April 11, 2001 Heritage of the Behm
Dear Arthur James and Andrew Behm - Anchorage, Alaska:
Please find the enclosed coins as a gift for each of you. These coins are
from your ancestral Behm village of Boock, Prussia (now modern day Germany).
Boock artifacts prove it was founded in the year 1299. I was privileged to
adventure back to Boock with your Aunt Pam last spring and my Uncle Bill
last fall to explore, meet, share meals, attend parties and get to know many
distant Behm relatives.
We are pleased to report the ancestral Behm's have been honest, solid
farmers of the land for several hundred years. Over the past several
hundred years the Behm's farmed the flat, low lying land in Boock and its
surrounding 3 villages including Locknitz, Rothenklempenow and Ploewen. The
Behm's are known to have grown wheat, potatoes, tobacco and many other
crops. Fabric weaving is also a skill of the area. Last year Aunt Pam (who
grew up on a small farm in Hart, Michigan) and I enjoyed visiting all the
Behm farm animals including horses, ducks, chickens, rabbits and messenger
pigeons. Many of the animals even roam the kitchen areas of the modest two
room Behm homes.
Last fall, on my second trip to visit the Prussian/German Behm's, Uncle Bill
and I visited the home of Burgermeister Behm who is the Mayor of
Rothenklempenow, Germany. Burgemeister means "the mayor" in German.
Rothenklempenow is a small farming village of a few hundred farmers just 4
kilometers north or Boock. Come to our home in California and see the
aerial photograph and hundred's of pictures of these small Old Prussian
villages I have stored here. The crumbling churches and modest one room
museum of Boock are covered with information about the Behm's going back
several hundred years. Uncle Bill scanned the images of deerskin church
books at least 300 years old, which were written in a mixture of
Latin-Germanic language. These books list births, marriages and deaths in
the area and are truly valuable.
There are no gas stations,only a 4-room hotel and one restaurant combined in
these small villages. Boock is a 3-hour drive north of Berlin located just
14 kilometers south of the Baltic Sea. The ravages of WWI and the Nazi's of
WWII never hurt Boock since the land was too marshy for troops to land and
maneuver in. Luckily all the Churches are still standing since they missed
the Bombing of both Wars. When the Russians took over this area after WWII
the Communists stole the Behm farms and developed communal farms and kept
the local farmers, including the Behm's, from going to church for the last
50 years of Russian control of East Germany. Communism outlawed Religion.
Since Germany reunified and the Berlin Wall was torn down only one Behm farm
was returned to Manfred Behm its owner. The new central German Government
is still farming the rest and the old communist party leaders are the new
German Government supervisors.
There is a quite large old Behm farm compound in Boock, which the new German
Government has named the structure as a historic site and cannot be torn
down. I hope you get a chance to see it as Aunt Pam, Great Uncle Bill and I
have. Nobody lives in the compound but a German Shepard and an old horse,
which loves to eat apples. Unemployment in Boock, Locknitz and Ploewen is
over 30% and the economy is devastated since the German Unification.
Missionaries have moved into the Churches and are now celebrating Mass after
a 50-year absence. I was named Godfather to newly found Locknitz German
cousin Sandra Behm and her new baby - Manuel.
On June 20, 1843 The Behm's sailed on an old Barque Ship named the
"Kammonsham Roy" sailed by Captain W. Cutts departing Hamburg to New York
Harbor sailing across the Atlantic. A Barque ship is an old square sailing
freight ship. The Behm's were poor farmers and couldn't afford a ticket on
the newly invented coal/steam ships. The Behm's traveled to America with
their church Pastor and 27 other congregation families from their village.
After 59 days of travel across the Atlantic (several people and babies died
on board) the ship arrived August 19, 1843 in New York Harbor. Ellis Island
and the Statue of Liberty didn't exist yet and there was no USA immigration
office. Immigrants just arrived and got off the ship and just stood on the
streets of New York not even knowing the language of this new American land.
