July 9, 2002, Tuesday
We went back to the courthouse and got a photocopy of David Hauser's will.
According to census records, David Hauser was born in Maryland. According to his death record, his father's name was Adam Hauser. In on-line census records and other census indexes, I had found one, and only one, Adam Hauser living in Maryland in 1801, the year of David's birth, and of the right age to be his father. This Adam Hauser had lived in Allegany County (which at that time encompassed Allegany and Garrett Counties) and was an early settler in the Red House area of Garrett County. Our quest in Maryland, then, was to prove or disprove a connection between our David Hauser in Ohio, and this Adam Hauser in Maryland. We also wanted to learn more about this Maryland family, assuming they are our ancestors.
There is a Lutheran Church in Red House. That's good. Lutherans baptize infants. All we have to do is find the baptism records for 1801 and see if Adam and Sybilla Hauser had a baby at that time. There's also an Adam Hauser buried at the cemetery there.
We stopped at the beautiful Garrett County Historical Society. Carol Davis was very helpful as well as another couple there. They said that no one knows where the old records of St. John's Lutheran, at Red House are now. They showed us a booklet called The Aurora Records, from a Lutheran church just across the state line in WV. We found three baptisms that Adam and Sybilla Hauser were godparents for, as well as some Henry Hauser babies -- with connections to Ridenauer!! --That's a name we found in Leas Cemetery in Ohio. That proves nothing, of course, but people who moved to a new location often moved in company with others from the same old location.
Next stop -- Red House, Maryland, where we looked at St. John's, took a picture of the Adam Hauser tombstone, and then it started to absolutely pour down rain. There's a Hauser living in this area now, and we wanted to talk with him to see if he could tell us anything about Adam Hauser and his family and, we hoped, about a son who went to Ohio. When it finally stopped raining we went to Mr. Hauser's house. He was very friendly, and knows a lot about the family history. His sister has compiled and put together a book about the family of Ezra and Elizabeth Waltz Hauser. Ezra is a son of Adam and Sybilla Hauser. He nor his sister have any information about a brother named David who went to Ohio. He was able to tell us that the Adam Hauser whose gravestone is at the St. John's Cemetery is really a grandson of the Adam Hauser we are looking for.
July 10, 2002 Wednesday
Frostburg State University Library has several volumes of records of Lutheran churches including 2 volumes for German Evangelical Reformed Church in Frederick. In these was not only the marriage of Adam and Sybilla, but also Sybilla's baptism, and Sybilla's and Adam's confirmations, and baptism of a daughter in 1792.
At the courthouse at Cumberland we learned that Adam Hauser purchased a lot in Cumberland in 1796, sold it in 1805, bought another in 1806. So, Adam and Sybilla apparently weren't living at Red House in 1801 (the year of David's birth), but in Cumberland.
The Allegany College Library on Willow Brook was recommended as a source of information. Barbara Browning, a young girl from Garrett Co., was especially helpful. She found a book of church records of St. Paul's Lutheran, Cumberland. It has the birth of Maria, b. 1805 to Adam and Sebilla, also the marriage of Ezra and Elizabeth Waltz in 1819. But no David!! In fact, there are no birth/baptisms listed between Dec 1800 and January 1802. A whole year's records not listed!! Murphy's Law, I guess. So we are still left wondering whether David belongs to Adam and Sybilla, or to a different, unknown Adam Hauser.
11 July 2002, Thursday
Our next location to investigate was Connecticut, where Dave's Denison, Bushnell, Mason, Thompson, etc., etc, ancestors had lived. They came to the colonies from England in 1630, so there were many generations of them in Connecticut before his line moved to Ohio in 1821. We had a hour or so of daylight, so we went to the Denison Burying Ground, 1698. Another photo. Stone of John Denison and his wife Phebe Lay.
12 July 2002, Friday
The next day we had a delightful tour of the Denison Museum. This house was built, not by a direct ancestor, but a brother or uncle, in 1717. Each room is furnished in a different time period, for example, Colonial, Revolutionary, Federal, etc.
In the afternoon we went to Windsor where I hoped we could visit the Historial Society, but it was already closed by the time we got there. It's next to a lovely "Palisado" where there is a beautiful memorial to the Founders of Windsor and the people who came on the "Mary and John" in 1830, settled first in Dorchester, Mass., and then moved to Windsor. Closer view.
Dave's 8xgreat-grandfather John Mason's name is included on that memorial. There is also a statue commemorating John Mason. The plaque reads:
MAJOR JOHN MASON
Born 1600 in England
Migrated to New England in 1630
A founder of Windsor, Old Saybrook and Norwich
Magistrate and Chief military officer of the Connecticut colony
Deputy Governor and Acting Governor
A Patentee of the Colonial Charter
Died 1672 in Norwich
This Monument erected at Mystic in 1889
By the state of Connecticut
Relocated in 1996 to respect a sacred site
Of the 1637 Pequot War
16 July 2002, Tuesday
After a couple really nice days with our son, daughter-in-law and new baby granddaughter, we flew to England, arriving there the next morning.
17 July 2002 Wednesday
We went by train from the airport to Bishop's Stortford, the home of the Denisons until 1631. We got a hotel, and by chance, it was only about a block away from historic St. Michael's church, which dates from the early 1400's so this is the same building where the Denison's were baptized, married, etc. A little side chapel has a beautiful tapestry of Madonna and Child, and an ancient box. In the main sanctuary are an old Norman font found in the basement, the pulpit, a little wooden mouse on the base of the pulpit, etc.
Across from the church is the Boar's Head Inn, "serving food every day", the sign said. But when we got there the guy said they don't have dinner today.
Our hotel, The George, is the oldest in town, built before 1417, but now the rooms have private baths.
18 July 2002 Thursday
We had hoped to also go to Hingham, original home of Anna Peck, wife of Major John Mason. But because of a subway strike in London, we chose to spend the day getting into London, across town, and to the airport hotel. We took a bus through the central part of London, and though the trip was very long and slow that day, we got to see Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, St. Paul's Cathedral, Wellington's Statue, The London Stock Exchange, and lots of other interesting buildings and names.
19 July 2002 Friday
The plane trip from London to Hamburg was wonderful, since we flew business class. We could have enjoyed the service longer, but it was a short flight and soon we were in the Hamburg airport.
We were honored to be able to meet in person some genealogists with whom I'd exchanged emails. We were overwhelmed by their hospitality!
The first was D. S., a genealogist who specializes in Kreis Belgard, Pommerania, now a region in north-west Poland. He showed us some of his collection of photocopied church records, and his wife laid out a wonderful spread of tasty treats. He found a hotel room for us, and then invited us for breakfast in the morning. Again we were presented with a beautiful meal. I'm so grateful for the warmth and kindness they showered on us, on our first day in a strange land.
Our room at Hotel Försterhaus in Owschlag had a balcony overlooking a lake, gardens and fields. Beautiful!
20 July 2002 Saturday
On Saturday we were to meet Dave's second cousin at the Alster Pavillon in Hamburg, but he was unable to come. This was probably the biggest disappointment of our trip. We enjoyed the sights anyway.
