Germany - 1998 Diary
This diary was created from a series of electronic "postcards" written during my week-long sightseeing and genealogy trip to Germany from September 26th, 1998 to October 4th, 1998, primarily investigating my Mumma/Momma roots. These postcards were e-mailed to my family and friends in many different countries. My wife, Joan, did not join me on this portion of the trip, but remained in England and spent time with her English cousins.
I had arranged with Stefan Momma to join me for most of my trip through Germany. Stefan is a new German friend who I "discovered" through the Internet. He lives near Stuttgart. One of the original purposes of my trip was to simply visit locations where my Mumma and other ancestors lived. Having Stefan join me was particularly valuable since he also speaks perfect 'American'. His ability to communicate in German allowed us to also visit some of the German genealogical archives. I speak and read very little German - a failing which I will have to correct!
This diary chronicles the daily events that occurred during this trip. Some highlights of the trip are as follows:
+ Visited the villages of Grosskarlbach, Heuchelheim & Gerolsheim where Leonard (Leonhard) Mumma is believed to have lived prior to his emigration to America in 1732. Stayed two nights in a hotel in Grosskarlbach.
+ Visited several genealogy archives, namely the Institut für pfälzische Geschichte und Volkskunde in Kaiserslautern, the Landesarchiv in Koblenz, and the Personenstandsarchiv at Schoß Augustusburg in Brühl and reviewed their holdings regarding the Momma (Mumma) family. No new information was uncovered.
+ Visited and toured the towns of Aachen and Stolberg where the Momma families were influential brass manufacturers during the 1600's and 1700's. Aachen was the center of Charlemagne's empire.
+ Stood in the Finkenberg Church Cemetery in Stolberg and viewed several Momma's tombstones that have the Momma coat-of-arms carved deeply into the stone surface.
+ Viewed and copied Momma information from the original Finkenberg Church records that were begun in the mid 1600's. I initially felt that I had "discovered" proof that my Leonard Mumma was not one listed in these records, but further study is necessary. There are too many Leonards listed and careful analysis will be required. Additional messages will be sent as I complete my research
+ Visited other villages where my Yeager (Jäger) and Klepinger (Klöppinger) families lived prior to emigration to America.
+ Drove along the beautiful Rhine River between Bingen and Koblenz where each bend in the river reveals another storybook picture of castles, vineyards and picturesque river scenes.
+ Met the Mußler family of Bissersheim who graciously assisted me with my visit in the Grosskarlbach area. I also had the opportunity to deepen my friendship with Stefan Momma during our week together.
It was a busy, fun filled week!!!!!!
Saturday, September 26th. - Brentwood, Essex, England.
Weather Report: There was a minor amount of rain during the night in Brentwood, but it was minor. The weather was a bit cloudy as we drove to Heathrow Airport. Minor rain in Germany, but quite warm and muggy. Shirt sleeve weather.
Joan, my wife, and I awoke early and took off for the Heathrow airport around 8:30 in the morning. Charles Steynor, Joan's first cousin once removed, did a suburb job of driving and we arrived at the airport with ample time. I bid farewell to Joan and Charles and made my way through the airport to the Lufthansa Airline. Unfortunately the plane was about an hour late, with no explanation. Such is life. The hour and a half flight to Frankfurt was quite uneventful. It was a good landing and then trouble started. I got in the wrong queue for customs so ended up standing in two lines. Passed that hurdle and finally got the rental car after some minor delays. I left the airport and then realized I didn't really know which way to head other than south. Well, there were no 'south' signs, only city names. I recognized Köln and decided to head that way. Wrong!!! After a few minutes I realized my mistake. I was heading north and had to get on the other side of the autobahn going the other direction. Of course that is not a simple thing to do as the off ramps tend to be other autobahns. After some cursing, I finally got turned around and headed south on the #3 & #5. I thought I was suppose to take the #3, which I did at the split in the road. I then read my instructions and you guessed it, I was suppose to be on the #5. Another mad scramble and I did a couple of frantic turns and finally made it to my first stop in the city of Pfungstadt around 5 PM. Because I was so late, I stopped at a gas station and the attendant let me use his telephone to call Heinrich Klöppinger. I looked on the city map and figured out where Heinrich Klöppinger lived and quickly found his house. I was only able to spend about an hour with he and his wife and was not able to look around the town. I will try to stop in this town again at the end of the week. My great grandmother, Susannah Klepinger, was descended from this line so Heinrich and I are distant cousins. My Klepinger ancestors left this town in 1737. Heinrich speaks very good English so we had a pleasant talk. Since I was now late for my appointment in Bissersheim, we called the Mußlers to let them know I would be a little late. I then bid Heinrich and his wife 'auf Wiedersehen'.