Source: Eugene W. Camann, Historian and Author of "Uprooted From Prussia
Transplanted in America" 1991, Gilcraft Printing Co., Buffalo, NY 14240.
In 1843, New York Harbor was a scary place if tired, poor immigrants
arriving by boat in a strange new land did not know English. Thieves and
con men preyed on the new immigrants, as there were dirty conditions and no
jobs. So after only 2 days the Pastor arranged for the Behm's and the other
church members to travel on a horse pulled barge up the newly opened Erie
Canal to the canal's end in Albany and they traveled along Lake Erie and
they arrived in Buffalo, NY at 11 o'clock on August 25, 1843 (see Von
Plaster Diary). The Behm's and their other church members spread out and
claimed the land and co-founded the new towns of "Wheatfield" and "New
Bergholtz" a few miles from Niagara Falls, New York near Buffalo, NY.
Niagara Newspapers reported the new Prussian immigrants to be "moral,
intelligent and devotional." Source Niagara Courier, October 11, 1843 page 2
column 6. The newspaper reported the "Prussian farmers to have been driven
from their country by religious persecution, seeking a refuge on USA
shores". Further stating them to be "disciplined, self reliant and
religious even bringing their own Schoolmaster and Pastor with them. These
emigrants are "animated by the spirit which impelled our Pilgrim Fathers,
they came here in pursuit of religious liberty, asking to participate in the
blessings of our free institutions". Note: The Prussians twenty years later
were referred to as Germans when the Prussian Empire fell and Germany was
built on its ashes.
This past summer Spencer, Lydia, Maria, Aunt Pam and I visited these small
NY towns and explored a restored one room log cabin located on 2549 Niagara
Road in Bergholtz, NY built in 1844 which the Behm's are said to have helped
build for another family who arrived from Boock after them. The land in
Wheatfield and New Bergholtz looks identical to the land in the Pommerian
area of Prussia where the Behm's came from. Eugene Camann wrote a book
called "Uprooted from Prussia Transplanted in America" a soft cover 130-page
research book and Mr. Camann gave us a 2 hour history of the cabin and then
shared a meal with us in his town of Bergholtz, NY. Mr. Camann's relatives
were also on the same ship the Behm's were in 1843 and his relatives were
from the same Church congregation. We were very happy to meet Mr. Camann
and learn from him. Most of the Prussian research work I have used in this
letter is due to his life's work.
In 1854, Bergholtz, NY became over run with several hundred Prussian
immigrants making farmland scarce for Behm children old enough to start
farms of their own, so the now successful 1843 immigrant Behm's sold their
farms and moved east to the new State of Michigan and settled in Waldenberg,
MI joining the growing Immanuel Church (still located at 21 mile road and
Romeo Plank in Macomb County). The Behm's bought land and established even
bigger farms throughout Macomb County, Michigan. The Civil War Broke out
and several Behm's were drafted - only one Behm died in the Civil War. If
you get a chance please visit the graveyard at Immanuel Church and adventure
through the headstones exploring the cemetery filled with Behm's.
As a young man your Great Grandfather William Behm left Macomb County and
traveled south-east 20 miles to Wayne County to experience the new thriving
City of Detroit where he married Christine Purdy from Harbor Beach, MI and
established Billy Behm cigars in the East Side of Detroit off of Gratiot
Ave. Cigar Making was a trade in Boock, Prussia and the molds can be seen
in Bergholtz, NY. William and Christine Behm had a son (your Great
Grandfather Arthur William Behm).
