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Family Reunion Stoyke - 1983

A presentation held by Bernd Stoyke, Detmold (Germany)

(Translated by Eva Kirsten, Laurie Morgan, Lynda Rogers and Olaf Schmidt)

A family meeting means expenditure of time and money for the organizer and the participants - therefore the question arises is it worthwhile? On such an occasion there are people present who hardly know each other. What are the bonds that tie us together?

I believe the answer could be that bonds of

    1. Relationship
    2. Common name and
    3. Mutual homeland and a common fate are what tie us together.

I will comment in detail on the first two points later. The third point "homeland and fate" is difficult to define at this time. Since the end of World War I the influence of overall politics made it necessary for part of the family to leave West Prussia and later we were all expelled. We had to find a new hometown and especially since 1945 we had to assimilate and identify ourselves (especially the younger ones) with this new home. Participants of the first family meeting were not even born then and even our language has been influenced by the dialect of our new home area. The older ones still have clear memories of their old homes, also in a geographical sense. However, whether old or young, we should not forget that only about 35 years ago or 1/10 we no longer live in our native homeland where according to proven family history we lived for 350 years and that West Prussia is still our actual home. There our family has its roots and origins for 350 years. I’ll exemplify this under items 1 and 2 ("Relationship and common name").


The name Stoyke

1. Meaning of the Name

    Regarding the meaning and the origin of names we know that there are clear cases. There are no puzzles concerning the names of Müller (Miller) or Schmidt (Smith). It is a little more difficult if people are called, for example, "Pagenkopf". A person who knows the correct meaning of "Page" as being in earlier times a horse has a better chance to find the meaning of a name than a person who only takes a "Page" as "noble page" in the meaning nowadays. The name Stoyke is more complicated. Even earnest name researchers can only speculate with regard to the meaning of some names. If we really want to explore the meaning we have to consult with works that deal with the explanation of names.

    Up until now I have only found the name Stoyke (not the also known spelling of Stoike, Stoycke) in the name book written by Rudolf Zoder, who is familiar with the other ways of spelling Stoyke. In conformity with the name book of Bahlow and Bahlow’s "Pomeranian Family Names" the name Stoyke is derived from the Slav word stoj = stand and according to Bahlow means "steadfast". I think this meaning seems to be correct. Within the family tradition this meaning is not undisputed, as I will show when discussing the origin of the family.


2. Origin of the Name

    The origin of the name is nearly always synonymous with the origin of the family. What explanations are there for the origin of the family and which is the most likely interpretation?

    (a) Origin in Holland (Nederlands)
    (b) Origin in Salzburg (Austria)
    (c) Origin in Rumania

    (a) Origin in Holland ?

    When my brother Eckhart worked in Stade (Northern Germany), he met a born Stoyke who did not have ancestors that could be placed into our lineage. She thought her origin was Dutch. Maybe a postal rider coming from Holland and going to Petersburg remained in West Prussia? Could this be possible? The Dutch language knows the elements of "oy" and "ke" but in the combination of Stoyke this cannot be determined. This theory could be plausible because early Dutch colonists came to West Prussia and they naturally kept their names. The importance of these Dutch people was so great that they created a special form of settlement called "Holländerei" or "Olendry" in Polish. Such settlements are understood to be German developments by Polish people. However, the lack of the name Stoyke in the Netherlands points against this theory.

    (b) Origin in Salzburg ?

    A tomb was supposedly found in Groß Leistenau, county Graudenz (Westprussia) with the inscription "George Stoyke, died in Salzburg in 1732". This inscription has been recorded verbally several times, for example by Hertha Stoyke and also by Helene Stoyke. Therefore there is no doubt of this.

    The Salzburger Bishop decreed with an immigration patent on 31 October 1731 that Protestants would be deported from Salzburg. The Prussian King Frederic William I ordered (with Patent) on the 2 February 1732 that the Salzburger Protestants could settle mainly in East Prussia where they were held in high repute. Many of these immigrants died in their new homeland - possibly 25 percent. The above death of George Stoyke therefore fits into this time.

    However, if the family came from Salzburg, then the name should have been recorded in Salzburg. There exists a list of about 20,000 immigrants of the Salzburger Protestants; one would suppose that the name would still be apparent there. Heinz and Bärbel Stoyke were lucky to participate in a large Protestant exposition at the Castle Goldegg/Salzburgerland (Austria) in 1981. There was a competent information office there that denied the fact that the origin of the name Stoyke is Salzburg. The same applies to other enquiries.

