Weighting the Evidence

My big question now is where did the Remus families of West Prussia come from? Here are the options and my current best theory.

First, it is likely that the Remus family started in Augsburg and/or Saxony area of Germany early in the 1500's. As noted earlier, Remus appears to be the latinized from of Rehm. That is why we Remus family members do not have a recognizable German name but lots of German genes (with some Polish mixed in for spice).

Theory one: The Remus family came directly from Saxony (or maybe even the Salzburg area via Saxony) to the West Prussia.

The evidence here is not compelling. It is a long way to go and to do it directly in a reasonable amount of time with a family would mean travel by riverboat. And you would need to have a plan about going to somewhere in West Prussia in a time period when West Prussia was decimated by war, famine, and plague.

Long journeys like this actually did happen in the early 1700's. The Bishop of Salzburg threw out thousands of Lutherans who made their way via Saxony to West Prussia. Many died. Our ancestors might have been part of that group. However, that happened in the early 1700's and we find Remus families already in Danzig and Neumark by 1600 and lists of those thrown out do not include any Remus family members. So our family was probably not one of those tossed out by the Bishop of Salzburg.

Theory two: The Remus family came slowly from Saxony (or maybe even the Salzburg area via Saxony) farming their way to the West Prussia.

This is a better theory since Saxony is close to Neumark and German farmers were just colonizing Neumark (the area of west Poland next to the modern German border) in the 15th century. So by 1700 one could keep switching farms and villages and moving from Saxony to the newly opening eastern lands of Poland (Neumark) - and end up in West Prussia. Such farmers had to keep moving since these were all manorial villages or short term leasehold land so every generation moved further east in search of cheap land and to avoid nasty manorial farms.

Also, when the Swedes occupied this area from about 1650 to 1710, a lot of Germans left Neumark for safer locations like West Prussia.

Or perhaps the Remus family served in either the Saxon or Swedish side of the war thereby making lots of money. So they could pay for the privileg of being a Miller or Schultz. So maybe they were the pillagers rather than one of those pillaged. See Great Northern War; the first section is about pillaging and the last section for making money during the war.

I like this theory so check out Braunsfelde to meet the candidate Remus families that might be our ancestors and might have left when the Swedes pillaged the earth and scorched the villages.

Theory three: The Martin Remus family came from Saxony probably by boat to the Danzig, West Prussia. His descendents in Danzig moved to Kries Flatow, West Prussia.

In the 1600's the descendents of Martin Remus of Danzig did well. They were doctors and traders in gold and silver. But Danzig was an important city and hence periodically under attack. So some of the family members may have moved to the Preuss Friedland area. The Remus family of Danzig was well connected to the Polish nobility of the area and had money from their endeavors in Danzig. So they were able to buy leases on villages (they were freischultz), buy leases on manors (schulzengut), and buy the right to run a tavern (kruger) and grind grain (Muller). Incidentally, other important families in Danzig include the Hoppes and Klawitters so other families might have done the same thing.

I like theory three too since it explains well the Remus family's great economic success in the 1700's. So check out Martin Remus of Danzig. The farmer theories one and two are ok but where did likely impoverished farmers get the connections and money to get all the leases that the Remus family did.

It is also possible that theory three is true and so is theory two. There are stray Remus people in West Prussia that I cannot account for. So perhaps, they wandered in from Neumark in addition to the migration from Danzig.

By the 1800's however the Polish nobility had changed and the Remus leasehold property was inherited by other families that married into the Remus family (like the Nehring and Klawitter families), so times were not so good. So it was time to move again - to Volhynia or America.


Please send any information and queries to Bill Remus at


October 9, 2006.