From there we went on to Uelzen. My paternal grandmother's Rieckmann family had emigrated from Kreis (County) Uelzen to the Chicago area in 1867. Church records from this region have not been microfilmed by LDS. As I child, I had seen a certified record of the baptisms of Christoph Rieckmann and his wife Elisabeth Wolle and their two oldest children, but this paper has not been found since my father's death in 1978. I hoped we could find the records of these baptisms here.
We had a room in a lovely old hotel near the center of the town, Zum Alten Bürgerlichen Brauhaus und Bürger Hotel. The window of our room is in the upper left of this photo. Entry to courtyard.
After checking in, we drove to nearby Ebstorf, found the church and the sign for the time of Sunday Gottesdienst.
21 July 2002 Sunday
Sunday morning we went to Ebstorf for the church service. It was so special just to be there, in the same pews where my great-grandparents had sat, seeing the same altar, etc.!! The Lutheran service proceeded just as we would have expected, even though we understood almost none of it. The singing was hearty, and there was beautiful organ music by a young man.
There's a little chapel off the main church. On the wall were the words: "Ich habe dich erlöset. Ich habe dich bei deinem Namem gerufen. Du bist mein." I didn't get a photo of this chapel, because it was locked after the service. I have a German plaque with this verse, from Aunt Selma. Could this plaque have belonged to Rieckmann family, as a remembrance of this chapel?? Plaque.
The baptism font, bronze, was cast in Lüneburg in 1310 by Master Hermanus, the pulpit carved in 1615 by Master Cordt Stein of Lüneburg, and altar in 1680. So all of this was here when my people were here.
The church has an attached school and cloister. Close up view of the outside wall. Clock.
Then we drove to Altenebstorf, just across a little stream from Ebstorf. There were a couple houses with thatch roofs. Another view. I wonder if any of these was the home of Elisabeth Wolle? Barn across the road.
That afternoon we phoned D.B., another genealogist whom we had arranged to visit. He directed us to his house and asked how many of us, because his wife will have coffee and cake ready. What lovely people!! After dessert, we had a tour of the garden and the house, and we went down to the computer. He has many church records on his computer, and many more in his paper files, but we couldn't find any more information about the Rieckmann or Wolle families than he'd already sent me.
22 July 2002, Monday
Monday D.B. went to the Standesamt early in the morning and photocopied some immigration records for me, and that evening checked some more church records. How special!
We enjoyed Uelzen, the shops, the buildings, etc. The train station there was designed and decorated by the named Herr Hundertwasser, a contemporary artist. His style is not my preference, but it certainly was interesting. This is a parking garage near the station. One of the famous sons of the town is composer Friedrich Kuhlau who was born here, but lived in Denmark.
23 July 2002, Tuesday
Tuesday morning we went to matins at Marienkirche in Uelzen. It was in a little side chapel. The main church is built very much like Ebstorf, but the chancel isn't so deep. There were about 11 or 12 of us, including the pastor. Singing was a cappella.
We were glad to see Aldi stores, and we regularly got bread, cheese, fruit, veggies and nuts for lunches and snacks.
There was an internet cafe not far from our hotel, so I checked train schedules, and sent a message to cousin Erika suggesting we meet her at König's Wusterhausen. We drove to near Berlin -- through some areas that seemed similar to Illinois, then woods (red), even saw a grain elevator. Crops included corn, wheat, sunflowers, potatoes, and something we thought was (sugar) beets. There were many big wind generators, even 3 previous windmills without vanes, Holland type. We stopped at a Rasthof, which was a truck stop with oil, tools, etc. It didn't rain on us, and it's warmer here.
We found a little hotel in Deutsch Wusterhausen, Zur der Eiche (To the Oak), and got a room there.
24 July 2002 Wednesday
It's another rainy day. We drove into the Schönfeld airport and turned in the rental car, took the shuttle bus to the train station and got 2 tickets for Königs Wusterhausen where we arrived by 9:00, two hours early. Erika came, we got our things to her car and drove away. We talked so much that we missed the Blumberg exit by about 20 km., so we had to turn around and go back.
The second town off the Autobahn was Seefeld, where I saw a sign to Gaststätte Mona -- so we went there and had lunch.
We crossed the Oder River, which here serves as the border between Germany and Poland, and had no problem. We got our passports stamped as we left Germany, and again as we entered Poland. But I'm glad we were with Erika, and I'm glad we decided to take the train from Chojna to Pozan, rather than going back to Berlin and taking the train to Pozan from there. That would have meant crossing the border twice more.
We drove through Alt Küstinchin, took pictures of the church, a house across the road, and a view of the Oder from the church.
The next town was Alt Rüdnitz. This town is where J. Fred Fellwock was sent for confirmation instruction in the Old Lutheran Church, just before his family and a number of others emigrated to the US in 1846. Here we got pictures of the Old Lutheran Church and a possible school building across the street. There were some boys playing nearby, and they said "Hallo!" I guess that greeting is good just about anywhere.
The next stop was Zäckerick. There was a newer Catholic church on an old foundation. View of the town from the church.
Then we drove back toward Alt Rüdnitz to the road to Grüneberg. This road was a one lane cobblestone road that seemed very long. Took pictures of the church, (view 1), (view 2), a barn and a few other buildings there -- was one of these the farm of our ancestor Adam Jure?
Then we headed into Chojna / Königsberg Neumark. We had no idea where to find the hotel. We finally saw some people, so Erika pulled over and got out to ask them. We were in a no-parking zone, and the policeman didn't like that. He talked sternly, and took down Erika's name and license number, but then sent us on our way. We were grateful to the lady at the shop who came and explained to the policeman why we had stopped.
When we got to the Genofefa Dieubanowski's Pension, I recognized it from Chuck Schukar's pictures. The lady who owns it speaks German. We took our rooms, this time with separate bathroom. Erika, Dave and I walked into town for dinner.
We ate at the Rathaus. The waiters there speak German. Erika had eel, Dave had fish fillet, and I had pork cutlet. Johannes Kruenagel had eaten earlier, but sat with us as we waited. He has searched for his name at Nahausen, Neiderkränig and Hohenkräig, today both Krajnik Dolny. He thinks his people originally came from Angermünde.
When we came out of the Rathaus, from the entrance on the east, the setting sun was shining gloriously on Marienkirche. Awesome!
We're so grateful for Erika! She's wonderful -- adventuresome, inquisitivie, very sharp, and has very good English. She teaches chemistry and biology, and knows trees, flowers, and birds. She stopped several times to get her binoculars and look at birds -- gray goose, cormoran, sea eagle, etc. We saw our first stork near the Oder.
25 July, Thursday
We slept well. The room at Genofefa Dieubanowski's Pension is simple, but adequate. Beautiful sunny morning, but many clouds in the sky. We had breakfast at 8 a.m., with eggs, buns, ham (Schinkel) and wurst, brötchen, kaffee mit Sahne. There were Erika, Hannes and Gertrud, Dave and I.
We went to Marienkirche in Chojna, but couldn't get in. So we went to the Kloster to see about a key. There was another couple there with a guide from Stettin. He knows Polish, German, Russian and a little English. At the Kloster a lady came and said the vicar has the key, but he is gone. But perhaps the workers will let us into the church. So we went back to the church, and the guide and Erika asked, and the workers invited us in. They were obviously pleased and proud of their work. There is a society in Hannover that is financing the restoration. The Russian Army pillaged and burned the city after the war. The church was without a roof for 50 years. Now it has a roof, there is scaffolding on the tower. The inside has much work to be done.
