Surname Saturday :: Fittje of Germany…

12Dec09

Only a few posts on this here blog and already, it’s consumed with talk to the Fittje’s.  Obviously, the Fittje’s are dominating about 90% of my research at this point and it’s been that way for nearly a year now.  It was a hellishly long road to make even one tiny connection to this family so I guess it’s best to expect that it will be an even longer and more winding journey if I’m to ever put it all together.

The Fittje’s in my tree came from Germany and thankfully, I’m one of those lucky people that got stuck with a surname that is so unusual.  Ever met a Fittje?  Yeah, me neither.  In my research, it seems that Fittje’s either come from Germany (in fact, a very small area in Germany) or Norway and a distant cousin tells me that we are somehow connected to the Norway clan, though I’ve never dug in and researched that.

The first Fittje I discovered in my line was Henry Fittje, living in South Dakota in 1908.  My ggrandfather, Bernhard Kramer, immigrated from Augustfehn in 1908 and his destination is shown as his uncle’s house in SD, one Henry Fittje.  With this information I searched the hell out of Henry and eventually found that distant cousin I mentioned who was able to share a small amount of information on Henry’s life in the US, along with a picture or two.  It was wonderful…but how did Henry fit into my tree?  I assumed that he was most likely a relative of Bernhard’s mother’s but proving that was hard.

In my German research of the name Fittje, it seems that the only ones in that country were located in a few close together and very small towns.  I initially searched in only Augustfehn but soon realized that Augustfehn, Vreschen-Bokel, Apen, Westerstede, and Edewecht are all very close in proximity and the few Fittje’s are spread among those towns.  Eventually, I made contact with a man in Germany who is transcribing the church records of the Parish Apen.  His transcriptions are not online and are held only by him.  His help to me was invaluable — without him and barring a spur of the moment trip to the German countryside to read the records myself, I never would have been able to fill in my tree.  From him, I was able to figure out that the Fittje side of my family is indeed, all related to my great-grandmother.  great-Her maiden name was Fittje.  This breakthrough, this crashing down of a so-called “brick wall” was probably the greatest day thus far in my family research.

My great-great grandmother’s name was Hermine Margarethe Fittje and she was born in Eversten on 27 Oct 1853.  On 28 Oct 1876, she married my gg-grandfather Bernard Kramer in Apen.  Between them they had 5 children: Bernhard (b. 1883), Weyhert (b. 1877 and d. 1878), Maria Wobina (b. 1879), Gesine Hermine (b. 1881),  (b. 1886).  You cannot imagine how great it was to finally see this connection and know my family names.  It also furthered a chapter in our family history — my little brother is named Ben, after my grandfather Bernard Kramer.  This name goes back all the way to the 1800s in our family, something my father did not know when he named my brother.

The friendly helper in Germany was able to give me a few generations of Kramer family births and marriages in Apen and the area, along with a few Fittje births and marriages.  So far, researching this clan has been tough.  People changed their names so frequently when they came to the States and birthdates given are so unreliable that I feel like I can never really be sure who’s who if I find them here.  Even Henry is still a mystery — how exactly was he related to Hermine?  Were they brother and sister?  None of the birthdates of her siblings match to his but again, that’s an unreliable science.

Thus far, this is the information I have for the family in Germany.  Keep in mind, all of these people were located in the same area of Germany.  In my research I’ve found a few Fittje’s in German genealogy databases in this area and I’m sure, because of the uniqueness of the name and the smallness of the area’s in which they are located, we MUST be related but proving that has so far eluded me…

Hermine Margarethe Fittje was the daughter of Weyhert Fittje and Gesche Suhr.  Weyhert was born 5 Jun 1827 in Vreschen-Bokel and his occupation in church records is shown as Schneidermeister and Grundheuermann.  Their children were:

  • Hermine
  • Hermann Heinrich, b. 1851
  • Johanne, b. 1858
  • Anna Catharine, b. 1860
  • Johann, b. 1863

Weyhert Fittje was the son of Wilke Fittje, born 25 Mar 1796 in Vreschen-Bokel and died 14 Apr 1864.  His occupation was Heuermann.  He married Antje Focken, born 15 Jun 1803.  Their children were:

  • Weyhert
  • Brunke
  • Johann Friedrich, b. 1830
  • Tonjes Friedrich, b. 1837
  • Johann Focken, b. 1837
  • A baby girl, not named, who was born on Christmas Eve and died that same night.

Wilke was the son of Brunke Fittje, born2 Feb 1758 and died 15 Dec 1815.  His occupation was also Heuermann.  He married Anna Oltmanns, born 26 Aug 1769.  Their children were:

  • Wilke
  • Oltmann, b. 1804

Of course, any information someone might have about the Fittje’s would be absolutely wonderful.  Considering I don’t speak a lick of German, this research has been tough but I’m committed to it and the not knowing drives me.  The thrill of making a connection rests in the back of my mind as I do this research.

Happy Surname Saturday all!

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3 Responses to “Surname Saturday :: Fittje of Germany…”

  1. 1 Neil R Fittje

    Henry Fittje was my grandfather. He homsteaded in nothern Minnesota around 1900. He had 2 brothers Ben, Coon and a sister Clara who stayed in Watertown S.D. He died at age 53 and is buryed at Rice Township cementry about 6 miles south of Bagley Minnesota. My dad and 4 brothers and 1 sister were raised there. One son Herman was killed in France in ww2 is also buryed there with my grandmother Martha. Hope this is assistance in your Fittje family search.. Neil Fittje

  2. Thanks for the information Neil! My road to finding Henry has been long and still yet, I’m not exactly sure how they fit into my family other than to say, I’m positive Henry was related to my ggg-grandma, Hermine Fittje. Do you happen to know anything about Henry’s parents or from where he came in Germany?

  3. 3 Neil Fittje

    I served in Germany 1968-69, in the town of Ansbach,locaded in Southern Bolviria,about 40 miles south of Newenburg. I inquired about the Fittje name and found out it meant little Fritz, and orginated from the north sea area. I was born the Bagley in 1947 so I never knew my grandparents from my dads side of the family. I have checked records of immergation of the ellis island site,you may find some info there. Henry, his wife Martha, and 2 sons Herbert, and Herman are all life long residents of Clearwater County, Minnesota, so some info may be there. My Dad ,Edward and mom, Lucille,one brother and 1 sister are buryed in Bagley memoral cemetary. Perhaps some public records there may be helpful also. Neil Fittje


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