Kleingartach, Germany – My Ancestral Home
Posted on May 28, 2016
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.
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.
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 next sign we encountered revealed the economic base of the village – growing grapes.
Here’s a view from the edge of the village.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh, ho, a modern place! Even villagers have to have their daily fresh bread. Just take a look at this place.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.