At about 10 a.m. we drove to Nahausen. Just out of Chojna we stopped at a memorial to Swedish King Gustav Adolph. It was a big pile of huge stones. Across from it, and a little ways back into town was the place where Erika's parents had lived. It had been the last house, but next to it now is the more recently built Arizona Nightclub.
What beautiful scenery! We stopped at the cemetery on the south end of town. All the stones are in Polish, of course. The earliest I found was from December 1945. But the wall around the cemetery had markers that were part of the wall. All the writing had been removed, but we found one that had had letters attached to it, so we were able to make out what had been there. "Hier ruhet in Gott." The rest was harder, and we couldn't really read the name or dates.
Nahausen was the home of SASSE, LOEST, BERCKNER, FAEHRPAHL, and FELLWOCK ancestors and other families. (See Nahausen Families for other surnames.) We walked all around the town, took pictures of storks on an electric pole, the houses, barns, the church. House. Church with gate. Church Tower.
Erika knocked on the door of the priest's house, but no one answered, so we didn't get to go inside. That was a disappointment.
We drove next to Reichenfelde / Garnowo, only about 1-2 kms. away, across a little valley and a stream. We went up to the church, from where we could see the Nahausen church.
We went back to Chojna for lunch at a fast food stand. Erika had a "hod dog", and the rest of us had roast chicken, 1/2 each. After lunch Hannes and Gertrud went somewhere, and we went to the train station to get our tickets. The clerk there didn't know German. She tried and tried to get us a ticket to Poznan, but finally said we could only get a ticket to Rzepin ("Zche-peen"). We will have to buy the other ticket there to get the rest of the way to Poznan. That's scary!
The village Barnkovo / Bernickow, home of the SCHUKAR ancestors, is just outside the wall of Chojna / Koenigsberg. In fact, it is now considered a part of the city, rather than a separate village. We were walking around the church taking pictures. Church, view 2. Entrance, view 1 Entrance, view 2. Out of nowhere came a lady with a key. She seemed excited and pleased to show us the church. Much of the inside seemed new. But in the balcony I found an old pew in the back. These are probably like the ones my ancestors sat in, in the 1850s, '60s and 70's. I sat there, and tried not to cry. It's a special feeling to sit where you know they've sat.
I also got a picture of some old pillars, the balcony support posts. The key lady took a cover off a very old wooden chest/box at the side back, near the stairs to the balcony. I don't know what it is, but she felt it was important, so I got a picture.
Then she pointed to the school and ran off to get something. She came back with a photo of a teacher and the children in front of the school, from perhaps 1910 or so. Erika held it and we photographed it.
As we were leaving, a man came out and tried to talk. He knew a little German. We think he said that the church is evangelical. But how can that be? We tried to remember if there was a confessional booth, or a cross with flowers, but we can't remember.
More Bernickow photos: Scene 1, Scene 2, Milk Cow.
Then we went to the Buffalo Bank, or Bison Bank, to get Sloty (Polish currency) with our Visa card. But since we had no PIN number we had to use a live teller. The ladies were kind, but the whole process took about 30 minutes.
We came back to the hotel and had a rest. Dave and I went to the Schwedter Tor and took pictures of the wall. We met Hannes, Gertrud and Erika at 7:00 and walked to a little restaurant near the Bernickow Tor for fish supper.
26 July, Friday
Early breakfast of rolls, eggs, cheese, and only a 1/2 cup of coffee -- it was going to be a long train ride. Erika took us to the train station, and we told her a warm farewell. She gave me a map to her house. We had told Hannes and Gertrude good-bye the night before. Genofifa also gave us a hug.
I asked the ticket seller for the platform number and she gave me the time of departure. I asked again and got the platform number. No problem getting on the train or finding a seat. We watched for station names and the time, and got off at Rzepina. It was raining when we got there. There I found the ticket booth, showed her my paper and asked for two (thumb and index finger), and gave her my Visa Card. No problem. I asked her for time and platform number by writing out the words.
We couldn't understand the announcer, but we got on the train that came at the right time. We had asked a man who was waiting and he gave us an explanation that we couldn't understand, but he pointed us to the 2nd car and we got on. This train had compartments of 6 seats, with a sliding glass door. I went to the 3rd or 4th compartment, because it had only 2 people in it, and we sat down. Another lady came in, spoke in German and said that we had her seat. We showed her our tickets -- we were in the right compartment, just the wrong seats, so that was easy to rectify. We found out later that the man we had talked to on the platform in Rzepina was a technician on this train.
When we got off in Poznan, we didn't know which way to go. People were going both left and right. So I asked someone "Bahnhof?" and he pointed us in the right direction. We started to head that way when Kasia came.
I had been very uneasy about having to buy tickets in Rzepina, about getting on and off the trains, and about whether Kasia would be expecting us, but there were no problems. God is so good!!
Kasia drove us to the Pila archives, but we found nothing about the Schneidemühle estates of Neufier, one of which had been owned by Dave's Radke ancestors in the mid 1800's. Then we went to the city library - nothing. So we just drove through a couple streets in the west part of the old city, where Neufier probably had been located. Went to the bank and got some Polish Sloty- much easier this time- but the card bank requires that we give our address, and the name of the other person on the account.
Kasia got fuel and bought us ice cream bars, then we headed for Friedheim / Miastezcko, the town where Dave's grandpa Theodor SCHURDEL was born. Poles, Germans and Jews had lived in this community before the war. We talked with Anna, an older lady who lived near the market square. She said there had been 3 schools here - Catholic, Lutheran, and Jewish. There is a Catholic church in town. It was struck by lightening, and rebuilt in 1899 by the Berlinchen family who also built a Lutheran church. They were the local "Gut" (large estate) family, and built a church for each group, most likely very similar buildings.
Anna said the Lutherans had a "God's house" -- like a prayer house -- in Friedheim, but that for the holidays, etc., the Lutherans went to the big church at Brzostowo, a few kilometers north. She also pointed out the "God's house", and the former school buildings. So we walked around and took pictures.
Oldest house in town.
Former evangelical school building?
Very old house
Former Evangelical church building
Photocopy of picture of the Evangelical church at Friedheim.
We walked out to the edge of town to the former cemetery site, now abandoned and broken down. It's a beautiful location. We think Gustav Schurdel and his wife Amalie nee Radke may be buried here. Found lots of gravesites, but of course no names.
This is a totally different area than Chojna. There had been Poles, Germans and Jews living here, so most of the Poles remained, and a few new ones came. So there are people in town who remember what it was like before the war.
We went looking for the ruins of the Evangelical / Lutheran church, ruins of which were brought down in 1964. We were told that we had to go to the older part of Brostowo / Brzostowo where we saw the manor (Gut Haus) being restored; we drove on to the church location, walked around and found the foundation. There were trees growing in what had been the center of the building, etc. But it was neat to see it, and know that our Grandpa Theodor Schurdel had attended church here as a child.
Then to Hotel Sypniewo, south of Margonin on a lovely lake -- it's a new resort place with riding stable, golf course, tennis courts, etc. Lovely! We were pleasantly surprised at the rates, when converted from Polish Sloty to $US. Wonderful dinner, truly elegant!! There's a beautifully restored carriage with disc brakes on display in the dining room. Dave was fascinated by it.
