I joined a society!

I just became a member of the Sacramento German Genealogical Society, and a week from Friday I'm going to head up there for a workshop.  They're having experts come from Salt Lake City and give workshops on such exciting topics as "Finding the Parish Locations for German Family History Research," or "Form and Content in German Church Records."  Now, this may sound kind of dry to you, but I'm really looking forward to it, especially to connecting with people who have a lot of experience and who maybe can help me get past the brick wall on the Ortmanns, for example.

They put out a publication, Der Blumenbaum (The Flowering Tree), four times a year, and I just got my first copy.  There's an interesting article about German beliefs and practices concerning death (some houses had small windows that were only opened when someone passed away, so their soul could go out), another one on how Germans celebrate Muttertag (Mother's Day -- it involves a lot of flowers and tasty treats, take note!), and a very interesting column in which a man gives people information on their family's surnames.  Surprisingly, I found an entry that includes one of our names:  someone asked about the name Haucke, and he responded that Haucke is a variant of Hugo, which is of course connected to our family name, Hug (Grandpa Bill Ortman's grandmother was Matilda Hug).  So here's what he says:

        "HUGO is an old Germanic name.  In Old High German (ca. 750-1050), the word hugu meant     thought, reason, spirit, sense.  At the time when family names formed, Hugo was a wide-spread name and produced a number of variations . . . "  [Of which Hug is one]   --Michael Mayer-Kielmann

Interesting, no?  Since I've only gotten back to the 1700's, I wonder how far back it goes?  I am in contact with a very nice man who may be connected to our Hugs -- he has a relative in the 1600's in an area not far from the place our earliest relative was born (Blasius Hug, Wolfach, Germany).  I'm hoping he'll get some information that will allow us to connect up; so far I haven't found anyone who can give me information on birth records in Wolfach.  I may have to make a trip to Salt Lake City (or Germany) one of these days . . . . . . . . anyone want to go with me??

I found some interesting information via the SGGS website on the distribution of some of our family names.  You can put in a name, and it will give you a map with the areas marked where those names are/were common.  Here are a couple of ours:

Distribution of Berneburg

As you can see, it's a pretty uncommon name.  Our grandfather Gustav Berneburg (EDCM) came from the medium orange color that is north of the very dark ones -- Hannover.   Here's another one:

Distribution of Ortmann

As you can see, there were way more Ortmanns than Berneburgs, they are spread all over the place, so it's hard to know where to start.   The only information I have at this point on Joseph Ortmann, Grandpa Bill Ortman's grandfather, is that he was from "Pommern," which is no help at all.  "Pommern," or Prussia, would have been to the north and to the east, even off the edge of the map to the east.  Without any more specific information, I'm going to have a hard time getting past the brick wall on the Ortmann side -- which is why I'm happy I'm going to the workshop in Sacramento!
One thing they ask you to bring to the workshop are "surname cards," index cards with your last name and the location and so on.  In that way, hopefully people with the same names can connect with each other.  Here's hoping I get some leads that weekend!


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