July 2013 Trip to Germany: Still Finding Great New Information

Friends and Family.

I just got back from my annual trip to Germany– three weeks this time. I feared that I had already picked the low-hanging fruit and was prepared to accept a lower yield of material. A smaller haul might actually have been good, because I am long past the point where I have collected more material than I have had time and intelligence to write about. I must confess that now, matters are even worse.

Of course, one of the major reasons I like to return to Germany is to keep fresh the friendships and professional contacts (often both simultaneously) that I have made over the last 8 years. I should not have been surprised that the inevitable expanding network of contacts and trust has funneled ever expanding amounts of information into our pipeline. This is exactly what has happened. I am still being blown away!

I will try hard to elaborate and share my new adventures and primary materials as quickly as possible. So you may have an inkling of what to expect, some of the highlights are listed below.

1. I found a new branch of the Hasselbacher family in the small village of Willhelmsdorf (just to the east of Diespeck) that immigrated to San Francisco in the early 1900s. Hopefully we will be abel to identify living descendants of this family in the USA and in Germany. This is newly discovered but very old family line for which I have not yet made the specific connection, but as you will see, an avalanche of new information will likely help.

2. I met with descendants of Zinngiessers (tinsmiths) of Ansbach and Lautershausen. This is the family line that may have lived in Ansbach about the time that Peter Hasselbacher was conscripted into the British Army to fight in the American Revolutionary War.

3. Armed with information about the Ansbach Hasselbachers, I visited the Stadt Archiv (City Archive) in Ansbach. I was disappointed not to have new sources in which to look for Hasselbachers in Ansbach before 1776, but I walked out with over 250 pages of abstracts from church book and civil registries in a wide area around Ansbach. These are all the Hasselbachers in the Brenner Collection. I was stunned to see how many of us (I assume we are virtually all related) there were in communities perviously unknown to me. Even better, the dates stretched into the 1930s, more modern, and also not previously available to me. This should make it possible to better understand patterns of family interconnectedness and migration.

4. I collected microfiche images for for virtually all the Hasselbachers of the Stübach line. This is the line of Paulus, the famous Pietist and Separatist who is one of posterities best known Hasselbachers. I have learned more about what happened and will have to tackle telling the amazing story of what it entails to stand up for your principles.

5. I learned more bout the first (but not the only) Jewish family Hasselbacher that emerged fully-realized in 1812 in the village of Vestensbergsgreuth– a terrible and wonderful story.

6. I collected dozens of spectacular original images of Hasselbacher entries from the church books of Münchsteinach from the early 1700s until well into into the 1800s. This is the line of Peter the Revolutionary war soldier. This early Peter and his progeny will never make it into the ranks of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution even though fought, survived, and stayed to raise what is to my knowledge the largest discrete Hasselbacher family in the world. Their history is the history of the United States.

7. For the considerable interest of the Hazelbaker line (descendants of the Peter in item #5), I collected a new primary document, one of perhaps the only 3 or 4 historical documents that prove he really lived. (Of course, none of his many hundreds of progeny needs such evidence.) These new documents show that Peter Hasselbacher was still living in Münchsteinach until at least 1776 when his name no longer appears in lists of communicants.

8. I attended church services in Münchsteinach and will present a sample of sounds, music, and images so you can be there with me.

9. I filled in gaps in the collection of original images from the church books of Diespeck, a village that sent Hasselbachers to places all over the USA including pioneers to Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, and Nebraska. I resolved the apparent confusion of two Elisabeth Hasselbachers from the same barrel-maker’s family. One of them ended up in America, I suspect Cincinnati. I will be presenting these new records in the same interactive graphic format including original text and translation that I have been using recently.

10. I collected some fabulous primary documents from the archives of Neustadt that reveal the immense bureaucratic and financial, barriers placed in the way of anyone who wanted to get married or adopt a trade. The seemingly high number of “Illegitimate” children had less to do with a lack of morality or of a loving relationship, than the unrelenting desire of the church and the state it commanded to control a people who had virtually no choice but to obey. (Is anything different today?) I will also show you what it took to become a shoemaker and you will once-and-for-all understand what it means to be a “journeyman.” Anticompetitive behavior did not start with the robber-barons of the industrial world!

11. I also took some time to play tourist. I went to some small country museums depicting life at the end of the 1800s, a Karpfin Museum [yes devoted to the fish], and an archeology museum in a small village. It was a season of town festivals. I ate some of my favorite foods and drank a non-excessive amount of beer with some of the wonderful friends I have met during this 8-year journey. I am learning to play the German card game, Schopkoff. I took some long walks between villages that our ancestors would have taken. I made a pile of new travel videos and took hundreds of photos.

12. I also spent a few less productive days in southern Bavaria trying to get a better handle on what happened to my German Grandmother’s family Baÿerl, but those are other stories for another part of this website.

13. While in Süd-Bayern, I visited the village of Haselbach by Ehekirchen. It recently celebrated its 1000 year jubilee for which it produced a nice history. I will add this little village to the growing list of “Haselbach Places.” Yes, it does have a “Haselbach,” but also had a Baron! Perhaps we are royalty after all!

Although learning about the history of our family and of the world in which they lived is one of the forces driving these activities, it is the people I have met, both family and friends, that have taken over as the major force keeping the effort alive and which gives me the greatest pleasure.

Enough for now! I hope to keep you interested in coming back to the website as I add these and other new materials and videos. Think of ways you can help! If one of the above interests you more than another, let me know and I will adjust my priorities.

Peter Hasselbacher,
July, 2013

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