Browns, Sugar Creek and Riggs, Waterford Township, Clinton County, Iowa

Compiled by Lorraine Houghton and Marilu Thurman, updated August 2006.
Thank you so much to Lorraine and Marilu for sending this information to us. 

Gottschee (The old country)
The Gottscheer Heritage and Genealogy Association ( is the source for the following Gottschee information. Gottschee was settled in 1300 by the Carinthian Counts of Ortenburg initially with colonists from the Ortenburg states in Carinthia and Tyrol, and by other settlers who came from Austrian and German Dioceses of Salzburg, Brixen and Freising. When the families arrived, they saw a beautiful lake which they called "God's Sea" or in German, "Gottschee." The settlers cleared the vacant and heavily forested land, and established towns and rural villages. The area of Carniola that was to become Gottschee had been a strategic part of the Holy Roman Empire since the year 800. As a result, there were a number of important fortifications in and around Gottschee. Gottschee received its municipal charter and city seal in 1471. The Gottschee ethnic and linguistic area of 331 square miles consisted of more than 180 villages organized into 31 townships and parishes. This area was populated by about 30,000 people.

While these Germanic people cultivated the land, and paid taxes to the Count, they also served as a buffer from the invading Turks in the East, who had burnt their villages three previous times. They farmed and hunted midway between the Sava River and the Adriatic Sea. Although they lived among several Balkan nationalities, mostly Slavs, they maintained their Germanic traditions.

Gottschee became a small Austrian duchy in 1791. Up until 1918, Gottschee was part of the Austrian - Hungarian Empire; then part of Yugoslavia and since 1991 part of Slovenia. (The country of Slovenia broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991).

For the most part, throughout their over 600 year presence, the German-speaking Gottscheers lived peacefully with their Slovene neighbors. In 1941, they were relocated by the Third Reich so that the area could be given to Italy. After 1945, most Gottscheers left Slovenia altogether for new homes in Austria, Germany, the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Gottscheers began to emigrate from their homeland around 1860, with most coming to the United States. The largest wave of immigrants came after World War II. As a result, there are Gottscheer societies in several U.S. and Canadian cities. As the number of English-speaking Gottscheer descendants has grown, it is the main goal of the Gottscheer Heritage and Genealogy Association to gather information about Gottschee, translate it into English, and assist Gottscheer descendants discover their ancestral culture, history and family records.