The Families' and People's History of Mestlin

Emigration from Mestlin

Mecklenburg in the past century

When, after the abolition of serfdom in 1820/21, the solicitude duty of the landowners was also abolished, the whole rural population became poorer and poorer. For many it was impossible to get the vital "Hüsung" (dwelling). Fritz Reuter described the situation at that time in his book "Kein Hüsung" (No Dwelling). The following poem is also by him:

Und Keiner will uns Hüsung gewen?
Hir unner unsen eig'nen Hewen
Kein Platz für uns, für mi un Di?
Kein Platz in unsern Vaderlann'?
Dat wir 'ne niderträcht'ge Schann'.

(And noone will give us dwelling?
Here in our own ports
No room for us, for me and you?
No place in our native country?
That would be a perfidious disgrace.)

Despite of the most economical way of life, the rural population would never have had the chance to buy their own land - the dream of each land laborer. They remained socially and economically dependant for the entire time of their life. On the other side there were the fertile lands of North America, anybody could become a landowner there for very little money.

Around the middle until the end of the 19th century, many people chose to rather have an insecure future in the known surroundings of their home country Mecklenburg. Their economical and political dependance and absence of perspectives hardly left them a choice. Almost every third person from Mecklenburg left their home country, almost 90 % of them came from rural places.

Travelling via Hamburg many tried their luck in America. It was a hurting farewell, usually for ever.

Abschied der Auswanderer

"Abschied der Auswanderer" (Farewell of the Emigrants) is the name of the drawing by the painter from Mecklenburg Rudolf Suhrlandt (1781 - 1862) which is now in the State museum in Schwerin. The wrench of a farewell scene, departure of friends, relatives, from the home country, does not need any comments.

But which fate awaited the immigrants in America? John Brinckmann (* 1814 Rostock, + 1870 Güstrow), one of the most famous Low German poets, emigrated to America in 1839, but returned after two and a half years. He then wrote in his "Fastelabendpredigt für Johann, de nah Amerika furt will":

Dor ist keen Minsch, de nah di fragt,
Üm di den lütten Finger rögt.
Dor rackt een jeder för sich sülst,
Un dor heet klauk, wer düchtig lüggt
Un wer sick hoegt, wenn up dat düllst
He di beschummelt un bedrüggt.
Dor heet dat: Help di sülst un süh,
Wur dörch du kümmst un wur di't glückt!
Wat schert un deit dat uns, wur di
Din Stäwel knipt, din Schoh di drückt!

A marvellous work is that by the teacher from Mecklenburg Johanness Gillhoff (1861 - 1930): "Jürjakob Swehn, der Amerikafahrer". In 1917, the book was published in Berlin and became a bestseller. The book documents the life of a day laborer from Mecklenburg and his emigration to America



Time table of the emigration

May 18th: Emigration prohibition to America for the subjects from Mecklenburg - Schwerin by grand-ducal decree
June 8th: The German Federal File allows in article 18b the emigration to other states of the Federal Republic of Germany
January 18th: announcing of the abolition of serfdom in Mecklenburg starting from Easter, 1821
September 3rd: A grand-ducal decree rules the granting of passports to emigrants from Mecklenburg-Schwerin
February 5th: A grand-ducal decree announces the "general abolition of the charge of emigration" in Mecklenburg-Schwerin
June 1st: decree about the acquisition and loss of the character of a subject from Mecklenburg is being passed
April 15th: decree by the landlord about the emigration to outer-european countries
June 25th: constitution of the North German Federation, which Mecklenburg belongs to, grants total freedom of movement in the States of the North German Federation as well as outside of the borders for all Federation members. The usual marriage restrictions, that were common in Mecklenburg until this date, are not applicable anymore.
Federal law rules the emigration movement

(taken from: Mecklenburg Magazin 1990)


On the trails of emigrants from Mestlin

The first trails of emigrants from Mestlin can be found in the church book. Very often one finds comments like: emigrated to America in 18.. . A few examples:

