Millions of peasants departed Prussia and immigrated to the United States during the last half of the nineteenth century. Today, in the early twenty-first century, descendents of these Prussian ancestors represent approximately twenty percent of the U.S. population. To understand this migration, a history chronicle of typical peasants, the author's grandparents, describes the way people lived on eastern Prussian Gutsbezirks under feudalism. The book presents a brief history of Prussia and Pomerania, compares and contrasts noble and peasant lifestyles, describes peasant emigration, gives details of their new horse drawn farming life in the USA and their adaptation to industrialization to reap the benefits. A look back at the "old country" 120 years later, summary and conclusion and an extensive appendix conclude the book. Millions of immigrants experienced similar life journeys. Researchers will find a valuable bibliography. Descendants of peasant ancestors will discover the basis for their beliefs, values and more. This was a time before the rapid advances in science, technology and materialism changed the world during the last half of the twentieth century. The provinces that once made up the former Kingdom of Prussia are now part of Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Switzerland.
“An exhaustive treatise on Prussian history, emigration, and genealogy by Bublitz (Alzheimers—What My Mother’s Caregiving Taught Me, 2012). Using research compiled by his mother, Olive Mae Bublitz, Bublitz amassed a comprehensive genealogy of his father’s family. The family’s history is representative of the experiences of millions of Prussian emigrants from the same region. Noting that his mother had not had success researching her own family, Bublitz focused on his paternal grandfather, August Bublitz, and great-grandfather—and father-in-law of August Bublitz—Fred Dorn. The early chapters, in particular, cover Prussian history, agriculture, peasant life in the country, emigration, life in the United States, and descendants of immigrants. One chapter follows the journey a typical immigrant might have taken from first leaving Pomerania to establishing family life in southeastern Wisconsin. It’s important to note that Olive Mae Bublitz conducted the initial research in the latter part of the 20th century before records were digitized and available online, necessitating travel, combing through microfilm and microfiche as well as analog records. The sheer amount of work involved is mind-boggling. Although the standard family charts are included in the book, Bublitz has created a far richer resource, telling the whole story of his family’s experiences. Over 250 figures, including photographs, maps, and charts, enrich the text, although the quality of the reproductions is inconsistent (especially the maps). Bublitz vibrantly animates the lives and history of Prussians immigrants before and after their journeys to the U.S. The occasional grammatical error does little to detract from the overall quality of the book. A rich, lively resource for those researching Prussian history. — Kirkus Reviews
"Driven by a need to understand his Prussian ancestors, the author has learned from practical experience what the experts know and teach: it is impossible to separate life facts, in the form of dates and places, from the history. It is imperative for a successful achievement of your Germanic research goals that you must follow the “story” or history. In his book, Bob provides not only an example of how to do it but a template for doing so. Along the way he develops a narrative that should be of high interest to a large group of readers, as a significant percentage of Americans are descendents of Prussian ancestry.
The author, Robert Bublitz, in a relative short number of pages provides the reader with a succinct history encapsulation of the Kingdom of Prussia which later in history was instrumental in the formation of the German Empire.
Robert then takes the reader on an adventure into understanding, in detail, peasant and noble life on a Prussian Gutsbezirk. The life Robert describes was common for a peasant throughout Prussia. Next the reader is explained the reasons peasants departed Prussia with merely the clothes on their back and the journey many of them took across the European continent, the Atlantic Ocean, landing at U.S. seaports and then traveling on by train to a major U.S. rail hub cities and finally a new life.
Once settled in the Midwest like so many Prussian immigrants the reader is taken to a family farm to understand agricultural life. Then as the industrial age is beginning, family members migrate from the family farm to emerging capitalistic industries. One ancestor even started his own business in a garage right in his mother’s back yard. This business grew to employ twenty-five people. Small businesses like this sprung up all across America in the early half of the twentieth century.
Finally the book takes us back to the old country over a hundred years later. In this view we see the damage and recovery from World War II. The underlying unique current running through this book is the comparison of living conditions under feudalism, then democracy and a family’s adaptation from an agricultural society to a capitalistic industrial one.
This description makes the book unique. Every turn of the page serves up some interesting unique historical information for the reader to contemplate and envision what life must have been like. This book will make an excellent addition to a public library collection or act as a supplementary text for a college German language or history class."
This book is not to be dismissed as just another compilation of a family’s genealogy and history. The author has rather expanded the scope of his book to make it invaluable to people who are researching their own Prussian or Pomeranian ancestry and want to understand the lives of their ancestors.