Off I went again like a chicken with it's head cut off. I had good instructions, but the road signs didn't seem to want to cooperate. At one point I thought I was lost so I stopped and asked for instructions from a tow truck. In my best German I said "Sprechen Sie English?" This fellow with an American accent said "Well I think I can handle it". He told me I was OK and to follow the signs towards Kaiserslautern when highway #6 splits. Naturally Kaiserslautern was not listed on the sign and I picked the wrong direction again. This mistake was a real pain and I had to take about 3 different roads before I could get turned around. Then I was lucky enough to make all of the correct turns towards Bissersheim and Grosskarlbach. It was getting dark by this time so I was glad to finally reach Arnold Mußler's house and winery. I had learned about Arnold through a fellow Mumma/Mumaw cousin, Fred Mussler. Arnold is Fred's cousin and he lives in the small village of Bissersheim next to Grosskarlbach. Grosskarlbach is probably the last village my Mummas lived in before emigrating to America in 1732. Arnold's sister, Frau Else Mußler, was expecting me along with his daughter, Sibylle. Fortunately his daughter speaks quite good English, even though she doesn't think so. I was also impressed with Frau Mußler's use of English. It was quite good. After a brief visit, they took me to Grosskarlbach where I am booked for two nights lodging. Here, the three of us had dinner and talked.
Frau Mußler arranged for a professional translator and her father to serve as guides for us tomorrow and we will visit the towns surrounding Grosskarlbach for my Mumma ancestors and the towns surrounding Falkenstein for my Yeager ancestors. I am really looking forward to these events because I know that Else has gone out of her way to provide me with a wonderful experience of my return to my homeland (heimat).
Some driving comments. The steering wheel is on the correct side, but I had gotten use to the turn signal in the wrong location so again the windshield wipers were flipping back and forth every time I made a lane change. I think I have finally gotten that one figured out and mentally corrected. Of course the speedometer is in km/hr with no listing in m/hr. I checked a little conversion book I have and decided I will lower my speed a just little.
It has been interesting in my room tonight at the Winzergarten Hotel writing this message as there is a German wedding reception in progress, so I am listening to a mixture of traditional German folk music and old American tunes. There is lots of laughter and merriment. That adds a little color and atmosphere.
I also took a brief walk to the edge of town (it took 3 minutes) and past a small winery that was busy even tonight as this is the picking and crushing time for the grapes. What a wonderful, aromatic odor is in the air. With this I will close and hope the wedding celebration doesn't last all night as I will meet Else and the others at 8:15. How wonderful it is to be sleeping in the town where my ancestors slept over 265 years ago before they left for America.
Sunday, September 27th - Grosskarlbach, Rhineland-Pfalz, Germany.
Weather Report: It rained during the night. There were clouds all day and a minor amount of rain came down. Not enough to open an umbrella. It was in the high 60's and muggy. Hot when the sun came out.
I hardly know where to begin today's adventure as my head is still spinning. Frau Else Mußler had arranged for Frau Regina Heiss and her father, Herr Wolfgang Heiss, to guide me around the local region and provide German-English translations. Frau Heiss is a professional translator and teacher of German. She spoke quite good English and I had no difficulty in understanding her. Her father has written a number of local town histories and he was very familiar with the local area. They were well prepared and had written out a brief history on each town in which I was interested. We started at 8:15 and didn't finish until 18:15. A very busy and full day. Frau Heiss only charged me 150 DM (less than $100) for the entire day which I thought was very reasonable and her father donated his time and would accept no payment. Likewise, my hostess, Frau Mußler would accept nothing for her time, expense in making copies of local histories, or her gasoline. It was very helpful that she drove her car, which allowed me to enjoy looking at the countryside. I was treated with the greatest of courtesy and kindness. Fred Mussler can be proud of his German cousin.
We left Grosskarlbach and drove north through the small town of Laumersheim to Dirmstein where we turned east and went to Heuchelheim (pop. ~1200). Here we stopped and visited the church and local cemetery. I asked about the re-use of cemeteries and found that no one buys a grave site and you only rent it for 20 years. If relatives don't renew the rent of the grave site, then the site may be used by someone else. Most of the headstones are dated after 1900, with only a few that have earlier dates. When the grave site is reused, the stones are destroyed. That ends any hope of finding a stone for David Mumma who returned to Germany in 1789 to marry and died only a few years later.
We turned south and came to the village of Gerolsheim (pop. ~ 1700). It is interesting to note that the Rhine River passed very near Gerolsheim 1000 years ago and they even have a fishing spear on their town crest (Wappen). Now the river is many kilometers to the east. We walked through the town and visited both the Protestant and Catholic churches. The Protestant church was built around 1837 so it is not the church that my Mumma ancestors might have used. Before 1837, the Protestants used the Catholic church for their services. I took pictures of both churches. Frau Mußler had done a wonderful job of planning this trip because the churches are only open for a few minutes after the church services finishes. Where we would be visiting a church long after the service, she made prior arrangements for someone to meet us and open the church. I can't say enough about the wonderful planning that she did. As we were walking around, I kept hearing what sounded like gun fire in the distant. I learned that the wine growers use special 'noise' machines to scare the birds out of the vineyards.
