A Present, And a Thank You

Some posts ago dear Dinahmow had the idea to arrange a Blog Party, assuming correctly that it would lift the mood of not only me, but all bloggers around. Of course Dianhmow put an own twist in it, after all it is a Christmas Blog Party, with gifts for fellow bloggers. She presented me with some Bix – very nice and welcome ! Blogger Inexplicable DeVice (IDV) followed Dinahmow’s example, including baubles. He gave me as present a castle, so that I would finally have enough space for the books : Very thoughtful IDV – and that house comes with a nice view too.
Because I am a lazy person, I did not go out trawling the web for individual presents, but choose the easy way out and present all of you, venerated readers and fellow bloggers, with one gift – let’s look together at one picture of a garden – a late nod to The Annual Infomaniac Garden Photos Event, originally hosted by The Mistress, this year’s tenth anniversary installation presented by IDV in an impressive series of posts (last here).
Actually we will look at a sixhundred years old piece of (oak) wood with the depiction of a small garden painted on it. If you want to see the real thing, you have to travel to Europe, Germany, Frankfurt am Main, visit the Staedel Museum, climb to the second floor and go to the room “Alte Meister”. It is part of the online collection, and this link should lead you right to the zoomable presentation. (It opens in a new tab, but when you right-click, you may open it in a new window, so you can keep it open while we look at it together, if you like.)

We see a walled garden, a hortus conclusus (Ger., Eng.) with a lot of naturalistically painted flowers, plants, and birds. I am sure that someone somewhere published a list of the identifiable plants and feather balls, but I am not in a mood to search for it – I am glad to recognise the Maiglöckchen, and the strawberries. I think to the left sits a blue tit. You see that they have a Hochbeet there, a raised bed, right behind the table is the strong wooden bordering. The mentioned (stone) table with its hexagonal plate carries a goblet made from greenish glas, a Nuppenbecher (Ger.), and someone ate from the fruits that are on that plate, apples perhaps. If you look closely, you see the fine, white table runner.
Next to the table sits Maria on something we do not see, but on a red cushion. She reads, not uncommon for her. I once read a nice article about this motif, but sadly did not bookmark it. Usually Mary reads when she is visited by the archangel who has to tell her that she’ll be pregnant soon – here is an interesting example. But here we see her son playing at her feet, in fact he plays some music on a kind of zither I think, supervised by Santa Caecilia (Ger., Eng.), the patronsaint of musicians. You may notice that Jesus uses white, rod-like things as plectra or picks, I guess it is quills. I do not remember another image of Jesus making music.
Behind the musicians we see another lady in red plucking little red fruit from a tree with intertwisted trunks, I am not sure who she is, but I like the idea that she collects cherries, and puts them into this beautiful, weaved basket – it has something grail’s-like about it. Maybe the holy grail is a basket full of cherries. This reminds me of our friend, I am sad that I can not show this painting to him, it is one year now since he left us. He liked cherries a lot, and I think it made him happy when he discovered Kirschgrütze (Ger., Eng.). Best with vanilla sauce. The intertwined trunks of the tree remind me of Jachin and Boas (Ger., Eng.), it may be a bit farfetched, perhaps.
A third holy lady, in blue, sits in the lower left corner of the painting. She uses a golden, chained ladle, either to scoop water out of a kind of piscina or cistern, or maybe she skims floating things from the water. If you look closely you may see waves, or reflections of light on the surface of the water, and possibly fish-like little strokes of colour. I am not sure whther there are really fish in this object.
The group of the three holy ladies, with Jesus, is arranged to the right of Maria, while on the other side we see three male figures, who actually do nothing : They sit together closely, talking and listening, separated from the other group by the trunk of a tree. This tree trunk is cut short, on top of it emerge two young branches, shoots. I do not know the English words, the gardening special language (Fachsprache), but it looks as if two Edelreier were aufgepfropft – is “scion” correct ?
And there sits a strange guest, obviously a dæmon, or may be (vanquished) satanas himself. I find this peculisr, I can not recall a painting of “paradys”, or a description of this place at all, with the evil attending. Paradys must be devil’s hell. He looks (grim) up to the group of three figures : A man leaning on a tree talking, identified as Oswald, king of Northumbria (Ger., Eng.) ; archangel Michael, and a knight, given as St. George. Who am I to doubt what professional arthistorians do conclude, but nevertheless, I wonder why an English king, and George, appear in a painting created in the Upper Rhine region.
Under the dragon slayer lies the (tiny) defeated dragon, on his back, pointing his four small legs to the sky, apparently pretty stiff & dead, and absolutely not intimidating. Not a Norwegian Blue, more of a Suebian Green. The archangel is the only figure who looks out of the picture, in the direction of the onlooker. I think he’s a bit bored, at least his gesture (resting his head in his right hand) and his “mien” could be interpreted this way, maybe Oswald is not the most interesting talker. St George btw is the only one who looks directly at Maria.
Thank you for following me around the little garden, I hope you enjoyed the stroll. Thank you all, venerated readers, fellow bloggers, for, well, just being there.

