Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Deuble Ancestors in Treschklingen

Wolfgang offered to take us to the village of Treschklingen on our drive back to Berlin from Mannheim. My grandmother's dad was a Deuble. I'd found Treschklingen, on a birth record in 1798 for our immigrant ancestor, George Michael Deuble. Wolfgang and Andrea got out the map and found the town. It was sort of on our way... if we left early (or drove fast enough) to accommodate the extra miles.

The Deubles were clock and watchmakers. They built the town clock in Canton, Ohio and opened a jewelry store that survived many generations. I'd met some Canton Deubles, but had never gotten back past the immigrant ancestor in my genealogical search.

Treschklingen is about an hour southeast of Mannheim.

We parked near the church and were greeted loudly by the livestock. I was surprised the no one came out of the nearby houses to find out what was going on.


That crest says 1582. Some of these buildings looked pretty old.


We walked a couple of blocks to the town center and met a young boy on a bicycle who pointed us in the direction of the cemetery. It was a very small town so it was only a couple of blocks up the street to the entrance (at the end of town).

No Deubles in the cemetery, but they had some pretty graves.

This cemetery was smaller than the one at Grossteinhausen and the oldest grave we saw was 1968. Gravesites are leased and reused if the lease expires.


Wolfgang discovered a pathway that led from the church to the cemetery. So we walked back to where we'd parked our car by the church. I had to wonder if this path was used for funeral processions. It certainly gave us a feeling for what the village might have felt like during the time my ancestors lived there.

The town was very quiet. We didn't see people out on the street and no shops or restaurants.


Wolfgang knocked on the door of a home to find out if there was someone who could tell us if there were still Deubles in this community. A young woman came to the door and sent us up the street to her mother-in-law's home. Her mother-in-law took us around the corner to the home of Margret Niklaus, who has been compiling family histories in the town.

Frau Niklaus recognized our family name immediately. She invited us into her home and showed the book of families she has put together. Wolfgang translated for us and she gave us photocopies of the information she had, which takes us back a couple of additional generations. It looks like the family didn't live in this town for very long. I need to translate the information but it definitely included our George Michael and his brother who came to Ohio.

No mention of clock or watch makers, but she told us the family had owned a tavern called the Eagle, located on the empty lot shown above.

This sign means, "You are now leaving Treschklingen."

Note how these villages are cut out of forest.

I was the assigned navigator for this part of the trip as we moved further east and then would turn north towards Berlin. There is no speed limit on the autobahn. Need I say more?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wissembourg, Alsace, France

Our plan was to spend the afternoon and have dinner in Wissembourg. It was a holiday in both France and Germany--Ascension Day, the day Jesus ascended to heaven. What we didn't know was that it was a festival street market day in Wissembourg, but we figured that out quickly when we saw the cars lining the streets and people heading for and away from one particular area.

We lucked out when we entered a small parking lot in search of a space and a man offered us the space he was leaving.


Wissembourg is lush green town on the river Lauter. The amount water that flows through the town is controlled by locks such as the one we passed as we came into the festival area (lower left in the photo above).


I realize I haven't talked about food here recently, so this is my opportunity. In addition to soap, and crafty items, there were vendors selling food. We were hungry so our first stop was to taste dried sausages. These are air-dryed sausages. We bought several, translating the ingredients from French to German to English. If I remember correctly one was made with beets as an added ingredient. They all tasted good, so we bought four different kinds.

Next stop bread.


Breads in Europe are baked darker than we usually bake them here, but they also start with a darker dough that usually has rye in it (see the cut bread at the top of this display) .

Dave picked up some cheeses to try, while Wolfgang chose some cookies.

These are basically butter cookies with just enough sugar and flour to hold them together when baked. The butter is from Brittany, which is the gold standard for full-flavored European butter.

As we left the street market area, we passed a stage with folk musicians and costumed dancers of all ages. Seeing a sign for toilets, we turned down a side street in the direction indicated but found only old buildings, with no public toilets. The building in the upper center is the Salt House, where the salt tax was paid (a very unpopular tax because while salt was needed by everyone for preservation, the nobility and clergy were exempted from paying the tax).

We stopped at a restaurant (with a toilet), to sit and have coffee alongside the canal.

I think the outdoor tables were along the right-hand side of this stretch of canal. The restaurant was actually located across the street from their outdoor dining tables. We probably would have opted for eating dinner there if the waitress had not been so bizarre. She gave Wolfgang a menu, but then the people at the table near us (who were there first) needed to see a menu so she grabbed it from Wolfgang and passed it to them. So we just ordered coffee and sparkling water (and asked to see the menu). It took a really long time for her to get back to us with our full order, then when a newly arrived group asked for the menu, she grabbed it from me. At that point, we decided not to have dinner there.