  • Johann _Friederich_ Christian Garling born on April 16th, 1821
    to America in 1857
  • Johann _Jochim_ Friederich Garling born on September 9th, 1826
    to America in 1854 (picture) Geburtseintrag
  • Johann _Heinrich_ Theodor Garling born on Dezember 11th, 1833
    to America in 1854
  • Johann _Joachim_ Carl Heinrich Garling and his wife
    _Maria_ Friederike Carolina (nee Wahls) and a child
    Friedrich Johann Theodor born on September 19th, 1855
    to America in 1868
    (ref. also the emigration consense #5945)
  • Joachim Heinrich Garling born on April 21st, 1837
    _Sophie_ Dorothea Elisabeth (nee Dolge) born on August 9th, 1840
    married on Oktober 5th, 1866
    to America
    (ref. also the emigration consense #1710)

In order to emigrate "officially", one had to turn in a request at the

Ministerium des Innern

The documents belonging to that request can now be found in the Landeshauptarchiv in Schwerin. After a successful processing of the request, an emigration consense was granted or a dismissal-document was issued.

The following "emigration requests" are from Mestlin and Ruest:

Alphabetical register of the requests for emigration-consenses
from 1826 till the end of 1843
Eickelberg, day-laborer, Mestlin 1419.1437
Glien, Gust, day-laborer, Mestlin 1371.1380
Alphabetical register of the requests for emigration-consenses
from 1844 till the end of 1853
Eickelberg, day-laborer, near Mestlin 1419.1437
Alphabetical register of the requests for emigration-consenses
from 1854 till the end of 1857
Krüger, "Statthalter" near Mestlin 133.163
Knüttel Johann day-laborer, Ruest 1106
Freitag, shepherd, Mestlin 28.36
Gierahn, day-laborer, Mestlin 707.804
Possehl, day-laborer, Mestlin 24.36
Sternberg day-laborer, Mestlin 24.36
Soltwedel day-laborer, Mestlin 24.36
Westphal day-laborer, Mestlin 24.36
Eggert, Johann day-laborer, Mestlin KA Dobbertin 797.804
Soltwedel, day-laborer, Mestlin 24.36
Westphal, day-laborer, Mestlin 24.36
Alphabetical register of the requests for emigration-consenses
requests after VO on the 15.4.1857
Cords, Carl Joh. Fr. Th. hereditary peasent,  Ruest 803
Cords, Joh. farmhand Ruest 1304
Köster, Friedr Carl Theodor farmhand Mestlin 1435.1442
Cords, Dorothea unw Mestlin 1858
Kröger, Friedr Joh Th Martin Ruest 1956
Kröger (Krüger), Friedr farmhand Mestlin 1984
Cords, Friedr Joh Chrn farmhand Mestlin 1984
Köster, heinr Friedr Ludw Mestlin 1991
Dolge, Joach Joh Chr farmhand Mestlin 985
Weltzin, Carl, farmhand Mestlin 1117
Alphabetical register of the requests for emigration-consenses
from 1858 till the end of 1861
Garling, Joh Fr Heinr, tailor  Mestlin 1801.1814
Garling, Joach day-laborer Ruest KA Dobbertin 1885
Gollenbohm, Marie unw Ruest, KA Dobbertin 1045
Alphabetical register of the requests for emigration-consenses
from 1862 till the end of 1865
Cords, Joh Carl Chr, day-laborer Ruest KA Dobbertin
Alphabetical register of the requests for emigration-consenses
from 1865 till the end of 1868
Käupcke, Marie Dor Soph, unw Mestlin 1753
Dolge, Sophie, unw Mestlin 1710
Garling, Joach. Heinr., farmhand Mestlin 1710
Garling, Joach., day-laborer Vimfow, 5945
