I never knew about my Transylvanian Saxon ancestry until I did genealogy research. My paternal grandfather was the youngest of 10 children, born in America, to Transylvanian Saxon parents who came to America in 1900. My grandfather spoke German and English, but never spoke much about his family’s origins. The only thing he said was that his parents
came from a small village near Elisabethstadt in Austria-Hungary. At the time my great grand parents left, Transylvania was part of Austria-Hungary. I was always interested in knowing my family history and with the advent of online genealogy research, I was able to discover my Transylvanian Saxon ancestry. After finding the ship manifest records for my Great grandfather and great grand mother, I saw that they listed their place of origin as Szaszaros and with the help of other online researchers, I learned that this was the Transylvanian village, Scharosch an der Kokel. Looking on Google maps, I saw that this village is next to Elisabethstadt, now known as Dumbraveni, in Romania. To make a long story short, I was able to find my Kraus cousins from Scharosch, now living in Germany, through a website for the village. This website was created as a means of connection for the Saxons who left Scharosch. I’ve since met my cousins, reconnecting our families, after 100 plus years of separation!
Out of curiosity, I did the ancestry DNA test, along with my parents and siblings. These tests are still in their infancy, but provide another insight into family history. The more people who do theses tests, then the more refined the results will become. My mother’s results were as expected, 100% European: mostly Western Europe (her father’s family is German) and Irish (from her mother). My father’s results were more surprising. His mother was a child of Irish immigrants, so we expected to see that, but his results were not 100% European!
Transylvania is a land of many cultures and that showed up in my dad’s results: 96% European and 4% West Asia. His European results showed Irish (obviously from his mother), Western European, and Eastern European. The west Asia results were composed of Caucasus and Middle East. The Transylvanian Saxons, from my understanding, were a fairly insular culture. Yet, my father’s DNA results show that there was some mixing over that 800 year history in Transylvania. There are different genealogy DNA projects occurring over the world, such as the Volga Germans from Russia, but I have not discovered one for the Transylvanian Saxons yet. Now is the time to do this before the older generation is gone. This adds another layer to the story of our history and may unfold further discoveries in their future.
Here is a photo of my great grandparents and family from the early 1900s in America.
Paul Kraus and Rosine Roth both came from Scharosch an der Kokel.
Their children were born in the USA.
Images and Text by Richard Kraus. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
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