Very tired, Glad to hit the hay!
27 July - Saturday
After a lovely breakfast, we left the Sypniewo Hotel about 8:45 a.m. and drove to the edge of Pila and up toward Swidwin (Schivelbein). Again lots of grain fields, and an area with lakes, high hills and trees. Lovely drive.
At Smardzko / Simmatzig we found the church and got photos. View 2. This village was the home of Karl Genz at the time of his marriage to Aunt Minnie Rusch in 1876. Kasia got the key and we went inside. The inside had a low balcony, very similar to Bernickow in that regard. Pond behind the church yard.
Then a lady appeared while we were walking in the cemetery next to the church. She was German, married a Pole and stayed there -- youngest of 13 children -- all the rest went to Germany. She said that in 1956 the Russian Army came through and destroyed the cemetery. We exchanged addresses and then she invited us for coffee. So we went to her house right by the cemetery. As we were leaving she took us to her daughter's house. She's a religion teacher whose husband is an officer in the Polish army stationed at the nearby military airport. She invited us to her other daughter, too, but we had to leave.
From there we went toward Swidwin and found a hotel out of town a little ways, on a lake, and booked a room. Apparently this place is historic. I found this reference to it. Scroll down to Badestelle am Buchholzsee.
South of there is Kussenow, birthplace of Minnie Rusch. We ate our sandwiches here. Took some pictures of a farm house, a school building, and a large barn. and then we went on to Gumtow, very close. Gumtow was the birthplace (1818) of Sophia Louise Priebe who married 1) Karl Rusch and 2) Herman Voelz. She died in Johnson Co., Nebraska in 1879. We talked with the farmer who lives in the oldest house in the village. On a beam is carved "1820", the man said. His barn was built in 1885.
We walked east to the cemetery. Along the way we saw a farmer spraying his potato field. We found only a few old broken stones here. We don't know who might be buried here, but perhaps some of the Priebe family. The view from near the cemetery presented a lovely pastoral image.
Then we drove to Wieclaw / Venzlaffshagen, the parish church for Gumtow and Kussenow. Three boys came and showed us the key on the windowsill, but the lady across the street scolded them. So Kasia went down the street and around the corner to get permission. It's a neat old church. Inside view 1, Inside view 2. It seems too far away to be the church for Kussenow and Gumtow, but all the references say it is. Leaving town we saw a horse and wagon near a pub. We stopped to get a photo, and a man came over, beer in hand, and asked us to take his picture, too. We didn't.
From there we went to Grössin, parish church for Balsdrey. Beautiful building in and out, but built in 1875, too late to be where Auguste Rusch was baptized. Next we went to Balsdrey, a tiny little place, just a few houses. This is the village where Auguste Rusch was born in 1857. She married Fred Labs in 1878 and they came to the US in 1879. Took a picture of an old house there. We drove to the cemetery through the field, and found remnants of a couple graves -- very sunken, and a deep hole as if a grave had been dug up. Also found a couple marker pieces. This is on a hill by a beautiful lake.
All the cemeteries are at beautiful locations. Many of the roads have a row of trees on either side, arching over the road. Then there are fields of corn, wheat, barley, oats, rye or cabbage -- maybe more trees in the valleys or on the hills. Just beautiful!
On the way back to Swidwin, we met an old man with a horse. He said farming is hard work. He is alone, his children gone, has no one to inherit his small farm which would allow him to retire. He's 75 years old and still has to work.
Saw the big old church (1300's) and the castle (late 1200 - early 1300's). Asked Kasia if she'd like to go to mass tomorrow. We'll go with her.
Back to the hotel on the south side of town. Dinner was cold cuts, head cheese, tomatoes, ham, sausages -- actually, the same as our breakfast and lunch. Kasia shared some chocolate-dusted corn puffs. Had a fun time.
28 July - Sunday
After breakfast of rolls, cold cuts, tomatoes, tea, coffee and scrambled eggs, we paid, checked out and drove to Swidwin for mass. We passed our waiter who was riding his bike into town. There was standing room only at the 10 a.m. mass.
The church is huge, and dates from the 1300's. View 1. View 2. We walked around a bit, saw the Colburg gate, a Lego store, the Swidwin Castle also from 1300's. View 2. View 3. View 4.
According to the marriage records of Minnie and Auguste Rusch in 1876 and 1878, their deceased father Karl Rusch, husband of Sophia Priebe and father of Albert, Herman, amd Carl, was from Ziezeneff. We drove there and found the brown stone church, where the service was still going on. There were grave stones in the wall around the church yard. The brown stones of this church looked like the Grössin church, but this one is older, from about 1850. We talked briefly with the priest who had to hurry on to his next mass in another town. Inside the church. The cemetery is on the main road at the edge of town, and divided into 2 sections, Poles on the right, Germans on the left.
The next village was Heyde, a tiny town with a manorial house that's now a home for poor/handicapped. Storks posing on the chimney. Old house in Heyde. We found the cemetery east of town, but there's not much there. Heyde is the village where Fred Labs was born in 1854, and where Fred and his wife Auguste were still living just before their emigration to the US in 1879. Sophie and Herman Voelz, and Sophie's son Carl Rusch also lived here. Farm workers' housing.
From there we went to Lipie / Arnhausen, the parish for Heyde. There is a high wall around the churchyard, the trees are huge!! Church, view 1. View 2. View 3. I went to the balcony where the old pews are. The organ wasn't locked so we got some pictures. There was also a very old holy water / baptismal font. The history on the wall says the church was from the 15th century. It has been remodeled. Interior, view 1. View 2.
We drove to find the cemetery. It's beside (west of) the Polish one -- best preserved one we've seen so far, overgrown, but many bases to be seen. I think this is where Karl Labs and Hanne Radke Labs are buried, and maybe more generations back. A special place!!
As we went through Belgard, we went into the old town and saw the church, old town hall, market square, etc. They are doing archeological excavations in the market square, so it was all fenced off. A city gate. There's an interesting water tower on the edge of town.
Then to Koszalin, where there's a big Teutonic Gothic-style church with the typical strong tower, very old, and a statue of Pope John Paul in front. We walked around the town, and found the old wall.
Then we drove to the Baltic Sea where there was a flea market/carnival along the street. There were many booths selling sunglasses, clothes, food, postcards, "hillbillies" selling smoked cheese, even a bungee jumping place. We walked across the dunes to the beach; the water was refreshing on our feet. Got some fish for supper, then ice cream. We found some nice pieces of amber jewelry for gifts.
We booked rooms at the Admiral Hotel in Mielno. We'll be here 2 nights, so we did laundry and hung it up in our room. The mattresses were like couches. We were so tired we didn't mind.
29 July, Monday
At the Koszalin archives, we looked through 3 huge stacks of record books from Lipie and Buslar, and found some siblings for Fritz Labs, and found his mother Hanne Radke Labs mentioned in marriage records, but didn't find her death before the records end in 1901. She lived in Heyde a long time, but in 1895 was in Buslar.
We walked to the post office and internet cafe and checked our email. Then we went downtown and bought some more amber, and an amber necklace from Dave to me. We ate supper outside at a "Bistro," then walked back to our car and drove back to Admiral Hotel.
