Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Journey to the Villages of my Ancestors

Today was another amazing day. We visited the Protestant Church in Lonsee where our ancestors attended in the late 16th and early 17th century. The Reverend from the church met us and let us go inside and look around. Once again, the baptismal pillar from centuries ago was still in use.

The paintings on th wall near the back are part of the original church from the 1400's
Next we visited a village called Bernstadt, where our oldest known ancestor lived in the late 1500's. We went to castle that had been renovated into a museum and city hall. In the museum they had the original hand-written church record books that had been maintained by the pastors of the church since time that our ancestors attended. The Historian took us on a tour of the museum and showed us the church books. He was very knowledgeable about the history of the area. He told us based on the information they had, the Braun family that lived in Bernstadt were from a nearby town called Osterstetten AND that the records show that the Braun's from Osterstetten were Romans!

Looking through the church books for Brauns
After lunch we drove past the church in Weidenstetten, where Leonhard Braun's father was born and lived before going to Aufhausen to marry Margaretha. Then we drove through Ettlenschiess, Where Leonhard's mother's family lived for over a hundred years, and to Stubersheim, another town where Braun ancestors lived.

The church in Weidenstetten
A restaurant in Stubersheim

On our way to the next village we stopped to see a natural spring, and an archeological site. According to the explanation, this area of the Swabian Alb was under the sea about 20 million years ago. The archeologists found fossils in a rock bed that they have determined were from when this area was under water.


The little holes in the rock are where the fossils


Archeologists believe the "shelf" on this rock was created by the sea 

In Gerstetten, we went to the top of the water tower and took some amazing pictures of the Swabian Alb countryside and forests. Then it was time for a break so we stopped and had ice cream and Willi showed me the exact spot where my ancestor Heinrich Mueller's house was located based on the city archive records. The spot is where the ice cream shop is now located, but the City Hall still exists, and would have been right outside the Mueller's window!

A view of the Swabian Alb from the water tower in Gerstetten

No this is not spagetti! It is "spagettieis (pronounced spagetti-ice) and it was amazing!
You can read about it here! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaghettieis 
The Old City Hall in Gerstetten taken from the spot that would have been Heinrich Mueller's house

Our next stop was Gussenstadt. This is also the village where Willi lives. We visited the church where our common ancestors attended.  (Remember at one branch of our family tree, he and I share common ancestors, the Staudenmeyers and Dursts.) This church originated in the 1100's.  On the wall of the balcony there were paintings of the twelve apostles. On most of the paintings there was a name written, which was the name of the parishoner that donated the painting to the church.  Two of these paintings had our ancestors names written on them!

The church in Gussenstadt.  See the Paintings that are lining the balcony!
It's hard to read but to the left of his feet it says Johan Anthoni Durst
our 7th Great Grandfather, born 1662 and died in Gussenstadt 1708

To the left of his feet it says "Christ und Jerg" (Christian and Georg)
To the right of his feet is written "Staudenmayer".
 Jerg was also our  7th Great Grandfather, born 1659 and died 1732 in Gussenstadt

After visiting the church, we went to a museum where Willi used to work, and then to his house to meet his family and have dinner. We had such a wonderful visit with them! Then it was time to return to the hotel for the night.  

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to Mrs. L√∂ffler tonight. Spending the last two days with her has been amazing, I can't even imagine what it would have been like if she hadn't been there to translate and explain things to me. I learned that she will be 90 on her next birthday, and she worked for 30 years for the German Embassy, in Indonesia, Tokyo, and several other countries. She had so many amazing stories to tell. I will miss her for the remainder of my time here. 

But tomorrow is another day, and we have more great plans in the works. Willi's wife, Monica will be joining us and she lived for three years in U.S. as a child and speaks English perfectly! 


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