    There still remains the question of the tomb inscription, one can only speculate. Our home in Graudenz was the neighbouring settlement area of the "Salzburger" and there must have been connections. It can therefore be assumed that the wife came from Salzburg and that the inscription referred to her. According to Bärbel Stoyke the name Bergau of the Kamin line stems from Salzburg.

    Against this Salzburger theory points the fact that the first proven ancestor Georg Stoycke, farmer from Thiergart who was born in 1655, which was long before the Salzburger migration. Of course, there could have been individual re-settlers before the great expulsion. But one question is why does the tomb of 1732 refers to Stoyke especially since the family settled in Prussia in 1655. It does not make sense to reach the conclusion of the origin of the family from one single inscription when there are no other indications and many points are against it.

    (c) Origin from Rumania ?

    One of our relatives met a namesake living in Rumania in the last war. Also the name of the Rumanian Foreign Minister Stoica was well known. A theory was held that possibly an ancestor from Rumania went to the German Eastern territories with the Order of the Knighthood. It can be considered that the name could be connected to Stoikers, who was a Greek philosopher. Without closer knowledge of the namesake in Rumania, I think this conclusion of family origin rather venturesome when at the same time a more likely explanation exists.

    Of course, the question is justified how can the name be explained. In Romania, a roman country exists also a Slavic population so that the name could have developed out of the root "stoj". A Stoyke could have immigrated to Romania/Siebenbürgen. However, I do not think it is probable.

    So where does the name stem from? This question is likely to be answered if we try to examine the root of the family. Where the family comes from, the name also comes from. I think the surest way to find out is to examine the appearance of the family. Such solid evidence must lead to success rather than the consideration of only one fact.

    Name books show many family names with the root "Stoy", for example Stoye, Stoyan, Stoyen, and Stiogen. These names appear in the areas of Halle/Saale and Saxonia (both south eastern Germany) from 1200 - 1400, and also in Mecklenburg and Straslund (North eastern Germany) (compare Rudolph Zoder, Surnames in Ostfalen, 1968; Hans Bahlow, German Name Dictionary). These examples show that the name or root is apparent in the German language area for a long time. Although it has a Slavic root one can say that it is a German name of Slavic origin and it apparently originated where German and Slavic populations merged.

    The names Bülow, Zitzewitz, Zastrow, Dewitz to name just a few famous noble families are undoubtedly of Slavic origin but no one would have the least doubt that those names are not true German families. I always had the feeling that it might have been preferable to substitute the origin of the Slavic name with one of Holland, Salzburg or Rumania. It must however be emphasized that Slavic is not synonymous with Polish or another Slavic national but that the name originated in the colonial time of the East in which two nations merged and that the first part of the name was retained maybe because it could be easily applied to German. People name Meier, Müller or Schmidt are no more or less German than Bulow, Zastrow or even Stoyke. Therefore I suppose that the family comes from the Middle or East German area.

    The Slavic origin is not necessarily obvious because the Slavic word "stoj" has the same root as the German "stehen", Latin "stare" or English "stay".


3. Origin of the family

    Earliest notice of the name Stoyke came from Pomerania whre a garment tailor of this name was taken into the Guild at Stolp in 1520. We are grateful to Elisabeth Sommerfeld for the following information:

    Pomeranian Historical Date:

    Admitted into the Guild of Garment Tailors were:

      1. Steyke, Paul in the year 1520.
      2. Stoyke, Joachim in the year 1557.
      3. Stoyke, Paul in the year 1561
      4. Stoike, Pawel, without date and year.
      5. Stoike, Joachim, as son, 1595-1596.
      6. Stoike, Jürgen 1597-1589.

    In addition:

      1. Steuke, Johann: Clothier Master at Jastrow, county Deutsch Krone, Pomerania, in 1756.
      2. Stoyke, Joachim: named Town Councillor at Putzig, West Prussia, in 1586.

    Sedina Archives:

    Referring to the history of the villages of Doberlage and Rederitz of Neumark and Pomerania:
    The following animals were taken from the farmer Jakob Stoycke in the year 1646: 8 oxen.

    What do these meager notes mean? First of all, that the name appeared in "Hinterpommem" (East Pomerania) before the reformation, that is, not far away from West Prussia.

    The next question would be how did the family arrive in Kamin in 1733? As far as I know the name did not appear in this area before that time. If the name was not native in the area around Kamin, but it appeared less than 100 km (62 mi) to the west, the question arises if it was not possible for the family to have immigrated from the West. We have to check into our first known ancestor Georg Stoyke, who was born about 1655, in Thiergart, county Rosenberg in West Prussia. Would it be possible or likely that there was a relationship to the name of Stoyke in Pomerania?