Here We Are

Awaking in a brand new year.
I wish all my venerated readers, they may be regulars or occasional visitors, hard boiled commenters or silent lurkers, a happy New Year, ein glückliches Neues Jahr !
Health and luck for each and everyone, peace for all of us.



I’m sure there are tons of „how to“-instructions available on the net about genealogy in Germany – there is surely no need for another one. I would like to speak about genealogy in Germany from the practising researcher’s point of view.
Let us assume that your forefathers emigrated from Germany sometimes in the 19th century. They went overseas by ship – and that means that there are good chances to find them in the passenger lists of the Auswandererhaus. You should know a year – or at least narrow down the year of their passage, it helps with the search. (Strangely enough the Rechercheauftrag is only reachable from the German page (under “Migration/Recherche”), it is not linked on the English page.)
But the most important thing is the name. The 19th century did not have something like a Duden (Ger., Eng.), there were no fixed, holy, rules of orthography. The way names were spelled can vary a lot; and names in these lists were often wrote down as they were heard. For example: “Schäfer” (shepherd) can be spelled “Schäffer”, “Sche(f)fer”, “Scho(f)fer”, even “Schif(f)er”.
A Franconian speciality is the difference between consonants pronounced “hard” and “soft”: For reasons unknown to me a written “B” is mostly pronounced “P”, the same goes for “G” and “K”, “D” and “T” – and of course vice versa, the written “hard” consonant is pronounced “soft”. And speaking about dialects: The emigrants from the South of Germany surely had difficulties to understand Northern Platt (correctly Niederdeutsch (Ger., Eng.)), and the variation rich Franconian dialects surely were of limited beauty to the Hamburgian officials, who had to write down these names.

Another very important name is the one of the place of origin. Normally in the passenger lists the name of the location the emigrants come from is recorded, but sometimes only a vague description or just the name of a province is given (“Ostpreussen”). Family lore and tradition may have preserved and passed down of the place of origin’s name over the generations – but from my experience I have to say, that this is not always a reliable source of information. You may be lucky and letters of the emigrants’ family in the old Heimat survived and there may be a written name of a place.
If you are in doubt about it, let someone who knows the old handwritings have a look on it: A single letter can make a huge difference! It is a difference whether a place is for example called “Unterregenbach” or “Unterengenbach” – they belong to different administrative bodies, different church parishes – and hence the records are kept in different places.
A further complication arises from the fact, that some names are not unique: A place called “Haslach” can be found at least more than eight times in different parts of Franconia. It is very important to find the right place of origin, this saves a lot of fruitless, frustrating and expensive research. Since the middle of the 19th century a lot changed in the public administration and in the administration of the two large churches here too. From the kingdom of Bavaria – with some Franconian specialties – via the Deutsche Reich from 1871, through the whole brutal 20th century up to now, places changed names, were incorporated into larger administrative entities or even stopped existing. The Gebietsreform of the 1970s brought the last major change in this respect. Parishes and Dekanate were changed, reformed, united and separated again. But the 19th century knew these reforms too: Between the newly formed kingdoms of Bavaria and Baden the frontier was corrected in the 1850s. This let to the fact that church records of places originally belonging to Bavarian/Franconian parishes today are kept in Karlsruhe in the Landeskirchliche Archiv.

All I want to say is, that the time used to identify the place or origin of the family – which is the starting place for a genealogical research and important for finding the records – is well used time.
If one has the correct family name and knows the right place of origin a research can be started – let’s look for the records.