HEIMAT (HOMELAND) – BRÜSS FAMILY, TREIGLAFF, NEAR GREIFFENBERG, POMERANIA
contents ©2016 by Harold Pfohl
Note: click on the photos below to enlarge and see captions.
Pomerania was a political division of Prussia. It was not as rich agriculturally as Mecklenburg, had fewer small farms, and more great estates. The government was authoritarian, requiring universal military service, as well as universal education. Unlike many other European countries at the time, commoners with ability could become senior officers in the military as well as senior civil servants.
Pomerania no longer exists. In 1945, near the end of World War II, the Russians conquered it and most of it was given to Poland. Subsequently the German people within that region were forcibly removed from their homes and land, fleeing to what was later known as East Germany.
The small village of Trieglaff (now Tryzglow) near Grieffenberg (now Gryfice) is similar to the little villages of Spornitz and Goldenbow which lie far to the west except that Trieglaff is dominated by a palace – clearly the home of a noble Prussian family with very large land holdings, in this case the von Thadden family. The stables adjoining the palace are about three times the length of the early-mid 20th Century dairy barns commonly seen in the Midwest. The mansion is much larger than most in existence in the Metropolitan Milwaukee region, and much larger than most antebellum plantation homes in the American South. It is probable that the ancestors of the Brüss family were serfs – not slaves, but not free either – prior to the change in Prussian law regarding such matters around beginning of the 19th century. It can be reasonably inferred the free laborers on the estate were very poor. It is likely that Daniel and Helene Bruss strained every conceivable resource to the limit in order to enable their adult children to emigrate to the New World where they, too, could own land. We do not know whether or not Daniel and Helene were alive at the time of the emigration, but if they were, they must have had grand dreams of the lives their descendants would lead. We know that they were deceased at the time of the marriage of their daughter, Albertina, to the widower, Joachim Lueder, on December 22, 1863.
Brief notes on Pomerania and Grieffenberg, as of 1905 are excerpted from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica below:
POMERANIA (German, Pommern) , a territory of Germany and a maritime province of Prussia, bounded on the north by the Baltic, on the west by Mecklenburg, on the south by Brandenburg, and on the east by West Prussia. Its area is 11,630 square miles in the population in 1905 was 1,684,125 showing a density of 145 inhabitants to the square mile.
The province is officially divided into the three districts of Stralsund, Stettin, and Koslin but more historical interest attaches to the names of Vorpommern and Hinterpommern or Hither and Farther Pomerania, the former being applied to territory to the West and the latter to that to the east of the Oder. Pomerania is one of the flattest parts of Germany and although east of the Oder it is traversed by range of low hills, and there are also a few isolated eminencies to the West. Off the West Coast, which is very irregular, lie the islands of Rugin, Usedom, and Wollin; the coast of farther Pomerania is smooth in outline and is bordered with dunes, or sand banks. Besides the Oder and its affluents, the chief of which are the Peene, the Ucker, and the Ihna, there are several smaller rivers flowing in the Baltic; a few these are navigable for ships but the greater number only carry rafts. Many of them in small lakes, which are separated from the sea by narrow strips of land, through which the water escapes by one or more outlets. The interior of the province is also thickly sprinkled with lakes, the combined surface of which is equal to about one twentieth of the entire surface.
The soil of Pomerania is for the most part for thin and sandy, but patches of good land are found here and there. About 55 percent of the whole is under tillage, while 16 percent consists of meadow and pasture, and 21 percent is covered by forests. The principal crops or potatoes, rye and oats, but wheat and barley are grown in the more fertile districts; tobacco, flax, hops, and beetroot are also cultivated. Agriculture is still carried on in a somewhat primitive fashion, and as a rule livestock is of an inferior quality, though the breed of horses, of a heavy build and mostly used in agriculture, is held in high esteem. Large flocks of sheep are kept, both for their flesh and their wool, and there are in the province large numbers of horned cattle and pigs. Geese and goose feathers formed lucrative articles of export. Owing to the long line of coast and the numerous lakes, fishing forms an important industry, and large quantities of herrings, eels and lampreys are sent from Pomerania to other parts of Germany. With the exception of almost inexhaustible layers of peat, the mineral wealth of the province is insignificant. Its industrial activity is not great, but there are manufactures of machinery, chemicals, paper, tobacco and sugar; these are made chiefly in or near the large towns, while the linen-weaving is practiced as a domestic industry. Shipbuilding is carried on at Stettin and at several places along the coast. The commerce of Pomerania is in a flourishing condition, its principal ports being Stettin, Stralsund, and Swinemunde. Education is provided for by a university at Greifswald and by numerous schools. The province sends 14 members to the German Reichstag and 26 to the Prussian House of Representatives. The heir to the Prussian Crown bears the title of Governor of Pomerania.
GREIFFENBERG, the town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Pomerania, on the Rega, 45 miles northeast of Stettin on the railway to Kolberg. Population (1905) 7,208. It has two evangelical churches (among them that of Saint Mary, dating from the 13th century), two ancient gateways, a powder tower, and a gymnasium. The manufacture of machines, stoves, and bricks are the principal industries. Greifenberg possessed municipal rights as early as 1262, and in the 14th and 15 centuries had a considerable shipping trade, but it lost much of its prosperity during the Thirty Years War.