Barry's Relatively Speaking: Language Dialects Are Important

Posted on Nov 14, 2012

Barry's Relatively Speaking shares the personal experiences and stories of genealogists found in the Everton Genealogical Helper Magazine collection on Jerome shares the following experience.

In 1958 on my first visit to Germany seeking relatives, I was told by a train conductor that my German dialect speech (which I learned from my grandmother and parents) probably came from the Amberg area, near Nurnberg. I went to Amberg then, seeking Lindner and Gresser relatives, and later, while buying car insurance, a friendly insurance agent asked me if

I was related to the Gressers in Eber-mannsdorf. What a find this proved to be!

The agent was going to that village that very evening and would inquire of the Gressers if they knew Gressers in America. Next day he reported that although the Johann Gressers did not know about relatives in America, they were interested in meeting me. I went to visit, taking along a photo of great grandfather Christian Gresser's tombstone in New Munich, Minnesota, showing his birth as 17 December 1832 and his death as 11 February 1890. After discussion and comparison of dates, we went to the church in nearby Pittersberg where the village priest found Christian Gresser's birth and baptismal records and those of his older brother, Joseph Gresser, born 14 March 1826. Thus my great grandfather, Christian, and Joseph, the grandfather of my new-found relative, were brothers. I later found four generations back to 1680 in the Gresser line through the church in Pittersberg. Dialect speech was an important clue here and could be helpful to many others. Since dialect speech is fast disappearing, if you have the opportunity to tape record some such language you should do so. It will be a shame to lose these interesting and valuable cultural ties.

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