In the late 1800’s several of our Loraff, Reischke, Schultz, Tollas ancestors emigrated from the Prussian Province of Pommern located on the southern border of the Baltic Sea to Berrien County, Michigan, USA. Pommern was within the Kingdom of Prussia, that later became part of the German Empire (1871-1918). After WWII the counties where our ancestors had lived, Bütow, Rummelsburg, and Schlawe were ceded to Poland. For a description of these see Information on Pommern/Polish Locations at the end of this article.
Martin Christian & Johanne Henrietta (Loraff) Schultz
They emigrated to the United States from Bremen, Germany on the SS Nurnberg arriving in Baltimore, Maryland on 17 April 1885. They had twelve children; three died young in Germany. When they emigrated they came with three of their nine children. The others evidently came either before or after because all died in the United States.
Great-Grandfather Martin was born 10 December 1831 at Peest, County Schlawe, Pommern. Great-Grandmother Johanna Henrietta was born 1 January 1840 at Viartlum, County Rummelsburg. After Martin and Henrietta married in 1859, they resided at Reinfeld, where all their children were born. Their daughter, Hulda Marie was my father’s mother; my grandmother.
Family anecdotes relate that Grandma Henrietta was an acquaintance of Johanna von Puttkamer who became the wife of the German Empire’s chancellor, Otto von Bismarck; her daughter Emma Louise (Schultz) Krause remembered Mrs. Bismark would arrive at their house in a Hansom carriage drawn by a white horse.
Martin was a mason and brick-maker by profession, and worked at a brick factory owned by the Bismark family; some say he was the factory manager and when one of the Bismark’s visited Martin would give them a tour. Martin was noted for constantly puffing on a long-stemmed pipe which reached almost to his waist. He had been quite seasick on the voyage over complaining it was Henrietta’s fault they were making the voyage.
Uncle Herb, my Dad’s brother, related that Henrietta kept a large portrait of Bismarck on her living room wall until it was confiscated during WWI. Uncle Herb also told me when a youngster, he opened the garage door at an uncle’s home and a large artificial horse almost fell on top of him.
This was one of the animals on the carousel his uncles August, Herman and Henry Schultz operated in the summer on a vacant lot in Benton Harbor. On the 4th of July they would move it to St. Joseph on the lot where the St. Joseph post office was eventually built.
Albert & Albertina “Tina” (Reischke) Tollas
They emigrated with their seven children in 1892 from their birthplace, Gross Tuchen, County Bütow, Pommern to St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan. This information about Gross Tuchen, County Bütow was collected by Bill Remus. One of the photos in this link shows a plaque donated by Loraff relatives who lived in Bridgman, Michigan. Great-Grandfather Albert died on September 1922, in Baroda, Michigan, at the age of 77; great-grandmother Tina died in October 1931, a year before my birth. Their son, William, was my paternal great-grandfather.
William & Hulda (Schultz) Tollas
Their son, Alfred Ewald Richard Tollas, is my Father. Grandpa William died before I was born; however, I have a clear mind-picture of Grandmother Hulda just after she died, dressed in black, laid-out on her bed at her home on 712 Kingsley Avenue, St. Joseph, Michigan. She was 65; I was 4-years-6-months.
Regarding one of my father’s middle names, Ewald: this was the surname of Hulda’s 2nd cousin, J. Friedrich Ewald, the son of her great-aunt Wilhelmina (Reischke) Ewald with whom they stayed briefly after they arrived in Michigan. His home on Jakway Avenue in Benton Harbor was a temporary way-station for her family as well as others after they arrived from the ‘old country’.
Information on Pommern/Polish Locations:
I am grateful beyond praise for Cindy Schroeder’s painstaking research into our common Pommern ancestors, with an extended thanks to Bill Remus for informing me of Cindy’s research. The following are my annotated version for: Lohraff Annotated Report; Reischke Annotated Report; Schulz Annotated Report. The information for my Tollas ancestors are located in all of the above.