Bogenschneider Family Worldwide

Bogenschneider Family Genealogy and Information

The Bogenschneider Family Worldwide web site is dedicated to the Bogenschneider surname and to its associated histories, lineages, and shared family information.

Family Background

The Bogenschneiders from Pomerania

As the earliest written church and civil records in Germany date from the 17th century, very little is known about the Bogenschneiders before that time. The earliest written records indicate that most of the earliest documented Bogenschneider family members resided in the Province of Pomerania (from Slavic po, "along"; morze, "sea"), which was a Prussian province on the Baltic Sea situated on both banks of the River Oder, stretching from Stralsund on the west to Stolp on the east. The area west of the Oder was known as Hither Pomerania (Vorpommern), and the area east of the Oder was Farther Pomerania (Hinterpommern). More comments on the early Bogenschneiders will be made at the end of this article.

History of Pomerania

(Much of the information on Pomerania is based on LeRoy Boehlke's excellent history of Pomerania (Boehlke, LeRoy, Pomerania: Its People and Its History. Germantown, Wisconsin: Boehlke, 1983)

Around the time of Christ, Teutonic-Germanic tribes such as the Goths lived in the area we know as Pomerania before moving south in the second and third centuries. The area was occupied by Slavic tribes who were called Wends by the Germans in the fifth century. Among these Slavic tribes were the Pommerani ("people by the sea") and the Kaschubi who settled along the Baltic Sea. The Polani ("people of the plain") settled further south.  This latter group was consolidated by King Mieszko towards the end of the 10th century and the area became known as Poland. Mieszko and his son Boleslaw, with limited success, conquered the areas of some of the other tribes, but by 1025 the Pommerani were again free of Polish control. Some conflict continued between the Poles and Pommerani for the next two centuries.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, Germans moved eastward through Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, and into western Pomerania.  The Slavic Pomeranians now were being pressured by the Poles from the south and the Germans from the west, as well as by the Danes from the north. At this time, the German Empire was a loose confederation of Teutonic tribes, kingdoms and duchies and the Pomeranians were Slavic.  In 1181, the Slavic Duke Bogislaw of Pomerania accepted the title of "Prince of the German Empire" from the German Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa. This provided protection from further attacks by the Germans, and the Bogislaw family remained as Dukes of Pomerania until 1637, when the family died out.

After Pomerania became part of the German Empire in 1181, many Germans settled in the area. The Duke of Pomerania used German knights ("Ritter") as soldiers and they were given tracts of land where they and their peasants could live. This established German nobility as owners of some of the land. Other large tracts of land were given to the Catholic church. The Bishop also brought in German settlers to work the land and also to work in some of the trades. The peasants who settled on the church land tended to fare better than those who worked on the lands of the nobility.

The Hanseatic League, a trading association of German cities formed to promote and protect trade, also brought more Germans into Pomerania.  Another influence on settlement was the order of the Teutonic Knights, which settled in East Prussia in the 13th century and established colonies in eastern Pomerania.

One reason that many Germans were willing to move east was due to constant fighting among the various German tribes in the German Empire. The Frisians and Saxons, who had been powerful, independent tribes suffered reverses in the wars. The Thuringi and the Franks expanded their power and moved eastward into Brandenburg and Upper Saxony, and then into Pomerania and Polish territories.

German settlements and towns often appeared next to Slavic settlements and towns. The German culture rapidly dominated the Slavic culture, and in a little over 200 years the German language had virtually eliminated the Slavic language in western Pomerania. Further east in Pomerania, the Kaschubi were able to retain much of their culture and language even till today.

From 1181 until 1637 Pomerania was a duchy in the German Empire (Holy Roman Empire as it was called). Cities grew and prospered. Better agricultural methods, such as the iron plow, greatly increased the food supply and the population expanded. The area actively traded across the Baltic and the North Seas.

The main problem lay with the knights, nobility and bishops who continually tried to expand their territories and lands, and this led to various skirmishes and wars between them. Cities also fought each other over water routes, fishing rights, and the right to build dams and mills. The Pomeranian Duke had no army of his own, and he often played one group against the other in order to maintain control.

