|Posted by Victor Prince on November 24, 2012 at 8:50 PM|
I finally made the trip to Duhren, Germany -- the Prince/Printz/Brentz home village in Germany - this Thanksgiving 2012. My parents and brother and his wife joined me. I had wanted to do this trip ever since I first found out about it from meeting Charles Printz and reading his book on our family. To say it lived up to my wildest dreams would be an understatement. I will give the blow by blow below, but I will mention the main point right now that any reader to this might be interested in- it got me documentation to take our line back another 100+ years from where Into the Valley has it - back to 1448. Read on to find out more...
I planned the trip a month or two in advance and had the benefit of learning from some other family line members that had taken the trip before. (Thanks Charles Printz, Ralph P. and Michele E.) I Googled around and found the emails to the Duhren church and to the Sinsheim (larger nearby city of Duhren) local history museum. Those emailspanned out in two big ways, as I will mention later.
The luckiest/smartest thing I did with the trip was to plan to visit there on a Sunday in time to be there for a church service. It was a special service centered on youth performing live music. We got there right at 10am as the bells were ringing and doors were closing. There were about 50 people in the church (it's a small church, so about 30-50 percent full) and we took the furthest pew back. First thing that told me this would be a great day (I am not a big church goer) was that all the attendees were in casual dress, which was great for us as we were luggagely challenged since we packed for a week. Second great thing was that the music that started the service was an acoustic guitar folk song - Where Have All the Flowers Gone - from one of the pastors. The third thing was that a gentleman seemed to be waiting for us and sat down in our pew. This was a gentleman named Arnold that the local history museum had put me in email contact with, but I didn't know he would show up to meet us. More on him later, but worth it to say he was absolutely priceless as a great interpreter. The next thing that was that the pastor broke out into his first English right after the first song to announce that me and my family were here and had ancestors dating back to the 1750s.
The rest of the service was actually quite fun, even if it was in German. Because it was Youth Music day, they had a few modern English songs sung by local kids in English. (It was also their Memorial Day / Vets Day equivalent for their service, so all the songs were remembrance themed.) It was a pretty surreal experience to be singing other songs along in German that I knew in English. (I don't speak German, but can sound it out OK.) Sounds corny, but I really did feel kind of like I was at home.
When service ended, a few people walked up to us to introduce themselves. One woman that did was from the local Duhren family Wolfhard that had been in the area when our Brentz family was and one of our ancestors married one of theirs in the 1600s. In fact, we later learned that the Wolfhard family was a bit famous for the area as the oldest family line still in Duhren. While we went out to the cemetary behind the church afterwards, we ended up running into her father, Herr Wolfhard, and he invited us over to his house later that day and promised to show us some family history documents. As part of their Remembrance Day, the town mayor and elders came to the memorial to German soldiers and sang a song of some sort. It was quite a nice small town moment.
We then had lunch at our hotel, the wonderful Ratssube Inn in Duhren - the only hotel in the village, I belive. They had a fantastic restaurant and we had a great lunch. Arnold joined us. OK, so more on him. He is a former professor from Heidelberg University (their most prestigious university) and has an interest in history of expatriots from the area over time. He was a fascinating man in his own right, but was really enjoying getting to tag along with us on this local history trip. In fact, he got very excited when we met the Wolfhard father and daughter, as he immediately knew the local historical significance of connecting the locally well known Wolfhard line to our line.
OK, after a fantastic lunch at the Ratssube, we walk over to Herr Wolfhard's house a few blocks away.