in the world. In this country, you will find different races and mixed culture. The United States is composed of Native Americans, Americans, British, Irish, Asian, and even German races. You have to consider that there are about 300 million people living in the United States today.

Today, the largest self-reported ethnic group living in the United States is German Americans. In fact, there is an estimated 47 million German Americans according to the year 2000 census of the United States. As you can see, there is a great possibility that you have German blood running through your veins. If you do, and if you are interested with your German ancestry, you can consider retracing it by hiring a genealogist.

You have to consider that a series of world events have made it possible for people to migrate to the United States. The first German Americans migrated to the United States during the years 1680s to 1760s. From there on, the Germans was the largest group of immigrants in the United States of America. Because of the worsening opportunities of owning farm lands in Germany, conscription to the military, and persecution of religious groups, Germans made a choice to migrate to the United States.

Because of the opportunity to own farm lands in the United States, the freedom it offers to practice religion, non-existent military conscription, and better economy, Germans have made the United States of America as the prime country to migrate in.

During the World War II where Adolf Hitler came to power and started persecuting and killing German Jews, many of Germans migrated to the United States of America seeking refuge.

As you can see, series of world events made Germans to migrate to the United States. If you have an Aryan surname or if your grandparents or great-grandparents have Aryan surnames, you can be sure that you have German ancestry. You have to consider that finding out your own ancestry can be quite a task to accomplish. This is why you should try and seek the help of a genealogist who specializes in American German ancestry. Who knows? Maybe you can even trace your ancestry and may find that you are related to some of the worlds famous Germans, such as Oskar Schindler who is known to save thousands or even millions of Jews from Adolf Hitler’s gas chambers. Or, it is also possible that you may even be related to Albert Einstein or the former American President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

There are hundreds more of prominent German Americans who contributed a lot to society. In fact, even Elvis Presley has German blood.

So, if you have German ancestry and you want to know about your family’s history or you want to know your long lost relatives, you can consider hiring a genealogist to trace your German ancestry. With the available technology today, they may even find your distant relatives living in Germany today.

Grave Discoveries: Visiting Cemeteries to Help you Find your Ancestors

Grave Discoveries: Visiting Cemeteries to Help you Find your Ancestors

If you’ve come to a seemingly dead end in your genealogy research, some places that you might consider visiting are cemeteries. Start with ancestors who lived nearby and who are likely to be buried close to your home-if your local cemetery is fairly small, you can simply spend an afternoon walking though it to search for familiar names. However, at larger cemeteries, you’ll need some help sifting through the hundreds, sometimes thousands of tombstones.

If the cemetery is associated with a church, contact the church secretary or religious leader and ask about their graveyard policies. Some keep a record of everyone buried and plot numbers where you can find these individuals, and they should be happy to share their records with you. On top of gaining information such as birth and death dates about the ancestor you are researching, you may also stumble upon other relatives who are buried in a family plot or names of children, spouses, parents, etc. who held the funeral. Occasionally, churches will even save obituaries or funeral information about their members, and this information can be especially valuable on your hunt for ancestors.

Cemeteries not associated with churches often are run by a committee or the government. Find the name of the contact person and they will be able to help you locate specific plots. Recently, larger cemeteries have begun putting their records onto computers, making it even easier to search surnames and other information. Within a few minutes, they can provide you with a map of the plots and a list of people with a specific surname. Save this list-even if you don’t recognize the names now, you may be able to find a connection in the future.

There are many ways to record information from tombstones. First, you can bring your camera and take a picture of each stone. Remember to be respectful of other visitors-wait until the area is clear before taking a picture, especially if your camera uses a flash. Do not stand straight in front of the stone if this is the case, because the flash will often times shine back and you won’t be able to read the information on the photograph.

Some old stones, however, cannot be adequately photographed. In this case, bring supplies to do a rubbing. Use a brush to remove debris such as dirt and bird droppings from the stone. Next, tape a large piece of paper to the stone, making sure to cover all areas of writing. Use the side of a crayon-a large black one works best-to gently rub over the stone. Your words should appear on the paper, giving you a good record of whatever is written on the stone.

When visiting cemeteries, always use caution, especially when you touch very old stones, so that you do not cause any damage. Also remember that other visitors are there to mourn and remember loved ones, so be polite and quiet while you are searching through the stones for hints to your genealogy.