Remus Family Shepherds and Farmers

In the early 1600's the northern part of Poland was devastated by the war by the Swedes. It was estimated that one-third of the people of northern Poland were killed in that war. So the Remus family migrated into northern Poland in the aftermath of the war; they could have come from Saxony or Danzig or perhaps via Friedeberg, Neumark. Around 1600 they are found near Friedeberg, Neustettin, and Danzig. By 1700, they had migrated to Kreis Flatow and Kreis Schlochau areas. Friedeberg is west of Flatow, Neustettin borders Kreis Schlochau and Danzig is northeast of Kreis Flatow and Kreis Schlochau. And by 1800 they were mostly in the Zempelburg, Vandsburg, and Tuchel districts underlined on the map. Click here to see a map of the area. This area of northern Poland previously known as Royal Prussia was known as West Prussia after 1772. Click here to weight the evidence linking the known my ancestral Remus family to the Remus families of Freideberg, Neustettin, and Danzig.

As noted earlier, these Remus families were not only farmers and shepherds. They were village heads (click on schultz to find out more about this job and settlements to find out how villages were organized), tavern owners/inn keepers (click on krugers for more details), millers, shepherds (click on schafer for details) and farmers. Click here to attend a church service in Flatow. Want to be top dog in a West Prussian village, click Top Dog for details.

Remus Family Members as Farmers

In West Prussia, almost everyone farmed in one way or another. For example, Millers would have a plot of land to grow their food and a large part of the Schultz's income might come from the large allotment of land given the Schultz. Miller Carl Friedrich Remus of Gross Pallubin was an example of the first case and Schultz Martin Remus of Schwente is an example of the second case. However, there were several categories of people who solely farmed.

First note that the king and the nobles owned almost all land in Prussia. Consequently, the best arrangement farmers (and even millers and Schultz) could have is an inheritable lease. This would give them and their descendents the right to farm the land and would provide a pre-determined lease payment to be made each year. Michael Remus of Pollnitz had an inheritable lease that he sold when the 1772 First Partition of Poland occurred. Apparently Friedrich the Great, who was then the king, intended to re-examined his predecessor's land grants like the one Michael had (so Michael sold the lease and moved to Okiersk where he arranged a lease without that problem). The Rotzol-Remus family of Rotzellen has a lease that did not have this problem.

Some farmers might have longer-term inheritable and non-inheritable contractual arrangements. As an example of this, there exists many lease contracts in Kreis Flatow in a new book. Also, a Schultz like Martin Remus of Schwente was responsible for finding and keeping good farmers in the village. If he did not do a good job, Martin would not be able to pay his rent to the Polish noble owner since Martin got a share of his village farmer's production; thus, bad selection and motivation of farmers could lead him to big trouble. Farmers in such villages did often have land tenure subject to meeting their payments to the Schultz (usually in rye).

Other categories of farmers might just have a plot of land while they worked on a manorial farm or for a free farmer like those above. In all the latter cases the farmer might be lose his right to work and his garden and his only social security would be his immediate family. In the church books all over West Prussia, you see Remus family members denoted with the job title Einlieger (day laborer). Having no rights to leases, these folks were often among the first to migrate to new areas of Poland, to Volhynia (where following 1866 land was available for sale) or North America to homestead.

In 1809 things began to change. The Prussians had just been severely defeated by Napoleon and the new Prussian government was much more reform oriented. Through subtle and not so subtle pressure the government sought to break the power of the nobles by forcing the estates to provide more rights to their residents; this, of course, was good news for our ancestors but was a very slow process.


Remus Family Members as Shepherds

Many Remus family members were shepherds. At a manorial farm, shepherds were necessary to mind the flocks owned by the estate. In a free village like Schwente or Zbosse, the people were often too busy farming to properly tend to their sheep, cows, ducks, and geese. In both cases finding a shepherd who would be paid with a place to live and a plot to garden solved the problem. The shepherd would often marry (another shepherd's daughter) and the shepherd's wife would raise the children and grow food in the garden. He meanwhile would take care of the flocks including sometimes taking them to far away pastures.

As I look at the church records of West Prussia, I often find shepherds first into a new area. And then in a few years they often became farmers, which gives their family a much better life. There are shepherds in my background. My gggrandfather Daniel Remus, ggggrandfather Daniel Remus, and gggggrandfather Peter Remus were shepherds. Apparently my ggggggrandfather Peter Remus died young leaving no support to his family so the children really could only become shepherds. This is not unusual for the youngest sons of farmers.


Other Remus Families in West Prussia

There were lots of Remus families in the area. In 1772 the Prussia, Russia, and Austria partitioned Poland and Royal Prussia was incorporated into Prussia (and known as West Prussia). Frederick the Great ordered a census made of his new subjects; click on 1772 West Prussia Census to find all the Remus family members in all of northern Poland. Click here for the annotated census just for the Remus family members described above. Note that there were more in Pomerania that were not included in this list.



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October 8, 2006