contents ©2016 by Harold Pfohl
The land in Mecklenburg bore a similarity to Cedarburg and to Northern Wisconsin – low, rolling, glaciated and arable land, many lakes, and a northern climate.
Spornitz was a tiny farm village. As was the custom, small farmers from the surrounding countryside chose to live in the village, rather than on their land. As a result, villages such as Spornitz were numerous and in close proximity to one another in order to give farmers ready access to their fields. A genealogical chart prepared by the Mormons shows broad and deep roots in Spornitz with many different maternal names – clearly it had been a homeland for centuries. Spornitz was in the Grand Duchy (ruled by a Grand Duke) of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and the nearest (19 miles) large town was Schwerin, the capital of the Grand Duchy.
Johann Fromm’s roots were in the vicinity of Schwerin in several different villages. He and Johanna emigrated from Goldenbow. As with Spornitz, the terrain around Goldenbow strongly resembles the countryside around West Bend, and Cedarburg, Wisconsin. No church remains in Goldenbow and none exists in nearby Friedrichsruhe, the home of Johanna Kludt who became his wife. Johann’s father, Johann Jacob Frahm, came to the region from nearby Denmark.
The Niemann and Lüders family geneology continues in Spornitz for generations prior to the emigration.
A description of Schwerin as it existed in 1905 is excerpted from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica below:
SCHWERIN, a town of Germany, the capital of the grand duchy of Mecklenburg Schwerin, prettily situated at the S.W. corner of the lake of Schwerin (14 m. long and 3 1/2 m. broad), 129 m. by rail N.W. of Berlin, and 20 m. S. of the Baltic. Pop. (1905) 41,638. The town is closely surrounded and hemmed in by a by a number of lakelets, with high and well-wooded banks, and the hilly environs are occupied by meadows, woods and pretty villas. The old and new towns of Schwerin were only united as one city in 1832; and since that date the suburb of St. Paul and another outer suburb known as the Vorstadt, have grown up. Though Schwerin is the oldest town in Mecklenburg, its aspect is comparatively modern, a fact due to destructive fires, which have swept away most of the ancient houses. The most conspicuous of the many fine buildings is the ducal palace, a huge irregularly pentagonal structure with numerous towers, built in 1844-1857 in the French Renaissance style. It stands on a small round island between Castle Lake and the lake of Schwerin, formerly the site of a Wendish fortress and of a later medieval castle, portions of which have been skillfully incorporated with the present building. The older and much simpler palace; the opera house, rebuilt after a fire in 1882; the government buildings, erected in 1825-1834 and restored in 1865 after a fire and the museum, in the Greek style, finished in 1882, comprising a fine collection of paintings of the 17th century Dutch school; all stand in the “old garden,” an open space at the end of the bridge leading to the new palace. Among the other secular buildings are the palace of the heir-apparent, built in 1779 and restored in 1878, the large arsenal, the ducal mews, the ducal library containing 180,000 volumes, the town hall, the artillery barracks and the military hospital. The cathedral was originally consecrated in 1248 though the present building–a brick structure in the Baltic Gothic style, with an unfinished tower–dates for the most part from the 15th century. Among other religious edifices are St. Paul’s church, a Roman Catholic Church and a synagogue. Schwerin is rich in educational institutions, which include a classical school, a veterinary college and a technical school. Since 1837 Schwerin has been once more the residence of the grand duke, and the seat of government, a fact, which has had considerable influence on the character of the town and the tone of its society. The chief industry is the making of furniture, and there are also some manufactures of dyes and soap.
Schwerin is mentioned as a Wendish stronghold in 1018, its name (Zwarin or Swarin) being a Slavonic word equivalent to “game-preserve.” The Obotrite prince Niclot, whose statue is placed above the portal of the palace as the ancestor of the present reigning family, had his residence here. The town, found in 1161 by Henry the Lion in opposition to this pagan fortress, received civic rights in 1166. From 1170 to 1624 it gave name to a bishopric; and it was also the capital of the duchy of Schwerin, which forms the western part of the grand duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Destructive fires, the hardships of the Thirty-Years’ War, and the removal of the court to Ludwigslust in 1756 seriously depressed the town. It owes its revival and many of its chief buildings to the grand-duke Paul Frederick to whom a statue by Rauch was erected in 1859.
See Fromm, Chronik der Haupt und Residenzstadt Schwerin (Schwerin, 1863, revised and continued by G. Quade, 1892); G. Quade, Vaterlandskunde (Wismar, 1894); and Worl, Fuhrer durch Schwerin (1905).