|Posted by Victor Prince on April 8, 2017 at 11:10 AM|
In 2012, I made my first visit to the Brentz/Printz/Prince family ancestral hometown in Duehren, Germany. While at the Sunday service at the village’s only church, the pastor made me stand as he announced my visit as a Brentz descendent to the rest of the audience. I was a bit embarrassed, but was glad he did when a woman came up to me after the service to say we were related. A female ancestor of hers married a male Brentz ancestor of mine in the 1600s, which was the furthest the Brentz line was documented. She knew because her family line was exceptionally long and well-documented, going back to the 1300s. My ancestor was a missing link on her family tree she never expected to meet.
That initial meeting turned into coffee and homemade schnapps at the 500 year old family homestead in the village with her father. We didn't speak the same language, but we bonded, with the help of the English-translation of a local history professor who joined because he was as excited about our meeting as we were.
That meeting also introduced me to my German counterpart, who does the family history of the Wolfhard line. By meeting the Wolfhards, that meeting extended our Brentz/Printz/Prince ancestral line by about three centuries. Since that meeting, our families have met three more times, both in Germany and the US.
A different meeting with a Wolfhard that gave me physical chills was one that didn't involve any living relatives. By meeting my German family history counterpart, I learned that one of my distant grandfathers published a book in the 1500s while earning a masters degree at the University of Tubingen. On my next trip to Germany, I made a side trip to Tubingen to visit the archives of the university. When I arrived, they had all of my ancestor’s papers out for me to see in a special reading room. They had a copy of the book he wrote and was printed, When I touched the same piece of paper that my g*grandfather touched 500 years before, I literally got the cold shakes. I feared a drop of sweat would fall onto that piece of paper.
That feeling inspired me. I published my first book, Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide their Teams to Exceptional Results, the next year. When the publisher told me I should include an ‘Acknowledgments’ section, I put this in: "To Alexander and Charles - for blazing the trail for authors in the family." Alexander Wolfhard was my ancestor from the University of Tubingen. Charles Printz Sr. wrote the book on our family and inspired this website.
My next book, The Camino Way: Lessons in Leadership from a Walk Across Spain, comes out in July 2017. I weave in a few stories about how my ancestors inspired me and I hope my writing leaves a legacy for future Princes.