SEEKING OUR GERMAN ROOTS
May 11 - June 2, 2003
Like so many other Americans, I live in the United States only because my ancestors made the life-changing decision to leave their homeland in Europe and come to America. Since I retired in 1985 Iíve intermittently worked on our familyís genealogy, learning more about these immigrants and the places they once called home. Three-fourths of my ancestry is from German immigrants who came to the United States in the 19th century, while Glenn has at least one set of great-grandparents who emigrated to California from Germany during the Gold Rush of 1849.
In the past few years, our daughter, Karen, translated the three-volume history of our von Pressentin ancestors who lived in the northern German states of Mecklenburg and Pomerania--even before recorded history. Between us, we developed a considerable background knowledge of these German ancestors and ultimately wanted to see more of the land they once lived in. Our hope was that we might even find some branches on our German family tree that were still not well documented.
Karen paved the way, when she spent several weeks in Germany in 2001. Her account of meeting German cousins and visiting so many beautiful parts of Germany made me wish to make the same trip before I was too old to deal with the rigors of travel. With Karenís ability to speak German we felt comfortable in traveling to areas of Germany where English is not a second language. When the German airline, Lufthansa, announced that they would begin nonstop service from Portland, Oregon to Frankfurt, Germany in the spring of 2003 it seemed the time to make the trip. We said "letís do it!" and we did. We settled on a mid-May departure; Karen arranged to take 3 weeksí leave from her work, and the planning got underway.
We had three objectives for the trip:
1) Visit relatives or the places where relatives once lived:
The village of Schoenberg, near Kiel in northern Germany on the Baltic Sea where Glennís Goettsch ancestors lived; we had documents that we hoped would help us find any living relatives there.
Various sites in the German state of Mecklenburg (part of East Germany until German reunification) where my motherís family, the von Pressentins lived. The von Pressentin family historian, Friedrich-Franz von Pressentin, would be our guide for much of this portion of our trip.
The town of Lindlar and nearby villages east of Cologne, where many of my fatherís Kemmerich relatives still live.
And the village of Reil, in the Mosel River Valley where our Butzen ancestors lived. My fatherís grandmother was a Butzen. The son of a cousin visited Reil in 2002 and met the Arns family, who are descended from Butzens, so they would be our contact in Reil.
2) Give Karen the opportunity to do some "birding" along our route. [See her website www.klhalliday.com for some of the beautiful birds she photographed.]
3) Spend a few days at the end of our trip relaxing in the Bavarian Alps, near the Austrian border. This itinerary took us from near the northern border Germany shares with Denmark, to its southern border with Austria.
Of course, from time to time, questions would arise, like "does Bruno have a place for us to stay in Lindlar?," "can we find the car rental place?," or, "is this the right road?" Karenís reassuring answer was always, "All will become clear, Mom"Ö..and by golly, it always did!
Our Route Through Germany, marked in blue
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This trip log is broken into the following segments: click on those of interest to you.
CHAPTER ONE .........Portland,
Oregon to Hamburg, Germany May 11-13
THREE .... Our von Pressentin Heritage, Mecklenburg,
FOUR ......visiting Kemmerich relatives, Cologne Area - Lindlar May 21-23
FIVE ........Our Butzen Heritage, Mosel
SEVEN .....Bavarian Alps - Mittenwald May 28-31
Barbara Halliday, May, 2004
Unless otherwise noted, text and photos are the property of Glenn and Barbara Halliday, © 2004