I also learned that all villages had built surrounding moats and wooden fences to serve as a defense from outsiders. If this defense was broken, they retreated to the churches where a final stand would occur. I inquired about the cost of an old house in the village and was told it would be expensive, around 500,000 DM (about $300,000). I agreed that it was expensive.
We then continued the tour by returning to Grosskarlbach where we walked around town. The small Eckbach River flows through the town. I would have called it a creek instead of a river. We visited the church which is quite old, dating back to the 13th century when it was probably Catholic. The tower was used as a defensive lookout in the early days. The church is very beautiful and is sought after by young couples in which to hold their wedding. The town is quite busy, even on Sunday, as wine growers are just starting to bring their harvest of grapes into the cooperative winery. We walked to a very beautiful house that had been the home of Frau Mußler's grandfather. Next door was the home of her grandmother.
Because we had a tight schedule today, we had lunch around 11:30 at the Winzergarten Hotel where I am staying. I thought I had ordered salmon, but I was delivered a nice trout for lunch with a green salad.
We had now completed the first part of the tour which consisted of going to the villages of my Mumma ancestors. This area is near the German Wine Road which starts near Bockenheim and ends at Schweigen on the French border in the south. I was surprised at the narrowness of the wine growing region. The countryside is quite flat with gently rolling hills. We then drove 25 km to the west into the Haardt Mountain region. It is here that my Yeagers (Jägers) lived.
On the way, we stopped in Grünstadt so that I could use a money machine at a local bank. I never know which card will work. My credit card works at one place and the next machine will only accept my debit card. At least one or the other has worked in all machines and it is the most convenient way to exchange money. I have heard that you usually receive fairly favorable exchange rates.
Our first town to visit was Marienthal (pop. ~300) and it is very quaint. It is fairly hilly. They were ready to hold their annual festival today at 14:00 and Frau Mußler planned our arrival perfectly. All of the local children and teenagers were in the parade which consisted of colorfully decorated wagons pulled by tractors, the local marching band and other walkers. As the parade passed, girls walked along the street and poured glasses of wine for the spectators. The village is small and the parade only lasted 5 minutes, but it was wonderful and very colorful. When the parade was over, a spokesman for the town gave a speech to the townspeople, recanting the events that happened since the last festival. Needless to say, most were humorous stories that caused the crowd to break out into gales of laughter. As the speaker completed a subject, a group in the crowd chanted "long live the festival".
We went into the village hall which was setup with tables and benches in one end and instruments for a band in the other end. The local ladies of the village had baked cakes and other goodies to be sold. I had a cup of coffee and a traditional cake called a 'Zwetschenkuchen' which was a cake made of local plums. It was very delicious. Where possible, I am trying to sample traditional foods of the regions. Frau Mußler had also arranged for me to see the local village history that has been printed in a book. The book also lists some villagers who had emigrated to America, however the Yeagers were not listed. She will, however, copy pages from the book about the church and send them to me. The church and village are interesting because is was originally built as a monastery, but was taken over by the local people when the monastery no longer functioned. Again, Frau Mußler had made special arrangements for someone to come and unlock the church so I could see inside and take pictures. It is now hard to remember each church and hopefully I will be able to sort them out after the pictures are developed.
Just outside the village hall, a small carnival was setup. It consisted of a small children's merry-go-round of swings, a 'beer bottle' throwing booth, a shooting gallery with the words "Wild West" printed above, and several soft drink/beer/wine booths. The whole experience was wonderful and exactly what I had hoped for - no, this day is far exceeding my expectations.
Next on the agenda was a visit to the next village of Falkenstein (pop. ~200). While it is only a few kilometers away from Marienthal, it is on the top of a nearby mountain at an elevation of about 2000 feet. This is the site of an old castle that was built about 1135. It was later destroyed by the French. Of course this region has been under French and German rule at various periods. From the castle ruins, there is a commanding view south and you can see into France. There is a shear drop from the castle into the village and it is spectacular. As we drove down to the village, a sign said 25% grade and I believe it - it was straight down! There are only remains of an old church tower at this time.
Our final stop on my 'ancestor' tour was to the village of Winnweiler. It is a fairly large village of 2-3,000 people. It has several spectacular churches in this town that we visited. Many of these villages have undergone a restoration, where they have created nice 'pedesterian zones' so people can stroll down the main streets with limited car traffic. It makes it very pleasant.
We then drove to Frau Mußler's town of Eisenburg so that she could vote in the German National Election, she needed to do that before 18:00 when the polls closed. We made it with time to spare. Frau Mußler also took us to her house and showed us inside which was very nice and pleasant. I find all of the villages to be very quaint and beautiful.