With the advent of the Reformation, northern Germany and Scandinavia supported Martin Luther, and Pomerania became Lutheran in 1534. The German emperors continued to support the Pope, and as a result war broke out in 1618 (The Thirty Years War). The Emperor and most of southern Germany and some Catholic nations such as France and Spain supported the Catholic Church against the northern Germans and Scandinavians. As a result, disease and war killed nearly half the population in northern Germany, and almost two thirds of the population in Pomerania either died or moved out. The intervention of Sweden brought about a stalemate in the war.

In 1648, the war ended with the signing of the Peace of Westphalia. The agreement stipulated that the king or ruling prince could decide what church he wanted in his area, and all the subjects had to join the same church. This was a primary cause for about 70,000 Germans to emigrate to America before the War of Independence in 1776.

During this period, Bogislaw XIV, Elector of Pomerania, died in 1637 without an heir. As a result, eastern Pomerania now was under the control of the Elector of Brandenburg, but Sweden controlled part of northwestern Pomerania until 1720. This area did not become part of Prussia again until 1815 when Napoleon was defeated. In 1701 the Elector of Brandenburg assumed the title of King of Prussia, and Brandenburg also became known as Prussia. Prussia continued to expand to the east, south and west and became a major power within the German Empire. Prussia lost the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt in late 1806, French troops occupied Pomerania. In November 1808, the French troops left the province except for Stettin, which forced the provincial government to move to Stargard in 1809. In 1812, French troops invaded Swedish Pomerania and occupied Prussian Pomerania again. The Prussian government called the Pomeranians to arms in February 1813. With the assistance of Russian troops, all French troops left Pomerania by 5 December 1813. After the war, Karl August von Hardenberg, the head of the Prussian government, led efforts in the Congress of Vienna to buy Swedish Pomerania. In October of 1815, Swedish Pomerania was merged into the Prussian Province of Pomerania.

The Province of Pomerania

In 1815, the Province of Pomerania was created from the former Province of Pomerania (1653-1815), which was comprised of eastern Pomerania and southwestern Pomerania, and from Swedish Pomerania (northwestern Pomerania), and the districts of Schivelbein and Dramburg, which had been part of Brandenburg's Neumark.

The Prussian government was now comprised of ten provinces with similar administration. Pomerania was headed by a "superior president" (Oberpräsident) with the capital city being located in Stettin. The province was divided into three regions: Regierungsbezirk (government district) Stettin, which comprised western Pomerania; Riegierungsbezirk Köslin, which comprised eastern Pomerania; and, Regierungsbezirk Stralsund, the former Swedish Pomerania.

In 1818, the Oberpräsident Johann August Sack reorganized the counties (Kreis) in each region:  Köslin comprised nine counties, Stettin had thirteen counties and, Stralsund had four counties. A new parliament met for the first time in October of 1824 and was comprised of 25 lords and knights, 16 representatives of the towns, and eight representatives from the rural communities. The counties had a Kreisstand (district government), and the nobility of the county each had a vote and the towns had just one vote. To preserve the role and control of the nobility in the province, the province tended to be very conservative in its politics.

The 19th century saw the introduction of overland roads (Chaussee) and railroads. In rural areas, narrow-gauge railroads were built for better transport of crops to markets in the cities. The first gas, water, and power plants were built. Streets and canals were modernized. The Swine and lower Oder rivers, the major routes from Berlin to Stettin were deepened, and Stettin developed as the industrial center of the province. With the infrastructure improvements, tourism became popular on the Baltic coast.

Pomerania was primarily agricultural lowland, with generally poor, often sandy or marshy soil. The area was dotted with numerous lakes and forests and was drained by many rivers, including the Oder, Ina, and Rega. Cereals, sugar beets, and potatoes were main crops, with the raising of livestock and forestry as important occupations.

In the Middle Ages, most of the farm land was in the hands of estates (Gutsbezirk) owned by the  church, nobility or the knights.  This was the practice until the 19th century. The peasant farmer worked his own land, but he also had to work on the land owned by the nobleman, sometimes up to three or four days a week.  The farmer had to help make improvements on the nobleman's property, pay rent, or contribute some of his own crops. As a result, most farmers were poor. On an estate there probably also was a mill and a miller, plus some crafts like cobbler, weaver, wagon maker, and others.

