Tag Archives: Family Research

Visiting Dad’s old home

Last weekend we managed it to take a trip to Poland. We had been talking about such visit for several years but never got around it as so many things got in between. Our destination was the Island of Wolin (Wollin in German) and we stayed in the town Międzyzdroje (Misdroy). This town, also called The Pearl of the Baltic,  is a very popular holiday destination during summer time due to its wonderful beach and these days every second building is some kind of hotel.  We didn’t do much in that town as we had other plans ahead. Together with my little family, my brother and my father we drove 10km further to the village Kołczewo (Kolzow), the birth place of my father, to see whether anything was left from the old family buildings.

At the beach in Międzyzdroje

Now let’s say that we were happy to see that in Międzyzdroje a lot of the old buildings were renovated and looked once again like the old times, however in Kołczewo things were a bit different. As this village is no tourist spot nothing has been pretty much done there since the war ended. Sure some apartment complexes had been build some when in the 70’s / 80’s but the old structures are just falling apart. It was no problem for us to find the old canopy road to get to the general direction of father’s birth place. While driving we only had to look out for some higher hill with some buildings and there we saw the old house on the left. The poor road set with concrete blocks wasn’t the best for cars but we managed it up and parked the cars on top of the hill. The house was a mess, it had further degraded since we had visited in the early 90’s and strange add-ons had been built to the structure.

The old family home, I couldn’t take pictures of the backside as it was in just too terrible condition

On the property of the old family home we could still see the foundation of the engine powered mill my grandfather had built in 1938. Besides the foundation there was an old millstone propped against a tree. Nothing was left of the windmill on top of the hill or the bakery next to the main house. In the distance we could see great-great-great uncle’s farm from whom my great-grand father bought the property for the mill and houses. Down the street there was also the day-laborer’s house (also belonging to my grandfather) standing now divided into two half’s. One of house half was actually in really good condition with even solar panels on the roof. It was probably the best building in the entire village at this point.

Village center, all falling apart

 

We also went to the village center to visit the church as the old German graveyard was there on its property. Back in 2007 someone had still taken some pictures of some of the graves for documentation however by now it had been all plowed and it was a potatoes and vegetable garden plus little playground. Sadly we could not find any further information about my ancestors from that place any longer. Behind the church we found one single old gravestone leaning against a tree and a lot of the former Lutheran church equipment piled up and rotting away.

The church where my father was baptized in 1941/1942

Even though we could not find anything about our family history it was still nice to see some of the old buildings standing. I also asked some of the village residents for information but no one had any idea as they were all born after the 60s and thus had not even a clue about the former church ruins on a little hill in the village center with a graveyard which also had been demolished around that time. For my father is was probably a good feeling to see his old home once again even though it was upsetting to see it in such terrible state these days. We certainly plan on travelling there again in the next years; after all it is only 3 1/2 hours away by car (in case the traffic is playing along).

Have you ever visited some place where your ancestors came from?

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DNA Ancestry and Family Tree

For many years I did not really care about my family history and didn’t really know much more except my parents birthdays and some information about my grandparents. This changed back in 2015 when a former colleague mentioned something about his family tree research. For some reason I was immediately interested and started my own research. Within short time my family tree had more than 200 (now over 300) people in it but I ran into many problems finding information regarding my father’s side of the family. Reason for this was very simple: World War II happened and the area where he was born belongs now to Poland. Most records had been burned back in the day so we had very little to work with.

The “close” family in my research

Then I read one blog post from Lani called “Identity, what is it good for?” and there she mentioned about a DNA test her brother had taken. Fast forward to the year 2017 where I decided to take a DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA. At first there were problems with sending it to the United States and then somehow I kind of forgot about the whole thing. This year I read yet another blog post about DNA tests by Katie from Hot & Sour Blog and I got into the whole research again. I checked upon my results from the previous year and even found  distant relatives living in the USA whose ancestor with the same family name as mine “Glander” migrated from Germany back in the 1870s or so. As I was back into the reseach game I contacted researchers for Info about my father’s family and got few interesting information already and I hope more will follow. Anyhow these DNA tests give you also a approximate Ancestry composition and I was fairly interested how “messed up” my ancestry was.

My Ethnic Makeup according to FamilyTreeDNA

The DNA results from FamilyTreeDNA I uploaded in DNA.land and also on the platform where I am doing my family tree research MyHeritage. All three platforms gave me about the same result regarding my Finnish ancestry between 48% to 49% which is really no surprise at all as I am half Finnish thanks to my mother. The other results vary as for example DNA.Land does not go too much into detail and thus there is for example no “Scandinavian” listed. So according to the other two tests I am for around 32% Scandinavian. No this is certainly nothing I got from my mother as Finnish people are not Scandinavian. I believe that the reason for this is very simple as the area where my father’s ancestors come from is Pomerania and that area belonged to the Swedish Empire for a while.

According to MyHeritage

 

 

The rest of the of the my DNA is Baltic/ East European.  This I got from a very small percentile from my mother as her ancestors from her mother’s family side are from Ingria an area between Estonia and St. Petersburg. Then the rest of the Baltic Genes are from my father as Pomerania/ Prussia extended to the Baltics. The rest of the tiny Percentages I have in the various tests are <2% Asia Minor according to FamilyTreeDNA, Ashkenazi 3% via DNA.Land and last but not least Melanesian 1% according to MyHeritage.

DNA.Land sadly does not go into too much detail

What do I learn from this? Not really anything new except that I am not Central European at all. To take it further I am genetically not really German at all, at least not central German as the German Empire spread throughout a lot of areas back in the day so it can be said the Prussian’s are not even genetically real Germans to some degree depending on how German people are viewed. For some reason I have the urge to force my wife for a DNA test to see how much she is Han Chinese but I guess I will never be able to convince her to waste money on such a test.

Have you taken a DNA test or are doing some family research?

Be sure to follow me also on Facebook and on Twitter as I will post there occasionally pictures which do not find their way into my blog posts. Furthermore there is also my Instagram account in which from time to time some pictures and short videos might pop up.

https://www.facebook.com/CrazyChineseFamily

https://twitter.com/CraChineseFam

https://www.instagram.com/Crazychinesefamily