30 July Tuesday
After breakfast we left for Paslek (P-A-S-slashed L-hooked E-K) pronounced Paswenk, formerly Pr. Holland, in East Prussia. On the way we drove through Bytow and saw the palace on the hill to the right; through Marborg and saw the largest medieval palace in Europe, but it was raining very hard, so we didn't stop. We arrived in Paslek about 6 p.m. and found St. Bartholameus Church, from 1300's, city hall, and the near-by castle, also very old, built by the Teutonic knights. Gate in city wall.
We were told that there's only one run-down hotel in town so we went out onto the highway. We found one with a nice restaurant with lots of trucks stopping, (always a sign of good food) and nice rooms with ceiling fans. So we washed more clothes. Just about all caught up now.
Over dinner we discussed what we knew and what we might expect to find here. Dave's Schurdel family is from this area. According to the chronicle written by his great-grandfather Gustav Schurdel, Count de la Chorle left France about 1791, at the time of the French revolution, and moved with his family to an estate at Guhren, near Schlobitten, renting the estate from Count zu Dohna. Count de la Chorle changed his name to Schurdel. There are probably no civil records available, but we'll drive to the various places that Gustav mentioned.
31 July - Wednesday
After breakfast, we went to Stegny / Steegen, where Gustav Schurdel was born in 1840. Entering town we saw an impressive old house, dated 1820. View 2. We talked with the owner, originally from Lithuania, who bought this farm from Frau Klein after the war. As we walked around town, we found a school (too new to be where Martin Schurdel taught), and a new house being built.
The next stop was Marienfelde / Marianke where Gustav Schurdel was baptized. An old lady opened the church door for us. She said she's not supposed to, and the neighbors spy on her. But if people have come a long way, she opens the door for them. The chancel has a "crystal cathedral" ceiling. Also an ancient granite baptismal font, gothic pulpit, and murals on the walls. Organ
On the south side of Marianke there was an old black smith shop, and across the road there was a barn with thatch and tin on the roof, storks, and geese around a pond.
We saw the railroad station at Slobity / Schlobittin, and continued on to Guhren. There we talked to the current owner who said it had belonged Count zu Dohna, and that this was the only one he owned there. Yes!! This is where Count de la Chorle brought his family after fleeing from France. The house was built later, maybe late 1800's, but it was neat to walk the ground. It's still a working farm. View 1. Back side of the manor house.
I had read on an email list that there are ruins of Count zu Dohna's castle at Slobity. We couldn't find any signs of ruins around, so Kasia asked and found that there are 2 Slobitys, so we went on to the other one. Kasia saw twin brick pillars about 5 feet tall, and guessed this was the entrance. A lady told us where the castle ruins are, and while I was putting a new memory stick in my camera, a boy about 14 came and volunteered himself as tour guide. So away we went. The castle had had 34 rooms, large trees and a 2-part pond, cellar, dungeons, etc. View 2. View 3. View 4. View 5. Then the boy asked if we wanted to see the graves. Of course we did, so we followed him to the church View 2. Little plant by the church. The priest who has the key was gone for the day, so we didn't get to see the inside. Tromped through the old part of the cemetery, and checked the newer part too. There was nothing old enough to be Count de la Chorle's stone.
Kasia bought us each an ice cream at the local shop and we walked back to our car. Stork nest. We left to find Podangen, or in Polish Podonk :). We found a school building, too new, and a church, much too new. We met people coming and going to the river to swim as we roamed the fields looking for the cemetery, but we never found it. So we headed back to Poznan -- quite a drive. (When I re-read the chronicle later, I realized we should have looked for the Gut Haus [estate house] at Podangen. Count Hans von Kanitz lived there. Gustav had played with him as a child, and his father Martin Schurdel had taught Hans and his brothers.)
We had seen so many farmers harvesting their grain, but now we realized this was our last chance for photos in Poland. We were glad to see this field being harvested right near the road. View 1. View 2. Many times we had seen a stork in the field enjoying the insects that had been disturbed and revealed by the combines, but this time there wasn't one.
Back in Poznan / Posen, Kasia took us to the Rzymka Hotel, and Dave and I checked in, and she said she'd drive us to the train station in the morning. Then she took us to get our train tickets, and we found out that the train I had planned (7:38 a.m.) doesn't stop in Poznan, so we need the 5:38 a.m. Ugh! Kasia went home, and Dave and I went to the restaurant to eat, but the kitchen was already closed. So we went to the market square where things were still very busy. There were many outdoor patios serving food and drink, around some absolutely gorgeous old buildings. We went to Avanti, a fast-food kind of place, and ordered Saladka Avanti (in Polish), and then got some ice cream. We were pleased to have done that with no help from Kasia.
With sadness we realized that our time in Poland was nearly over. This had been wonderful. Kasia had taken good care of us, and we'd recommend her without hesitation.
1 August - Thursday
We arose early. Kasia drove up just as we got down to the lobby at 4:45 a.m. She took us to the right platform (the train was already there, the Warsaw-Berlin Express), the right car, and the right seats. We wished her a fond farewell.
I slept between stops until Rzepin, and then it was only a couple minutes and we stopped, to exchange crews, I guess. They checked our passports, asked if we had anything to declare, such as tobacco or alcohol, and we crossed the Oder River at Frankfurt.
Entering Berlin, we saw some neat churches, towers, etc. It was neat to be able to recognize words on the signs, etc., even if we couldn't actually understand them.
From the train station at the Berlin Zoo we walked the short distance to the Avis Office in the Europa Center in Budapest Strasse. This was their first day at this new location. We were pleased that this car was a Mercedes Classic, a mini-van kind of thing, but stubbier.
On the way back to the Reise Bank, at the train station, we saw the big Kaiser Wilhelm Church memorial, partly bombed, partly new and modern, in a square not far from the train station.
We phoned my second cousin Peter and asked about meeting him. We decided to meet at George's Restaurant in the Europa Center for lunch. So at 1:00 p.m. Peter and his son Andi came. At long last! Forty-five years or more I'd wanted to meet Peter and his sister Eva. Our grandfather's were half-brothers, and our parents had exchanged letters, pictures, and our family had been able to send them some clothing and goods after WWII when things were so tough in Berlin.
Peter and I had pork cutlet and pfifferlingen - mushrooms. Good dinner. I don't remember what Dave or Andi had. We were eating outside and it got very hot despite our being in the shade of the umbrella. Then it began to rain, so we went inside, and it was hot there too.
We gave them a ride to their place, and Peter invited us in. He said he'd spent a couple days cleaning and scrubbing. (He was recently widowed.) He has 8 rooms up on the 3rd floor (2nd story, as they say here) - spacious and with high ceilings. The internet cafe where Andi works is just down the street a little way. Peter phoned Eva, and we talked a little. She's in the hospital now, and will have to go to the Duisburg hospital for surgery, and will be there for probably 3 weeks. We won't be able to visit her. Her daughter is out of town on holiday, so we won't be able to meet her either. After a short visit more, we told Peter a sad farewell. It was really hard to leave him.
We left and went to check our email, then told Andi good-bye and invited him to visit us.
We didn't have any trouble getting out of Berlin (good map). We went as far as Oranianburg, looked for a room and finally went to the Stadt Hotel.