    In the year 1560 the "Bauernlegen" (farmers losing their rights) occurred increasingly in Pomerania. This means that the Aristocracy and cities confiscated farms and the farmers were reduced to the level of servants or bondsmen as was customary in Poland. There the Polish aristocracy ruled over the impoverished peasantry. These conditions, which deteriorated more and more, led to the fact that the farmers of Pomerania left their homes in secrecy in order to live under the Polish Crown. The Pomeranian leaders tried to stop this immigration by issuing prohibition orders and border control, but to no avail. The Germans, however, settled on free land in Poland where no Polish people had lived before. This, of course, meant on land that was not as productive. The Polish lords hoped for an increase of their profits by having Germans working their fallow lands and the farming methods of these new German settlers were superior to that of the Poles. In order to induce the German farmers to stay they got special advantages, such as partly reduced taxes, or special legal status regarding right of succession or leaseholds. So at this time a strong German immigration continued from West to East - long before the known medieval East colonization in the Middle Ages that aimed at West Prussia but also further to the area around Lodz and inner Poland. This was a settlement or peaceful colonization for mutual advantages. Confession was at this time of great importance. The development started that the Poles remained Catholic whereas the Germans turned to Lutherism. This was a major cause for discord between the two nations and it has lasted until the present time. The difference in religion, however, did not stop the Poles from allowing the Germans to settle.

    In conclusion, it can be said that based on the conditions around 1560-1630 a settlement movement from Pomerania (where the name Stoyke appears) took place towards the East to West Prussia. In a letter dated 25 June 1968 by Dr. Herbert Spruth of Berlin, he considered the movements to be highly probable. He stresses that this migration of families has been proven - especially where cloth makers are concerned, for example the Stoyke’s from Stolp of 1520-1600.

    The other details of the movement of the family have not been proven, but I see this migration process to be the most likely way that the family came to settle in West Prussia. This movement lasted through the following centuries so that the migration could have also been possible at a later time.


4. Development of the Family in West Prussia

    The first mention of the name in West Prussia is the Aldennan or town Councillor Joachim Stoyke in Putzig. Following this comes the above-mentioned Georg Stoyke, born 1655, married to Anna, a farmer from Thiergarth, county Rosenberg in West Prussia (extract of the Parish Register for Groß Tromnau / West Prussia).

    This Georg Stoyke has three children:

      1. Catharina Stoycke, born December 1860
      2. Georg Stoyke, born 3 January 1685
      3. Maria Stoycke, born 28 November 1686.

    The notes of Mrs. Sommerfeld show that Georg could have moved as a tenant farmer of a so-called "Pfarrhufen" to Kamin. I did not find substantiation of this. It is again necessary to ask the question what is for and against this hypothesis. In favour, are the same name and profession, although the name is used frequently in this area, but is not spread quite widely because the number of candidates is small. Therefore I believe the identity is obvious, especially as the name does not appear again in another connection.

    Even if we consider the conditions in this area the hypothesis can be held. Why should the only son of a farmer leave his father’s farm and move to Kamin?

    The political background was unstable because of the 30 Year War (1618-1648) followed by the Swedish/Polish War (1655-1660) and with all the horrors and the subsequent plague and cholera epidemics the area was heavily depopulated and many regions devastated. Where there had been villages and farms in earlier times only barren land was left. The Aristocracy and church then divided this land for themselves. The Graudenz Jesuit College purchased the estate Jablonowo and in 1644 they purchased the estate of Kamin – the latter meaning "Stein" (stone) in German. These bleak properties were then settled with Germans. By the year 1650 Germans had settled in Kamin. It is striking that the Jesuits who were pioneers of the counter-reformation, took Germans and Protestants as tenant farmers. That must speak for the efficiency of the Germans. The Stoykes were not the first to settle in Kamin, but they are mentioned as living there 88 years after the first mention of the new settlement. We can see that qualified and capable farmers got good opportunities in Kamin at this time and that Georg Stoyke used this in 1733 when he took over the leasehold of the "Pfarrhufen".

    There is a possible explanation for the fact that Georg Stoyke did not belong to the first tenant farmers in 1733. In the years 1708-1711, there was a terrible pestilence in East and West Prussia. 250,000 people lost their lives and 10,000 farms were devastated. This may have happened in Kamin also. From 1733 the history of the family Stoyke has been extensively documented, so we can say that the descent is fully provable from then onwards.