Arthur William Behm married a French immigrant woman - Aurelie Mongnieu and
then Arthur W. Behm won a job as one of the first workers for Henry Ford who
just opened the new Ford Motorcar Company. Aurelie Mongnieu came from a
small farming village just south of Paris (I also visited these small French
farms last year with Uncle Bill and slept on the Mongnieu farm but that is
another story). Henry Ford shocked the world by paying his employees twice
the salary of any other business in Detroit so it was notable that Arthur
William Behm was able to compete and win this high paying job. Living on
the East Side of Detroit in a German neighborhood, Arthur and Aurelie Behm
had a daughter Mary Elizabeth Behm (your Great Aunt) and a son (your
Grandfather Arthur George Behm). Mary Elizabeth married an enterprising
young man from the neighborhood (your Great Uncle William Higgins) who
served our Country in 3 Wars: WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War. Colonel
William Higgins retired as a Full Bird Army Colonel and is retired in
Virgina. Most of the genealogist work is due to Uncle Bill's effort. Your
Great Aunt Mary passed away August 2, 1998. Uncle Bill now travels the world
bringing family together. We enjoyed our trip to Germany & France together.
It is notable to know your Grandfather - Arthur George Behm - became the
first Behm in 700 years to earn a college degree. In fact, your Grandfather
Arthur George Behm earned two college degrees. After serving in the Marine
Corps in the Korean War, Arthur George Behm drove a cab in Detroit and
earned an engineering degree from the Jesuit University of Detroit and a
later went to night school and earned a law degree from Wayne State
University. Arthur George Behm married Joan Tangney, born in Boston,
daughter of Anna and Michael Tangney who were both Irish sheep farmers from
County Kerry and came to America to escape the potato famine. Arthur and
Joan Behm had seven children: Arthur, Theresa, Stephen, Mary, Aurelie,
Michael and Jeanette. It is important to note that ALL seven Behm children
earned their college degrees. The oldest child is your Father - Arthur
Michael Behm. Your Grandfather Arthur George Behm retired in Grosse Pointe
after a long lifetime career as an FBI agent recognized for capturing
several famous criminals (see letters of accommodations from J. Edgar
Hoover). Arthur G. Behm earned the special honor of being certified to
practice law in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Your Grandfather, Arthur
George Behm died in Detroit on June 10, 1996.
Your Grandmother, Joan Marie Behm re-married and was wed to William Krantz
in Maui, Hawaii on July 17, 1998. William and Joan Krantz moved from
Michigan to Florida in 1999 and are both enjoying their retirement. They
are living on an Island (named Manasota Key) on the Gulf of Mexico side of
Florida in Englewood, Florida where they truly enjoyed your recent visit to
see them from Alaska.
Five generations of Behm's were raised in Michigan and now you are the first
generation of Behm's to be raised in Alaska continuing the seven-generation
Behm move west from Prussia. My children - Spencer, Lydia and Maria Behm
were all born in Royal Oak, Michigan. Six years ago we all moved west and
are now retired in Pleasanton, California to escape the Michigan winters.
Next time you visit Detroit make a trip to St. Joseph's Church in historic
Eastern Market and ask to see your Grandfather's name, Arthur George Behm,
inscribed on the 50-foot tall stained glass windows behind the main altar.
The Behm's were a part of Detroit history and are noted in church records as
early founders of the historical Gratiot Ave. "farmers eastern market" area
church named St. Joseph's Church in 1855. The Mongnieu family founded the
first St. Joseph's Altar Flower Society and Behm close friends, the Martz
and Hubbard family, donated their land next door to St. Joseph's to the
Christian Brothers academy for boys. Later the academy moved several miles
east and became DeLaSalle High School next to City Airport. Your
Grandfather Behm graduated from DeLaSalle High School in Detroit. Your
father and all his six siblings graduated from Grosse Pointe South High
School another six miles east of DeLaSalle. Covering at least eight
generations, your ancestral Behm lineage is buried at Mt. Elliot in Detroit,
Immanuel Church in Macomb County, MI, and Boock Cemetery in Boock, Germany.
Please note that your Father and I both served as altar boys growing up in
Grosse Pointe, Michigan while attending St. Philomena's Church and school in
Detroit. Your Uncle Michael and Aunt Tricia are having their new baby
Michael Anthony Behm baptized at St. Philomena's Church this month. Father
Lentine, who trained your Dad & I to be altar boys, will conduct the baptism
of your new cousin - Michael Behm. Last week, your cousin, Spencer William
Behm (my son) became an altar boy at St. Augustine - our church here in
California. You may be interested to know that it is consistently found
that since the 1500's - religion, hard work and expansion West have all been
a common characteristic of the Behm family.
