So many of us within the United States, England, Australia and Canada have ancestors who originated in Germany. Just looking at the many German-based surnames such as Schroeder, Bixler, Groff, Smythe, Braun, Neumann, Schwarz, Kaiser, Klein and Hahn to name a few; nearly everyone has some German heritage.
In doing your family history research you may have the opportunity to find an ancestor’s German hometown. This information could be on a ship manifest, naturalization records, military records, passport, family Bible, marriage or death records, including an obituary. Some of those sources could be inaccurate, based on what someone else remembered. Any records completed by the person who immigrated tend to be more reliable.
One of the family ancestors in my database was Ernst Hermann Teepe who was born in 1841 in Lienen, Westfalen, Preussen, Germany. He immigrated to the United States in 1864. Using U. S. Federal census, the FamilySearch online site and naturalization records, it was determined Teepe had indeed come from the city of Lienen. This town was once part of Kingdom of Prussia and then united with Germany in 1871, years after Ernest Teepe left his homeland.
Using the online site, MyGermanCity helped provide even more in-depth information on this location. The towns and cities are in alphabetical order. All sizes of German towns, villages and cities are listed, some with more details than others.
An easy reference map pinpoints the Lienen location in western Germany, west of the City of Hannover and near the border with The Netherlands. This town is in the heart of the Techlenburger Land and the Teutoburg Forest. This region is in the northeastern section of the German state of Westphalia. It is known for its many castles and mansions. In and around Lienen are the numerous forest regions, making it a beautiful location.
The town of Lienen has a long history, dating back to 1088 A. D. The name means to lean, as along the hills. There are cathedrals and old-world streets everywhere. The site also provides a zoom-in street map with locations labeled. True, the town of Lienen would be quite different today versus 1864 when Teepe left Germany. Population alone has changed. Today Lienen has approximately 8,784 residents. See the photo above of a typical street in Lienen. The neighboring towns are Munster, Bielefeld and Osnabruck.
The MyGermanCity site allows to you learn a little bit more about a family ancestral homeland without traveling the distance. Check out any neighboring towns, your ancestors may have had contact or relatives in those places. There are also links to scenic routes around Germany, German history and architecture. Step back to learn a little more of your native roots.