In 1807, the Prussian president issued a decree abolishing serfdom. Serfs were required to pay the lord or to give him land in order to be released from their duties to the lord. This was difficult because of the limited resources of the peasants and farmers. It also brought difficulties in that the nobleman no longer had to protect the peasants, and land no longer was transferred by inheritance. In 1850, laws were passed allowing peasants and farmers to get long-term credit loans (41 to 56 years). The feudal structure changed radically as farmers and peasants used these loans to own and use land as they wanted without the control of the lords. It brought about a great change in social status within rural communities and estates.

In 1847 there were riots in the towns of Stettin and Köslin due to food shortages. The European Potato Failure was a food crisis caused by potato blight that struck Northern Europe in the mid-1840s. The time is also known as the Hungry Forties. It is estimated that about 42,000 people perished in Prussia during this period and the birthrate fell by 12%. As a result, Prussia fixed food prices during this period.

Along the Baltic coast there were numerous seaside resorts and fishing villages. Rapid industrialization started in Pomerania around 1850, with many workers leaving the farms for the cities.

The Prussian education system was a system of mandatory education dating to the early 19th century. Prussia was among the first countries in the world to introduce tax-funded and generally compulsory primary education, comprising an eight-year course of primary education, called Volksschule. It provided not only the skills needed in an early industrialized world (reading, writing and arithmetic), but also a strict education in ethics, duty, discipline and obedience. Affluent children often went on to attend preparatory private schools for an additional four years, but the general population had virtually no access to secondary education. The purpose of the system was to instill loyalty to the Crown and to train young men for the military and the bureaucracy.

Modern Germany

The Congress of Vienna (September 1814 to June 1815) put in place a revised version of the Confederation of the Rhine. The German states, much reduced in number as a result of Napoleon's interference, now consisted of thirty-five monarchies of various kinds and four free cities (Hamburg, Bremen, Lübeck and Frankfurt). They were organized from 1815 into a Deutscher Bund or German Confederation. It was a body with no legislative powers, being merely a diplomatic assembly of rulers or their representatives.

There was an
underlying contest between Prussia and Austria for leadership of the German states. It was resolved as the result of a crisis which flared up for the first time in the late 1840s -- the question of Schleswig-Holstein. Historically Holstein has been within the German empire and Schleswig outside it, but both duchies had been attached to the Danish crown since 1460. The two duchies declared their independence from Denmark and appealed to the German Confederation for help. The result was an invasion of Schleswig-Holstein, and then of Denmark itself, by a Prussian army on behalf of the Confederation. International pressure forced the Prussians to withdraw and the two duchies were restored to Denmark. But the crisis flared again in 1863 when the Danish king Frederick VII died. He has no direct male heir. A joint Austrian and Prussian army overran both Holstein and Schleswig. The result this time was that the two duchies were ceded jointly to Prussia and Austria by the treaty of Vienna in October 1864. It was agreed in 1865 that Prussia would administer Schleswig while Austria would be responsible for Holstein. In June 1866 Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck contrived to find fault with Austria's part of the bargain. Prussian troops marched from Schleswig into Holstein. 

Austria, presiding over the German Confederation (a role acquired half a century earlier at the Congress of Vienna), proposed that the Confederation as a whole should restrain its belligerent member. Prussia, certain to be outvoted on the issue, responded on 14 June 1866 by declaring the Confederation defunct. On June 15, when Saxony, Hanover and Hesse-Kassel refused to give assurances that they would remain neutral, Prussia invaded all three states. The war (The Seven Weeks War of 1866) deciding the future shape of Germany had begun. It was to be a short one.

 The speed of Prussia's victory in the war of 1866 against Austria was largely the result of reforms carried out in the Prussian army by Helmut von Moltke. Appointed chief of the general staff in 1857, he recognized that recent technological developments -- in particular railways and telegraphy -- transformed the nature of war. Moltke had several years in which to train his staff and develop new battle plans before Prussia had to face an enemy of equal stature -- the Austrian empire, in 1866. He also has the advantage that the Prussian army was fully equipped with the Dreyse breech-loading rifle (introduced in 1848). The Austrian infantry, still loaded their muskets by ramming powder and shot down the muzzle, and had a much slower rate of fire.

