Month: December 2017

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.

 

Weinsberg Kirche

 

Weinsberg Kirche

 

Baptismal Font
13th Century Mural
13th Century Mural

 

Carved Column
Altar

 

Organ
Stained Glass Window

 

Choir Annex
Choir Annex

 

Exterior Plaque
Memorial Stones in Courtyard
View from Side Courtyard
Exterior Plaque

 

Sinsheim Kirche

 

Sinsheim Kirche
Sinsheim Kirche

 

Hohenhaslach Kirche
Hohenhaslach Kirche Plaque
Altar

 

Mural

 

Mural

 

Kirche Entry
Kirche Ceiling

 

Neckar River Bridge
Neckar River Bridge
Winter Rose

 

Enjoying Gluhwein
Heidelberg Castle and Christmas Market

 

 

 

Heidelberg Castle Panorama
Christmas Market

Guanagelloch, Germany

My 6th great grandparents, Caspar Elias Diller and Anna Maria Dornis, were married 23 October 1719 at the Evangelische Kirche in Guanagelloch, a small village 13km southeast of Heidelberg.  During our first visit to the Kirche in Guanagelloch, we encountered a man shoveling snow from the front walks who was happy to let us into the Kirche and turn on the lights for us.  He gave Shirin, my amazing translator and driver, a book with info on how to contact the Kirche secretary, who he said had the old records for the Kirche.  He explained the history of the Kirche and showed us a wall hanging that depicted the original Kirche and the later modifications.

Shirin contacted the secretary and made an appointment to see the records.  The Kirche secretary was one of the nicest people we’ve met during our genealogy research forays.  She not only let us have full access to the old records book in her office, she helped us translate some of the old German script and was excited when we located the records for the Diller family.  When she learned that my 6th great grandmother was a Dornis, she indicated that a Dornis descendant was a friend of hers and gave Shirin the phone number to contact her friend to see what information she has and if she knows if there is a Dornis family bible.  She also introduced us to her father, who indicated that the Dornis family was originally from the nearby village of Mauer.  We went to Mauer, but the kirche secretary was on leave and Shirin will contact her when she returns after the holidays.

Our efforts in Guanagelloch were rewarded with photos of my 6th great grandparents’ marriage and the baptismal records for several of their children.  Several trees on ancestry have information on the Diller family and there are several family histories published after the family immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1732.  However, none of the trees have photos of the original entries in the Evangelische Kirche records.

 

Guanagelloch Kirche
Guanagelloch Kirche

 

Guanagelloch Kirche
Guanagelloch Kirche

 

Guanagelloch Kirche
Guanagelloch Kirche

 

Guanagelloch Kirche

 

Guanagelloch Kirche
Guanagelloch Kirche

 

Guanagelloch Kirche
Guanagelloch Kirche

 

Guanagelloch Kirche
Guanagelloch Kirche

 

 

Guanagelloch Kirche
Guanagelloch Kirche

Speyer Cathedral

We headed to Speyer to look for information on my Zeiger ancestors from Ottweiler.  The website for the Landeskirche Evangelische Archive indicated that the records for Ottweiler were kept in the archive.  We were directed to a staff member specializing in these records.  She indicated that they didn’t have the records and made a phone call to determine that they were stored at another location that was too far away.

I wanted to visit the Speyer Cathedral ever since my discussion in the Schwan Restaurant with the couple who asked to join me at my table.  He highly recommended the Cathedral and said he considered it one of the most historically significant places in the area.  We had plenty of time and the rain had stopped, so we decided to visit the Cathedral.

The Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St. Stephen was founded during the reign of Konrad II in 1030 and was consecrated in 1061.  The huge structure, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is considered the world’s largest and most significant Romanesque church.  Eight Kings of Germany and four of their wives are buried in the Cathedral.  Throughout the centuries, the Cathedral has been partially burned and restored several times.  Only the cycle of 24 scenes from the life of the Virgin between the windows of the nave have been preserved.  The large number of relics on display in the St. Catherine Chapel make the Cathedral a popular pilgrimage site.

I was disappointed that we didn’t locate the genealogy records, but the visit to the Cathedral more than made up for the confusion about the location of the records.

 

Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral

 

Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral

 

Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral

 

Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral

 

Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral

 

Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral

 

Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral

 

Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral

 

Speyer Town Hall

 

Heidelberg Castle

The first beautiful clear morning in Heidelberg, I decided to go to the Castle.  I texted my landlord, Markus, to find out the best way to get to the Funicular that takes you up to the castle.  I know it’s possible to walk up, but it’s quiet a climb and I really wanted to ride the Funicular.  Markus replied that the #33 bus that stops just across from my apartment would take me to the Funicular.  The bus trip was easy and stopped right in front of the entrance to the Funicular.  The price was right…7 Euros for the Funicular and admittance to the Castle.

The beautiful Castle provides stunning views of the Neckar Valley.  The beginnings of the Castle are closely linked to the founding of the town of Heidelberg, which appears for the first time in a document in 1196.  The rise and fall of the Electors Palatine largely determined the fate of the complex.  Throughout the centuries, the castle was both a fortress and a residential palace.  In 1689, a French general commanded the destruction of the town and Castle.  The Castle was restored, only to be finally destroyed once and for all by the French again in 1693.  The magnificent ruins provide a cultural monument that attracts a million visitors a year.

