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We often see references in genealogy databases to the area of "Alsace" or "Alsace-Lorraine", and those references often often put that area in Germany.  But...  most researchers who DO put the area in Germany have never studied history or geography!  This is an attempt to help researchers understand exactly where the area is/was located, and how the location impacts our "Germanna" research (or other German ancestral research, for that matter).

The Alsace-Lorraine region of present-day France has "belonged" to both France and Germany in the past.  (Today, the region is called "Bas Rhin" [Lower Rhine] in France.)

It originally was part of the Holy Roman Empire, but gradually became part of France from 1552 to 1798, by way of conquest and diplomatic compromises.

After the Franco-Prussian War, it was annexed by the newly-created German Empire in 1871.  It remained in German control until after WW I.

In 1919, the territory was returned to France by the Treaty of Versailles (another "diplomatic/political" solution).

In 1940, the territory was once again annexed by Nazi Germany, but reverted to France after WW II in 1945.  It has remained French territory ever since.

An interesting thing about this portion of France is that if you look on a map in small-scale, you will see that the towns and villages have German names.  If you look at it geographically, it looks as though it should be part of Germany.  Actually, the early occupants of that region were Germanic in origin, not Frankish (French).  At the time when emigrants were leaving that area and coming to America, they were predominately of German origin and spoke German, not French.  These Colonial emigrants from Alsace-Lorraine settled in MD, PA, & VA, among other German emigrants.

Looking at the names in this database, I see many, many people with German names, from towns and villages with German names, but actually from what is now (and was then) France!  Many researchers have them from "Alsace-Lorraine, Germany"; but, the dates for these people don't support entering them being born, or married, or having died, in Germany.  For all those events and dates, the territory was FRANCE.

Following is a list of SOME of the "German" surnames from "Alsace-Lorraine, France" who immigrated to America, and whose descendants married almost exclusively into other German families in MD, PA, VA, & WI, and often into our "Germanna" families, either in VA or TN, or, later on, in other states:

(Almost every time now that I research German surnames related to our Germanna ancestors I come across another "German" family who emigrated from that area of Europe that encompasses "Alsace-Lorraine" and western Germany.  Those families that lived near the French-German border often travelled back and forth between the two countries.  This list is not meant to be all-inclusive.  There will probably [certainly?] be more "German" families added to the "Alsace-Lorrain" list as time goes by.)


One might wonder WHY these people living in France had German surnames and lived in towns and villages with German names.  Well, the truth is, as stated above, this area of Europe had always been inhabited by people of Germanic origin.  The fact that the area changed hands several times between France and Germany didn't change the fact that the inhabitants were GERMANS!  That is, they were of Germanic origin, not Frankish!  The towns and villages from which these people emigrated lie between about 3 miles to about 15 miles from the French-German border.  If you look at a map of this area, and see where the border runs from about Saint Avold, France, it seems logical that the border should continue southward to just east of Audincourt, France, and NOT jag over to the east and include a roughly triangular area of what should rightly be Germany.  Look at the map I'm including.  The red line is where, in my opinion, the border "should" be.  If the border actually followed that course, about all of "Alsace-Lorraine" WOULD be in Germany.  West of my imaginary border, almost all of the towns and villages have French names; east of that line, almost all of the towns and villages have German names!  So much for politics and diplomacy when it comes to nations getting together and drawing borders.   It didn't seem to matter, after WW II, that the area in question was inhabited by people of "Germanic" origin, that 90%+ of the villages/towns/cities had German names, that the people who lived there had German names, that those people had German customs, that THEY WERE GERMANS!!!!!  Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin sucked up to the French and GAVE them that area!!!!!  Of course it's a moot point, because that area will never be part of Germany, as it should be, but will forever be a part of France.  Just remember that all those German ancestors of yours that came from "Alsace, France" were/are NOT French - they were/are GERMAN!!!!!  [Sarge]

Map of "Alsace-Lorraine":


(To look closer at the "Alsace-Lorraine" region of Europe, use MapQuest and zoom in on the map to see the names of the villages/towns in this region:  Alsace



There is a Mailing List (also known as a Discussion List or Discussion Group), called GERMANNA_COLONIES, at RootsWeb.  This List is open to all subscribers for the broadcast of their messages.  We urge more of you to make it a research tool for answering your questions, or for summarizing your findings, on any subject concerning the Germanna Colonies of Virginia.  On this List, you may make inquiries of specific Germanna SURNAMES.  At present, there are about 1200 subscribers and there are bound to be users here who can help you.

If you are interested in subscribing to this List, click here.  You don't need to type anything, just click on "Send".  You will shortly receive a Welcome Message explaining the List.

(What Does "Alsace" or "Alsace-Lorraine" Mean, Copyright © 2008 George W. DURMAN.)

This material has been compiled and placed on this web site by George W. Durman, from various Internet resources.  It is intended for personal use by genealogists and researchers, and is not to be disseminated further, unless autorization is requested, and approved, by me.  (Email me:  here.)

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