Walking back to our car, we had to admit that it was a pretty good story anyhow and we decided that dinner in Mannheim would be just fine. In the meantime Dave popped into a bakery to pick up a tasty Alsatian pastry to eat along with some Breton cookies, sausage, cheese, and bread before our drive back to Mannheim.

That night we ate on the sidewalk at a French restaurant across from the dancing fountain in front of the Mannheim water tower. The fountain, designed in the early 1900s, performed a complex program, which Dave pointed out was not controlled by a computer at the time it was built. As the evening darkened, the lights in the fountain came on, giving us an even better show.

We'd left our camera back at Andrea's apartment, but I had my trusty iPhone handy so here's a quick snapshot of the fountain midway through its performance. A fitting end to a grand day and our last evening in Mannheim.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hunting Herbrucks in Grossteinhausen

My grandmother's dad was German. His family came from two small villages in southern Germany, not too far from Mannheim. The man in this photo is Peter Herbruck, who came to the U.S. from Grossteinhausen Germany in 1831. His family followed him to Canton, Ohio, where his sister Susanna married George Michael Deuble. They were Grandma's dad's parents.

Andrea drove us along the small winding road to the village. We passed Kleinsteinhausen (small stone house) on our way to Grossteinhausen (large stone house).

We parked at the far edge of town.

We walked past a children's play area.

It was a holiday. The town seemed to still be asleep.

Here's a sample of the houses and buildings we saw. It was a beautiful sunny day.

Note the solar panels. We saw lots of solar panel in the smaller villages and lots of wind turbines in open spaces.

Here's a taste of the character of the town.

Obviously there were children somewhere, perhaps playing solar-powered video games.

The fountain in the plaza was unusual.

Two streams of water poured out onto the bricks, then joined together and ran down to the far side where it went into a catch basin, right near this marker.


Yes that says 1257. I have no idea how long the Herbruck family lived there before the rest of Peter's family emigrated to Ohio.

Andrea found a sign that led us to the cemetery.


My friend Loretta always teases me about going to beautiful places and bringing back pictures of cemeteries. But if you're looking for ancestors, that's where you find them! Unless you are in Grossteinhausen, where there were no markers for anyone who died before the mid 1900s. We later learned that the cemeteries in some small villages are cleared every 25 to 40 years.We didn't ask what exactly that meant. But it did explain why there were no graves for Herbrucks here.

People put candles on the grave sites and they plant flowers on the graves. As you can see, this is a well-manicured town and cemetery.

There was a WWII section right at the gate. All the young men buried there died right at the end of the war. Apparently they were being honored for holding out against the Allied forces at the end of the war.

A little disappointed on our search for Herbrucks we walked up the street back into town where we passed an older (older than me) man sitting outside his house. Wolfgang stopped to tell him that we were Americans (I hoped that would be perceived as a good thing) who were looking for ancestors. His wife came out of the house and joined the conversation, then took us up the street and around the corner to the home of the oldest woman in town, Rese Pfeiffer. Rese is 90, but too young to remember my ancestors. She sure did remind me of my grandmother.

There was much discussion in German and the mention of a telephone book, which brought a lot of laughter since the Herbrucks had left before phones. But of course there might have been some Herbrucks still around in those early days. There is no sign of them there now, but Rese was happy to welcome us and make me feel like kin.

As I walked back to our car I looked at the buildings and flowers we passed and wondered what the town had looked like in 1831.


Back to France
Since we were so close to the border of France and we missed Paris, Andrea suggested we spend the rest of the day in France. She thought we wouild like to visit the town of Wissembourg, which is in Alsace. So we took an hour drive through the forest to Wissembourg.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

A Visit to Koln

In the U.S., we call this city Cologne, and apparently it is where Eau de Cologne originated. In those days you could splash it on your body or drink it for refreshment.


But we were there to see the cathedral. It is stunning to see as you pull into the train station. And it's not too difficult to find your way to the cathedral from the station! But we stopped for a mettwurst at a stand inside the station (smoked pork sausage with mustard on a bread bun).

Nothing quite prepares you for the immensity of this cathedral and the complexity of the architecture.

I think you could spend a day just walking around the outside and studying all the detailed structures and figures.

Gargoyles

Entrance Ornamentation

This UNESCO-designated site took 632 years to build (beginning in 1248). When I asked Wolfgang how it survived the bombing of WWII, his response was "God." In fact, it was hit 70 times, but the twin spires remained intact and it didn't collapse. Another reason might be that the twin spires were probably used as a navigational marker for the Allied planes.