5. Remarks regarding general conditions

    By 1733 Kamin already had a long history. It started with settlements in the Stone Age (Palaeolithic period). After that the Migration of the nations and the departure of the Germanic tribes Kamin was sparsely populated. Subsequent Slavic settlement took place after the crowning of the first Polish King Boleslaws I ("the brave") in 1024. Foundation of the state did not last long. Christianisation starts with many setbacks initiated from Germany.

    A decisive factor in the history of the German East is the call by Duke Konrad I of Masovie to the German Order, which was headed by Hermann von Salza. The German Order established two estates Gabelnaw in 1295 in the area of Goßlerhausen near the former Masoviech castle of "Jablovo". This was a settlement of free farmers who came from the mid German area. The first German settlement was therefore in a deserted and fallow area. In addition not only German farmers were settled here at the foundations of the Order – however details of other settlers are unknown. A strong castle of the Order was built in the district town of Strasburg. In 1466 the land falls to Poland based on the 2nd Thorn Peace Treaty. We then make a big jump to the year of 1640. Now the local rulers have Polish names. The flat land with its villages and towns had been distributed between the Crown, Nobility and the Church – the latter in the form of the Bishop of Kulm and the Jesuit monastery of Graudenz. Each of the new owners provided the inhabitants of the area with different laws and rights. The Jesuit College of Graudenz purchased the estate Jablonowo (Goblershausen) and the estate Kamin in the year 1644.

    As mentioned above the Jesuits called farmers and craftsmen in to strengthen the economy. These were mainly Protestants, which means that Germans came regularly from the Odra River and Vistula River. Settlements of Germans were called "Holländereien" or "Haulandereien". Compared to existing settlements these new ones were distinguished by their outer and inner uniformity. The most important difference was that the new settlers were free farmers paying rent and having a certain independence. In comparison the native people were completely dependent upon the nobility. We cannot imagine how depressing this dependency and poverty must have been. There is an opinion that the origin of the proverb "Notorious Polish Household" originates out of this historical misery. The little farmer was so persecuted that a reasonable and profit oriented work did not make sense because at the end everything was taken away from him. It was not even worthwhile to plant an apple tree. In comparison the free farmer could – after deduction of land tax – determine his success on the surplus. These Germans were tenant farmers with fixed rights and obligations.

    After the first Polish Division, Kamin was ceded to Prussia: Frederic the Great took formal possession on the 13th June 1772. The Prussian Government started immediately to take an inventory of each village. The record for Kamin is available. It is called "Contribution Land Register of 1772/1773" and the original is kept in the archives of Potsdam respectively Merseburg (Central Archive of the German Democratic Republic), a copy of which is held in the archive of Marburg/Lahn (Hessian State archives, Friedrichsplatz). These Registers show:

    1. A description of the village
    2. Number of men living there
    3. The name of the men and the members of their families
    4. The possessions of the villagers.

    It is described as a "noble" country village belonging to the Jesuit Monastery of Graudenz.

    The Prussian Appraiser Quassowsky states his opinion of the village of Kamin:

    "The village of Kamin has on the whole an average ground for corn with a little sand which can also be used for other cultivation. The sowing according to the "Berlin bushel" which is in concordance with that of Graudenz is as follows:

    10 ½ bushel wheat up to the 4th corn
    180 ½ " rye " 3 ½"
    43 ½ " barley " 4 "
    110 ½ " oats"3".

    The Meadows are partly in fields, partly on the river Lutrina and are not particularly good but could possibly produce 32 4 sp. Cartloads of hay. The gardens could produce ‘per Hube’ pptr. ½ barrel of ‘Einfall’."

    13 farmers and 14 Inst men (day labourers) where named in this register of Kamin.

    Among the farmers listed are: Andreas Steig and George Steig. (These names are a new writing of the form Stoyke that cannot be determined otherwise). Both have two "Hufen" land equivalent to 33 Hektar or 132 Morgen. This is quite considerable, especially as the ground quality was good because wheat and sugar beets could be planted there. In the Register are listed Georg Stoyke – three sons over 12 and two sons under 12, a farm labourer and 1 farm girl.
    Georg Stoyke had 8 horses, 4 oxen, 3 cows, 3 young stock, 12 sheep and 1 pig.
    Seed – 1 "Berlin" bushel of wheat, 17 rye, 3 barley, 10 oats, 1 peas, ¼ linseed and 3 hay.

    Georg Stoyke’s possessions are in concordance with the other farmers in the village.

    The Inst men (day labourers) are tax exempt and are paid by the farmer where they work. Besides having to pay 34 Reichstaler (currency of the time) the farmers had to render 12 days "hand service", 2 days driving of manure, plowing of 6 Morgen and had to take corn and timber to Graudenz.

