New leaf hints have recently popped up on my Ancestry.com family tree related to one of their databases for Lutheran church records in the Elbe-Weser Triangle region of Germany. I'm always interested in finding out more about the places my ancestors lived - the geography and weather, the politics, the religion. I know very little about the history of Germany, which has been tumultuous at best in many years; I know the various kingdoms and states have changed borders and belonged to different countries depending on the place and time period. My Ricklefs and Tiedemann ancestors hail from the Elbe-Weser Triangle. My third great-grandparents, who immigrated to New York, were both born there in the 1860s. Thanks to church and family books and now this Elbe-Weser Lutheran church records database, I can reliably trace my Tiedemann side deep into this area of current-day Lower Saxony in northern Germany, as far back as the late 1600s. The land itself, located between the Elbe and Weser rivers between the "triangle" formed by the cities of Bremen, Cuxhaven and Hamburg, is usually flat marshlands, mudflats, bog and geest. The years my Tiedemann lines (which include the surnames Buckmann, Boerger, Albers, Luehrs, Steffens, Buck, Soehl and Stelling) lived there means my ancestors saw the Thirty Years War, which was a devastating religious war; and lived under the rule of and was a part of Sweden, the Electorate and later Kingdom of Hanover, the French Empire and later Prussia.
The Ancestry database is great, and if you have ancestors from the Elbe-Weser Triangle region, I suggest you check it out - for all the hints that popped up for me, quite a few did not but I was able to find the records by keying in my relatives' names. The only thing is not all the information contained in each entry is indexed; for example, all birth, marriage and death entries are supposed to include the occupation of the parents or person in the record, but that information is not indexed. So I'm going to have to brush up on my reading of German handwriting skills and take a closer look at these records to see if I can find out what these people did for a living. With the kind of terrain in the area, I can't imagine they were farmers, so it'll be interesting to see if I can discover that information. Every little insight helps us understand our ancestors better!