Our progress to locate the exact place in Germany where our immigrant ancestors, Friedrich and Eva Maria (Weber) Meinert, lived before coming to America in the 1700s has been almost nil.
We once thought that the Meinerts' daughter, Elizabeth Maria (Meinert) Gaumer, was described by one of her offspring as having been born in "Zwilling." But we were wrong. While this one clue has been the focus of my research, to date I have discovered only one town in Germany with this spelling, in Bavaria. It is a suburb of Arnstorf. I received this information from the historical society in Munich, Germany, located in Bavaria. I have to check out the church records in this area to confirm if this information is correct.
However, two sources in Germany, Dr. Herbert W. Wurster of the Archiv Des Bistums Passau, Bavaria, and German genealogist Reinford Hofer, have informed me that in all probability that the name Meinert, a very common German name, came from the region of Germany called the Palatine, not the South in Bavaria.
Mr. Wurster wrote: "Then we had expected not to find an entry because the name 'Meinert' does not really fit into the cluster of family names in our region. It sounds as if it belonged to a region more to the North. Finally, the name 'Friedrich' is also rather unfamiliar in our region at that time. Everything hints North."
Genealogist Hofer wrote," Also I must state that Meinert is no typical East Bavarian family name used in our region."
There are two major clues to believe our family originated in the Palatine. Our Meinerts arrived to America in about 1730 during the height of the massive immigration from the Palatine that lasted between the years 1720 and 1780. Also, German linguists have confirmed that the German language we have found, spoken by the Meinerts' offspring in Western Pennsylvania in the 1820s, was spoken by Palatine Germans.
Thus we have to believe that our family lived somewhere in the Palatine region which in the 18th century was a large territory, but has since been carved into different states. We might be able to equate this to our Louisiana Purchase that was broken into many states. Although I received a letter from the Nordhein-Westfalisches Hauptstaatasarchiv that the name Meinert was mentioned in Eastern Germany prior to 1800, the fact that we have a sample of the German words the family spoke and the timeframe they came to America, I believe the family was from the Palatine region.
My neighbor, Peter Wickel, former Chairman of the German Department at the University of New Jersey, and who had done research in Germany, has seen the information I have on our family. Mr. Wickel has told me he is sure the family lived west of the Rhein River as far north as the town of Bingan and from there over to the French border. Unless we find a Bible that has the exact location, it is going to be difficult to find the exact village, because one German village might have been Catholic, the next Lutheran, and the following a mixture of both. Mr. Wickel suggested that the research in Germany should be done in some of the major towns like Worms, Kaiserlauten and Mainz. Recently, once source said that the family came from Baden, Wurtemburg. Like all good detective work, all leads must be checked out.
We'll keep you posted.
Copyright © 2001 Eugene F. Podraza and Mark A. Miner