Mennonites in Prussia: 1786-1806

Adalbert Goertz

Geography is essential for any endeavor in researching ancestors. In the following I am listing the many cities, towns and villages in the Eastern parts of the kingdom of Prussia where Mennonites used to live: East and West Prussia, South Prussia, and Brandenburg. The time period of 1786-1806 is of special interest. 1786 was the year when King Friedrich II ("Old Fritz", der Alte Fritz) died after a long reign since 1740 which included the annexation of West Prussia in 1772 (first partition of Poland). During his reign the first census of Prussian Mennonites was conducted which lists the names of family heads.

This Special-Consignation is available on microfilm (LDS film # 1056552, pages 17-125) and in two publications by Gustav E. Reimer (1940-1943, reprint by Horst Penner, 1976) and by K. H. Ludwig (1961).

King Friedrich Wilhelm II, nephew of Old Fritz, reigned 1786-1797 and was not as tolerant as his great uncle was toward the non-resistant Mennonites. His administration, the General-Directorium, was ordered to keep track of and record where Mennonites lived and what real estate they owned, bought and sold from and to Mennonites and non-Mennonites. In 1793 he annexed the Danzig and Thorn Territories as well as other parts of Poland which he called South Prussia. King Friedrich Wilhelm III, his son, reigned from 1797-1840 and continued the policies of his father as far as Mennonites were concerned. In 1806 disaster struck Prussia when Napoleon swept over Europe which resulted in the defeat of Prussia. The General-Directorium was dissolved in 1806 which had been established in 1722.

Today the records of the General-Directorium are deposited in the Geh.Staatsarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz in Berlin (II.HA: Abt.7 - Ostpreussen und Litauen - and Abt.9 - Westpreussen und Netze-Dstrict) as well as in Warsaw (Südreussen and Neu-Ostpreussen).

The Mennonitica of the II.HA are available on 5 LDS microfilms (# 1056552-553; 1056557-559).

The localities in which Mennonites lived during this time period of 1786-1806 may be classified in three groups:

A. Städte (Cities) which owned the so-called Kämmerei-Güter
B. Estates of the Nobilities (Rittergüter, Dominia etc.) which were grouped into adl. Landkreise (Nobility districts)
C. Amtsdörfer grouped into Royal Crownland Districts or Ämter (singular: Amt).

The records of the latter (C) are of special interest and include the royal land assessment lists or Praestations-Tabellen. The first deed and mortgage records in Prussia (Grund- und Hypotheken-Acta) were first introduced in 1783 for these crownlands. About 1812 they were extended also to the Noble Estates (B). The Cities had variable histories for deed and mortgage records.

This information is important if you look for ancestors who may have lived in the various types of villages.

Once you have decided on which may be the village which merits your attention, you may consult the following sources to find out who lived in each village:

Ostpreussen, East Prussian District: Ostdeutsche Familienkunde, 1994, p.267-272 (Ostpreussische Mennoniten im Regierungsbezirk Königsberg)

Ostpreussen, Lithuanian District: Ostdeutsche Familienkunde, 1993, p.402-407 (Ostpreussische Mennoniten im Regierungsbezirk Gumbinnen)

Danzig Territory: Mennonite Family History, January 1991, p.20-21 (Mennonites in the Danzig Territory in 1793); Ostdeutsche Familienkunde, 1976, p.278-280, 320-325 (5. First Danzig Familienbuch)

Westpreussen: Marienwerder Departement (Land Census of 1789 on the website)

Südpreussen: Mennonite Family History, July 2002, p. 124-127 (Mennonites of the Obernessau Congregation in Prussia)

Brandenburg: Mennonite Family History, January 2001, p. 47-51: (Mennonites in Amt Driesen of the Neumark, Brandenburg).

Ostpreussisches Kammer-Departement

A. Städte

B. Auf dem Platten Lande

Lithauisches Kammer-Departement

A. Städte

B. Adliges Kreishauptamt Tilist

C. Ämter

1. Amt Linkuhnen

2. Amt Ballgarden

3. Amt Baublen

4. Amt Heinrichswalde

5. Amt Kuckerneese

6. Amt Winge

Westpreussisches Kammer-Departement

Danziger Territorium (1793-1806)

A. Stadt Danzig

B. Danziger Vorstädte

C. Amt Stadt Danzig

D. Adlige Güter im Danziger Territorium

E. Selbständige Güter im Danziger Territorium

F. Hospitalgüter im Danziger Territorium

A. Städte (1772-1806)

1. Stadt Culm

2. Stadt Dirschau

3. Stadt Elbing

4. Stadt Marienburg

5. Stadt Neuteich

6. Stadt Marienwerder

7. Stadt Stuhm

8. Stadt Schwetz

9. Stadt Stolzenberg

B. Adlige Landkreise (1772-1806)

1. Kreis Conitz

2. Kreis Culm

3. Kreis Dirschau

4. Kreis Marienburg

5. Kreis Marienwerder

C. Ämter (1772-1806)

1. Amt Christburg

2. Amt Elbing

3. Amt Engelsburg

4. Amt Graudentz

5. Int. Marienburg

6. Amt Marienwerder

7. Amt Mewe

8. Amt Neuenburg

9. Amt Oliva

10. Amt Pelplin

11. Amt Schwetz

12. Amt Sobowitz

13. Amt Stuhm

14. Amt Subckau

15. Amt Thiegenhof

16. Amt Weishof

17. Amt Neuschottland und Langfuhr

Südpreussen (1793-1806), Amt Dybow

1. Klein Niszewke
2. Gross Niszewke
3. Dulinow
4. Kozibor
5. Korzienic Kämpe
6. Stronsker Kämpe

Brandenburg (1766-1833), Amt Driesen

1. Brenkenhoffswalde
2. Franzthal
3. Neu-Dessau

I invite your comment and suggestions on this page:

Page created 24 April 2003; html by Richard D. Thiessen

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