There's a Lidl grocery store in the same block, so we ran though the rain to get there, and bought cheese and orange juice, then went back to the hotel and finished up the rolls and cheese from before, and had grapes, and orange juice We did some laundry and went to bed.
2 August - Friday
Wonderful breakfast! Toast, eggs, fruit, cereal, tea. Then we went back to the Lidl store and got lunch makings. We drove away about 10 a.m., with no sun, which makes navigating very interesting.
Along the way north we had beautiful scenery -- round bales of straw on the left, a village ahead with red tile roofs on the right, the highway lined with trees, and to top it off, we're driving a Mercedes and listening to Rachmaninoff!!
We went first to Gransee, where Theodor Wichmann was born. We could see the church from the road so we made our way toward it. What a delightful town! We got a parking permit with the smallest amount of cash we had, and got 2 hours of parking. We parked in a wide street that had a memorial to Queen Louise Wilhelmine Amalia, wife of King Frederick Wilhelm III. View 2. View 3. Her father was Prince Charles of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and she was immensely popular because of her resistance to Napolean. She died young in 1810, and if I understand this correctly, on the way to her burial in Charlottenburg, the procession stopped in Gransee overnight.
Brief biography of Queen Louise of Prussia. Click your browser's Back button to return here.
The church is about a block away. View 2. It was open, so we went in. There is a large bell resting on the floor in the entry; it looked like concrete or granite but the host/guide said it was cast iron. There's also a glass-encased display of old items including a baptism basin (dating from 1638) that would be filled and then put into the stand. The small baptismal chapel is to the right and up a few steps from the main chancel area. The guide told us a few things about the church, and had postcards and photos for sale. The church received absolutely no damage in the war.
We still had time left on our parking permit, so we walked through the business district, and noticed a sign. "Schuh Express." We went in and Dave had his shoes re-sewn. Nice man, he seemed to enjoy the attention. Then we found a pencil and art supply store and bought colored pencils for our granddaughters.
On our way to the car, we saw a huge gate, the Ruppin Gate. We went to take pictures and found that the wall seems to be totally intact in at least a number of places. There's also a wonderful tower.
Gransee was a delightful town. We left and headed for Lychen. It rained off and on all day. We ate our sandwiches, etc., at a Rast Platz along the way. This one had a little lunch stand, and a Johnny-on-the-spot.
Lychen is amid 3 or 4 lakes, so it can take awhile to get around in the town. We finally found the church, another big, very old one, but it was closed by the time we got there at about 2 p.m. Across the street, in what had been the school, was a library which should have been open, according to the sign, but it wasn't. Found a store called WICHMANN, so we went in and talked to the owner Rudi Wichmann and the lady clerk. They told us the pastor's name and said that he has the old church books. While trying to find his house, we found the information / tourist office. We used the WC there, and then asked about rooms. "Oh," she said, "everything is booked full." There was a Flößerfest on Saturday and Sunday in Lychen. But that night, Friday, the Waldensruhe had one room, for just one night. Nice place.
When we found Rev. Strechbart's house, his wife answered the door and said Pastor was in the garden, so we went around the back. We had a neat time talking with him. I explained that we were looking for records of Christian and Dorothea Wichmann, that perhaps they had returned here to Lychen after escorting their daughter to the US. He said he'd try to find them in the church books, if the books are here. Some books are away being microfilmed, etc.
3 August - Saturday
We stopped back at the pastor's house to drop off some booklets, and a bookmark, and talked for 1/2 hour. He told us there's an organ concert at Annenwalde at 4 p.m. That sounded interesting!
We again visited the WICHMANN store. We spoke also with Mrs. Wichmann this time. She went upstairs and came back with a family history booklet. We compared names and dates, but they didn't match. This family was from a little town just north of Lychen, Retzow, I think.
Mrs. Wichmann works at the city office (Standesamt). Before we left the store, we bought some nut crackers for gifts.
The Lychen church was open. View 2. We went in, got a pamphlet about the history and a couple cards, and a 3 Euro book about Open Churches in Brandenburg. Interior, view 1. View 2. The church got one bomb (Molotov cocktail) in the war, but the people were able to get it off the roof before it burned, so they only had to repair the roof.
We found the cemetery while a funeral was finishing in the little chapel there. The funeral director told us this cemetery was begun in 1910. Previously it had been in town, near the tourist office. So we had parked by it every time we used the WC there. We went back there and found many gravemarker bases, but no names. Even if Christian and Dorothea Wichmann did not return here, there's a good chance that earlier Wichmann and Rückert ancestors were laid to rest in this beautiful spot.
From here we went to Triepkendorf, birthtown of my Grosspapa MUELLER and home of his REGLING ancestors. The sign on the church had a schedule -- no service here tomorrow, but next Sunday. That was a disappointment, because attending here was my first choice. But we will go back to Lychen for the church service tomorrow, and that's OK, too. The pastor who serves Triepkendorf also serves Grünow, and has a website.
Triepkendorf had been a farmer village; There are still some of the farm buildings standing, and there are still families here named Beier, probably some who are our relatives, though we didn't meet them.
Our ancestors lived in several of the villages near here: Regling at Triepkendorf, Mechow, and Hässelförde; Köster and Gau at Mechow; Beier at Triepkendorf. Muellers had lived at Laeven, and Neuhof, and Radloff at Carwitz and Cantnitz.
The street behind the church is one we were looking for, to visit another genealogist, M.F.W. We weren't sure which house was his, but it was a short street. A couple of the houses had open gates, and one of those had a US and a German flag -- a promising sign. We went up and rang the bell. The man said, "Mona? Come in!" It was he, and he was obviously expecting us.
Again we were overwhelmed with gracious hospitality. He insisted that we spend the night at his house. He arranged for us to visit Frau H., the woman who now lives in the house once owned by my great-grandfather. He showed us her house, took us to the cemetery, and got the key for the church, and then had to go to work for a couple hours.
The Triepkendorf church is small. View 2. According to a picture in a history book of the area, it had previously had a brick tower, but now it does not. The organ was open, but probably hasn't been played for a long time. The baptismal font is beautiful. I could imagine my infant grandfather being baptized here. The altar. Hand-hewn balcony support posts. The pulpit.
We had some time before our visit to Frau H., so we drove to Mechow, and on the way, saw the results of a tornado that had come through about a week before. There's a neat church at Mechow with an imposing tower. Sign. There was a horse grazing in the church yard. The cemtery at the back of the church was in excellent condition, but we didn't check to see how old any of the graves were.
Translation of the sign on the Mechow church:
Village church Mechow
Built of squared field stone from the 13th century, largely without changes.
Renewal work 1897 and 1992
Stately tower with stong (military) character,
originally could be entered only from inside the church.
(Keys with Mrs. Ageni Schulz)
From there we followed a narrow road through the woods to Krüselin Mühle, where there is now a small resort with a lake and boating, etc. Probable site of the mill wheel that gave this place its name. Sign which reads:
Vor 700 Jahren gegründet, 1957 stillgelegt.
Mühlräder noch vorhanden.
Feldberger Amtsmühle (Mahl- und Holzschneide-betrieb).
Reichlich Mühlwasser gab die Durchsickerung vom Dreetz zum Krüselin.
Established 700 years ago, shut down in 1957.