Garling, Caroline Dorothea Sophie 6153
Nehls, Joh., farmhand Kl. Pritz 1769
Juncker, Friederike Joh Chr Emma Ernest, unw Mestlin 2839
Simon, Auguste Friederike Joh, unw Mestlin 3447
Soltwedel, Friederike Marie Dor., unw Vimfow 2838
Westphal, Christoph Carl Heinr., farmhand Mestlin, KA Dobbertin 420
Alphabetical register of the requests for emigration-consenses
from 1869 till the end of 1872
Behrens, Fr. Carl Th., day-laborer Mestlin, (1869) 693
Krüger, Carl Joach, day-laborer Mestlin (1869) 693
Kröger, Louise, unw Mestlin (1869) 718
Cords, Dorothee Carol Fredrike, unw with son from Ruest (1869) 1076
Cords, Wilhelmine Sophie Friederike Carol, unw Ruest (1870) 2580
Detherding, MArie Sophie Johanne, unw Mestlin (1871) 3636
Garling, Carl Joh Fr, Ruest 4213
Soltwedel, Joach, day-laborer Vimfow 18
Soltwedel, Friedr, farmhand Mestlin 3470
Alphabetical register of the requests for emigration-consenses
from 1873 till the end of 1882
Köster, Fr C? Th, farmhand Mestlin KA Dobbertin (1873) 1322
Kröger, Carl farmhand Mestlin (1873)
Cords, Dor unbeg Ruest (1875) 2238
Cords, C. Radum? Ruest KA Dobbertin (1881) 3555
Kröger, G. H. F., Arbm Dinnies, A Sternberg (1882) 4826
Dolge, Joh Joach Friedr, day-laborer Mestlin with family (1873) 610
Detherding, Caroline u Dorothea ..? Mestlin KA Dobbertin (1873) 1039
Detherding, J Arb m F Mestlin KA Dobbertin (1874) 2006
Ebert, Joach Johann Martin , Mestlin (1873) 412
Henkrosh?, Friedr Heinr Wilh farmhand Mestlin (1873) 56
Schmidt, C. F. H? farmhand Mestlin, KA Dobbertin (1882) 4990
Ullerich, Ludw Mestlin (1873) 98
Wahls, Joh Friedr Carl m F, day-laborer Mestlin KA Dobbertin (1873) 610
Weltzin, A?, unbegeb with child, Mühlenhof, KA Dobbertin (1875) 2344
Willmann J, Arb m F, Mühlenhof KA Dobbertin (1882) 5150.5443
Alphabetical register of the requests for emigration-consenses
from 1883 till the end of 1914
Kröger, Arb m F Ruest, KA Dobbertin (1883) 92
Köbcke, Arb m F Mestlin, KA Dobbertin (1883) 475
Kröger, Arbm m F Mestlin, KA Dobbertin (1884) 1453
Cords, farmhand    Mestlin, KA Dobbertin (1884) 1453
Köster, day-laborer m F Mestlin, KA Dobbertin (1884) 1532
Käupcke, unbeg Ruest, KA Dobbertin (1884) 1738
Cords, Arbm m F Ruest, KA Dobbertin (1885) 2035
Cords, Erbp.sohn Ruest KA Dobbertin (1887) 2890
Cords, Carl Forstarb m F Mestlin, KA Dobbertin (1888) 3069
Kröger, widow n=82e Quaak with 2 Sons Mestlin, KA Dobbertin (1888) 3069
Kröger, Carl, farmhand Mestlin (1893) 4236
Duncker, Arb m F Mestlin, KA Dobbertin (1884) 1453
Ebert, unbeg Mestlin, KA Dobbertin (1885) 2120
Garling, Tgl m F Garden, KA Dobbertin (1884) 1328
Gaedt, unbeg Ruest KA Dobbertin (1884) 1672
Garling, D unbeg RumKogel, KA Dobbertin (1884) 2094
Hengrofs, Tgl m F Ruest KA Dobbertin (18884) 1558
Luckmann, Arb m F Mestlin, KA Dobbertin (1884) 1453
Praefke, Carl Tgl m F Mestlin KA Dobbertin (1887) 3063
Rohde, unbeg Ruest KA Dobbertin (1884) 1698
Schwanck, Hofgänger Mestlin, KA Dobbertin (1885) 2146
Stamer, Tgl Mestlin KA Dobbertin (1885) 2246
Soltwird, Joh, Deputatknecht Mestlin (1889) 3253
Weltzin, Tgl m F Vimfow, KA Dobbertin (1883) 229.237
Weltzin, Arb Mestlin, KA Dobbertin (1883) 498.557