    We therefore see that there were orderly conditions and that the family Stoyke with two representatives lived as free farmers in Kamin since 1772. They were residents there before the country became Prussian and consequently became German under constitutional law.

    With the coming of the Prussians the leaseholds changed to heredity property although a few encumbrances remained in favour of the former owners. We can therefore hold fast that the village of Kamin is the original place of the family Stoyke. It is a fact that we all stem from the same house, although the individual branches developed differently.

    We will therefore take a short look at Kamin and give a few facts about it because all might not know the village.

    Kamin was situated about 30 km (19 mi.) East of the city of Graudenz on the Vistula River. Kamin was oriented to this city economically and culturally, although Strasburg (about 20 km/12 mi. East) was the district town. Kamin belonged to the administrative district Gosslershausen, a few kilometers distant and remarkable because it’s a railway junction. The old village Kamin was built along the Gosslershausen-Strasburg road. The little river Lutrine (an old Nordic word) winds parallel and south to the street. This meadow valley got systematically drained through ditches and produced a reasonable hay harvest even in dry summers. On the other side of the street in northeasterly direction were the fields of sandy and loamy soil. As stated the houses were on the road and modest in dimension. However, during the last century the farmers settled outside the village and new farmsteads were built directly on their own ground.

    In 1945 we find 3 farmers named Stoyke in Kamin whose farmsteads were situated away from the village. The so-called principal farm of Erwin Stoyke, as well as the farms of Johann and Robert Stoyke. However, the designation "principal farm" is not quite correct because it is not the old farm of 1733, which must have been situated on the road and is not known to me.


6. The genealogy of the family Stoyke

    We now come to the actual degrees of relationship. We see here some faces that seem to be strange and still the grade of relationship is closer than one thinks. After knowing all the relatives here we will be acquainted and I hope the main object of the meetings is then achieved.

    I can only outline the individual lines and closer relationships. Bärbel Stoyke is the expert on all the particulars.

    1. The line starts with Georg Stoycke, farmer of Thiergarth, county Rosenberg, West Prussia. Born 1655. He was supposedly the father of
    2. Georg Stoycke, born Thiergarth, 1684, first tenant-farmer of the parish "hufen" (Pfarrhufen) Kamin. His son is:
    3. Georg Stoyke, born Thiergarth 1720, died 1784 in Kamin. He had a brother named Andreas or Johann or lived later in Piecewo.

    It is remarkable that three generations in succession bear the same first name. They are all called "Georg" which is of Greek origin and means countryman or farmer – maybe a reference to the fact that they loved working their land. This coincides with the fact that the family consists throughout of farmers or people having a close affinity to the country.

    When looking through the first names, as for instance Georg, Johann, Andreas and Elisabeth, it can be noticed that they appear again and again. This may be the expression of a very close bond with the family, as is shown in the family of the great composer Bach where for remembrance of their great ancestor Johann, this first name appeared for many generations. This is however true up to a point. Comparing the first names of the same time period and era it must be realized that the population was not very mobile. It can also be supposed that within the family there was a good relationship favouring this tendency.

    The latest research regarding family sociology produces some interesting results. They found out that within the family not only outward and spiritual or mental characteristics were hereditary but also social behaviour and ideals and values are passed on.

    It is a fact that there are for example families who are in permanent discord, quarrelling and conflicts and this has for generations resulted in poor consequences. There are stories of such families and it was said that there lived an evil spirit on this farm, which laid a curse upon the people. On the other hand, there are families living harmoniously and where for example divorces are rare and the tensions of generations are not apparent. This results in the fact that one generation shows the other the way to deal with each other and that the substance is more important than the sparkle glitter. It is probably speculative to apply this thought to the family Stoyke. The fact however that Stoykes are meeting here – whose last common ancestor died in 1784, shows that a good spirit lives within the family Stoyke. It is interesting to note that women born Stoyke remain especially faithfully to their families.

    We are now passing over the 3rd on Jacob as his line dies out, although there are five children.

    The line of the 4th son Christian dies out too, although there are eight children.

    The line of the 5th son Adam had five children and founded a flourishing line, for example Frau Alfert and Karl Kastner belong to it. Adam had a farmstead in Sadlinken. A marriage of a relation into the family took place. There was also a daughter who was married to Georg Eggert who came from Piecewo.

The "principal farm" of the family Stoyke in Kamin, county Strasburg in Westprussia

Photo: The "principal farm" of the family Stoyke in Kamin, county Strasburg in Westprussia.
[Source: Barbara Stoyke, Brakel (date of picture unknown)]

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