Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Kuck Research Takes Me Over Seas

Hinrich Kuck Homestead
Sometimes it is funny how life works. After a recent push to write and learn more about my Kuck ancestors due largely in part to a visit from some distant cousins along that line, I had pretty much put things to bed for awhile. I wasn't completely finished because as I do more in genealogy, I have come to realize a genealogist is never done. So after organizing all my newly obtained pictures, data, etc., I closed the folder and filed it back into its proper place.

When I had first started researching the Kuck line, I had taken a shot in the dark and filed off an email to a genealogical society in Adolphsdorf, Germany where my ancestor John Kuck was born inquiring at to who I might contact to learn more about the family. In a rare event, I was actually put in touch with a historian for the church where my Kuck ancestors attended who was putting together a book on emigrants of the congregation and where they ended up at. She was able to give me another five generations back beyond John Kuck. I posted all that information on my family tree online and several years later, it would be seen by another German citizen who was writing a historical report on the area and its inhabitants. We communicated back and forth for awhile and then drifted apart.

Then on last week he wrote me an email asking if I would update the first person, the church historian, with some info on the other Kuck siblings who immigrated here and after affirming that I would I happened to ask if his report had ever been completed. The answer was no but he sent me some satellite pictures of the Kuck family farm to tide me over.

Up until now, I had only the picture at the top of this post that related to their homestead in Germany. Besides the vague description that they live in or near Adolphsdorf, I knew not where they lived. I had hoped that one day I may be able to visit Germany and see the town for myself but I never thought I would actually be able to see the place where John Kuck had been born along with three more generations before him. Now that has all changed. The satellite picture sent to me wasn't the best quality but it provided enough details through the road labels that within two minutes of firing up Google Earth, I was able to find it and produce a much better quality satellite photo.

Satellite view courtesy of Google Earth of Hinrich Kuck farm 44 WSW of Hamburg and only 14 miles NE of Bremen where young John Kuck caught a boat to America at age 16.
What you see above is that photo with John's father Hinrich Kuck's farm outlined in white. Not being a student of German topographical divisions, it struck me how long and narrow the family plots were. They were living on the farm yet having neighbors next by almost like living in a city. Fortunately, the historian sent me a link to the Wikipedia article that talks about the history of the area which explains why these farms are long and narrow.

My conversation also confirmed what I had previously only suspected in that John's older brother Johann had died in early childhood along with the three other children of the family who did not immigrate. This meant that John as eldest son, was in line to inherit the family farm and he gave it all up to try his luck at the American dream. It just reinforces how strong that dream was during those times. As the historian commented after reading some of my ramblings on the family, John Kuck made the right choice. When John's mother Anna Gerken Kuck died, the remaining two siblings sold the farm, caught a boat to America and joined their two older brothers.

A satellite 'closeup' view of the Hinrich Kuck farm
This photo is a closeup of the buildings on the farm. I'm not sure it gives me anything to go on but it is kind of cool to see where several generations grew up. Perhaps the best thing about locating the Kuck family farm via Google Earth is that I can precisely figure out that the mapping coordinates are Lat: 53.23587 Long: 9.008270. Now someday when I am in Germany, all I have to do is enter those coordinates into a GPS device and I have instantaneous directions to get to their form on the eastern outskirts of Adolphsdorf. How cool is that?


R. Sherman said...

Is that pretty far north? From above, the farm structures are different that my Bavarian farmer relatives.


Ed said...

According to my ruler in Google Earth, the farm is about 44 miles WSW of Hamburg and only about 28 miles from the nearest point on the shore of the North Sea. There are a large quilt work of farms like that associated with the drainage canals of the bogs surrounding this farm.

Ed said...

The farm is only 14 miles NE of Bremen which is where he caught the boat for America on the river Weser.

sage said...

From posts in the past, I know you use google earth pretty effectively. A neat find! I hope you get there someday and see the place for yourself.

Ed said...

Sage - As someone who loves to look at maps, Google Earth is a natural extension. I find myself firing it up just to check out locations of events I hear on the news. I also love the use of coordinates which can get me to where I want to go within a few feet these days!

kymber said...

i can't believe how far you are getting in your research, you lucky dawg! but it is soooo interesting to read about...and learn from. please keep up this awesome google-map addicted buddy!

your friend,

Anonymous said...

Looks odd somehow. I think it's that there is very little timber in that part of Germany; well Hanover. Nor was there ever that much timber that one could through up huge barns like that one with the returns from a farming unit.
This smacks of estate investment. So it is very likely that that building was the only structure at the time your GGGF was about those areas and the linear development you see on google earth is far later. Possibly, as late as the 1950s with some of the homesteads.

Ed said...

Kymber - I'm to the point where my research is self substaining. I've got so many posts on so many sites that people actually find me.

Vince - I'm sure you are right. I heard from the person that gave me that top photo that typical homesteads of that period had one large building on them. The bottom floor belonged for the farm supplies and animals and the top floor for the family. My mom always called my room a pig sty when I was growing up and I suspect John Kuck's mom may have said the same thing and it might actually have been true in his case!

Vince said...

Less than you might think. Bavaria is the State that has twenty million ways to get you to stuff pig into you. Up there it was cows; still is. Remember Frisland is just down the coast. And Holstein is what they called that area once.

A rootdigger said...

those people must have had something to do with these submissions. It was either edward or ludolph Meyer also family I saw at the bottom of a page besides that Henderson. Now my curiosity was peeked because I thought I saw something about Meyer - J.E.W. Meyer and Grasberg at a mailing list which makes me wonder if this is some of his, though I thought they also lived in Minnesota. You were lucky to find the right people at the right time too.
I also notice people come and wander off after awhile. great reading. I wish I knew where to search for more information. search box?

Jonathan Bost said...

I have no idea how this all ties in, but I have a ancestor named Hinrich Kuck. He married and Anna Kuck. My source just said Anna Kuck. She had a daughter, Heidewig Kuck, Who married a Johann Ahrend Gerken! You said Anna Kuck's middle name was Gerken. Like I said, I have no idea how this all ties in.

Ed said...

Jonathan - If you would like, send me an email and I can help you sort things out and figure out if we are related. There were a lot of Hinrich Kucks and if we can verify dates, I may be able to help you. I have information on the Kuck family going back four generations in Germany before they immigrated to the United States. My email address is on the left side of my blog in a link saying 'Click Here'. I tried to go through your profile to find an email address but it doesn't appear visible to those who are not Google+ members.