Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Oberpfalz, Kreis Waldmünchen 9.6.1998: Newfound Cousins and Rowanberry Schnapps

In the Bavarian Oberpfalz now, staying in a little village, Stein, near where Steve’s Schindler ancestors appear to have lived, Katzelsried. We drove here yesterday morning, passing around Regensburg.

The countryside here is very pleasant—rolling hills, fields of wheat, rye, barley, little villages with churches, houses surrounded by apple, cherry, and pear trees, and gardens with pansies, peonies, pink and white lupines, and even, here at our Gasthaus, a sumac tree. Outside the window of our room is a beautiful espaliered pear tree.

When we drove through Hiltersried yesterday, the village just south of Katzelsried, we saw a house painted with a fresco, and beneath it, Schindler. Steve stopped, and the woman invited us back. She recommended Gasthaus Braun in Stein, so we came here, checked in, and then drove around the countryside to see Katzelsried, Irlach, and Tiefenbach, all places associated with the Bavarian migration to Dyersville, Iowa.

The church in Tiefenbach was pretty, 18th-century Baroque, full of light and with newly gilded statues and paintings. There’s a proprietorial familiarity about these Bavarian churches, as if people have made them—and their saints and icons—their own. The Tiefenbach church had bouquets of flowers tied to the end of each pew, adding to the gaiety.

In the afternoon, we returned to the guesthouse, where Herr Braun had invited his cousin, a Herr Georg Ederer, to talk to Steve. He’s apparently a noted local historian and genealogist. He was a very nice man, and was delighted to find on the list of Bavarians who took the ship Charlemagne to America in November 1845 one of his own relatives about whom he had only partial information. Today he’ll meet with us in Waldmünchen to show Steve microfilm copies of the church books.

In the evening, we went to Hiltersried to meet Herr Schindler. He showed Steve the family records his mother had compiled, going back to an Urvater Adam Schindler born in 1807. Steve believes this is the brother of his Georg Schindler, born 1809.

We sat and talked with Herr Schindler and his brother into the night, drinking a glass of homemade schnapps from Austria, made with something called Vogelbeeren. Afterwards, he showed us his workshop, where he gilds statues, including a crucifix to be used on Thursday in Tiefenbach’s Corpus Christi procession.

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