If you are interested in any more family history please come visit me in
Life is good,
Uncle Stephen mail post is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q1: Where is Pommern (Pomerania)?
A1: Pommern was a Prussian province. Its capital was Stettin
Q2: What was Pommern's recent history?
A2: After the 30-Years-War (1648) Pommern consisted of
two areas: Schwedish-Pommern in the West under Swedish rule and
the Eastern area under the rule of the Brandenburg Electors.
After the defeat of Napoleon, Sweden in 1815 renounced all her claims
to areas in Germany incl. Pommern.
Pommern West of the Oder River was also called Vorpommern (Cis-Pomerania),
East of the Oder River Hinterpommern (Trans-Pomerania).
In 1938 areas from the former provinces of Westpreussen and Posen which
were lost after WWI were added in an administrative reform.
Hinter-Pommern was cleansed of its ethnic German population and given to
Poland in 1945.
The Western powers were silent on the ethnic cleansing.
Stettin was renamed Szczecin.
Q3: What were the administrative areas of Pommern (Pomerania)?
A3: In 1895 the province of Pommern had the following districts and
- * marks areas totally or partially lost to Poland in 1945 -
Regierungsbezirk (district) of Stettin with 13 Kreise (counties):
Regierungsbezirk (district) of *Koeslin with (*12) Kreise (counties):
Regierungsbezirk (district) of Stralsund with (5) Kreise (counties):
(This area was the former Swedish-Pommern).
Each Kreis was headed by the Landrat who presided over the Landratsamt.
The Landratsamt records are deposited in the state archives.
The Landrat was in charge of passport and emigrations matters and reported
to the Regierung who in turn gave data to the provincial Oberpraesidium.
Q4: What were the court districts in Pommern province before 1900?
A4: The highest provincial court was the Oberlandesgericht in Stettin.
The lower courts were
Landgericht Greifswald with (11) Amtsgerichte:
Landgericht Koeslin with (12) Amtsgerichte:
Landgericht Stargard with (14) Amtsgerichte:
Landgericht Stettin with (15) Amtsgerichte:
Landgericht Stolp with (7) Amtsgerichte:
The whereabouts of the records for the Landgerichte and Amtsgerichte is
unknown. Of special interest are the land deed records (Grund- und
Hypotheken-Acta) with no published survey known todate.
Q5: How do I find locations and maps for Pommern before 1945??
A5: The best German gazetteer is
Meyers Orts- and Verkehrslexikon des Deutschen Reiches,1912 edition,
which is available on microfiche in the LDS Family History Centers.
There is LDS microfilm #068814 available of
Karte des Deutschen Reiches, scale 1:100000, 1km = 1cm
which may be loaned thru the LDS Family History Centers.
It covers Germany for 1914-1917.
Topographical Maps (Messtischblaetter 1:25000) may also be
Institut fuer Angewandte Geodaesie
10785 Berlin, Germany
(Ask for their map catalog for Pommern)
see also http://w3g.med.uni-giessen.de/gene/gifs/maps/
For German-Polish place name dictionary, see http://www.atsnotes.com/other/gerpol.html
Q6: Are there web sites of interest to Pommern researchers?
A6: Here is a sampling of web sites:
+ Pommern/Pomerania: http://dg3.chemie.uni-konstanz.de/~stuebs/pommern/ http://home.aol.com/myrondpl http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/9027/pommern.html http://www.execpc.com/~kap/pommern1.html http://feefhs.org
+ Maps online of German regions: http://w3g.med.uni-giessen.de/gene/gifs/maps/
+ Information on archives: http://www.bawue.de/~hanacek/info/darchive.htm http://dg3.chemie.uni-konstanz.de/~stuebs/pommern/Archive/ http://www.man.poznan.pl/~bielecki/geninfo6.htm http://ciuw.warman.net.pl/alf/archiwa/ http://www.germany.net/teilnehmer/100.110994/index.htm
+ Check the website of German regions: http://www.genealogy.com/gene/reg/rindex.htm http://w3g.med.uni-giessen.de/gene/reg/rindex.htm http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/German_Genealogy/kb... http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/German_Genealogy/kb... http://www.irit.fr/SSI/~Ralph.Sobek/genealogy/FAQs/
Stiftung Martin-Opitz-Bibliothek Herne.