On the drive back to Grosskarlbach, we passed through the little village of Kleinkarlbach, which means 'small stream' and Grosskarlbach means 'large stream'. The Eckbach River flows through both villages. At another time, the stream was probably called the "Karl". Frau Mußler suggested it was possible that the Mummas might have come from Kleinkarlbach and it could have been a mistake when the church cleric transcribed his notes at the end of the year into the register regarding David Mummas marriage. Apparently it was common practice for the cleric to simply record events on small pieces of paper and put them into a desk. At the end of the year, he would transcribe the notes into the ledger as this was a requirement in order for him to receive money for his church services. It was in this town that she discovered the birth of an Andreas Lorentz Mumma, born in 1694. She will send me a copy of this record. I am not sure of the original spelling of his name. This is certainly food for thought.
With this I will close and end a very busy day. I could write for hours about the day, but will defer a more in depth writing until I return home.
I should say a little about the food I have been eating. Last night, I asked Frau Mußler to order a traditional meal for me. It was called 'Pfälzer Platte' and consisted of "Saumagen, Leberknödel, Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut und Karteffelpürree". It was rather tasty, but I don't think I want to know what was in it. Tonight, I had a very good meal that was called "Kalbgeschnetzeltes 'Züricher Art' mit Spätzle oder Rösti und frishe Salate". This was strips of veal in a nice sauce with pasta and a fresh salad.
Monday, September 28th - Grosskarlbach, Rhineland-Pfalz, Germany.
Weather Report: The weather was cloudy with an insignificant amount of rain. The temperature was still very comfortable in the high 60's to low 70's.
I had a reasonably restful night, however my door opened onto a stairway so everybody going down to breakfast passed by my door. Naturally the parade of people began going by my room about 6:30 AM. I was still asleep!
I had breakfast and went back to Herr Arnold Mußler's winery to say goodbye and give him some brochures about the wineries in Livermore and Napa Valleys of California. Then off I went to the city of Mannheim to meet Stefan Momma at the train depot. For my convenience, he caught the train from Stuttgart to Mannheim. His train was on time and he exited from the train only 10 feet from where I was standing, so that was handy.
Stefan is a German friend whom I met on the Internet while searching for anyone with the name of Momma, the assumed name of the Mummas prior to emigrating to America. During the last year, we have developed a close relationship while trying to discover whether or not our two families are related. In the early part of this year, Stefan came to San Jose, California to teach a class at IBM. During this visit, we had an opportunity to spend a day together touring some of the interesting sights and becoming better acquainted. When Joan and I decided to come to England, Stefan agreed to join me for a week in Germany to assist in the search for our common ancestors. I am also blessed with the fact the Stefan speaks perfect 'American'.
We drove east to Kaiserslautern where the Institut für pfälzische Geschichte und Volkskunde is located. This institute maintains an extensive card file of information about Germans who had emigrated, primarily to America. This file has been developed from a variety of sources. We scanned the file and found cards for Leonard, Jacob, and Peter Mumma. Most of this data had been derived from American ships records. The cards contained no new or additional information that I didn't already have.
In addition, they maintain a correspondence file of people who have contacted them. I found letters written to them from Dorothy Lower, Dick Hirtzel, and Margaret Dieringer. One professional genealogist, John A Dahl from Salt Lake City, Utah had written a letter in 1971 on behalf of a 'Pennsylvania' client. Again, these files contained no new or additional information as I have been in contact with these people and already have copies of their information.
The final thing that they do have are some extracted church records from the Pfalz. We scanned these records, but none of them were from any of the churches of interest. It was an interesting place to visit, but yielded nothing new. I purchased a book that they have published called 'Pfälzer in Amerika' or 'Patatines in America'. They closed the doors behind us and we decided to drive to Bingen for the evening. On our way, we stopped in Bissersheim so I could retrieve my notebook which I had left. Herr Mußler had given me several bottles of wine and I laid my notebook down in the process. Again I went 'brain dead' for a brief time. We reached the town Bingen around 18:00. It is a very pretty city located on the Rhine River which had a lot of barge traffic and major rail lines pass through here. I am impressed with the number of trains. It seems like a train passes by every 5 minutes or so. Many were express trains that didn't stop. We found a nice hotel up a side street and had a pleasant night.
Tuesday, September 29th - Bingen, Rhineland-Pfalz, Germany
Weather Report: The day started very nicely with essentially clear weather. The local fog burnt off and it was delightful with temperatures in the low 70's.
We arose and had breakfast in the hotel. After checking out, we took a walking tour of the city, visiting the very beautiful church called St. Martin Basilika. We then started driving north on the road that follows the Rhine River. I can now see why everyone says this is a 'must see' area of Germany. Around each bend in the river you see old castles perched high on the hills and cliffs along the river. There are vineyards on the hillsides that are so steep, it is hard to imagine how they harvest the grapes. The river is extremely busy with coal and oil barges, tour boats and work boats of every description. It is extremely picturesque.