Especially interesting was the Great Barrel. The third Great Barrel was built in the Castle in 1750 and holds 58,000 gallons of wine.  The German Apothecary Museum was founded in Munich in 1937 and has been housed in the Castle since 1958.  The museum contains four centuries of objects and provides an overview of the history of medicinal practices. I briefly visited the Castle in the 1980s and I was pleased to see how well it has been maintained throughout the years.

I decided to stroll through the Christmas Market after my visit to the Castle. As I made my way down the Market Platz, I saw the Schwan Restaurant, a place with lots of atmosphere and a wonderful looking German food menu.  It was a little early, but I decided to have lunch.  What a great experience!  The restaurant quickly began to fill up with local diners.  Four German ladies sat at the table next to me and we smiled and acknowledged each other. When my food arrived, they said “Bon appetito”.  I enjoyed a delicious rahm schnitzel with spaetzle, a small salad, and a glass of local wine.  As I was finishing my meal, a local couple asked if they could join me since the other tables were full.  I said, “please do”.  The man spoke English and we had a nice conversation while I finished my cup of tea.

As I started to walk down the street toward Bismarck Platz, it began to sleet and quickly turned to blowing snow and then large snowflakes.  I hurried to the little mini-mall area where I wanted to use the ATM.  I got my cash and walked across to the tram stop and boarded the #5 tram that took me to my apartment.  What an eventful day!!  My jeans were wet below my coat but I wasn’t freezing because the temperature wasn’t that low.  I dried off, changed clothes, and fixed myself a nice hot cup of tea.  Welcome to Heidelberg!!

 

Heidelberg Castle
Heidelberg Castle

 

Heidelberg Castle
Heidelberg Castle

 

Heidelberg Castle
Heidelberg Castle

 

Heidelberg Castle
The Great Barrel

 

Neckar Valley View
Neckar Valley View
Neckar Valley View
Neckar Valley View

 

Apothecary Museum Entrance
Apothecary Museum
Apothecary Museum

 

Apothecary Museum
Apothecary Museum

 

Apothecary Museum
Christmas Market
Christmas Market
Christmas Market

 

Schwan Restaurant
Schwan Restaurant Sign

 

 

Innsbruck, Austria

Imagine my delight when the taxi stopped at our hotel, the Goldener Adler, and we were surrounded by the Christmas Market!!  It was so much fun to walk around and visit the various booths selling food or Christmas gifts.  One evening, a band played Christmas music from the balcony of the Goldenes Dachl museum, the city’s most famous symbol, just a few doors down from our hotel.  The historic balcony was used by the Emperor Maximillian I and his wife, Bianca Maria Sforza, in the early 1500s to observe festivals and events that took place in the square below.

The weather was cooperating, so one morning, I rode the Hungerburg Funicular to take photos of the city below.  The modern funicular wasn’t crowded and I enjoyed the views during the short ride up and down the mountain.

The Tyrolean Folk Art Museum and adjacent Hofkirche was an enlightening tour another morning.  The museum includes an extensive collection of old handicrafts, costumes, glass, pottery, and religious folk art from the various regions of Tyrol.  The Hofkirche was built in 1553 by Emperor Ferdinant I as a memorial to his grandfather Emperor Maximilian I, whose centograph includes an amazing collection of German Renaissance sculpture, 28 large bronze statues of ancestors, relatives and heroes of Ferdinand I.  The tomb of Andreas Hofer, Tyrol’s national hero, is also in the Hofkirche.

Across the street from the Hofkirche, we toured the Hofburg, a former Habsburg palace considered one of the most significant buildings in the country.  The Hofburg was enlarged under Emperor Maximillian I between 1459 and 1519.  In 1533, it became the permanent residence of Ferdinand I and his family and in the eighteenth century, it was transformed and renovated under Empress Maria Theresa.  After the sudden death of her husband, Francis I, Maria Theresa made several changes to honor his memory.  The Giant’s Hall frescoes and paintings of Maria Theresa’s children and grandchildren were remarkable.

The Tyrolean State Museum, known as the Ferdinandeum, housed an impressive archaeological collection, a collection of musical instruments, as well as several works of art, the most notable, a Rembrandt.  We spent several hours taking the audio tour of the museum.

Our time in Innsbruck seemed to pass quickly in our beautiful old hotel amidst the Christmas Market.  We boarded the train for our next adventure, Heidelberg, looking forward to a longer visit in that destination.

 

Hotel Goldener Adler
Goldener Adler Sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Innsbruck Christmas Market
Innsbruck Christmas Market

 

Christmas Market Band
Goldenes Dachl

 

The Inn River
Mountains above Innsbruck

 

Funicular
Hungerburg Funicular Station

 

View from Funicular
View from Funicular

 

View from Funicular
View from Funicular

 

 

Goldener Adler Famous Guests
Ferdinandeum Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferdinandeum Museum
Ferdinandeum Museum

 

Ferdinandeum Museum
Ferdinandeum Museum

 

Ferdinandeum Museum Rembrandt
Ferdinandeum Museum

 

 

Ferdinandeum Museum
Ferdinandeum Museum

 

Folk Art Museum
Folk Art Museum

 

Innsbruck Hofkirche
Innsbruck Hofkirche

 

Innsbruck Hofkirche
Maximillian I Centograh

 

 

Innsbruck Christmas Market
Andreas Hofer Tomb