So the other reason for Ma & Pa K visiting Germany is to try and track down our ancestry. All we have to go by are some US websites and a letter sent to our Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather in 1800 by an auntie leading us to believe he left Germany around the 1790s. Where the letter was sent from is not fully ledgable and we could not identify where it was in Germany. The websites indicated we came from Ankum but our niece, Signa, also identified Hilter am Teutoburger Wald as a potential area.
So we hired a car, got a German SIM card, so we could use the phone for a sat nav, and off we went.
Hilter aTW was first. It turns out that the towns around this area are spa towns, that amazing seasoning is back. It turns out that they have springs that run through salt deposits hundreds of meters down. We didn’t mention the fact about the Krakow salt mine; they have a health clinic down there as the rich salt content air is good for you. The method to process salt in Hilter also releases salt particles into the air with the same healthy result. Not sure snorting salt will have the same effect so don’t try that at home kids!
The church was locked and there were no signs of life. A quick scoot around the nearby cemetery yielded no clues either. What was unusual was that the earliest burial was within the last 30 years. Stumped 🤔. No info on records retention in the area either. Nice country town though:
Next day, new town. Ankum.
Bigger church and another lovely town. We first checked into our guesthouse that was owned by a guy called Rudi. He gave us the contact of the guy responsible for the maintenance of the cemetery there, who was also clued up on the history of the town. We could be in luck.
“Not working today”. Bugger. Still we took a look around and the same thing, no graves, except for 1, older than 30 years. Strange.
Back to our base and Rudi continued to be helpful. He gave us directions for the house that holds the records for the town. Tomorrow will be better.
It was, met a very helpful lady that listened to our story but did tell us she didn’t know of our name so it isn’t common in Ankum. BUT; we found records of 2 that were baptised there in 1818 & 1830. Not our guys but at least we found some. She also gave us our next lead; the records centre in Osnabrück where they have been digitalising the records. We asked about the cemeteries and it turns out they have been reclaiming the land.
There was a nice chap there that was happy to spend some time with us and help scan the records. There are quite a few more of us spread out over this area but none that could be our direct ancestor due to the time lines. BUT he took a look at the letter and identified the town in the letter that was written in Old German. Turns out it’s near Hanover. That’s going to be another trip but at least we feel we are getting closer to our ancestors.
It turns out the German ties are even stronger, Ma K’s parents got married in Düsseldorf. So that’s where we went for our last stop on our journey with the oldies. We spent our time in the Old Town, as is our habit it would appear, and it was nice area to walk around and very easy to find food. What more could we ask for? A bus tour…
We stayed in a lovely guest house in the suburbs of Düsseldorf, Hotel Villa Achenbach, that is being lovingly restored by a Russian family. It has been beautifully done so needless to say we didn’t want to leave.
Our time with the oldies in Germany has come to an end but we shall see them again soon as we are making our way back to the UK.
Not quite yet though…