"First, you should know that Germany didn’t exist as a nation until 1871. Prior to this, most of
the German states either fell under the jurisdiction of Prussia (the largest and most powerful
German state) or had independent rulers. Because of this, the German states had their own
ways of keeping records. There are no nationwide censuses in these earlier years, and even civil registration began at different times in different places. Similarly, emigration rules and records varied greatly between states." *
Another thing Ol' Myrt here learned is that unlike our US cemeteries where much research can be accomplished, you cannot expect to see very old tombstones in a typical German cemetery (kirchhof or friedhof). Unless a family was wealthy enough to afford a crypt, the grave sites are recycled every generation or so. The tombstones in two of my ancestral cemeteries were unceremoniously removed and stacked up around the perimeter walls of the church yard.
*SOURCE: "Getting Started on German Research" by Leslie Albrecht Huber from Discovering Family History, Jan/Feb 2009. Pages 39-41.
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