As some of you, my beloved readers, may know, especially those who follow me a bit longer, I do genealogical research in the area of Franken and its neighbourhood.
It started sometimes in the 90s when a colleague asked me whether I would like to take over a small job she could not do anymore, I think she was starting her MA thesis at the time. She had worked for a lady in Munich, who offered German genealogical research for all areas, but of course needed people on location to visit archives or parishes.
I accepted and inherited it by my colleague: Now and then I travelled to archives in the region or to villages to read church books and collect data. After some years the lady in Munich decided to change her business and go for the more lucrative work of finding heirs – a kind of lottery in my eyes. As a kind of gift, after all we had worked successfully together for some years, she pointed one of her last customers in my direction, recommending me to Mr. H.
Mr. H. send a mail and phoned me – the first phone call from overseas I ever received, I think he wanted to check if I really exist and whether our bureau was working, one can write anything on paper. And doing such research has to do a lot with trust.
I went to the archive of the protestant church in Bavaria, that was then still in Regensburg, today it is in Nürnberg, trying to find a certain entry, or better to find a starting point. Mr. H. had told me, that he wanted no “cheap solution”, he was definitely determined to get this research started. I had no idea what data he already had. He was interested in a certain individual, a direct ancestor of his.
My visit in Regensburg was short and disappointing: I found nothing, at least not what I had hoped for. Standing in the corridor of this old large house I thought about it again and again, and finally found, that the researcher before me simply had missed an entry. Counting two and two together I realised that the only chance would be to read the books of another village – and those were not in Regensburg, but still in saied village.
I told my client about this and he saied simply something like “just do it”, and we did. I visited the village and found some entries, related to a brother of the real aim of the research, and finally travelled to the nearby other village – and bamm, this was it. I had only two hours or so, but I knew that I had found them: The ancestor, his family or origin, and tons of relatives. I do not know now how often I travelled there, four times at least, it became the most successful research I have done up to now.
And the special thing about it is, that my client Mr. H., really fully appreciated what we did. He stante pede worked the results into his family history, later he sent over an exemplar of the tome of his work and we corrected it, he edited it again. It was simply a pleasure. Over the years the relation between Mr. H. and us became more friendly, less business like; nevertheless, he always was very correct and clear in what he wanted us to do, he knew that good work does not come cheap and that this important “bit more” is a result of how one treats people. It was a pleasure and privilege to work for him.
I once did research with his name and tried to find out a bit more about him, and had an idea, who he was and what he did in his professional career, but that was that.
In the beginning of this year 2011 I did a small research for him, nothing too exciting, the subject were people related to his own family, just to clear some relations.
In the summer he sent us a CD with the tome he was working on, and we enjoyed to look through it. He promised the follow-up for the end of this year. Some days (less than two weeks) ago we got a card from him, informing us that he had moved to another cottage.
Yes he died.
On the 7th of December, in the middle of it all. He had his new cottage decorated and was preparing to start his genealogical work again. This had been put to a halt, because some months ago he had suffered from a nasty cold and pneumonia, but he had recovered.
I will miss him.
It’s ironic, I only saw a picture of him after his death, his nephew put up a video by him: Mr. H. seemingly planned some videos in which he would describe his family history and the research for it, one was finished.
May he rest in peace.
On the business site I will pay another tribute to him. With names and links and all.