Friday, July 29, 2005

Film review: 1819 Census of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

I ordered this film nearly a year ago to see what I could find on the BULL and SCHUKNECHT families in the town of Finkenthal. Now, after having looked at three reels of film for the Lutheran records of Altkalen (where Finkenthal residents attended church), I know that the 1819 census records are actually more useful than I realized at the time. What I found is that the 1819 census is unlike any contemporary American census record that I've seen. The form is extremely detailed with the names of every inhabitant in a household, their dates and places of birth, place of baptism, occupation, length of residence and religion. These details may seem redundant with the availability of the Altkalen church records, but it turns out that the church records are less detailed and ordering the census records really was necessary.

The 1819 census lists incorrect dates of birth for most of the BULL family, however the dates for the BULL children were close enough to what was listed in the church records that it's easy to see what mistakes were made. The census proves its worth when it comes to the parents of the BULL children, though. The Altkalen marriage record for Joachim Christian BULL and Catharina Maria VATIEN (or VATH) does not list their ages or dates of birth. Without that information (or their parents' names), it would be impossible to extend our genealogy without some other record to provide a clue. The census lists Joachim's date of birth as February 10, 1761, place of birth as Finkenthal and place of baptism as Altkalen. There was no 1761 BULL baptism, but on January 17, 1762, a Joachim BULL of Finkenthal was baptized in Altkalen. To me, this would seem to be our man and I'd go even further to suggest that his date of birth was probably January 10, 1762, noting that the census was close on the month and year and probably had the day close, if not correct. Catharina Maria (VATIEN) BULL was listed as having been born on May 6, 1762, on the census form. At this time, that date is not an issue because the census also noted that she was born and baptized in Brudersdorf, a town less than 15 kilometers northeast of Altkalen. I'll have to order the Brudersdorf church records to sort out her actual date of birth and the names of her parents.

I was unlucky with the SCHUKNECHT family — they weren't in Finkenthal in 1819 — but Dorothea SCHUKNECHT, likely the woman that married Michael BULL in 1820, was listed as a servant and having been baptized in Groß Methling. Like the Brudersdorf church records, the Groß Methling records are for another day.

Anyone conducting research in Mecklenburg-Schwerin should seriously consider ordering the 1819 census for the particular town of their interest. The census may only compliment your research of church records, but there's also a chance it could provide new clues. This particular reel of film — at least the section with the enumerations of Finkenthal, Schlutow and Stubbendorf — was very easy to read and made nice copies.

Title: Volkszählungslisten 1819
Film number: 0068882
Film quality: 9/10

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Donna said...

David, I found your blog because I googled "Gross Methling" I am trying to find out what parish it belongs to so that I can review the reels. I am a descendant of Christian Schoknecht, born in Gross Methling in 1787. And yes, many of the birthdates in the census are incorrect. I have done comparisons to the Levin reels.


David said...

Donna, take a look at the book Map guide to German parish registers, Mecklenburg Grandduchies of Schwerin and Strelitz by Kevan M Hansen. It will answer your question about parish boundaries in general. But the Groß Methling records are found on film 69177.

David said...

Donna, please look at the top right of my blog for the link to my website. Ignore that most of the pages are no longer there, but instead click on the "contact" link, again at the top right. That will give you my email address. I'd like to discuss something with you regarding the Scho(u)knecht family.