Where our Gatzke and Zielke families lived


Karte der Deutschen Siedlungen im Mittlepolen. (Map of the German Settlements in Middle Poland) by Albert Beyer in 1930 shows the banks of the Vistula River peppered with German settlements.






The villages are identified with symbols with gray-to-black coding to show from where in Germany each group of settlers came.


The map is old and has seen better days, but we believe the village of our Gatzke ancestry, Képa Karolinska and our Zielke ancestry, Lady are both marked with a gray triangle.


Grey Triangle - Niederunger (This may mean Niederung or near Bromberg.)


Black Triangle - Lutherans from southwest Germany


Grey Circle - Pommern (Pomerania)


Grey Square - Märker (I believe these were people from Neumark.)


Grey Cross - Mecklenburger


If a village does not have one of the above designations, it does not contain German people.


Villages that had a school in 1919 are underlined.


The numbers on the map tell the date of the formation of the Lutheran Church in the village. For example Ilow, where the records for our family were found, shows the Lutheran Church formed in 1775, or shortly after the first partition of Poland when Bromberg was given to Prussia.


The Beyer history of the area says that in the eleventh century, the first lines of Germans moved into Middle Poland and this area referred to as the Vistula Depression.


These people assimilated into the local culture.


A few hundred years later, three groups came into the area.


In 1605 the village Schlonsk was founded by the "Bromberger Starosten Smogolenwski" who invited farmers from the Netherlands and north Germany" to bring their families and settle this land.


They were allowed to be free farmers with a lot of rights.


Their task was to work at the Vistula and they did it well.


A second group of Lutheran Germans settlers came along with Mennonites from the Netherlands.


Most of these people were farmers and over the generations more and more of their kinsmen arrived in the area of the Vistula.


In 1618 the first German or Dutch farmers founded villages near Nowy Dwor and Warszawa. (Warsaw)


 Some of these villages died out during the Swedish wars in the middle of the 17th Century or the Ukrainian Cossack Wars in 1650.


Development stopped until 1739 when the descendents of the original families reestablished the villages.


During the partitions of Poland in 1795, the German Kaiser invited his people to settle the area.


Most of the Germans who made up this migration had been workers from the south west of Germany (Prussian Empire).


A lot of these people from Heidelberg, Stuttgart and Baden were starving at home and were happy to accept jobs in the textile factories of the Vistula area near Gostynin and Lodz. 


The Gatzkes and Zielkes lived in the villages around Ilow that was founded after 1740.


The German speaking community from Ilow consisted of about forty German villages with 7,000 German-speaking people.


In it's original books it lists the following groups of settlers:  Danzinger Werder (island), Neuenburg, Montau, Graudenz Kulmische, Niederung Bromberg, Thorn Bromberg.


Perhaps our people were here at the beginning of the development.


We will know when we trace back through the documents to find our first settler. 


When you located the gray triangle in the Beyer map for Képa Karolinska, you probably were surprised to find that it is on an island in the Vistula just like Lég Bieniew.


Képa Karolinska is situated behind a dike.


Képa Karolinska is an island, but you need to exercise a little fantasy because there is not always water all around it.


The Vistula River often changed its course and sometime there were only two or three meters to the land.


Képa Karolinska lays side-by-side with the villages of Zyck and Piotrokowek.


That is unclear from the map.


Képa Karolinska has about twenty little farmhouses, the land is very sandy and today no one works there as a farmer.

In the Catholic church book of Zyck, Képa Karolinska is often called Képa Pomocynska.

 The Zielke coat of arms originated in Germany.


 We have a description that says the crest (shield) has three red roses on an azure blue (indicating loyalty and truth) background with a silver or white diagonal line (bend) from top of the right hand portion of the shield to the lower left hand portion are on the shield.


A rose is the symbol for beauty, grace, hope and joy. On top of this, is a crowned helmet between two buffalo horns and with vertical ornamentation where the roses are repeated.


The name itself is believed to be Slavic in origin. 


This is not so unusual when one considers the number of migrations that have occurred in the central part of Europe. 


One opinion I like says it's possible that the name originated as an affectionate form of the Slavic first names Zeilzlaff or Ziloslaw that are etymologically derived from the Old Slavic word zivu meaning lively. 


If this is true, it's patronymic in origin meaning that the son took the first name of his father as his own last name.


This makes a lot of sense when you consider that Germans tack on a -ke ending to show a diminutive or pet form.


It would be another of the mixes of the German and Slavic tongues.


It might have worked something like this:

Once upon a time, one of our male German ancestors has a Slavic first name because everybody in the neighborhood has a Slavic first name.


His parents choose Zeilzlaff because he is a lively baby.


It's getting crowded and surnames become important.


Zeilzlaff's son (let's call him Fritz) is named Fritz Zeilke by taking (for the surname) the Father's first name and Germanizing it by using the pet name form.


This use of the ke as a pet name may work for Zeilke but I don't think it works for Gatzke. 


We always believed that -ke was the Prussian ending meaning from. 


If so, Gatzke would mean from Gatz.


We found a town named Gatz in Kr. Stolp, Pommern.


 If our people were from that Gatz we will know, as it will be documented in the Lutheran church records of the person who made the move into Poland.