If it weren’t for my genealogically driven sister, Kit, I wouldn’t have a clue where I came from more than a few generations ago. Kit has managed to trace my paternal grandmother’s line all the way back to a tiny town in Germany by the name of Zaberfeld, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, due east of Heidelberg. One Johann Bucher was born here in 1686. Eva and I drove there but spent only a few minutes in Zaberfeld, having lunch on a bench under a spreading chestnut tree near the front door to the Rathaus, the city hall.

Zaberfeld city hall annex

Zaberfeld city hall annex

City hall shaded by a spreading chestnut tree

City hall

Somehow we never got into the town itself but we could see right in front of us the delivery service that brought tiny Johann into the world.

Baby Johann Bucher's delivery service

Baby Johann Bucher’s delivery service

Maybe we don’t plan our travels too well, because by the time we reached Zaberfeld we had run out of time to poke around. We had spent it all in a tiny village to the north where Johann, now grown up, had married, in Kleingartach in the year 1713. We so enjoyed our time there that we didn’t want to rush away. This sign on the road tells us that we are entering the village and that the speed limit is 31 mph (universal in Germany) unless posted differently, such as 18 mph or sometimes even 12 mph. It’s easy to get speeding tickets in Germany. I’m experienced!

The village limit

The village limit

The next sign we encountered revealed the economic base of the village – growing grapes.

Kleingartach is a Weinort, or wine village.

Kleingartach is a Weinort, or wine village.

Here’s a view from the edge of the village.

The route into town.

The route into town.

The slopes are covered with vineyards, about 220 acres altogether. Can these few acres support nearly 2000 people? The wine itself is made by a cooperative in a neighboring town.

Vineyards on slopes faint south and west.

Vineyards on slopes face south and west.

Later on our travels we bought a very reasonably priced bottle of chardonnay at a large grocery store. When we got home we discovered that it came from grapes grown near here. It was the best tasting chardonnay I ever remember drinking.

Let’s take a walk around the village. There’s only one church so this is where Johann must have been married, in Martinskirche (Martin’s Church dating from 1109.

The protestant church where Johann married.

The protestant church where Johann married.

A few years later, in 1725, Johann married again in this church. Sister Kit’s records show that he and his second wife, Anna Barbara, had a daughter, Rosannah, born in Virginia. So I suppose Johann and Anna Bucher were part of the huge wave of Germans who left the land and migrated to America, hoping for better times. Up until recently, Germans contributed more migrants than any other nationality to our nation’s growth.

Rosannah married a Deaderick, and my grandmother, Lulu Deaderick, was a direct descendent. That’s close enough for me to want to pay tribute to the Heimat. But would we find any Buchers there?

So here we are on the edge of town. A farmhouse is on the side of the road, built in 1922. We can tell from the “crenelations” that the house was probably built in the fashion used since at least the Early Middle Ages using post and beams held together with wooden pegs. A plastered exterior hides the construction method.

Typical 20th century farmhouse

Typical 20th century farmhouse

Nowadays in Germany many houses and barns are covered with solar panels. Germany leads the world in the amount of solar energy generated per capita.

Solar panels

Solar panels

The downtown isn’t much to see because the village has only 1800 people and no stores. This place is strictly agricultural but dates from before 788 AD. It has preserved many half-timbered homes and barns, some dating from the early 1400s.

"Downtown"

“Downtown”

A bit of color here and there.

A bit of color here and there.

Nice place

Nice place

What a place!

What a place!

Oh, ho, a modern place! Even villagers have to have their daily fresh bread. Just take a look at this place.

The village bakery and general store

The village bakery and general store

So hard to make a decision.

So hard to make a decision.

A house of great character, might we say.

A house of great character, might we say.

We had a hunch that we might learn something about the family Bucher if we found the cemetery and started reading old headstones. Fortunately we came across a person full of knowledge and eager to tell us the whole story.

The man with history in his head

The man with history in his head

He gave Eva quite the low-down in his heavy local dialect.

He gave Eva quite the low-down in his heavy local dialect.

We were standing right by the cemetery with the church before us. To the side was a heavy stone building. We were told that this is the village bake house. Every month it is fired up and the housewives bring their loaves here to be baked. At Christmas, there’s quite a festival here as holiday treats are baked.

Entry to the cemetery

Entry to the cemetery

Church addition

Church addition

The rather awkward white addition to the old church has an interesting story around it. In these modern days many people are without a professed faith. Yet they want to marry. It is not possible to do so in the church. So the addition is used for such purposes, not being quite part of the church, but almost.

We were eager to set foot in the cemetery and get to work. But we were immediately a bit crestfallen because all the tombstones were new, with not an old one in sight. Nonetheless, right away we spotted a Bucher, not an old one but any would do for us.

Bucher!

Bucher!

We talked with a woman there who was tending her deceased husband’s grave. She said that one paid a sum good for 25 years for the right to use a plot. If no one keeps the payments up then the remains are moved and the plot rented to another party. Thus all the headstones are relatively new.

We found four more Bucher graves and mention on a war memorial of several Buchers who had fallen during war.

Bucher

Bucher

Bucher

Bucher

Bucher

Bucher

Bucher

Bucher

It was time now to say goodby to Kleingartach. We had met our objective to dig up, so to say, an ancestor of old and give him an airing.

Goodbye Kleigartach

Goodbye Kleigartach

Advertisements