This map shows the states and capital cities within modern-day Germany.
Germany map
  Wolfgang Egon Franke, was born in Horstmar, outside Dortmund, but raised in Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein which is a port town on the Baltic Sea. At the onset of World War II he was posted in Cuxhaven and served as a radio man (Funkmeister) with the 3rd Räumbootsflottilla (Minesweeping Flotilla).  Bremerhaven is the port from which he emigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1951.

Current Weather Conditions
Click for Kiel-holtenau, Germany Forecast

For his ancestry, we look to Thüringen and southern Sachsen-Anhalt.  The boundaries and names of kingdoms and states have shifted over the years, and for our purposes I have used the modern state names and boundaries to describe locations.

The detail below shows the region in the red rectangle #1 from the map above to show Heldrungen, Laucha, Bibra and Weimar.  (After World War 2 this area was contained within Soviet-occupied East Germany until re-unification on October 3, 1990.)

The above detail is from an historical atlas of the German Empire from 1883.

Below is a modern map depicting the same region showing more detail.
Towns in red correspond to the text below.

  Our earliest Franke on record, Johann David Franke, was a tenant farmer and community leader in Sachsenhausen, Thüringen in 1746 when he married Anna Christine Hesse, the cooper's daughter.  He was Wolfgang Franke's GGG Grandfather.

Sachsenhausen, Thüringen.  The black roof of the church steeple can be seen on the left.

Sachsenhausen, Thüringen.
David's son, (Johann) Adam Franke, was born in 1754 in Daasdorf, just south of Buttelstedt.
Daasdorf Church
The old church in Daasdorf

Adam was a master baker in Gaberndorf when he married Maria Dorothea Saalborn, daughter of Johann Andreas Saalborn in Niederholzhausen, Sachsen-Anhalt in 1783. (At the time of Adam's marriage, his father is listed as Johann David Franke from Sachsenhausen.) Their seven children were raised in Niederholzhausen.  Possibly a twin brother to Johann Adam (or perhaps the same individual), there was a Johann Adam Friedrich Franke of Gaberndorf who was godfather to six of Adam and Maria Dorothea’s children who were christened in the Niederholzhausen church.

The Church in Niederholzhausen, Sachsen-Anhalt where Johann Adam Franke married Maria Dorothea Saalborn
Johann Gottlieb Franke was the eldest child of Adam and his wife Maria Dorothea and was born in Gaberndorf in 1783 before the family settled in Niederholzhausen. Gottlieb became a master weaver and moved to Laucha an der Unstrut (on the Unstrut River).  There, in 1830, he married Maria Rosina Gensel, daughter of Gottfried Gensel, a sheep farm owner from Schloss Heldrungen.  (At the time of Gottlieb's marriage, his father is listed as Adam Franke from Niederholzhausen.)

Laucha an der Unstrut (view from the west looking east)
The church built in 1476-1496 is the large building centred in the upper right. Three generations of our Frankes were recorded there in the "Kirchenbücher" (Church books).

The map of Laucha seen below depicts the same area and shows "Obere Krautgasse", the lane where Gottlieb lived.

Laucha an der Unstrut - view to the church

Gottlieb's children were born in Laucha.  His son, Carl Moritz Franke, married (Friedrike) Emilie Peter from Saubach near Bad Bibra in 1870 and they lived their whole lives in Laucha.

The town of Saubach where Emilie Peter's father was the miller.

Carl and Emilie's children, including son (Karl) Bruno Franke, were also born in Laucha.  One of Bruno's cousins from his aunt Therese, Minna Rössler, was married to the Bürgermeister (Bernhard Thiel) of Laucha and later moved to Weimar where she was widowed.  Another cousin, Carl Franz Otto Rössler, was the Royal Prussian Oberrentmeister and also moved to Weimar.
In his younger years Bruno became an electrical mechanic in the Imperial Navy and then for the ocean liner company, Norddeutscher-Lloyd.  Later, back in Laucha, he married Karoline Weber from Dortmund on Aug 2, 1914, just at the onset of World War I.

Laucha Rathaus
Laucha City Hall (Rathaus) where Bruno and Karoline were married.

The detail below shows the region in the red rectangle #2 from the map of Germany.  In 1895, Karoline Weber was born in Kruckel, Kreis Hörde, now part of Dortmund (lower right). At age nineteen she married Karl Bruno Franke in Laucha.  Their children, Wolfgang and Lotti, were born in Horstmar (area marked with green arrow) in 1915-16.  Karoline and the children lived here with her mother's family while Bruno was serving in the Navy in Kiel during WWI.  The family moved to Kiel at the end of the war.  The children's birth records were in the Standesamt (registry office) in Derne, which later became part of Dortmund, while Horstmar later became part of nearby Lünen.
Later, in 1937-38, Wolfgang taught elementary school in Hamborn, part of Duisburg on the River Rhein (lower left).

Dortmund map

Departing from the Franke surname along maternal lines in the distant past, the earliest ancestor we've found to date is Nicolaus Fischer, mayor of Jägersdorf near Jena, who died there in 1627. He was Wolfgang Franke's 7G Grandfather.

Maternal line research into the ancestry of Carolyn Colucci Franke also leads to Germany, but this time to the southwest areas, Rheinland-Pfalz and Baden-Württemberg.  The earliest ancestor we've found to date is schoolmaster Michael Gmelin, who died in Weilheim an der Teck, Württemberg in 1576 of the plague.  He was Carolyn Colucci's 11G Grandfather. 
As part of the emigration wave of the early to mid 1700's, three Germans (contemporaries of Johann David Franke) emigrated from this general region to Philadelphia under dismal conditions, seeking a better life.  They were Johann Carl Schantz, Matthias Sommer and Jacob Treitz.

German Emigration 1700's
Horlacher's Map of 18th Century Emigration Patterns

 The red dot on the map above shows the location of Gondelsheim, Baden, from where Johann Carl Schantz and his brother Jacob emigrated in 1749.  Gondelsheim, a small town of just over 3,000, can be found 23 km northeast of the city of Karlsruhe, in the county of the same name (Landkreis Karlsruhe).

Landkreis Karlsruhe

Ultimately, the Schantz, Sommer and Treitz families (later a.k.a. Jones, Somers and Trites) left Philadelphia together and settled in Monckton Township, New Brunswick.

Useful Links:

1)  An 1883 atlas of the German Empire from the University of Wisconsin.
2)  History of the German Flag.
3)  Germany GenWeb Project.  An useful resource for genealogists to understand the geography and history of Germany.
4)  A German-English dictionary.
5)  Website with a history of Sachsenhausen, Thüringen.
6)  Website with information on Saubach.
7)  Official Website of Laucha an der Unstrut.
8)  Another website with information and pictures of Laucha.
9)  ProGenealogists' The Palatine Project.  Insight into the Palatine German emigration with ships' passenger lists.


Site maintained by Norman Franke. Last modified June 26, 2009