Inside, the nave supports one of the highest Gothic vaults in the world, almost as high as Beauvais Cathedral, much of which has collapsed.


Many of the glass windows were destroyed by the bombings but have been replaced in their original styles.

Here is just a small sample of what we saw.

On the left is the oldest style of window and on the right, the more familiar style. The window in the center is the south transept window which had been temporarily repaired after the war with plain glass. This new window was completed by German artist Gerhard Richter in 2007. Square glass "pixels" represent colors taken from the other windows in the cathedral and arranged by computer. There is a pattern of repeated sections but you have to spend a lot of time staring up at it to identify the pattern.

The archbishop was not at all happy with the finished design. However, while he presides at services, he does not make decisions on restoration and maintenance of the cathedral. Those decisions are made by the Dombauverein, a non-profit civic association established in 1842 to manage the completion of the cathedral. So when he comes to the cathedral, he prefers not to sit facing the window. We learned this because a German tour group was standing near us when we were looking at the window and Wolfgang joined the group long enough to learn the story.

As light comes through Richter's window, it casts colorful patterns onto the walls nearby.


Here is a sampling of the floor mosaics.

You can see a little bit of window reflection here too.

There are two organs, built in 1948 and in 1998.

As we left the cathedral, I realized that the mettwurst was not sitting well in my stomach. We searched out an apotheka and got some digestive pills from a helpful pharmcist. Then we stopped for coffee (peppermint tea for me) at a small Italian cafe. They were really into coffee.


Heading towards the rathaus, we came across this Roman dig. Wolfgang says it's not unusual to discover underlying Roman structures when preparing to build a new shopping area or public building.
Dave and Wolfgang explored the area while I sat nearby, trying to get a point where I was feeling better. The air had warmed up a bit and the sun was shining. When they came back Wolfgang brought me a rose from a wedding party they ran into at the rathaus. Dave told me that the plan for the dig area is to build a shopping area on top but provide access to the Roman structure beneath the shopping area.

Okay, so let me explain about the rathaus. We were introduced to this term when we noted that the metro to our apartment went to Rathaus Steglitz. That wasn't too encouraging. However, it turns out that rathaus means courthouse, not house of rats. So this wedding was in the courtyard in front of the courthouse. There was music, food, and lots of merriment (I think that means alcohol).

We walked through the crowd and were planning to walk to the Hohenzollern bridge over the Rhine river. The bridge accommodates both train and pedestrian crossing. Lovers affix padlocks (called love locks) to the metal rails, then throw the key into the Rhine below. But we didn't get to see this or to toss a key because I really wasn't feeling well. Instead, we went back to the train station to catch and earlier train back to Mannheim.

I sat in a Starbuck's trying to avoid the smell of food, while Dave and Wolfgang negotiated with the reservation agent. He told them that the trains were completely full so they paid for 1st class reservations on the next train back. Turns out the train was practically empty so we had our choice of seats. Our conductor, Tim, even offered to let us drive the train.


This suited Wolfgang just fine, especially since he could go 300 kph without even touching the controls.


But actually the engineer running the train was at the other end. We went back to our seats to enjoy the ride without the additional responsibility. I practiced a little more speed-of-light photography since I was feeling a little better.

This one is interesting because you can see the up close image compared to the distant image. And you can also see the rapeseed crop that grows all over Europe to supply canola oil to the world. It's called rap or rape oil in Germany. You can understand why canola is a better marketing name in the U.S.

Conductor Tim came back to visit with us and pose for photos.


We walked back to Andrea's apartment and I cuddled up under a blanket while Dave and Wolfgang walked a couple of miles to get Vietnamese take-out. I skipped dinner since I couldn't even handle the smell of food. I really wanted to get better quick because the next day we'd scheduled a visit to Grossteinnhausen, the tiny village southeast of Mannheim in Sudwestpaltz, Rhineland Palatinate, the village my Herbruck ancestors left to come to the U.S. I didn't want to miss that.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Visit to Heidelberg

Our first morning in Mannheim we walked up the street to the bakery to stock up for the weekend.

Wolfgang bought a little of everything. We went back to the apartment for coffee and pastries and then went back to buy more. My favorite was the apple tart. There were two versions. One with apples diced into small cubes, and one with larger pieces made from local apples. I liked them both.

Then we walked about 10 blocks to the lot where Andrea keeps her car. The drive to Heidelberg was about 15 minutes. Finding a parking place wasn't too bad since we didn't mind the 20 minute walk to the city center. The space was for two hours, so Wolfgang set the clock on the card that you leave in a visible space on the dashboard to let the parking police know what time you intend to return.

