Although I wrote back to the Parson several times to thank him and to ask for further
information, he never responded to those inquiries, and I feared he had passed away.
While this was a great disappointment, not to mention how Pfarrer Schröter's
family and friends must have felt, much had been been learned. Many avenues of inquiry
still lay ahead for future Saalman genealogists; the Castle Church records in Ballenstedt
await further study.
In September, 2009, after years of inaction, then years of failed attempts to locate
Parson Schröter through the growing ubiquity of the Internet's reach, I finally
found a reference to him, but which I thought suggested that my earlier surmise
about his death had been all too true.
On the German website for the city of Ballenstedt, was a reference
to a memorial service honoring several church officials, one of whom was named Christof
Engels Schröter. I wrote email messages to two addresses I found on the website,
but they were not answered.
Then, while searching the Ballenstedt website once again in early December, 2009,
I found that the Schröter announcement had been removed, but a contact email
address for the church had been added, which I used to send an inquiry to whomever
answered the mail at the Evangelische Kirchengemeinden in Ballenstedt, where I knew
Parson Schröter had once worked.
I was immediately answered:
Dear Mr. Saalman, thank you for your E-Mail! Let me try to answer you: I can tell
you, that Pfarrer Schröter is still working on inquiries in familiy records. You
can still corresponds to him in Quedlinburg or you send me an E-Mail with your inquiry
and I will pass it on him. With friendly greetings, Theodor Hering.
Fortunately, my surmise about his death had been in error, no doubt to my fading
fluency in German. So, I'm waiting once again to hear from Pfarrer Schröter!
The origin of the Saalmann name, pronounced "zahl-mon" in German, is unknown
to me. The earliest spelling of Saalmann in our known lineage, per the parson Schröter,
is 'Salomon', belonging to one Hans, from Danzig, Prussia (now, Gdansk, Poland).
This surname appears in Jewish genealogies from the region, too, and could imply
that Hans Salomon was Jewish.
The spelling change from Salomon to Saalmann shown in the Ballenstedt records could
have been a deliberate one, a attempt to blend in as a Jew in a Christian country.
But spelling was not well-codified in the 17th century, either; it seems plausable
that the record keeper merely wrote into the record what he'd heard Hans pronounce,
with whatever spelling he chose.
Historically, immigrants to the United States routinely accepted the re-spelling
of their name as conceived by immigration officials, or even themselves instigated
the anglicization of their names during the immgration process for whatever reason.
Typically, Germans whose name ended in 'mann' dropped the final 'n', as did my ancestors
during the 1850s.
There are some German words resembling the two syllables of the Saalman name. 'Saal'
means 'hall', in the sense of a large, perhaps prestigious or ceremonial hall such
as a banquet or meeting hall. 'Mann' translates as 'man'; thus, 'Saalmann' might
be a keeper or employee of such a hall.
Another word association might be made with the
river Saale, passing just east of Hoym through Bernberg,
to join the Elbe, which in turn flows into the North Sea through Hamburg, gateway
to the Atlantic. Locations and professions were important sources for surnames
in post-Renaissance Europe.