Further Adventures in Münchsteinach

Although I personally am not a son of Münchsteinach, my Hazelbaker friends in America are, as are some of my new relatives in Germany. Therefore, whenever I return to the Aischgrund (the plain of the river Aisch in which our little villages lie) I make it a point to visit. Even when I come with a game-plan, I generally stumble on something unexpected. After all, that is what an adventure is all about. My visit in October 2010 was no different– that is to say, full of surprises.

Old House Hasselbacher:
I wrote earlier about the original Hasselbacher House #55 on the main street of Münchsteinach in which some of us lived for at least 133 years. This trip a primary goal was to find a better photo than the one we have. Through no lack of trying, my friends in Münchsteinach and its administrative Gemeinde, Diespeck; were unable to find anything. However, our interest is well known, and should something turn up, we may still get lucky.

I did learn a few things more however. As I speculated from inspection of the photos from the “House Book,” that after the old Hasselbacher House burned down, it was rebuilt further to the east, and the neighboring House #56 was enlarged to include some of the area formerly occupied by House #55. It is suspected locally that the small garden adjacent to House #56 outlines the foundation of the old Hasselbacher House. It is estimated from the age of the boy standing in front of House #56 (who was born in 1908) that our only photo of the Hasselbacher House was taken around 1920. I do not have an expert opinion yet as to when it could have been built, but to my eye the late 1700s seems quite reasonable. The House Book states that the house burned in 1927. It is wonderful to learn that the young woman holding the oxen in the photo of “new House #55” is still living in Münchsteinach.

One of the neighbors told me that the small building that can be seen in the map of 1828 where house #55 sits today, was a workshop of some kind for the adjacent mill. The raceway for the mill can be seen on the map forming the back boundary of the lots for Houses #56 and #55, but I am not exactly sure where the mill stood, perhaps adjacent to a millpond. (It was raining and I did not explore much!) Not surprisingly, I was informed that there have been changes in the configuration of nearby houses including adjacent #52.

More Traces of Balthasar:
Before engaging my local friends about the old houses, I made another trip to the church in Münchsteinach to take even more photos. Hope springs eternal that I will get better. Alas, the light was not good and I gave up. However, in subsequent conversations when I was telling the locals about the contributions of Hasselbachers to churches in the area, I was informed that part of the ancient bell-ringing apparatus (or clockworks) in the Münchsteinach church was manufactured by our own Balthasar! It turned out that one of the folks I had engaged was considered the local Archiv-Mench and who learned of this obscure fact in the dusty church archives. Much to both my surprise and pleasure, I was admitted to the holiest of holies to view the newly discovered handwerk.

At the top of the Kirchturm (churchtower), a 200 year-old wooden spool is part of an apparatus whose function is not immediately apparent to me. It might be related to the ringing of bells, or perhaps to a clockworks. While certainly not as attractive as the religious carvings I has seen before, nor the one I would view for you the next day; as a dreschler, or woodturner, Balthasar would easily have been able to manufacture this item. Perhaps now that our interest is more widely known, we will learn more of the contributions by Hasselbachers to Münchsteinach.

It is clear why the general public is not allowed to climb the tower! It was rather like the tower scene in the Alfred Hitchcock movie, except mostly in the dark. For a while we had to use the flash of my camera to give a general, if intermittent, impression of where we were going! At the top I was rewarded by a view of four beautiful Glocken. The largest and oldest was dated 1823. Older bells had been taken to Neustadt. The bells are now rung electrically on the quarter hour, but the ropeways of former times were apparent. I tried to take some photos out of the window slats with only partial success. There was not much of a view. I will post photographs and video of the experience for your pleasure.

Peter Hasselbacher, 19 Oct 2010

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