My Great-Great-Grandfather was a German Shepherd: the Wallschlaegers

Table of Contents Pedigree Chart


Our Wallschlaeger ancestors came from the village of Langendorf in Kreis Cammin, less than 15 miles from the Bartelts' ancestral village of Wilsdorf. Hans-Dieter Wallschaleger of Berlin has researched the history of the Wallschlaegers and of Kreis Cammin. He finds the name first appears in this area of Pomerania about 1700. After the Thirty-Years War the region had lost much of its population and Friedrich Wilhelm, the "Great Elector" of Brandenburg (and his successor Friedrich I, King of Prussia), encouraged immigration from other areas of Germany (the Holy Roman Empire) and neighboring countries. Dieter speculates that the Wallschlaegers may have been among the immigrants, possibly from Switzerland.

The name is spelled in Germany with an "a-umlaut": "Wallschläger". Following the usual transliteration rule, this became "Wallschlaeger" in America. However, it appears some Wallschlägers simply dropped the umlaut and became Wallschlagers. The German word "Wall" means "rampart" or "barrier"; "Schläger" meats "striker" or "beater". Dieter believes the name describes someone who helped build fortifications: either pounding the logs into the ground or packing the earth around them.


Our earliest documented Wallschlaeger ancestor was (Ernst) Friedrich Wallschaleger, born about 1790. He and his wife, Friedericke Wolfgram had six children, as far as I can tell. The list I inherited from Uncle Hugo largely agrees with information from Dieter. Several of them, including (August) Heinrich Ferdinand (1818--1903) emigrated to America. But one son (Wilhelm) stayed in Langendorf. The family farm was handed down for several generations, and remained the Wallschlaeger home up until World War II. Wilhelm's Great-Grandson, Walter, who was born in Langendorf, now lives in Hamburg. According to Walter (whose brother Gustav visited Langendorf a few years ago), the Wallschlaeger home no longer exists, though the stable is still standing.

There was no church in Langendorf; Walter said the Wallschlägers went to church in the nearby village of Book. A little further away, there was an "Old-Lutheran" congregation in Baumgarten. August Heinrich's baptismal certificate was signed and sealed by Rev. Ebert, whom Dieter identifies as an Old-Lutheran pastor.

Henry Sr.

At some point August Heinrich Wallschaleger (who later used the name Heinrich or Henry) moved to another village in Cammin, Schwirsen, and lived with his Uncle Johann. He worked as a shepherd. In 1848, he married (Charlotte) Caroline Bartel in Rottnow. She had been born in Köplin (or Cölpin), near Rottnow, in 1823. They lived in Schwirsen and had two daughters: Johanne in 1849 and Wilhelmine in 1851.

By 1851 they decided to emigrate to America; his Uncle Johann preceded him by a few months. Heinrich and Caroline obtained hand-written certificates documenting their and their children's births, based on the church records. They travelled to Stettin, the provincial capital, to obtain permission to emigrate. This was granted through another official document, which also stated that by leaving they gave up their Prussian citizenships. This was issued on April 11th. They made their way to Hamburg, from whence they departed on the ship Aurora on May 15th, according to the Hamburg emigration records. The New York port passenger lists shows they arrived there on August 5th. Baby Wilhelmine had lived almost half of her life on board (12 of 27 weeks). Twelve weeks in an unusually long crossing time, even for 1851; it is possible they stopped in England on the way.

John Bartelt 2006-01-30