The emigration consense issued in 1866 for Sophie Dolge and Joachim Heinrich Garling, both from Mestlin:

Emigration consens 1710

Schwerin, am 21. August 1866
Das unterzeichnete Ministerium bescheinigt hiedurch, dass dem (der)

  • ad a) Knecht Joachim Heinrich Garling
  • ad b) unwerehelichte Sophie Dolge

aus Mestlin, Klosteramt Dobbertin im hiesigen Grossherzogtum, die zum Zwecke seiner (ihrer) beabsichtigen Auswanderung nach Amerika erbetene Entlassung aus dem Mecklenburg - Schwerinschen Unterthanen - Verbande bewilligt ist. Gegenwärtige Entlassungs - Urkunde bewirkt mit dem Zeitpunkte der Aushaendigung den Verlust der Eigenschaft als Mecklenburgischer Unterthan.
(L. S.)
Grossh. Meckl. Schwerin. Minist. d. Innern.
I. A.

The emigration consens issued in 1868 for Joachim Garling from Vimfow and his wife nee Wahls:

Schwerin, am 18. Juli 1868
Das unterzeichnete Ministerium bescheinigt hiedurch, daß dem
Tagelöhner Joachim Garling aus Vimfow, Klosteramt Dobbertin im hiesigen Großherzogtum, welcher mit seiner Ehefrau, geb. Wahls, und zwei Söhnen;

  • a. Friedrich Johann Theodor, geb 1855
  • b. Johann Christian Friedrich Theodor, geb 1859,

nach Amerika auszuwandern beabsichtigt,
die zu solchem erbetene Entlassung aus dem Mecklenburg - Schwerinschen Unterthanen - Verbande bewilligt ist. Gegenwärtige Entlassungsurkunde bewirkt mit dem Zeitpunkte der Aushändigung den Verlust der Eigenschaft als Mecklenburgischer Unterthan.
(L. S.)
Großh. Meckl. Schwerin. Minist. d. Innern.
I. A.

The release document issued in 1871 for Carl Johann Friedrich Garling from Ruest:

Schwerin, am 3. Novbr 1871
Das unterzeichnete Ministerium bescheinigt hiedurch, daß dem
am 20. Novbr 1845 geborenen Carl Johann Friedrich Garling aus Ruest, Klosteramt Dobbertin im hiesigen Großherzogtum, auf sein Ansuchen behufs Auswanderung nach Amerika
die Entlassung aus der Mecklenburg - Schwerinschen Staatsangehörigkeit bewilligt ist.
Diese Entlassungsurkunde bewirkt für die ausdrücklich darin benannten Personen mit dem Zeitpunkte der Aushändigung den Verlust der Mecklenburg- Schwerinschen Staatsangehörigkeit, sie wird jedoch unwirksam, wenn der Entlassene nicht binnen sechs Monaten vom Tage der Aushändigung der Entlassungsurkunde seinen Wohnsitz außerhalb des Bundesgebiets verlegt, oder die Staatsangehörigkeit in einem anderen Bundesstaate erwirbt. (Par 18 des Gesetzes üeber die Erwerbung und den Verlust der Bundes- und Staatsangehörigkeit vom 1. Juni 1870. B.-G.-Bl. S. 355)
Großh. Meckl. Schwerin. Minist. d. Innern.
I. A.