In the afternoon, we stopped in the town of Koblenz. We visited the 'Deutsches Eck' where there is a famous statue of the first German Emperor. After lunch we went to the Landesarchiv - Koblenz, which maintains the civil records for the Westphalia area. When we asked for permission to enter, we were told that you need an appointment to visit and they will retrieve no records after 14:00. It was now 15:30 so all seemed hopeless. Stefan did an outstanding job of convincing the receptionist of our sorry plight, especially since he had an American with him who had come all the way from America to visit their archive. It worked and soon a young researcher escorted us into the inner sanctum. She and Stefan discussed our interest in records about the Grosskarlbach area. The result of the discussion was that essentially all of the records that would be useful to us are retained in the town of Speyer, not far from Mannheim. I was aware of this fact, however the archive in Speyer is closed this week!! What rotten luck. The researcher did show us a book written in 1787 that describes all of the villages in the Pfalz, including Grosskarlbach and the other villages of interest. They are willing to photocopy the pages of interest from this book so we placed a photocopy order. I felt we were very successful.
To toast our success, we walked into the old part of town and treated ourselves to a wonderful iced coffee at a small cafe in an open square. I have never before seen such a beautiful array of ice cream type deserts, concocted in giant glass bowls. They were truly works of decadent art! This town has been nicely restored and rebuilt with many interesting shops, street art and open areas. Koblenz is where the Rhine and Mosel Rivers meet. While the area is normally teaming with tourists, it was rather quiet and you didn't get the feeling that this is a major tourist spot. It is here that most people board a boat to take a trip up the Rhine River to the town on Mainz. Stefan suggested that it is best to take the train up the river to Mainz, then board a boat and ride it back down the river since you are then going with the current and it is not quite as slow.
Stefan then called some old family friends, Heidi and Dietrich Ulanowski, who live in the town of Muffendorf, south of Bonn about 15 km. They insisted we come visit and stay the night. It was interesting to visit a German family and enjoy their company. We sat around the kitchen table, drank wine, ate cheese and talked of many things. They have a reasonable command of the English language so I wasn't totally lost. After consuming way too much wine, we turned in for the evening. I was rather tired as I have come down with a cold. I knew it was coming last night and today I was in the sneezing and drippy nose phase. I feel bad exposing Stefan to my cold germs, but I guess that is just life.
Wednesday, September 30th - Muffendorf, North Rhineland-Westphalia, Germany.
Weather Report: We awoke to a cloudy and drizzly day. It continued that way until the late afternoon when the skies cleared and we saw the sunshine. The weather was only in the low 60's.
Heidi Ulanowski prepared a nice array of breads, rolls, cheese, jellies and other spreads. After breakfast, Stefan and I made another attempt to connect either of our computers to the Internet and failed. We have not figured out the problem. Most of the phones we are using have ISDN connections and this may be the problem.
We then drove a few miles north to the Personenstandsarchiv at Schloß Augustusburg in Brühl. This archive contains a wide variety of church records for the North Rhineland - Westphalia area which includes Stolberg and Aachen. Unfortunately, the indexes only cover the time period after 1750 for the Reformed Church to which the Mommas belonged. I looked at records and found a large number of Mummer entries in the Lutheran Church. Initially, I thought these could be associated with our family, however the given names are not typically used in the Momma family. The names I saw were Matthias, Agnes, Anna, Dieterich, and Paulus. There were no Momma entries in any of the records and that was surprising and I don't understand why. We did learn that the earlier 'original' records are still maintained at the Reformed Church in Stolberg, so we will see if Stefan can 'charm' his way into the church archives. I'll be amazed if he does, but it is worth a try. We would like to confirm Macco's genealogy work on the Momma family published in 1908 and possibly extend the information for Leonard Momma - a very optimistic goal.
Since this archive closes at 3 PM and they threw us out, we decided to catch the train into Köln and visit their famous cathedral called the DOM. It was quite beautiful and interesting to visit. We also lost our heads and walked up a spiral staircase to the highest point in the steeple above the bell tower. There are a total 509 steps taking you to a height of ? (neither Stefan or I can remember the height, but it seemed like 509 feet by the time we finished). It takes a half hour to complete the round trip so we were worn out by the time we returned to the ground level. When we were at the top of the steeple, Stefan informed me that he had a fear of heights. I am amazed that he made the climb. We then jumped back on the train to Brühl. Fortuitously, the archive in Brühl was next to the train station and the DOM was also next to the train station, so it only took us 15 minutes to get there, much quicker than if we drove the car. I must say that I am impressed with the German train system.
We then drove to Stolberg for the night and found a Hotel. The countryside was quite flat from Köln until just before we arrived in the Stolberg area where small rolling hills appeared. The view reminded me of many areas in Ohio. We had a dinner and then called it a night. Stefan keeps introducing me to different German dishes that are quite tasty, however I can't remember their names. I did manage to have a nice desert of apple strudel.
