One of my great great grandfathers on my mother’s side was Gustav Waldemar Alexander Karl Peters (1860-1904), the father of my great grandmother Helene Manock née Peters (1889-1944).
Some years ago, when I began compiling my family history, I learned that my mother’s maternal grandmother was called Helene Manock, and had the maiden surname Peters, but I had no access to records that might tell me more about Helene and the people on her side of the family through whom I am descended.
In recent years increasing quantities of German birth, marriage and death certificates have been digitised and I have been able to use some of this material to assemble and document more of my mother’s side of our family history.
German genealogy is difficult for me, and not only the language. Well into the twentieth century German printed documents used the so-called ‘blackletter’ typeface, difficult for an inexperienced modern reader of German to understand. I also find the handwriting of the clerks who filled in the various official forms quite hard to read.
Below is the marriage certificate of my great grandparents Helene Augusta Minna Peters and Emil Wilhelm Manock (1883-1966). They were married in Berlin on 30 December 1911.
Emil and Helene around the time of their marriage
The certificate records when and where Emil and Helene were born and the names of their parents. Helene was born on 5 October 1889 in Prenzlau, about 100 kilometres north of Berlin. Her father was Gustav Peters and her mother was Agnes Helene née Stern. The clerk spelled Helene as Jelena.
Helene Peters, born out of wedlock in October 1889, was registered as Helene Augusta Minna Stern. In 1890 at the time Gustav married Helene’s mother Agnes Stern he declared her to be his daughter .
On 28 March 1890 Gustav Peters and Agnes Stern married in Prenzlau, Brandenburg.
From this certificate I found that Gustav’s full name is Gustav Waldemar Karl Alexander Peters. He was born on 11 December 1860 at Alt-Ruppin. His father was Karl Peters and his mother was Auguste Peters née Grust. Agnes Helene Louise Stern was born 31 August 1861 at Prenzlau. She was the daughter of Christoph Ludwig Friedrich Stern and Charlotte Juliette Stern née Schmoll.
Alt Ruppin is at the north of the Ruppiner See and is now part of Neuruppin, which is on the western shore of the lake. Neuruppin, 60 km north-west of Berlin, is the administrative seat of the Ostprignitz-Ruppin district in Brandenburg.
In 1904 Gustav Peters died in Berlin.
From the certificate I can confirm he was born in Alt Ruppin and married to Agnes Stern. I am sure there other interesting details on the certificate but I need to spend more time deciphering.
In 1945 Gustav’s sister, Charlotte Minna Auguste Paasch née Peters (1869-1945) died in Hamburg. Her death certificate is easier to read.
Type-written certificates of course are easier to read. This sort of vocabulary helps:
- ohne Beruf = without profession
- verstorben = deceased
- Schuhmachermeister = master shoemaker
- Lehrer in Ruhestand = retired teacher
- Eheschließung = wedding
I am very grateful to the people on Ancestry.com who supplied and indexed the certificates I have been using. I would have achieved much less without their help.
It frustrates to me to not know much more about my German forebears. However, I hope that more records that shed light on their lives will come available and that I will learn more about their lives.