Family Origins

We drove deep into the Black Forest to visit the village where my great-great grandfather was born and raised. Liberat brought our family name to the United States in the 1880s. This is the church where he and generations of his family were baptised. Most were married here. A few of them are buried in its graveyard.

The altar behind us, and possibly the pews, were carved and worked by Liberat and his family, too. My dad is the youngest and last male descendant of Liberat. My cousin Holli and I are of the last generation to be born with our name …our male cousins have their dad’s last name, and the rest of us took our husbands’ names. It was so neat to be in this space and imagine what Liberat might have experienced here before deciding to immigrate.

Our kids walking into the dorf where Liberat was born and raised. (A dorf is small … just a few households or farms.) In fact, the family farmhouse is the second brown house from the top of the hill, directly above the kids’ heads, across from the white one.

Liberat was born in that home in the 1850s. The house remained in the family name until the 1990s, when the family sold it to a set of in-laws, changing the name. We learned this because we asked an older neighbor if he knew where our family lived.

Of course he did. The same families have been living there for centuries.

The top is a photo of my family’s ancestral farmhouse back in the day. My cousin took the bottom photo today. That’s my son photobombing in the corner. And yeah, all 13 of us were walking around this house taking photos as chickens and a protective rooster pranced around us while a dozen cows watched from the neighboring pasture.

A neighbor told us nobody was home, but I was still prepared to be like, “Hallo! We’re your distant cousins from America! We come in peace to photograph your house.” 

It’s always a challenge to find more information about the women in our family tree. (Typical of history!) But we are going to try! Liberat met his wife ON THE BOAT! She decided to head to America on her own. And then captivated a younger man, who ditched his roots and married outside his religion. Clearly, she was a force who went against the social norms of her day.

She was from another part of Germany, so once I get a few more details, we’ll plan another adventure.