With these advantages, Prussia achieved what can be described as the first blitzkrieg (lightning war). Troops were transported to various points on a front of about 270 miles along the northern border of Bohemia (part of the Austrian empire). Entering Bohemia at several different places, the invading Prussian forces formed into a single army to confront the Austrians in a major battle at the village of Sadowa, near Königgrätz, on July 3, 1866. The result was inconclusive, but the Prussians were able to push on south to the outskirts of Vienna -- where an armistice was agreed on July 22. Bismarck demonstrated conclusively that the leadership of the German world, exercised for four centuries by Habsburg Austria, had now passed to Hohenzollern Prussia. 

Just a brief word about Otto von Bismarck and his connection to Pomerania. Bismarck inherited from his father in eastern Pomerania the estates Kütz, Jarchelin and Kniephof. He originally planned on a farming career and studied agriculture at the academy in Greifswald-Eldena. From 1867-1874 he bought and expanded the Varzin estates.

In 1871, Prussia, under the leadership of Chancellor Bismarck, united most of the German territories into the nation of Germany. Its king was declared Emperor William I of Germany. Pomerania now was a province in modern Germany.

Kaiser Wilhelm II, an impetuous, impatient man, effectively globalised the First World War (by joining the Austrian declaration of war on Serbia after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand) because he thought the English and French were seeking his annihilation. That was the beginning of the end for Prussia; the Kaiser abdicated at the end of the war, and the state became a republic in 1918.

After World War I, from 1919 to 1939, parts of eastern Pomerania were divided among Germany, Poland, and the Freed City of Danzig (Gdansk). The Polish part formed the province of Pomerelia (German Pommerellen; Polish Pomorze) (6,335 square miles / 16,408 square kilometers) with Bydgoszcz as its capital. It provided Poland a Polish Corridor to the North Sea. The German province had 14,830 square miles /38,410 square kilometers), with Stettin (Szczecin) as its capital.

The 1925 population of Pomerania was centered in 10,267 towns (Wohnort) and there was a total of 233,984 residential buildings. In the early 1930s, Pomerania included 93 cities (Stadt), 2854 rural communities (Landgemeinde) and 34 estates (Gutsbezirk). The latter being mostly unpopulated. In 1939, the province of Pomerania covered an area of 15,134 square miles  / 39,197 square-kilometers, and in today's Germany it would be the third largest federal state. For our U.S. readers, Pomerania comprised approximately 20% in size the state of Wisconsin.

After World War II, and the Yalta and Potsdam Conference in 1945, most of former German Pomerania west of the Oder (except for Stettin, the peninsula Wollin, and the eastern part of the peninsula Usedom with the city of Swinemünde) was incorporated into the Soviet-occupied German state of Mecklenburg and became part of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany); the remaining and much larger part, along with Stettin and some coastal area, was transferred to Polish administration. With the unification of Germany in 1990, Vorpommern -- the part west of the river Oder (except for Stettin and some surrounding areas) -- became a part of the German federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

The Bogenschneiders (Babenschneiders) in Pomerania

There are only a couple of instances found so far of early Bogenschneiders (Babenschneiders) living outside of Pomerania and Brandenburg. There was a Magdalena Barbara Bogenschneider, who died 15 Aug 1685 in Ettenhausen, Württemberg. There was also a publisher, Friedrich Wilhelm Bogenschneider, who published a couple of tracts in 1716 in Jena, Thüringen. This raises the question if the original Bogenschneiders may have migrated from Württemberg and Thüringen to Pomerania. 

By the end of the 17th century, most of the documented early Bogenschneiders (or Babenschneiders) lived in the Pomeranian capital city of Stettin, or within a semi-circle going out 30 miles / 50 kilometers from Stettin, primarily in the counties of Randow, Naugard, Saatzig, Pyritz, Greifenberg and Ückermünde. A few were living in Brandenburg in the 18th century in Ostprignitz-Ruppin, Brandenburg and in Berlin. Starting around 1850, more and more Bogenschneiders moved to Berlin and Stettin due to the industrial development centered in those cities. Also in the 19th century, we find Bogenschneiders in East Prussia, West Prussia, Posen, Silesia and in the Neumark of Brandenburg.

Franz August Bogenschneider was the first Bogenschneider to migrate to America in 1854.  Others followed in the 1870s and 80s, and a few more in the 20th century.  All those who migrated to America originated from Pomerania. There was also a Paulo Bogenschneider who had a transportation company in Brazil in the 1940s.