Heidelberg Genealogy Adventures
The primary reason I chose to spend three weeks in Heidelberg was because so many of my ancestors lived nearby. I’ve shared some of my quests in previous blogs and I’m including the remainder of them in this blog.
I owe my wonderful driver and translator, Shirin, a huge debt for helping me and sharing my excitement when we found records that were difficult to locate. Sometimes, it was pure luck, or was it serendipity? One day, we had been to Eschenau in search of my Fernsler ancestors. The church was locked and we weren’t able to locate anyone. So, we headed to the nearby village of Weinsberg, where earlier generations of Fernslers had lived. We approached the kirche up a steep drive and were trying the first door we came to when we saw a man further down the walk holding a door open. We quickly walked towards him and he asked if we would like to look inside the kirche. He didn’t have to ask twice. We went in and he proceeded to give us a personal tour for the next hour. He knew everything about the history of the kirche, including dates of the 13th century murals high up on the wall and the origin and date of the baptismal font that my ancestors most likely used for their children. The kirche was one of the most impressive we visited during our search. I wish I could have attended a service in this holy place where my ancestors worshiped hundreds of years ago.
One morning while Shirin was attending classes, I got up early and took the 7:30 train to Kaiserslautern to look for emigration records for my Zeiger ancestors at the Institute for Pfalzische GeSchichte und Volkskunde. I made it to the institute and found an English-speaking woman named Barbara, who explained that they couldn’t access the records located on the third floor because they were in the middle of a construction effort to repair some damage to the building. She carefully took my information and promised to search for the information when the work was completed. She kept her promise! I received an email in a couple of weeks with copies of the emigration cards for my ancestors. The hour and a half train ride each way paid off.
When I returned from Kaiserslautern that morning, I was disappointed, but the sun was shining. So, I set out to take photos of the Neckar river and the Heidelberg Christmas Market with the Castle in the background. The sunshine didn’t last long, but I had another opportunity to have lunch at my favorite German restaurant, the Schwan, which was near the Christmas Market.
We traveled to Sinsheim one morning in search of the kirche where my 6th great grandparents, Johann Adam Loffler and Anna Maria Trinckel were married on 8 June 1736. We were finally able to enter the church, which had been remodeled, but no one was available to research the records. We went on to Hohenhaslach, where once again, we were very lucky. We found a very nice woman, who worked in the kirche office and she was happy to show us the records dating back to the 1500s. The records had been translated and organized in a large notebook. She helped us search and I found and photographed several entries recording the baptisms and marriages for my Loffler ancestors. The woman even called a local researcher, who appeared in a few minutes and was able to help us translate some of the entries. The woman in the kirche office asked if we would like the key so we could see the inside of the kirche. We obviously took her up on her kind offer and I was able to take photos of the beautiful old kirche interior.