Sunday, June 26, 2016

Family History Surprises

Once my 2nd great grandparent's farmhouse, (left front)
This is what it looked like at the end of WWII

As you may have noticed - at least I hope someone did - that I have not written a blog post for quite a long time.  It's time to explain.  A sciatica attack made sitting, difficult.   I just could not sit at a computer and capture ideas.

While I was recuperating, I got a communication that reminded me, once again, of the close bonds and relationships among people who lived in small villages like Irsch.  Many of us, who do not know each other and who are widely scattered all over the US or the world, could trace our roots to a small town in Germany and find big surprises.  (This might be an interesting idea for a genealogy television program.)

Here are three of my surprises.  Each one delighted me.


A comment came from a reader who preferred to be anonymous so I won't quote it exactly.  But this person said that my ancestors, Johann and Magdalena Meier, sailed on the same ship, the Rattler, as her great grandfather, Jacob Fisch and his parent; and all settled in St. John, Calumet County, Wisconsin.  That was not a surprise to me.  But then she listed other surnames on her family tree.  One of those surnames, Probst, and their dwelling place in Calumet County, Wisconsin, matched another of my ancestors' names although my great grandfather John Probst had no relationship to Johann and Magdalena Meier.  The connection between the Meier and the Probst surnames came together when my mother said "I do" to my dad.  I didn't expect a comment about the Bavarian side of my family tree from a reader of my blog posts about the Rhineland.

The Meier House as it looks today


When I decided to write a novel about my Rhineland ancestors,  Ewald Meyer of Irsch, Germany was a wonderful helper in my search for information about the customs and history of Irsch and other small villages in the area.  After a long search I finally learned the location of my Meier ancestors' home and property in Irsch in the years before they emigrated to America.

Herr Meyer went to that location and took photos of the building as it exists today.  He also learned that it was remodeled by a Herr Britten, another previous owner and again by Alfons Fisch.   Herr Meyer, as always, took an extra step.  He contacted Herr Fisch and explained my interest in the old Meier property.  To my surprise, the architectural plans for remodeling the Meier house still existed.  I have copies of them.

And one final surprise.  Herr Alfons Fisch is a direct descendant of Jacob and Magdalena Fisch who sailed to New York with Johann and Magdalena Rauls on the ship Rattler.  Herr Fisch has his residence right across the street from the former Meier property that now also belongs to him.


 Coincidence in Village of Irsch

Several years ago, I got an interesting e-mail about one of my blog posts, not from a family historian but because of a picture I had taken in Irsch and used in that post.  The couple who saw it wrote to me because it was the house of the husband's grandmother who still was living in that house.  They asked how I had come to know their "Oma Tilly."  Actually, I didn't know who lived in that house.  I was taking pictures to illustrate houses built wall to wall, and this was an excellent example.

We continued our e-mailing for awhile.  When the Oma (grandma) Tilly, whose maiden name was Weber, learned that my ancestors had immigrated to Wisconsin from Irsch, she asked, via her grandson, if any of my ancestors had the surname "Weber."  Yes, my 3rd great grandmother from Irsch was a Weber.  However Weber is a very common name, and I didn't know if there was any link between us.  That didn't faze Oma Tilly.  She said, "If they were Webers and they came from Irsch, we are related."  Her grandson and his wife got into the spirit and from that time on considered me their relative.  They even invited me to their 25th wedding anniversary anniversary celebration.  I was delighted to be asked and wish I could have gone.

Oma Tilly, age 93, and Bernie, her grandson
Are we really related?  I hope so.


  1. What wonderful surprises!

    1. Hi Jane - So nice to get your message. I love surprises and this week brought me yours as well as another one which is terrific.

  2. Kathy,

    I'd like let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Jana - because of your Fab Finds listing of this post, I continue to be able to share my surprises with lots of people. Thank you for choosing it - that listing of your finds is a great idea.

  4. You are lucky that people cared as younresearched. I know where some of my relatives chilfren now live but non are interested in geneology or family history.

  5. You are right Heidrun. I have been lucky with my research, but many of the surprises were not from close relatives. Most of them are also not interested. Hard to understand, isn't it.

  6. Hi! I found your blog while searching for photos of Irsch. My Nicolaus Weber and Anna Reiter Weber and children emmigrated from Irsch in 1861 or 1862 and settled in Woodville in Calumet County. Any overlap with your Webers from Irsch? I was hoping to attach a small file but apparently there is not an option to do that. My preferred email is in case you would like to compare notes. Thanks for all the info about Irsch! Jenny Weber