Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wecome to Germany

About an hour and a half after leaving Frankfurt Airport we stopped for 'Zweites Frühstuck' 
or second breakfast at a cafe in Kirchheim just off the autobahn. It was Dolores' first experience (but not her last!) in a German bakery.

First Stop - Hannoverisches Münden

 The first stop after the long flight from America was the historic town of Hannoverisches Münden in the state of Hessen. The bridge dates back more than 800 years. 

 Dolores had never experienced a medieval fortified town before, and so it was fun to show her the sights including the so-called 'Hagelturm,' part of the 13th century wall

 Half-timbered houses, more than 500 of them under protection of the government, make up the center of the town

 We stayed at the Hotel Alter Packhof along the river and next to the town wall

All of these photos were taken by guide James Derheim while Dolores was sleeping off jet lag. We did a windshield tour of many of these areas the next morning before leaving for Steinfeld.

Meeting the Cousins in Steinfeld, Germany

 Andre Kobus, Fritz Schmätjen and Dolores Petit check out a model 1962 VW bus that represents the beginning of the Schmätjen bus company

 Dolores has a treasured painting showing family members at a backoffen, or baking oven. This one is similar and stands in front of the Schmätjen home

Discussing family history in the living room of the Schmätjen home

 Visiting a farmhouse that was restored by the family. The house dates from 1843. 

Fritz and Ursel Schmätjen with Dolores Petit in the center walking down the street in Steinfeld

Visiting the Schmätjen Family in Steinfeld

Frank Schmätjen holding his son Jakob, Claudia (Schmätjen) Kobus, Dolores Petit, Ursel Schmätjen, Fritz Schmätjen and second row, Evi Schmätjen (Frank's wife) and Andre Kobus

 An extensive family tree was commissioned by Fritz Schmätjen and completed by the church archivist. 

 Fritz Schmätjen, August 18, 2014

 The family home and garden
Called a 'feldweg,' or field road near Steinfeld

Care Package 'Thank You' 67 years later

Dolores' family sent care packages after the war. In about 1947, one of those packages included a couple of dresses that had been worn by Dolores, who was about nine years-old at the time. As the Schmätjen family had no young girls at the time, they gave those dresses to the neighbor family. In the living room of the Schmätjen family, 67 years later, the recipient of those dresses came to say 'thank you.' It was an emotional meeting for Dolores Petit and Gerlinda Schwelgin who still lives right next door.

Dolores Petit meets Gerlinda Schwelgin

 Dolores and Gerlinda look at old photos

Trunks used when Dolores' grandfather emigrated to America were used on his return trip in 1950. They are kept in the garage of the Schmätjen family farm in Steinfeld.

Steinfeld's Ancient Past

 There are two ancient burial places very close to Steinfeld. They date from about 2500 BC.
Andre Kobus takes a photo inside one of them. 

 Massive stones were moved into place using tree trunks as rollers. Pouring water over them and waiting until that water turned to ice helped make the job a little easier. 

A typical shady lane near Steinfeld

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Kirchtimke Ancestral Church

 Andre Kobus, Dolores Petit, church archivist and Fritz Schmätjen in front of the church

 The baptismal font is about 1,000 years old

 The church was enlarged in 1760

 Painting showing the church before it was modernized in the 1960s

 This crucifix is older than the building

 So is the pulpit

Click on 'Older Posts' at right to see more of the trip highlights