And now for a few impressions. Of course I will have to mention the toilet paper. When Joan and I were in England and Europe 15 years ago, we clearly remember the 'wax paper' style toilet paper that was available for use everywhere. England, we discovered, is using the soft American style tissue whereas the Germans are using what looks and feels like paper towels. One of the other differences I have observed is the bed covers. At home we have a fitted sheet on the mattress and then a top sheet on that. Next you add as many thin or thick blankets as you like and finally a bed spread. Here, there is a bottom sheet and the only other thing is essentially a blanket that is tucked inside two sheets that form a sack. There is no bed spread and this 'sheet-blanket' is folded in half across the bed. An interesting concept that is quite new to me. The only problem is when the room is warm and the sheet-blanket is fairly heavy, you have no way to peel off layers, so you are either too hot with it on or too cold with it off.
Thursday, October 1st - Stolberg, North Rhineland-Westphalia, Germany.
Weather Report: The day started out quite unsettled. We had periods of rain, sunshine, thunder and most everything else. The day was cooler and was only in the high 50's, low 60's. It was still a very nice day.
Medical report: One minor injury I forgot to mention earlier - I broke my foot where the little toe attaches. This occurred after the party at Fran's house several weeks ago. It is a little embarrassing to admit that I managed to drop a heavy rock directly on my toe/foot, breaking it (my foot that is, not the rock!). A little (a lot!) clumsy I guess. Not too much pain now except when I twist my foot just right and then it reminds me how stupid I was. My cold is running it's typical course. I am now past the sneezing stage and into the runny nose phase. I will probably have rubbed my nose raw by tomorrow. I am starting to cough so Stefan is probably in for a bad night. Joan will be pleased, however, that Stefan has been doctoring me with a variety of herbal potions and concoctions he had me buy at the local apotheke (drug store). I have no idea what it is as everything is written in German. Probably ground up bat wings.
Today we went panning for gold and we struck the "mother lode"! I have never experienced such success when on a genealogy hunt. It couldn't have been better. Everything went right. It started when Stefan called the Finkenberg Church where the Momma birth, marriage, and death records are kept and inquired whether or not we could see them. They said yes and suggested we come at 3 PM and they would have them ready for us. It sounded to good to be true, but we kept our fingers crossed.
Next, we took a drive to the Finkenberg Church Cemetery so we could see, 'first hand', the large grave lids that have the Momma coat of arms carved into the stone. We found the graveyard, but had some difficulty locating the Mumma stones as the grave arrangement did not match the map that we had brought with us. Many leaves covered the graves so we asked a fellow who was cleaning up around the church if we could borrow his broom. We told him why we were there and he was very helpful. He is Herr Pfüller, the Küster (church custodian) and he graciously went to his nearby house and brought back his book that showed a correct layout of the graves. Apparently the grave stones were deteriorating so quickly that they took about five of them out of the ground and mounted them vertically on a wall inside the church. Then he produced the keys to the church and allowed us to go inside and take pictures. It was rather plain, but very nice. Almost all of the glass windows had been blown out during WWII. The setting of the church, very near the Burg Stolberg (Stolberg Castle), is spectacular. A real 'Kodak' moment.
While we were in the graveyard, a fellow came walking through, explaining various features of the area to the young woman with him. Stefan did a little eavesdropping and determined that this fellow was a Stolberg historian taking someone on tour. Stefan struck up a conversation with Herr Dodt and told him our mission of seeking our Momma ancestors. Herr Dodt told us we should make contact with a Herr Immendorf as he was the local person doing Momma research. That was like music to our ears since Herr Immendorf lived in the local area. The sun came out and we photographed the two gravestones with Momma coat of arms. One of the stones was for Barbara Momma who died 29 Sept 1747. What an impressive old stone. The cemetery was established around 1690. More details will be provided when I write the final trip report after I return home.
Buoyed by such success, we treated ourselves to a nice lunch.
We then stopped by a small computer store and explained the problems I was having sending messages to England for distribution. After a little discussion plus some trial and error tests, we determined that the telephone number I was using to connect to MSN in England, would not work from Germany. Since I only needed to make a 2-3 minute call, he told me to simply use his phone and call back to my ISP in Hayward, California. I did and everything worked just fine. We thanked the owner and tried to pay him, but he would accept nothing. Telephone calls from the hotel are very expensive and they certainly discourage you from using the telephone. No matter the cost, I will try sending messages every day now that we have figured out the problem. I still cannot connect at the hotel where we are staying.