(ehemals B|cherei des deutschen Ostens)
Inhalt: \ber die Bibliothek. Die Martin-Opitz-Bibliothek....
e-mail: email@example.com http://w3g.med.uni-giessen.de/~geneal/kp/fome/andere/mob.htm...
Herder -Institut Marburg e.V. Gisonenweg 5 - 7, 35037 Marburg/Lahn
Telephon: 06421/184-0, Telefax: 184-139
.... http://www.uni-marburg.de/herder-institut/bibliohp.html http://w3g.med.uni-giessen.de/~geneal/kp/fome/andere/herderm... http://www.uni-marburg.de/herder-institut/klassi.html
Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preu_ischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin.
Archivstra_e 12-14 D-14195 Berlin (Dahlem)
Tel.: (030) 839 01141 Fax: (030) 839 011 80 http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/prmss/orte/berlgsas.html http://dg3.chemie.uni-konstanz.de/~stuebs/pommern/Archive/be...
If you have no access to the Web (www), you can direct web files to your
email box by sending a request to firstname.lastname@example.org
or to email@example.com
with the message HELP or
Germanic Genealogy (by Edward R.Brandt et alii), 2nd edition.
1997, St.Paul MN, 517 pp.,1st edition, 1995.
Q7: Is there a listserv for Pommern family researchers?
There is a mailing list ow-preussen-l for East and West Prussia.
A7: There is a mailing list pommern-l for Pommern.
To subscribe send text:
A more general list is PRUSSIA-ROOTS-L@rootsweb.com
To subscribe send the word "subscribe" (without the
quotes) as the only text in the body of a message to PRUSSIA-ROOTS-Lfirstname.lastname@example.org
(mail mode) or PRUSSIA-ROOTS-Demail@example.com
Q8: When were civil registers introduced?
A8: Civil registers of births,marriages,deaths were introduced in October
1874. The Civil registry office is called Standesamt.
Before this time, the Lutheran church records (1815-1874) or special
Dissidenten-Register (1847-1874) served as official registers, and a
duplicate copy was deposited at the local court (Amtsgericht).
Q9: Are there emigration records available?
A9: The state archives have many emigration records.
For details see:
Learned, Marion Dexter, 1857-1917:
Guide to the manuscript materials relating to American history
in the German state archives, Washington, D.C.,
Carnegie Institution of Washington. Publication no. 150 , 1912, 352 p.:
-also Kraus reprints NY 1965-
Q10: What books discuss hints and sources for East German searchers?
A10: Wegweiser fuer Forschung nach Vorfahren aus den Ostdeutschen und
Sudetendeutschen Gebieten sowie aus den deutschen Siedlungsraeumen
in Mittel-,Ost- und Suedosteuropa (AGoFF-Wegweiser):
Verlag Degener &Co, 91413 Neustadt, Germany (1991 and later)
(The out-of-print English edition is being revised presently)
Germanic Genealogy (by Edward R.Brandt et alii), 2nd edition.
1997, St.Paul MN, 517 pp.,1st edition, 1995.
W.Krallert: Atlas zur Geschichte der deutschen Ostsiedlung,
Velhagen &Klasing, Bielefeld-Berlin-Hannover 1958.
There haven been recently some calls for books in English on the German
exodus and holocaust from Eastern Germany. Here is one almost forgotten
Thorwald, Jurgen: Es begann an der Weichsel. 1951
Dss Ende an der Elbe. 1952.
English: Flight in the winter;
[New York] Pantheon  318 p. 22 cm.
CALL #: 940.542 T52F