Sunday, February 21, 2010

Northwest Germany 2010

Wow, where has the time gone! Already end of February but things are pretty well planned out for our Germany trip in May and I am so excited! I love when we start making the contacts in tour members hometowns, it is always so interesting to me who and what will happen. Right now some of the contacts we have made is a Town Archivist from the city of Bielefeld, she will meet our travelers at the train station and drive them to their home town of Jollenbeck. There they will visit the town museum and walk through the church and their guide will tell them the history of the emigrants from the area. We are hoping that this lady will also meet our group to give us a lecture on emigration from this area, as she is writing a book on this subject.

We also have another town archivist, who is also an avid family researcher and emigrant specialist who will meet another pair at the train station and take them to visit their hometown of Osterwick. He is preparing a family tree for them and is looking for some cousins still living in the town.

Another town one of our tour members calls home is Quackenbr├╝ck, which is celebrating its 775th anniversary and is sure to have some kind of festivals going on. This town is also home to more half-timbered homes than any other town between the North Sea and M├╝nsterland. Someone will meet our travelers again and take them to the town museum and to visit their ancestral hometown. Our tour members have some beautiful mementos that were brought from the Old Country to America that they would now like to donate to the town museum. Should be an interesting day.

We have more towns and more exciting meetings, some German cousins have also been found, and visits to farms which are still standing and being used hundreds of years later, maps found in Archives of cemeteries and who was buried there for several hundred years (this is special as you know German graves are re-used after 30 years). Add to this some of our group activities, such as our tour of an Open Air Freilichtmuseum in Detmold. Here over many acres we will see what types of homes, farms and trade shops our ancestors lived and worked in. I've had a great English speaking guide named Ingrid the past couple years and she adds a lot to learning how they lived in these buildings and how the social customs added to reasons they might have had to emigrate.

Then we also see how they left, by visiting the Emigrant Museum in Bremerhaven. This fantastic museum in on the quay leading out to the North Sea and shows us how the unknown journey was experienced by thousands of emigrants to New Worlds. You walk through the doors of the 21st century and enter back in time to the processing room of the early 19th century. See the hull of a huge steamship and the listen to the stories of some of the people standing on the dock. Then you climb the stairs up to the ship and see how the accommodations were, on a sailing ship, small cramped bunks and only a little larger on a steam ship. It is amazing to me how any of us got are here is America seeing how scary that trip must have been.

Ok, lots more to tell but will continue later...