Connections with the old Home


A letter that has reached Mecklenburg from the New World iss being read on the painting. Very interesting are also the letters, that have been sent from Mecklenburg to America. In the following, three letters are quoted that have been sent to America in 1858, 1860 and 1862 (the descendants of the adressee gave their permission to publish them).

letter script 1

Ruest, 09/11/1858
Dear Son,
If I find you and your wife and your daughter in good health with my writing, so be it. Thank goodness we're all fine. Health and contentment are the biggest gift from God. We may have as much as you (?) want, but if you don't have health and contentment nothing will help. We received your letter from August and learned that you all were healthy and that pleased us very much. With this I want to close. Now I will inform you with our harvest. The rye and the wheat good, the summer barley middling. With the potatoes it seems as if they will turn out well also. With the fruit it is also middling. The wind has damaged a lot of grain and fruit. The fruit is lying under the trees so that we can put it together with our feet on July 17 - 18. I don't know anything further to write because nothing new has happened here except the "Erbzinsmann" Joachim Garling Him God has given a son this summer. They are all fine and send their regards.
Now we send our kindest regards to your brother and your sister-in-law, and Hahn ... (?) and his wife Joachim Garling and his wife and aunt Sophia Garling sends her regards as well and wishes you the best of health.
If it is better where Fritz Garling is, you can travel there as well. You have to do some research if there is an area where it is better. It is said to be as nice there as in Mecklenburg. Some area good and then bad. I don't know anything further to write. Now I send my kindest regards and wish you the best of health.
the good ... (?)
your father F. Garling
We also send our kindest regards to Johann Albert and his wife and wish them the best of luck.

letter script 2

Dear son.,
Jellen, 5/17/1860
We received your letter from Feb. 12th. was happy to read that you are well which pleased us very much.Thank heavens we are all well. Your brothers househod has increased by another daughter, also Nels wife delivered a son before Easter. Dear son, we like living here in Jellen very much and live in Timms house where the schoolteacher also lives. Nels lives in new Schwinz where the old schoolteacher Bunge used to live. Fritz Cords & Joh. Nels work daily in the woods. We do not have to do woman-farmwork?? We do not have as many acres as we had in Ruest. Here we have( OWN ) 240 Ruthen( acres) & like it very much. No one else immigrated from Ruest except Joachim Garling, who lives in Francisville.He writes they are all well.
This winter we had lots of snow & since Easter dry winds. The last 8 days it rained but it is warm.My wages here are not as high as in Ruest but I don't ask as much for the work because I'm getting older, daily. We have a nice neighor & get along very well, otherwise it is very lonely here.
Have no more news to write, except that we are well, which is a blessing.Our Carl is tall & likes school very much, he sends you all best wishes, especially Mina.
Recently I worked for 8 days in Ruest, what is going to happen to the other daylaborers nobody seems to know as yet, it is said they all have to leave.
This winter, 8 days before Christmas, Cords & Nels sawed boards, for which they were paid 10- 20 Schilling a day.
You asked if we ever thought of immigrating to America, but till now we have not given it any thought.Will find out later what our acres are producing. You wanted to know if Christoph Wendt immigrated to America, he did not but stayed in Ruest. He was suppose to move with us to Jellen but he did not want to, instead he repaired his house in Ruest, for which he has to pay 8 Thaler a year rent.
We also received a 300 Ruthen ( acre ) meadow. Joachim Garling did not like his overseas crossing to America. the whole 14 day crossing his wife & daughter were seasick & he had to da all the household chores.( Years ago people coming across ocean had to cook their own meals & take care of the seasick people!)
Joachim Garling received a good price at their auction, shortly after cholera broke out in Goldberg & in this area & a lot of people died. Some also in Kordo, among Johann Frick & wife. Mina Sko & all her children died also. Ruest was saved from the cholera but for 4 weeks we watched day & night.
Best wishes from your ever loving father, also your brother, brother in law, sister in law, sister & all your friends.
Friedr. Garling.
Write back in fall how your harvest was . We will write you what we harvestet. Acording to our opinion most people here are as well off as in Ruest. Best wishes to you. Carl & Johann Albert also send best wishes. When you write again write to Forest worker Fried. Cords in Jellen near Dobbertin.

