Wednesday, January 27, 2010

NewFamilySearch or Genealogy Wikipedia

So I've looked up what I thought I knew about our family in the new, and found that some well meaning but uninformed individual has substituted a Polish spelling of Folkmann (Folchman) and resubmitted a bunch of the work to be done (again!). Not to quibble, but I've seen the microfilms of the Bornholm parish records, and even though the handwritten script is hard to decipher, I don't think there is any way it could be mistaken for Folchman. Let's just say that my experience with NewFamilySearch has been somewhat underwhelming.

However, that prompted me to do some more research on the Real Folkman's (Folkmann, or Volkmann) and where they perhaps came from in Germany. I found a lot of interesting history about Bornholm online. The Island, although traditionally Danish, and speaking a regional dialect of Danish, has been tossed about between kingdoms and owners a bit like a tennis ball at the US Open. Bornholm also has a bit of a reputation of being a difficult place to rule if you are a foreign invader, and has seen several revolts over the centuries, all aimed at restoring the Baltic island to Denmark.

Apparently, in one such interlude, the King of Denmark ceded Bornholm on a 50 year lease from 1525 to 1575 to Lubeck of the Hanseatic League, a loose coalition of merchant city-states in what we would call Northern Germany today. German merchants and mercenaries from Lubeck ruled the island of Bornholm for that 50 years, which undoubtedly saw a lot of back and forth migration from Germany to Bornholm and back. Later, in the 17th century, Bornholm fell under Swedish rule for a while, but the Folkmann's were firmly embedded in Bornholm by that time.

Doing a google search for Folkmann/Volkmann/Lubeck turned up a lot of hits, including a street named Volkmann, and a number of current residents named Volkmann. That's about as far as I have gotten, but at least it tells me where in Germany we might want to start looking for Volkmanns related to our Bornholm Folkmanns. We know that parish records didn't exist prior to about 1600 in Bornholm, but my hope is that the Lubeck merchants, perhaps motivated by profits, may have kept some better records of who traveled back and forth, and that we might get some mention of Jakob or Thomas Folkmann or Volkmann (but not Folchman).