Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Finding our Vassel ancestors

I began the quest to find the ancestors of my father, Bruno Vassel II, and my mother, Mary Erety Elmer Vassel, some 53 years ago during my teen years in Brazil.

On my father's side of the family, my grandmother Else Leist Vassel had two large pedigrees tracing the Vassel and Leist family lines back into the 1600s which she had taken to Brazil when she and my grandfather, Bruno Vassel I, moved there from Germany in 1922. I copied those charts in Brazil when I was 17 years old in 1958. They were written in old German Gothic script which I had not been trained to read. It amazes me, after many years of tracing the families from those charts, how helpful they have been in spite of my errors transcribing errors.

Another great help tracing the Vassel lines has been the two books my 1c1r, Klaus Vassel, wrote in the 1970s in Germany about the Vassel family and their spouses. He went to Caen, Normandy, France from Germany where he researched the Vassel direct line back to 1500, as well as doing research in Germany. These books are:

  • Vassel, Klaus, Vassel family: Ahnenliste Vassel (Jens, Eick, Jörn), (Aachen, Germany : K. Vassel, c1974)
  • Vassel, Klaus, Vassel family: Die Vassel aus Neuilly-le Malherbe: Department Calvados der Normandie - eine Bestandaufnahme, (Aachen : K. Vassel, c1972) 
Klaus Vassel found a study in Caen that had been done by René Dubourg in 1924 which traced the Vassel family from the early 1500s, when they were lesser nobility, into the 1600s as they became officers, jurors, administrators, businessmen, lawyers and farmers. The Vassel crest on the title of this blog was granted to Nicolas de Vassel, Sieur de Neuilly, Sieur de Long Buisson, Sieur de Fontenay in 1598. He was my 11th gg uncle.

I was very pleased to find that the Family History Department in Salt Lake City, Utah had filmed the René Dubourg study. I made a printed copy for our family. The source may be found at:
  • Dubourg, René, Quelques Pages d'Histoire Locale: Les Vassel Seigneurs de Neuilly-le-Malherbe, Estrait de l'Annuaire de l'Association Normande (Année 1924) Congrès de Vernon (1923) (Caen, France: A. Mouville, Ozanne et Ct., 1924) FHL INTL Film 661894 Item 1. 
When several of us visited relatives in Germany in 2005, we were pleased to obtain a copy of the updated Die Vassel aus Neuilly-le-Malherbe, 2nd Ed. which Klaus Vassel did in 1986 with information on recent family events.

In recent years we have also found wonderful additional information about Vassel ancestors and the families they married into. Here is a list of some of the sources found:
  • Koerner, Bernhard, Deutsches Geschlechterbuch : Genealogisches Handbuch bürgerlicher Familien, (Limburg an der Lahn : C.A. Starke, 1889- )  FHL International 943 D2dg.
  • Deutsche Zentralstelle für Genealogie, Die Ahnenstammkartei des deutschen Volkes : Teil II, (Salt Lake City : Gefilmt durch The Genealogical Society of Utah, 1991-1992) FHL INTL film 1807415 item 8, file no. 1929. 
  • - This website, Familienforschung, gives family trees for several of the families the Vassels married into including the Cotta and Klopstock families.
  • Langensalza (Sachsen, Preußen). Stadtrath, Familienstammtafein 1379-1900 (Salt lake City : Gefilmt durch The Genealogical Society of Utah, 1987). These pedigree charts have led to over 90 surnames we tie into.
  • E. Thomas Gutbier, Familien-Stammbaum (Der vorliegende Familien-Stammbaum ist von mir auf Grund selbstgefertigter Kirchenbuchs-Auszüge und andered genealogischen Unterlagen aufgestelt, was ich hiermet bescheinige. Langensalza, am 7.7.1933. Thomas Gutbier, Stadtarchiver i. R.) 
  • Maier, Helmuth, Sindelfinger Familien: 188 Stammtafeln von 1500-1950 (Im Auftrag der Stadtverwaltung Sindelfingen Verlag Adolf Röhm Sindelfingen, 1962). 
  • Geßner, Gerhard and Heinz Reise, Mitteldeutsche Familienkunde, (Neustadt/Aisch : Verlag Degener & Co., 1960-1992) Band III, Jahrgang II, Heft 1, Jan-Mar, 1970. 
  • Orban Family Tree (
  • Greiner, Gerhard, Der Schwabe Hans Greiner, 1465-1532, Familiengeschichte der Thüringer Greiner als genealogische Stammfolge über XI/XII Generationen, (Privatdruck 1995) vierte, neubearbeitete und erweiterte Auflage 1988, 412 Seiten.
  • Gergard Greiner, Glas War Ihr Leben - Glas War Ihr Schicksal: Familiengeschichte und Lebenswerk Bedeutender Glasmachergeschlechter in Thüringen, (Altendorf bei Bamberg: D. Gräbner, 1996).  
  • Greiner-Adam, Dr. Rudi, Der Schwabenhans und Seine Nachkommen: Die Gründer von Lauscha und Limbach, ([S.l.] : R. Greiner-Adam, 1997) FHL 929.243 G863g. 
  • Andre Gressler, Gressler Ahnentafel ( 
  • Kühnert, Herbert, II. Der "Schwabenhans" und seine nächsten Greiner-Nachkommen, vorwiegend in Lausch und Schmalenbuche, bis zur 1. Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts, Mitteldeutsche Familienkunde (Neustadt/Aisch : Verlag Degener & Co., 1960-1992) Band I, Jahrgang 7, Heft 1, Jan-Mar, 1966, pgs. 328-339. 
  • Kühnert, Herbert und Wolfgand Huschke, Zur Genealogie der Glasmacherfamilie Greiner in Thüringen IV. Herkunft und nächste Nachkommen von Hans Greiner gen. Fichtelberter, Mitteldeutsche Familienkunde (Neustadt/Aisch : Verlag Degener & Co., 1960-1992) Band III, Jahrgang II, Heft 1, Jan-Mar, 1970, pgs. 1-13. 
  • Aurbach, George Wilhelm, Aurbachisches Stamm - und Familienbuch aus Verschiedenen alten Schriften und Monumentis (Microfilm of the original: Langenslaza, 1748. FHL Intl. film 1608867, item 3). 
  • Anne Frobeen, "Familie Frobeen," database and images, Familie Frobeen ( 
  • Friedrich Froebel translated by Emilie Michaelis and H. Keatley Moore, Autobiography of Friedrich Froebel; PDF download,  
  • Kirchenbuch (Church Books) from many German towns.
  • and Through these two sources I have been able to access the French parish records for many villages in Normandy where our ancestors lived. I wrote to Le Cercle de Genealogie du Calvados and joined the genealogical society of Normandy. They gave me a password to access their searchable database on Geneabank.
I keep parts of our Vassel-Elmer database on three websites:
Enough for today. Next time I will discuss the research we have done on my mother, Mary Erety Elmer's Mid-Atlantic and New England lines. 


  1. I don't think any of us have that much time left on Earth (for the Erety-Elmer side).