letter script 3

Dear Son,
If I find you and your wife and child with my writing at good health, it shall be alright with me. As for us we are thank goodness still all alive and healthy. God has given us a daughter, she's called Mina. She was born January 29th. With an enthusiastic hand I set pen to paper to write to you. I want to know how it can be that you don't even write. Time has become so long to us. On April, 15 we received a letter from Joachim Garling, he said they were all still healthy. They had a good harvest.
Now I want to write you that the day laborers from Ruest have all gotten their certificate. They are all supposed to go to Fimfow.
Now I want to write you how our harvest was. We have threshed 3 bushels rye. We have grown as many potatoes as we could carry. We can't sell any. The fodder beets have all stayed small and the roots too because of the big wetness. We have had a lot of rain this summer. The fodder beets and the roots and the cabbage have all stood in the water. Everything is expensive here. A bushel of potatoes 1,16; a bushel of rye 2,28; a bushel of wheat 3,32 M.
A piglet of 6 weeks 3,24 M, a calve 50 - 60. Our Carl and Maria are going to school.
We live in the same house as the schoolteacher. Our Carl has been going to school for three winters.
I don't know anything else to write. I will go sleep now. Regards from me and your brother and sister and brother-in-law and from all your friends and acquaintances.
your father F. Garling
Jellen, April, 21 1862
Write us soon.
Johann Zuelck is sending his regards as well. His sister Sophia moved before her wedding to Oldenstorf. All the wedding guests were all invited. The night after that the whole farmstead burnt down.


People from Mecklenburg in America

In the letter from 1860 is written:

... Nobody else emigrated from Ruest, but Joachim Garling who lives in Frauenwille...

It has to be called: Francesville. Francesville lies in the Indiana County Pulaski. This county is the new home for many people from Mestlin and Ruest. The map of this area still shows trails of the immigrants: there are ditches called

Tiede, Malchow, Duncker, Weltzen, Stein, ... .

The classes in the schools are being given in German, the divine service in the church is being held in German. Even the churchbook of the St. James United Church of Christ in Beaver Township, five miles East of Francesville, Indiana is similar to the one from Messtlin. The church constitution is being signed in 1878 by:

Johann Schumacher, Joachim Wendt, Joachim Garling, Ernest Richter, Christ Schmalfeld, Fredrick Kruger, Christ Kurz, Fredrick Scholz, Herman Busch, Christ Sommer, Joachim Malcho, Joachim Westphal, Johann Heims, Carl Tiede, Fredrick Stein, Carl Heims, Carl Schlemand, Johann Kopke, Joachim Jentz, Johann Schultz, Johann Garling, Henry Kruger, Friedrick Garling, ...

Does a marriage have to be held in English, because the bride doesn't understand German, it was noted in the church book.

Bauer Garling In the book: "People of Pulaski County Indiana 1983" there are biographies of pioneers of the settlement. It is written there, for example:

Joachim Johann (Joe) Garling was the first of the Garling family to emigrate from Germany to settle in Pulaski County, making a home in Beaver Township. He had been born September 9, 1926, in Mestlin, Mecklenburg - Schwerin, Germany. ...


It is exactly the same J. J. Garling whose birth entry had been shown above. In the book, the life of J. J. Garling, that of his family and that of many other generations until modern times is being described (see picture above on the left: "Mr. Garling cultivating corn").

In contrast to German graveyards, the grave stones of American graveyards remained much longer. On grave stones on some grave yards of Pulaski County there can be found many names of people from Mestlin and Ruest. The photograph above is the grave stone of Joseph Garling, born on July 10th, in 1826 in Mestlin - died on December 16th, in 1893 in Francesville on the St. John's grave yard near Medaryville, Indiana.

Further information about emigration you can get at the website

Navigation Village History Peoples History Home Church Cultural House Soccer Default