Visiting ancestral places in Poland

by Karl and Barbara Edler

Our visits and research in Wisconsin during 1999 confirmed some mid nineteenth century European origins and ancestral lines of Karl's mother, Pearl Keil Edler. With information extracted from Lutheran church registers, we found village names for Prussian birthplaces of some of her grandparents. Then, using detailed German maps from the late 1800s and modern maps of Poland we could make close guesses on place name changes and current locations and began to plan an exploratory trip through parts of Poland, formerly known as Westpreussen: Pommern (Pomerania), Posen and Schlesien (Silesia).

The large map on the left is part of an 1882 map of West Prussia. The areas marked in red are where the grandparents apparently lived in the 1800s:
for Zastrow and Klug families: countryside around former NeuStettin, Pommern

for Zellmer and Drews families: countryside around former Schneidemühl, Posen

for Keil and Hiller families: countryside around former Breslau, Schlesien .

The map below shows the corresponding modern Polish towns of Szczecinek, Zachodniopomorskie; Pila, Wielkopolskie; and Wroclaw, Dolnoalaskie.
Click here for enlarged map of modern Poland

In May 2000, at the end of a trip to Germany and Netherlands with our son and grandson, we made a five day driving loop through western Poland to see the present-day countryside and villages where Karl's mother's people had lived until the mid-1800s. There was no time for archival research on this trip; besides, there were no local Lutheran churches or Germanic historical groups to visit. About fifty years ago, following World War II, German ethnics had all been "cleansed" from Poland and the land resettled with refugees from the east.

Click the arrow to begin the journey