I chose the 1776 census because it was only of Mennonites in West Prussia, so I didn't have to worry about sorting out people who had "Mennonite-sounding" names. Glenn Penner has already identified quite a few people in it, so a good start has been made. Finally, I have scans of all the originals for the 1776 census. I decided against the 1772 census because it included everyone in West Prussia - not just the Mennonites. Very little work has been done on it, and I have only about half the scans for "Mennonite" villages in the Gross Werder, and ordering them from the Geheimes Staatsarkhiv in Berlin is slow and expensive.
Glenn Penner's extraction of the 1776 census is found here. He (and perhaps others) had already identified 11 of the 31 Fasts with Grandma (GM) numbers. I added 10 more during my project, so 21 of the 31 are now identified in GM.
The results of my efforts can be downloaded from Google Drive. A few comments about the spreadsheet - the names and dates that I added are in red. On a few people, I just looked them up and found the family in GM, just waiting to have a GM number associated with them on the census spreadsheet. Others took a lot more work to research. And a few were not in GM at all.
I started by looking for the head of household in my giant spreadsheet of Fasts that I have extracted over the last few years. Any time I looked at church book or microfilm, I put all the names of Fasts (and in-laws) into a giant spreadsheet - even if I wasn't interested in them at the time. Now I could just look at it and see all the records, for example, for Claas Fast, even if they were scattered among different sources. Many times a family would come together just like that.
The sources that I checked included
- Prussian Mennonite church books (Tiegenhagen, Ladekopp, Rosenort, Bärwalde, Montau, Tragheimerweide, Heubuden, Danzig, etc.) - I used the extractions at MennoniteGenealogy.com, Andreas Riesen's extractions, and the originals at Bethel College's Mennonite Library and Archives
- Lutheran/Evangelical church books (Jungfer, Fürstenau, Neuteich, etc.) - Mostly from LDS microfilms
- West Prussia Censuses - 1772, 1776, 1789, 1793 (Danzig), 1811 (Elbing)
- Russian Censuses - 1806, 1808, 1811, 1835
- Property Records
- Emigration Records - BH Unruh, Peter Rempel, MennoniteGenealogy.com
To handle all this data, you need several things:
- A method to store and organize all the data - such as my spreadsheet of Fast extractions
- Access to all the records - online, microfilm, orders from archives
- Research collateral lines - With fragmented data, researching siblings of your direct ancestor helps to pull everything together.