We then hurried to the Finkenberg Church Office, hopeful to see the old church records. They greeted us warmly and ushered us into a nice office and offered us cups of coffee. They made us feel like long lost parishioners. Then they brought out the church books that we wanted to see. Wow! Here before us were the original church books that recorded the marriages, births and confirmations for the time period of 1611 to 1700 for this Reformed Church. This book was started shortly after the Reformed Church split from the Lutheran Church. The second book covered the records from 1700 to 1770. It was hard to believe that they simply handed us the books to do with as we wanted. I was almost stunned, but didn't complain. Part of the reason is few people ever ask to see the books. Only a handful of people had signed the log sheet in the last eight years. With the time we had available, we went through and identified the pages that we wanted copied. Yes, they will photocopy the pages for us. I felt like I was in heaven. Then we started reviewing the records and found large nuggets of gold! We found the baptism record for Johann Leonard Momma in 1694 to Abraham Momma and Anna Apollonia Ney. This confirmed the data we had obtained from the book written by Heinrich Macco in 1908 The next big one was the discovery of Johann Leonard Momma's marriage to Anna Catharina Coenen on 2 September 1714. This record was of some concern because Leonard's wife's name in America was Juliana. Hummm. Maybe this was simply a first marriage and a second marriage would show up later. Then we began to find the births, baptisms and confirmations for his children along with those of his brother, Johann David Momma. In most places, his given name was spelt as Leonhard. For Johann Leonard Momma and Anna Catharina Coenen, we found children born in 1715, 1716, 1718, 1720, 1721, 1723, 1725, 1726, 1730, and in 1732. Now we have a real problem since we know that the Leonard and Juliana Mumma who came to America in 1732 had a son, David, born about 1728 in Grosskarlbach in the Pfalz. At last I found the proof I was looking for. Johann Leonard Momma of Stolberg is not the same person as Leonard Mumma who arrived in America in 1732. Finding this conclusive proof far exceeded my wildest dreams of what I might accomplish on this one week trip to Germany and I have Stefan Momma to thank for this discovery. Without his charms and knowledge of German, none of this would be possible. We were both ecstatic. It was approaching their closing time of 18:00 hours, we made arrangements to return tomorrow and complete our search and make the photo copies. (For Udo Momma's information, we also found data about his ancestor, Johann David Momma, and will make copies of the original records for him). Of course all of this means that I will have to focus my search in the Grosskarlbach area of Germany. Looks like another trip to Germany will be necessary :) :)
Before we left the church, Stefan called Herr Immendorf to find out his interest in the Momma name. Well, Herr Immendorf shared with us that he is in the final stages of preparing a book and the Mommas are a part of it. He said he would be very interested in meeting us tomorrow at 17:00 at his house. Again it is hard to fathom the good fortune that we were receiving. This is one of the best days I have ever experienced.
We went back to the hotel, opened a bottle of wine and toasted our good success. Then we walked to the old part of town and had a great meal in a little pub. I will close this now as it is very late and we have a full day scheduled tomorrow. We still haven't had time to even visit Aachen, the burial place of Charlemagne.
[I would like to point out that my exuberance may have been a bit premature. It is quite possible that I had attached the wrong Leonard Momma to Anna Catharina Coenen. The attachment I assumed is not the same as the one developed by Heinrich Macco in his 1908 publication about the Momma family. It will take more study and effort to sort out this issue. Unfortunately, there are too many Leonards, Johanns, and Jacobs. Likewise, Anna and Catharina were commonly used names.]
Friday, October 2nd - Stolberg, North Rhineland-Westphalia, Germany.
`Weather Report: Winter has arrived in Germany! We awoke to gray skies, fog and drippy rain that lasted all day. Around noontime I saw a temperature gauge that said 5 degrees C. By my calculations, that would make it about 41 degrees F. Burrrrrr. Too bad the weather changed since Stolberg will be holding an open air festival tomorrow. Saturday is a national holiday for Germany as they celebrate German reunification.
In the morning, Stefan and I went back to the Finkenberg Church and copied all of the records that we had marked yesterday. We copied about 140 A3 size pages. We found out the only reason that we were allowed to use the original books is they are awaiting the arrival of a microfilm reader. Of course, it will only be a reader and not a reader/printer. When the reader is received, all of their church records will then be sent to the Brühl archive near Köln and people will have to view the microfilm copies. It is amazing how lucky we were with our timing to be able to view the original church records.
Later in the afternoon, we met with Herr Anton Immendorf. He had just finished a family genealogy about his family and it included a few Mommas, all of whom we knew about. We had been led to believe that he was the 'keeper' of Momma records, but that fact was in error. He said that he was unaware of anyone actively researching the Momma line.
He does have a copy of the privately printed Prym family genealogy book. He confirmed our suspicion that Macco had done much of the work he published as paid research for various clients. That is why complete family trees are rarely traced in his work.
Herr Immendorf was very proud to show us his direct line ancestry chart that went back to Charlemagne. He and his wife are distant cousins, therefore they both descend from Charlemagne.
With the end of our visit with Herr Immendorf, we have finished all of our planned and unplanned genealogy research and will spend the next two days being tourists as we visit Aachen/Stolberg and drive back to Frankfurt on Sunday where Stefan will catch the train to Stuttgart and I will fly back to England.
Saturday, October 3rd - Stolberg, North Rhineland-Westphalia, Germany.
Weather Report: The sky was gray this morning, but it was dry and it continued all day with no rain. I saw one thermometer that said the temperature was 6 degrees Centigrade, which is about 43 degrees Fahrenheit. My toes kept going numb every time we went outside.
