The Remus Family of West Prussia:
Millers, Village Heads (Schultz), Shepherds, and Farmers
(and a general introduction to West Prussia)
Flatow, West Prussia on 28 June 1657 after the Attach of the Swedes during the 13 Years War
West Prussia is a region on the modern north coast of Poland. It was located between Pommern and East Prussia. All three of the latter regions were part of Prussia. I might note here that this region was given the name West Prussia after the Partition of Poland in 1772. It was located between Pommern and East Prussia. Prior to that time it was know as Royal Prussia, Ducal Prussia, and several other names. For a good history of this area prior to the Partition, see way Friedrich, The Other Prussia, Cambridge University Press, 1999. I will use the name West Prussia on these web pages since this was name of the region at the time of the great migrations to America, Canada, and Australia. Here is a map of West Prussia:
Remus Family Migrations from Saxony to West Prussia
The Remus family has been long established in Saxony. The earliest records I have for this family name are from 1491 in the town of Kamenz where we find Burgers by that name. Remus families still live in the area. Also the nearby town of Grossenhain contained Remus family members going back to at least 1560 (probably related to the Kamenz Remus family). These are the families that migrated to West Prussia. Click here for a Summary of the Evidence of This Migration. Click here for the Top Reasons that They Chose to Migrate.
The earliest appearance of the Remus name in Poland begins to show up circa 1586 in the records of the city of Danzig (modern Gdansk) on the northern coast of Poland (see the above map). This city was the major city in a quasi-independent state known as Royal Prussia. Officially the nobles in Royal Prussia were part of the Polish state's governing system but in reality Royal Prussia went its own way (Friedrich, The Other Prussia, Cambridge University Press, 1999). The economic power of Danzig was that it was a transshipment point of grain going out of Poland and goods coming into Poland by the Baltic Sea routes. It was part of the Hanseatic League of Baltic trading cities and a fairly wealthy city for that time. Click on Martin Remus of Danzig to find the genealogy of this pastor at St. Mary's (Marienkirche) in Danzig; he was born in Saxony (see Grossenhain Saxony) and migrated to Danzig before 1586. Click here to find out why he made the move. Click here for lots of details on Martin's life and career including lots of pictures and history of the Danzig area. Click here to find out more about Martin Remus in Saxony.
The above was an unusual case. What generally happened in the West Prussia migration reflects circumstances in Saxony. Some of the members of the Remus family were Burgers (Millers, soap makers and commercial cooks) in Kamenz. As such they had access to financial resources and to the political power of Saxony. They ended up with the funds and connections to become the Schultz, Burgers, and Millers of West Prussia. It is likely this Burger family had the resources to support the education of Martin Remus at University of Leipzig who lived initially in the nearby town of Grossenhain and was a pastor in Danzig (see above).
Some members of the Remus family did not have assets but still migrated. So there were Remus family members who worked on estates in Saxony like Bischhein. When this second group arrived in West Prussia, they worked on estates, became day laborers, and became shepherds.
The first wave of migration was in the 1600's when Remus family members moved from Saxony to the estates in Neumark, an area in Poland then a part of Brandenburg/Prussia. Some were just workers but others like the Remus family in Braunsfelde in Neumark were millers. They probably moved on to West Prussia at the same time as the second wave of migration about to be discussed.
The second wave of migration resulted from the Great Northern war. The Great Northern War devastated the northern part of Poland. The war had two major phases in northern Poland, the first around 1650 and the second around 1704. Saxony was a participant in both phases and Remus family members fought in both phases. It is estimated that one-third of the people of northern Poland were killed in that war. In the aftermath of the war (that is around 1720), the Remus family settled in what was to become Kreis Flatow and Kreis Schlochau in West Prussia. Also helpful was the patronage of Augustus the Strong King of Saxony and Poland who provided small land grants for the service in his armies like that to Michael Remus of Pollnitz, Kreis Schlochau. By 1772 the Remus family was also in Kreis Tuchel, Kreis Schwetz, Kreis Berent, Kreis Wirsitz, and Kreis Preuss Stargard in West Prussia. See the map above. This area of northern Poland previously known as Royal Prussia was known as West Prussia after 1772. (Note: Kreis corresponds to county in English.)
As noted earlier, some of the Remus families in West Prussia 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), and millers. Click here to attend a church service in Flatow. Want to be top dog in a West Prussian village, click Top Dog for details. These people will be described in great detail after a brief discussion of the rest of the Remus family.
Shepherds, Day Laborers, and Estate Workers
Many Remus family members arrived in West Prussia and are listed as shepherds (click on shepherd (schafer) for details), estate workers, day laborers, and farmers in the 1772 Land Census. Roughly half the Remus family members listed fall in this category.
When these Remus family members arrived in West Prussia they had neither financial assets nor political connections. So they took the only jobs available to them. These jobs were being a shepherd, day laborer, estate worker, or small farmer usually attached to an estate. This became apparent when I looked into the nature of the villages they lived in around 1772 - many of these villages were connected to a large noble estate. The maps would show an estate house with a few small houses nearby.
In the end, many of these families did acquire their own farm, although often in sandy soil.
There were two subsequent migrations out of Saxony to Prussian northern Poland. Some migrated after the partition of Poland in 1772 and 1794 to take advantage of the incentives for German settlers offered by the Prussian government. Others migrated following the take over of Saxony by the Prussians in the early 1800's.
The Remus family was not in Pommern (Pomerania in English) until the early 1800's. Again the Pommern migration was about economic opportunities. What happened was that Pommern was a region of feudal estates owned by nobility up until the early 1800's. In the early 1800's, the Prussian government broke the power of the nobility and the serfs were released from their bondage to the estates. They left Pommern for places like America and Russia leaving farming opportunities (in Kreis Stolp taken up by Remus family members from West Prussia) and shepherding opportunities (in Kreises Pyritz, Stagard and Griefenhagen).
The greatest migration of Remus family members was to North America beginning in about 1860.
Please send any queries to Bill Remus at
February 8, 2017