Week 30: #52 Ancestors – The Old Country
By Eilene Lyon
Though I have ancestral origins in England and Wales, perhaps a touch in Ireland, an overwhelming number of forebears came from Germanic regions of Europe. I’ve traveled there several times. On one trip, we specifically visited Heidelsheim and Mainz, because I knew my Springer and Delle lines came from those cities.
We’ve also been to Bern, Switzerland, and Strasbourg, France, though at the time I was unaware I had connections to those places. It’s only been recently that I’ve found records to pinpoint other locations on the German map where I have family ties. I’ve been studying German since January in hopes of eventually returning to the country.
I was quite excited to learn exactly where Carl and Dorothea Gaszow* were living prior to their emigration from Hamburg. All three of their daughters, who were born in Mecklenburg-Schwerin in northern Germany, were baptized at the Evangelische Kirche in Friedrichshagen (AG. Grevesmühlen).
“Friedrichshagen is located on the Schweriner See-Ostseestrand cultural cycle path. This route connects the Baltic Sea Cycle Path with the Elbe-Baltic Sea Cycle Path. Since April 21, 2015, the medieval village church is now officially a cycle path church. Two new benches, a stone table and four bicycle stands invite you to sit and rest.”1
We love cycling in Europe, so now we have a new path to wander! My Brimmer/Bremmer ancestors also came from Mecklenburg, but I am not yet sure exactly which part.
My Nordt-Sandring ancestors hailed from a place in north-central Germany known as Osterweddingen, just south of Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt. This village is noted today for an ancient, decaying windmill, three pigeon towers (about 250 years old), St. Lambertus Church, and a “great homeland festival on Pentecost holidays.”2 Some records indicate the family also lived in nearby Beyendorf-Sohlen for a time.
Nearby Magdeburg was heavily bombed during World War II, and thus largely rebuilt in the modern era. However, it does have a remarkable Protestant cathedral in which Emperor Otto the Great was laid to rest. It is the oldest gothic cathedral in Germany, so probably well worth a visit.
Finally, I will need to truck on over to Rheinbach in western Germany where my Tils/Dills ancestors lived before immigrating to America. This town, just south of Koln and Bonn, is in North Rhine-Westphalia, not far north of where we cycled along the Saar and Moselle Rivers. Rheinbach lies within the Rhineland nature reserve, so I’m certain there are many lovely sights to see in the area.
I don’t hold out any hope that my German language skills will ever be more than rudimentary, but it hasn’t stopped me from getting around before. However, given the current pandemified state of the world, it’s anyone’s guess as to when I may have another opportunity to visit my ancestral homeland.
Feature image: A castle near the Moselle River in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. (E. Lyon 2014)
- http://www.kirche-mv.de/Gressow-Friedrichshagen.1021.0.html, translation by Google (with one slight modification). ↩
- https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osterweddingen, translation by Google. ↩