The mill wheel is still available
Feldberg regional mill (meal/flour and wood cutting operations)
An ample supply of water was provided to the mill by the flow from the Dreetz to Krüselin.
We took another little trail through the woods and came out at Laeven. We stopped to read a little sign about the town.
Im 13. Jahrhundert gegründetes Dorf, damals mit Kirche. Ging im 30-jährigen Krieg zugrunde.
Wiederaufgebaut zunächst als Schäferei, später Meierei, dann Pachtgut.
Beachtlich die Friedenseiche von 1871 hier am Dorfteich. Auf dem Friedhof vier und am Wege nach Gräpkenteich noch viele achtzigjährige Douglasien aus Nordamerika.
Established in the 13th century at the church. It was totally destroyed in the Thirty-years War. Later, it was reestablished for shepherding, then as a feudal estate, then for leasing. Of note is the peace oak from 1871 at the village pond. At the cemetery there are four and on the way to the Graepkenteich are many eighty-year old Douglas firs from North America.
While we were taking pictures, a man came and asked if we needed help. He told us about the tornado, said it was the worst storm in a hundred years. He also told us a little about the town of Laeven. At one time it had had a Gut, and the huge long barn is still there. There had been a pub here, too, but it's now closed. [Frederick Mueller, the weaver, was living in Laeven when his first child was born in 1833, and he died there in 1881. His son Carl Mueller, also a weaver, had been born there, but he was married in Triepkendorf, and died there in 1882.]
We got back to Triepkendorf in time keep our appointment to visit Frau H. at 3:00 p.m. It was so cool to go into this house! This is the one that had been owned by Carl Mueller. It looked very old and small. Straight in from the door was a rather wide entryway, but hardly wide enough to be a room. She took us into her living room on the left. It seemed that there was a kitchen behind that room. I guess her bedroom was on the other side of the hall. Would the weaving shop have been here? Perhaps it was in the wide center hall way.
It was a little awkward -- we didn't really know what to say, and we would have had trouble saying it anyway. Finally she got out an album and showed us pictures of a trip she had taken last year.
Across the street, on land that had also been owned by Carl Mueller, was the little former fire station.
We left at 3:30 to go to Annenwalde to the organ concert. This is part of a series call Romanticism in Architecture and Music that features 19th century buildings. Since the Annenwalde church is so "new", it was included. Interior. Altar. It was a neat concert and a special little treat from the Lord!
There was a long, thatched roof house across the street from the church.
Now we went back to our host's house in Triepkendorf. He drove us through Laeven and Neuhof to Carwitz. We stopped and looked at the church there, with its separate bell stand and then had dinner at Juhl's Cafe. Wonderful fish dinner! Then he drove us around Feldberg and back to Triepkendorf. He has church records from all around on his PC, and looked up some for me, and copied 2 disks of Triepkendorf for me.
Today is his birthday, so we had some sparkling wine to celebrate, and we sang Happy Birthday to him.
In his Franz Schubert's book about Alt Strelitz, there is listed a Wilhelm Regling who became a citizen there on 12 May 1902, as a hausbesitzer. Do I have a photo of him?
4 August, 2002 Sunday
Our host served us breakfast on his deck. Sitting there, looking out at the field of farmer Beier, I thought of my Großpapa being there on that same ground. Very moving.
Dave and I went to Lychen to Pastor Strechbart's church. He had invited us to communion. Everyone sat in the "choir" seats in the front. About 20 people were there, including 2 younger couples, and several older men. Communion was another moving time for both Dave and me. Pastor mentioned that he and his mother had gone back to the town of his (or her) birth, and he brought back some soil.
Neat organ music - part of Bach's "Wake Awake for Night is Coming," for communion. The organ was built in 1907. Pastor's son learned on this organ and his profession is organist.
On our way back from church, we detoured to Hässelförde and saw the windmill, View 2 and the cemetery. We stopped and found a stone for Willi Gau. I have no idea if he's a relative. The earliest known Regling ancestors, Paul and Sophie Heyland Regling, were buried at Hässelförde.
Back in Triepkendorf, we went to the cemetery (now a play ground) where I copied Pastor Strechbart's idea and took a little handful of soil.
At our host's house, we had the opportunity to meet his family who had driven up from the Munich area. We chatted a bit, took pictures, and said our warm farewells. What lovely people we have met on this trip!!
From here we headed to Osterode/Harz to spend some time with Erika and her family. We decided that shortcuts might end up being the longest distance between two points, so we stayed on the Autobahn. We drove through sun and rain and sun again and arrived there about 7 p.m.
5 August, Monday
After breakfast we checked our email and did laundry. It was good to do some of these more "homey" kinds of things.
For lunch Erika made potato dumplings with fried cubes of bread, vegetable soup, and sauteed onions, from an old family recipe. Yummy!
After lunch she showed us the garden and then we went to town, where we looked for but didn't' find any more amber for gifts. It started to rain and then pour, so we went back to Erika's and had tea. When the sun came out again, she drove us into the Harz mountains east of Osterode. She showed us the Sösetausee -- lakes formed by the dams on the Söse River, the Aker Mountains, and Brocken Mountain, highest around, the site of the gathering of "witches" and many other festivities. We took pictures of a slate-covered church in Sieber, view 2, then went to a Mini-mal in Herzberg and picked up some groceries.
Erika has the book about Kreis Königsberg, Neumark, Brandenburg, that has some general information, biographical sketches, and an article about each village. Good book -- I purchased a copy before we left Germany.
6 August, Tuesday
This is the day we went to Duisburg to meet Herr Schukar from Chojna, and a possible relative. Again we stayed on the Autobahn even though it may have been a few more kilometers. The sun was out most of the way, which helped a lot, as I was "navigating" while Dave drove. But it was raining hard by the time we got to Duisburg/Oberhausen. We didn't find the right street, and drove through standing water on the street, asked for directions at a gas station, and then had to drive right back through it again. We were finally on the right street but couldn't find the house numbers. Suddenly I heard someone whistle very loudly -- looked up and there was a man leaning out the window, so we parked, he came down, and of course it was Herr Schukar.
He is 68 years old but looks about 58. Hmmm - Schukar blood? (My Schukar lines in the US are known for their longevity.) He's still grieving for his wife who died earlier this year. Nonetheless, he served delicious coffee and kuchen, and we shared photos. He enjoying talking with us so much that we didn't have to try to say a lot in German, which of course was good. It will take further investigation to find out whether or not we share common ancestors. He gave me the address of his cousin in Berlin, so I will write to her and see what we can find out. It was a brief but very enjoyable visit.
The next day our son and daughter-in-law would be flying in to Frankfurt for a week with us here in Germany, so we got back on the autobahn and drove to Wiesbaden. A couple of times we got up to 100 mph - 162km/hr. But we also had some stop-and-go traffic around Düsseldorf and Köln. We had an adventure finding a hotel, but ended up in town at the Hotel Am Landeshaus. View of the Landeshaus from our balcony. We checked in, ate a bit, and walked to a church. Dave is trying to locate the one that he saw in ruins in 1952. The street here was very busy and very noisy. I finally closed the window so I could sleep.
7 August - Wednesday
We drove to the Frankfurt airport, noting the rental car return place, and kept going into the parking garage -- down, down, and finally found a place. We found the arrivals for Delta, and waited and waited. Finally Bill and Shelley came out. They had been waiting in a different area and didn't realize that we couldn't get in there. The parking level turned out to be straight out the door of the arrivals!