The history, politics, economics and culture of Pomerania in the last half of the nineteenth century have been very carefully researched. The footnotes are exceptionally well done and complete which can lead readers of this book to further sources of information.
Starting with his own family, the author has been able to bring them to life, and helps us understand what factors lead people to emigrate or remain in Pomerania. The information here does really make it a text book, but it is because the author’s family is intertwined with historic research that make book interesting and easy to read.
The semi-feudal and onerous relationship between the nobility and commoner in the latter half of the nineteenth century still existent at the times is carefully explored. The politics of the time did not allow for a person from the lower classes to participate in their own governance. Laws regarding the rights of the lower classes to own land were supposed to allow this. Mr. Bublitz explores why the system was still “rigged” against the lower classes.
As Pomeranians emigrate and build sizeable communities in the United States Mr. Bublitz explores the conditions and costs of passage. He then goes on to research the differences between Prussia and the United States economically with comparisons made between the two regarding farms sizes and availability of equipment to increase productivity, rail systems and even comparisons on the production and use of electricity.
The book is filled with easily understood charts, graphs and maps supporting and summarizing all of his research.
The appendices are filled with useful information for the reader. Common German words and phrases are compiled, a list of German occupations with their English translations (not just the common jobs, but many of the more obscure ones that might have been that of your ancestor), comparing peasant and noble Prussian lifestyles to those predominant in the United States and an extremely helpful glossary of terms.
The bibliography is complete and will easily enable you to find other materials along with an excellent and equally useful index.
An enjoyable and informative read. This book belongs in your German genealogical research library as it applies to all of your Prussian and Pomeranian ancestors; their lives and why they undertook such a risky venture knowing that they would probably never again see family and friends left behind. Our ancestors were highly motivated for this undertaking and Mr. Bublitz’s book will help you understand why.
"Based on careful and loving research, Bob Bublitz offers us a portrait not only of his own family but also of a vanished world. Using well organized charts, tables, maps, vintage photographs and helpful timelines, he takes us back to a land – the Province of Pomerania in 19th century Prussia – now lost to history. It is a trip well worth taking, for what we can learn about a history-rich region of Europe that was the ancestral homeland of many future Americans.
The ancestors of Mr. Bublitz pulled up roots, left all that they had known behind, and made the difficult journey in the 1890s. They ended up in Wisconsin, where they found the economic opportunity denied agricultural workers like them in the feudal order then still in place in Prussia, a predecessor state to Germany. The land they left behind had been much fought over for centuries and would be again during the wars of the 20th century before reverting to Poland at the end of World War II.
Like so many immigrants before and since, the Bublitz family came mainly to escape poverty and injustice. They found the opportunities they were seeking and made the most of them, becoming solid citizens of their new country. It is a compelling success story and a timely reminder of the challenges immigrants confront and how much they have to contribute.
Mr. Bublitz tells his family’s story with great dedication and feeling. Americans would do well to take note of this family’s experience as we debate our nation’s once and future immigration policy."
Robert Bublitz has accomplished what we were all instructed to do in our first lesson in genealogy: Write down what you find, and save it for posterity! Like so many of us, he began with a childhood surrounded by loving family members whose perspective was colored by events and cultures we could only dimly perceive. At first we merely accepted our surroundings for what they seemed to be — a normal existence we assumed to be similar for everyone of our generation. But Mr. Bublitz gradually grew to understand that his early experiences were special, and that they were also something in which the next generation was unlikely to share. For he had been privileged to grow up in the immediate shadow of the immigrants and of the children they bore soon after arrival in America. The younger generations of his larger family are truly fortunate that he took his mother’s family research and notes, and extended them into book form. Here is a compendium of everything he has found on the history and circumstances that have shaped this large and growing family.
For the genealogist who wishes to study Pomerania, this is a good place to start. For those with Pomeranian ancestors who came to Wisconsin, this book is one you’ll not want to put down. And for those who would appreciate reflections on the kind of agriculture known to their grandparents and great-grandparents, here is a primer on the seasons and the settings they might have described (had they taken up pen and paper). This book is filled with pictures, charts, maps and tables! It is clear that the author has tried to explore every nook and corner in order to better understand the people he knew as a child — and those who were remembered by them. While it is clear that the book is highly specific to one immigrant family, the reader will find it easy to speculate upon one’s own heritage. Each chapter contains something to challenge one’s own imagination: What must it have been like for MY people?