Emigrants from Insel Pellworm, Nordfriesland: A List

Pellworm MapPellworm is an island off the west coast of what is now Germany.  In centuries past, it was part of the Duchy of Schlesvig, at times ruled by Prussia, at times ruled by Denmark.

In the 2nd half of the 19th century, as in many places in Europe, over-population, lack of opportunity and the wish to avoid forced military service drove hundreds of Pellwormers, individuals and families, to emigrate.  Most went to the United States, though some also left for Australia and South America.

Most of those who went to the US left via Hamburg and landed in New York City, though not all.  They left the East and headed toward the open lands in the the Midwest, the frontier at the time; many later moved on to the West.  My Henningsens ended up in Clinton, Iowa, happily farming on Beaver Island in the middle of the Mississippi River, in an area with a growing German-language community.

The book, Aufbrach: Pellwormer in der Fremde – Fremde auf Pellworm, by Brigitta Seidel, includes a list of people the author found who had left Pellworm.  Starting with her list and headcounts, I have perused the Hamburg and other European emigration records and US census and immigration records, to develop an Excel format database with records of everyone I have found to date who emigrated from the island of Pellworm.  The database can be downloaded here:

Database of Emigrants from Pellworm 10/30/16

The list, while incomplete and imperfect, especially for emigrants in the 20th century, will hopefully still prove useful for people searching for their relatives.  I will continue to update the list at intervals moving forward.  If you have basic information on any of the migrants that you would like me to add to the database, feel free to contact me using the form below.


Connection to Henningsen family: My 2x great-grandfather, Anton Gustav Henningsen and his wife Louise Friederica ‘Lise’ Carlsen, along with their children, were amongst many hundreds who left the island of Pellworm from the mid-19th century through the early 20th century.

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