We headed for Bad Laasphe, where Shelley's Helzerman ancestors came from. On the way there, we stopped at Siegen, the last of our towns on the autobahn, so Bill could exchange travellers cheques for Euros. Shelley found a place where she could get a German phone card, and she called her Dad to let him know that they'd arrived OK.
We ate at a little bakery/lunch kiosk. Before we got back to our car, it started to rain. We continued on our way, and soon the rain quit. As we were driving around in Laasphe, we saw a hotel, also a sign for the cemetery. Then Dave drove up a street, chosen at random, and there was "Zum Roten Ochsen," the pub once owned by a Helzermann! Shelley and I had hoped we could stay there, but they didn't have rooms. They suggested Wittgensteiner Hotel just down the street, so we booked 2 rooms for 2 nights.
The sun came out, and we went to the cemetery. There we met a lady in a hand-knit blue vest who gave us the name of the church-key person, Frau S., and suggested the Standesamt (city office). After we walked around some more, she came and said there's a Heimat group (like a historical society, I guess) and she could take us to the house of the man in charge of that group, Herr B. So we followed her there. Herr B. told us this cemetery was started in 1910, and that the old one was down where the post office is now.
Then we drove to find the Rat Haus [City Hall]. We drove a long way, but discovered it's only a short walk from our hotel. Then we drove back to the hotel, parked the car, and walked to Zum Roten Ochsen for dinner. The food was good and we had a fun time. Corner trim of Zum Roten Ochsen.
8 August - Thursday
Rain. We want to see the Wittgenstein Schloß [castle] , and hope to get historical information today. In the center of the old town is the church, of course, and near it is a fountain commemorating a fire in the old town, 3 fishermen, etc. Surely we can find the story behind it.
After breakfast we went to City Hall, and they told us that the person we needed to see wasn't in. She phoned someone and then said we should come back at 2:30. So we went to the visitor center and they said that for old books about the town, we should got to the library upstairs where we could check out a book and photocopy whatever pages we want -- at 2:00. (Copying pages involved leaving your passport with the librarian, and taking the book to the near-by shop that had a copier.) Then we went to the church office and Frau Schäfer let us see all the old books. Some of them I've seen on microfilm at LDS, but she had books back to 1583! (Photocopies of the originals) We tried to find missing info (missing from what Shelley's cousin Chris had sent), but could find nothing to fill those holes. Shelley got photocopies of direct ancestors' records.
After lunch Dave and I went to City Hall. They said they don't have anything before 1900. But a man there asked if we were doing genealogy research. I said yes, and he phoned a man, Herr Schneider. He directed us to Schneider's house, and told us that he would be waiting for us. So Dave and Bill went to the library, and Shelley and I walked to Schneider's house, over a mile away, at the very edge of town.
Herr Schneider was out in his garden waiting for us. Surely this is the man Chris had gotten information from. Frau Schneider can speak some English, so we managed to converse with them. He has extracted the church books (originals only) and has 35,000 cards with Family Group sheets, typed! He pulled out Höltzermann, Hölstermann, and Hülstermann cards, and we got data on all the kids and parents and the man whose occupation was "Ocksenwirt." I asked if this man had a pair of oxen and he drove them. And Frau S. said No. Herr S. said a "wirt" was an inn, not a hotel, just a place to drink. Frau S. said this guy is "ein und desselbe" [one and the same] the owner of the Ocksen pub. Shelley was thrilled.
We chatted a little while longer, and once again we found that German genealogists are hospitable, kind and generous.
Back in front of the hotel, we met Dave and Bill. They had copied 26 sheets (52 pages) of town history.
After driving out to see the Wittgenstein Castle, now a boarding school, we went to Zum Roten Ochsen for dinner. We had much fun playing with the coasters.
9 August - Friday
A cloudy day.
Interesting trip to Osterode through many villages, with a detour, but finally we got to the Autobahn at Borken. We arrived at Erika's about 2 p.m. She served us lunch and then the kids started to arrive. So we had cake and tea. Shortly after that we had dinner. The kids are college age and had several friends with them. It was fun to watch the interaction, even though we didn't understand all that was being said. All of them knew English, and we were pleased that they made the effort to speak it, and help us to feel included.
10 August - Saturday
After a lovely breakfast, we drove to Bad Lauterberg to take Bill and Shelley to church. By the time we got there, Sabbath School had just started. Then they had the church service. The hymn tunes were nearly all familiar. The preacher was somewhat understandable, partly because he used a lot of Scriptures. He spoke about God's love, and that we are holy, not because of what we do, but because we believe in God, Hebrews 11.
After dinner with Erika and Erich, we went to Goslar to the mines. The mines there have been operating since the 900's. They used water-power, with huge water wheels inside the mountain. The tour lasted about 1 1/2 hours, down and in, around, up and down, and then a huge climb out.
From there we went into Goslar where the Goslar Imperial Palace is. It dates back to 1015. As we were approaching, it started to rain, and it poured all the way back to Osterode.
11 August 2002 - Sunday
We slept in, had a leisurely breakfast, checked our email, and packed up our stuff. After lunch we three couples went to Clausthal-Zellerfeld to the Glas-Hütte. Normal shops are all closed on Sundays, but since this is a tourist thing, it was open. We watched some glass-blowing demonstrations, and finished our gift shopping here.
We said a sad and fond farewell to Erich and Erika, and then drove toward Frankfurt, through typical rain and sun that we had experienced nearly every day in Germany. Later we learned that some areas of the country had had severe flooding about a week after we had left..
We stopped for dinner at Rosbach, just out of Frankfurt, where we saw McDonalds and Burger King. We finally found the center of town and went to the pizzeria. Shelley had a lamb cutlet, Bill had veal cutlet, Dave had soup and salad and I had salad. A German couple sat down and noticed we were having trouble asking about the menu, so he spoke to us in English. He had worked for the US Army for many years. He and his wife both spoke excellent English. He likes America, and said the people in Germany rush around too much. !! They told us that about 5 km. away from here is Elvis Presley's "hometown", Friedberg, where he was stationed.
At Frankfurt we knew how to find the hotel, so we checked in and left our bags in the rooms. Then we cleaned out the car, turned it in at the airport, and returned to the hotel in the shuttle bus.
12 August - Monday
We had decided to skip the hotel breakfast at 14 Euro each. Instead we pooled what we had - juice, pretzels, apples, bananas, and cheese-peanut butter crackers. Then Dave and I told them good-bye [they had one more day in Germany before their return to the US], checked out, and took the shuttle to the airport. There were long lines for checking in, customs, security, passport, and another security. We got to the gate just as they were loading. The plane, a B767, was full. We had window seats. They served juice and nuts, and then lunch. We slept a while. It seemed to be a much longer flight than the night flight was, and I wished I could knit. We finally landed at Newark. There we hurried through passport check, customs and security, and hurried to our gate -- and we were the first ones on the plane, a little 3-seats across plane.
When we first arrived in Germany, it took us several days to be able to realize that we were actually there. Now it was hard to leave, and back in the US, it took several days to accept that we were no longer in Germany. It had been a wonderful trip. And even though we had completed our agenda, neither of us wanted to leave.
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