There is more reliance on the honor system here than there is in the US. We have a 1-month metro/bus pass for Berlin. We have been here almost a month and so far our passes have never been checked. We show it to get on the bus, but the metro has no entry machines, you just walk right onto the train. Occasionally an inspector comes through to check and you can be fined if you don't have a ticket or a pass.

On our walk to the town center, we passed several crops of mushrooms. It has been a cold rainy May here too.


I thought this was a particularly whimsical cluster. These little white flowers are everywhere in Germany right now.

Our first stop when we got into town was a chocolate shop called St. Anna's No. 1.

We sat outside in the sun while the owner prepared our chocolate. Dave and I ordered the orange chocolate. Wolfgang chose chili coffee chocolate. The owner expressed concern that he might want to rethink this combination, but Wolfgang assured her that he is tough, he can take it. The tiny shop was crowded with people buying handmade chocolates so we had time to sit in the sun outside before our chocolate arrived.

As you can see, this is not American style hot chocolate. This is real chocolate melted into a bit of milk. When she brought it, she told us to stir it to melt the lumps of chocolate. You can eat it with a spoon or go ahead and risk a chocolate milk mustache. The water is to drink between sips of chocolate. It was velvety smooth, not too sweet, with a hint of orange. Quite elegant.

Before we left, I bought a couple of her chocolates.

There is a disk of chocolate at the bottom of each. I'm not sure how they do the sides. Maybe it's a special mold, but the sides are very thin, like it is spread onto acetate strips. The center is a slightly soft ganache. The white chocolate one is coffee and the dark is hazelnut. The packaging is simple but elegant.

The outskirts of Heidelberg are modern but as you approach the center, it becomes more historic. The streets here were mostly pedestrian.

The Subway restaurant sign seemed kind of out of place here.


On the hill, we could see the remains of the old castle.


Wolfgang took us to his favorite place for coffee at the end of the street before we turned toward the bridge and began the climb up the hill (that he hadn't really told us much about at this point).

Turns out they had some really interesting chocolates as well. A solid disk of chocolate is poured into the bottom and then a very soft ganache is piped on top. Another disk of solid chocolate is poured on top. These are a little messy to eat but they were quite delicious.

Yes, the Starlight mice will eventually have their own perspective of the Berlin/Paris/So. Germany trip online but right now they are too busy exploring.

Here is one of the older buildings we passed as we headed towards the bridge.

The bridge crosses the river Neckar.


Wolfgang mentioned the little loop he would like to take us on to show us some pretty nice views of the city... with a nice Italian restaurant at the end.

We agreed that would be fun. It started out quite idyllic as a narrow winding path.

"You see, it's not so bad." But it got a little steeper. And it went up and up and up. "Just around this corner, we're almost there."

Oops, here are a few stairs. "You will see. It will be beautiful."


"Come on, it's not very far anymore." We finally did reach the first viewing spot.

And it was lovely (especially the part where we got to sit down on a bench). This is the snow-globe city in the winter with spires rising up out of the snow. Oh, but wait... that's not all! There are more stairs and a little bit further to reach the top.

And this is what to see from the top.

Going down didn't see quite as steep. Dave thinks it was about 400 feet to the top. The path is called the Philosopher's Walk.

By the time we got to the bottom it was later than Wolfgang had expected so we took a short break at the Italian cafe and called Andrea to find out if she wanted to meet us for dinner at an outdoor restaurant on the Rhine in Mannheim.

Wolfgang and Dave had coffee. I ordered their special of the day, Spargel Soup. Spargel is the thick white asparagus that is in season right now and for sale all over Germany and France.


The soup was salmon, dill, and white asparagus. It was my first taste of this seasonal treat. I've had a lot of white asparagus since and I like it this way the best. The texture of the soup was silky smooth with garlicky fried crumbles of salmon suspended in the light creamy soup.

It was a bit difficult to stand up and walk again after this short break, but we were well past our 4 pm parking deadline. Actually finding our car was a bit of a problem, but Wolfgang picked up the scent and led us through the city outskirts to the warm interior of the car.

We drove directly (well actually we missed the Mannheim bridge a few times but eventually found the correct street and got into the right area) and found a parking space within a convenient quarter to half mile walk to the restaurant. We sat outside and ate traditional German food as boats moved up and down the Rhine near our table.

video

Since I didn't have my camera, I thought I'd try out the video feature on my iPhone while we waited for our food to arrive.

We headed back to our car at sunset. We needed to rest up for the early morning train to Koln then next day.