After breakfast, Stefan and I took a drive a few miles to the east to the old city of Aachen. We visited the Rathaus (Town-Hall) and DOM (Cathedral). Charlemagne had the octagonal cathedral built and it was inaugurated in 805 and it was here that he was buried. The octagonal cathedral is quite different than the other cathedrals that I have visited in Germany and England because it has strong Byzantine influence as opposed to the typical Gothic architectural style. Then in the centuries thereafter, they kept adding more parts to the cathedral in whatever style was prevalent at that point in time, so the whole church has a very unusual mixture of architectural styles. We also toured the 'Treasury of the Aachen Cathedral' which contains many art treasures of Charlemagne's era. Next we went into the town's city hall which is built on the site of Charlemagne's palace. During our walk around town, we were fascinated by the many interesting fountains. The two that we found particularly interesting were called the 'Circulation of Money' and the 'Fountain of the Puppets'.
We returned to Stolberg just in time to join a 'walking tour' of old Stolberg. The tour leader did an outstanding job of explaining how and why the castle was built, when and why the brass manufactures came to Stolberg, and some of the history of the Catholic, Reformed, and Lutheran Churches. We toured the old castle as well as the Lutheran and Reformed Churches. The tour concluded as we walked through several of the "Kupferhöfe" which is where the owners of brass works operated. They essentially built four building in the form of a square, thus forming a central courtyard. They manufactured their brass in these courtyards by heating and melting a mixture of zinc ore, "Galmei", copper ore, and charcoal until it melted. The Momma family was one of the 12 brass 'Lords' of that time period (1600-1700's). The tour leader also explained to us that the brass manufacturers had come originally from the city of Dinant, in what is now Belgium, and that there is some proof (which we have to retrieve, I believe from the city archives of Stolberg) that the Momma family was among those. The name 'dinanterie', that was used for some time for brassware, was a reference to their place of origin. She also spent a lot of time explaining the difficulties of the relationship between the Catholic Stolberg citizens and the Protestant 'immigrants', ranging from pure greed, because the brass masters were hard working Calvinists who became wealthy quite quickly, through disputes over where the church services would be held, to the point where Catholics didn't want to be buried next to Protestants on the cemeteries (which ultimately led to building the Finkenberg Church and establishing the brass master cemetery). This was a very worthwhile tour that helped put the Stolberg history into perspective.
As we went back toward our hotel, we had to park the car about 6 blocks away as Stolberg is having their annual city festival this weekend. They closed the streets and lined the sidewalks with various vendors stalls selling food, clothes, etc. There were rides for the kids as well as various displays. One strange thing is all the stores are closed in Germany today as it is a national holiday. If it was America, it would mean all of the stores would be open and there would be special sales offered. Only restaurants and pubs were open here. Most of the festival was shutting down by 10 PM as it is simply too cold for people to enjoy drinking beer and doing festival type activities.
Sunday, October 4th - Stolberg, North Rhineland-Westphalia, Germany.
Weather Report: The sky was overcast this morning when we left Stolberg, Germany. It had rained briefly during the night - just enough to dampen the road. The temperature was probably in the low 50's and definitely warmer than yesterday. By the time we reached Frankfurt, we saw patches of blue sky and sunshine. I'm sure the temperature was in the 60's when I filled the car with gas in just my short sleeve shirt and I was very comfortable. When I arrived in London around 5 PM, however, there was light rain.
On the way out of Stolberg, we stopped at a new Zinc Museum that was recently opened to commemorate the very extensive zinc mining for which Aachen and Stolberg are famous, as well as their brass operations. In addition, they were celebrating 100 years since the first automobile was made in Aachen so there were lots of interesting cars in the museum as well as some arriving in the parking lot. Another interesting item for which Aachen and Stolberg are well known is the manufacture of sewing needles.
Our drive back to the Frankfurt Airport was rather uneventful and took less than 3 hours driving time. The Autobahn was very empty and you almost forget you are not driving in America and then a BMW or Mercedes flies past you doing 200km/hr (130 mph) or more. You really have to watch carefully when you pass a car or one of these speed demons will run up your exhaust. At least they are driving on the correct side of the road. During the eight days, I put 1000 kilometers (625 miles) on the odometer.
At the airport, Stefan and I had a nice lunch and then bid each other goodbye. He headed for the train station under the airport and me for the Lufthansa ticket counter. It was hard to say goodbye to my good friend. Without his assistance and help, the trip would not have been nearly so successful. I am convinced that you need someone who speaks fluent German to do any serious genealogy research in Germany. It is even helpful when you want to order food. I did figure out how to order beer, however. ;)
I boarded the plane around 4 PM and had an uneventful flight back to England where I was met at the airport by my wife, Joan, and her 2nd cousin, Fran Campion. It was good to see them. After a day in England, Joan and I boarded a plane for the return trip to Livermore, California.
Until we meet again on my next trip, I would like to bid you adieu, auf Wiedersehen, and goodbye.
October 15th, 1998
Livermore, California, USA
[Copyright (C) 1998 by Douglas M.Mumma. All rights reserved]
19 May 2008, 11:40:46