Das Morgengrauen

The German word has a nice double entendre as it a) describes the grey light of the morning, when the blue morning hour which still belongs to the night fades away and the pale grey daylight seepingly trickles in, hopefully ending in the victorious rays of sol invictus chasing away cobwebs and devils. It’s b) das Grauen, the dreadful horror in the morning when one has to get up, ripped out of the womblike warm secureness of the cavernous bed tossed into the grey (!) coldness of the existence we call live.
I had to get up early.
It was a nice drive over the country following some Bundesstrassen (Ger., Eng.) – I avoid the Autobahn and today it would have been pointless to use it anyway – and smaller roads because of some redirections. I roughly followed the river Aisch (Ger.) and sometimes wide prospects opened up with the sun fighting her way through grey clouds – she finally won, it’s sol invictus for a reason. The minister was friendly and directed me to a small hall: It is a very small village and so it’s one room for all as one could conclude from the handmade posters, the piano and all the things necessary for the successful  community work. And because they are ecosensitive they use green cleaner vinegar based, when I was alone I first opened a window.
The pastor brought me a handful of books: I had to start with a birth entry and then going back; my customer is only interested in the main line of his family, his direct antecessors. His great-grandfather should be there. I read some years up, some down, the family name is nowhere.
The result is clear: It’s the wrong location.
So I drove back on another route at the foot of the Steigerwald and came home at midday. Just right to see the sofa and have a siesta!

12 thoughts on “Das Morgengrauen

  1. Good thing that you could have a soothing siesta, but now I’m very intrigued… where is the great-grandfather? What is the next step, Mago?

  2. At the beginning of a research one has to verify the location, Leni. In this case the family told me – there is always family lore, everywhere – the place the great-grandfather came from would be the one I visited today. The name of the village is nothing special but not too common, another parish with the same name exists in a more distant area. The facts already known and proofen are connected with a small rural town here next to the village of today, so all pointed in the direction of today’s visit. But it is definitely the wrong place. The church books of the other place are in the central archive of the Landeskirche here, what means that I will go to Nürnberg, hopefully next Thursday.
    One needs a date, a place and a name. And in the end the place is the most important thing. The name is always known, a date can be narrowed, but what one definitely must know is where to look. The protestant books (of Bavaria) are partly concentrated in the already mentioned archive, partly still in the parish offices. The catholic books are in the archives of the dioceses, where the bishop sits. The trick is to know the tools and know where to look for the relevant informations. Names of places or Gemeinden used in ecclesiastical context are not necessarily the same the worldly authorities used; the different “Gebietsreformen” – the last very fundamental 1972, smaller ones in the 19th century – changed the administrative districts of the stately authority, created new entities and made some old ones vanish. And besides all this, in some areas of middle Franconia the bishop never accepted that some of his comunities became protestant and so it is possible that protestant marriages can be notated in catholic churchbooks – that is admittedly a rare thing, but I had this case.
    The very worst thing is that one has to start with a notice like “Johann Meier came from Haslach”. Do you know how many villages hamlets and Einöd-Höfe exist with this name? If the customer wants – and pays – I can check them out, but this really takes time. So one uses any other detail to limit or localize the starting point. If the parish I visited today would have given their books to Nürnberg in the central archive I’d have used the other – and hopefully correct – books within ten minutes and would transcribe it this evening. The user gets films to work with and one can print pages or entries out. If one can read it … :)

  3. I like the Steigerwald , XL. These small ranges of hills or little mountains have their own character – the Rhön is different from the Haßberge, the Odenwald or the Spessart. Different geology, different fauna, different character. The Western sides of the Steigerwald are grown with wineyards (Weinberge), a top sit forests and ruined castles, the woods often consist of leaf trees. One can have nice views from there into the land. They are proud of their wine there and they have some exceptional products there. Branntwein (spirits) too.

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