Monday, July 21, 2008

The Schulmann family

This weekend I had some relatives from Finland come and visit. Gustav gave me a copy of the Schulman Genealogy book that was written in 1938. This is a book that I have looked at since I was a small child. My father had a copy. Now I have my own.

The Schulmann family can be traced back to 1495 on the island of Saarema in Estonia. It was a German family that came to the Baltics sometime in the 14th or 15th century. What is interesting is how the family evolved over the last 500 years.

Baltic Germans were a very pliable people. Whomever was the ruler was whom the Baltic Germans served. Through the different eras, some of the branches of the family moved from Estonia to areas under the control of the current rulers. One group ended up moving to Finland when Estonia came under Swedish rule. This branch of the family ended up becoming Swedish, though never lived in Sweden.

Another branch of the family was rapidly becoming Russian - by 1900 the Livonian branch was more Russian than German. That branch has died out.

One of the branches of the family in Finland moved to Sweden about 100 years ago and are now a fully Swedish branch. Think about, a family that was originally German and has never been based in Sweden but was Swedish speaking and is finally in Sweden as immigrants.

My own Estonia branch of the family has become a Canadian one, specifically a BC branch. In the thirteenth generation, there was only one man that had any childern, my father, that is how close the branch came to dieing out. My father had two sons and Nik and I have had four sons between us making for a strong start to a Canadian branch of the family.

What we have today is a family that was German that is now connected to Finland, Sweden and BC. I am of the last generation of a Baltic German family that still speaks German. What does it mean to any of us that are Schulmann's if no one is any longer a native German speaker? Who are we? Should we do as one of the Finish branches did and change our names to fit where we live?

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