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July 1998

Through the search facilities of Family Tree Maker, I've found another person researching some of the same ancestors as ours. His name is Jürgen Emmler and he shares some of our ancestors in the Mönsheim and Aurich area. He has sent me an up-to-date family tree and he has more data on some of our ancestors and I have more on some of his. I checked his kinship to me and he is my 7th cousin, once removed. He did live in Karlsruhe and now lives in Milton Keynes, OR, UK.

I'm looking forward to attending the Riggle Reunion (my grandmother was Suzie Edna Riggle) to be held August 1st in Hutsonville, IL, about 30 miles south of Terra Haute, IN. This will be an interesting experience. Apparently Riggle decendants from all over the country will be there. I know that Leslie A. Riggle of Wichita, KS, the author of one of the Riggle Family Histories plans on being there. Those of you that are decendants of John David and Suzie Edna Held are also related to the Riggles. Perhaps we should consider planning a national "Decendants of Johann David and Christina Held" Reunion. For the first one I would suggest a local attraction to me that has international fame, Branson, MO.

University of Missouri-St. Louis Community Chorus Concert Tour

We  just got back from our great Italy-Austria-Germany concert tour on July 8th. We left the morning of June 17th. We had a geat tour with the UM-SL Community Chorus lead by Robert Ray. We sang in churchs of all sizes, from a side canal church in Venice to the famous Melk Abbey in Austria and Wieskirche near Steingaden in Bavaria. When we sang the Afro-American spirituals part of the program we really livened the places up. They never heard that kind of music, like "Amen" and "Great Day," among others. The highlight of the trip was the evening with a local choral group at Dachau, near Munich, where each group put on a concert then shared a barrel of beer and wine at a dinner.

I have transcribed some of the concert tour music to MIDI files. Samples of the music we sang in addition to "Home on the Range" on the homepage are "Cantante Domino" and "Every Valley." Robert Ray is a well known author of Gospel music. Some of Robert's Gospel music we sang on the tour are "He Never Failed Me Yet," "Gospel Mass - Kyrie," and "Gospel Mass - Gloria."

The extended week for family research was pleasant. Driving on the Autobahn was scary. I usually drove around 130KPH (about 80MPH). The cars were passing me like I was standing still. They had to be going 120-130 MPH. They will not pass on the right side, but they get very impatient if you don't zoom back into the right lane when passing.

We first drove to Bad Dürheim-Beisingen where the Helds originally came from. Donaueschingen (the start of the Donau River (Danube)) is a short distance away. I was not familiar with the history of the area. One of the choral group members at Dachau told me that there were several exoduses from the area called the Donau-Swabian Exoduses that took place at different times. Many Swabian (our Helds were Swabian) people went down the Donau to points along the river in Wurttemberg (like Ulm), Bavaria (Munich), Austria (Salzburg and Vienna), Slovokia (Bratslavia), and Hungary. Some came back the same route. His family was one that came back. To read more about the Donau-Swabian Exoduses go to

We first went to the small farming community of Biesingen.  We found the only church in the village and were walking around looking at the garden and the WWI and WWII memorial to the fallen German soldiers, several of which were Helds. We heard someone playing the organ, so we went inside and talked to the organist. He indicated that Pfarrer (Lutheran Pastors, pronounced almost like "father") Naegel served Biesingen and Oberbaldingen and lived in Oberbaldingen (about a mile away).

We went to Oberbaldingen and found Pfarrer Naegel. He called one of the local gasthauses and got us a room. He also indicated that his churches are associated with the mother church at Öfingen, served by Pfarrer Krauth. All of the old books are kept there. The Pfarrer Naegel's wife indicated that there were still plenty of Helds in the area. Each of their three children had friends that were Helds.

We went up to Öfingen to visit Pfarrer Krauth. He was not there, but his wife said he would be back, because he had a class soon. Kids started arriving for the class, but still no Pfarrer Krauth. He came in just in time for the class, so we made an appointment for the next morning at 9.

Öfingen is near the top of a long hill. Although the terrain in this area is open rolling hills, this is considered part of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). It appears the land had all been cleared for agriculture. There is a nice spot, just up from the Öfingen church, where one can look out over the terrain all the way to Donaueschingen probably 5 miles away.

The villages were for the most part one house deep on both sides of the street. Many houses had a barn as an integral part of the house and are still working farms with livestock. They only seemed to keep dairy cows and chickens, although the resturant menus were primarily schwein (pork) and puten (turkey).

The gasthaus in Oberbaldingen was very nice. There were four guest rooms separated from the rest of the house over the public dining room and bar. For dinner the first night, we decided to have "rumpsteak." This was the first beef for two weeks, since arriving in Rome. There was a great salad plate of various kinds of salads: slaw, sauerkraut, lettuce, plus others. The steak tasted good, but was a little over seasoned with crushed black peppercorns. The huge plate of "frites" (french fries) was about twice what we expected and needed. The beer was good.

While we were having dinner, I struck up a conversation with a dinner guest. It turns out he was a vacationing historian, a Dr. Roger Schulte, and suggested I talk to Dr. Zier in the archive at Stuttgart. He did not give a good feeling about the archive in Donaueschingen. When we went to Donaueschingen the next day the archive curator said it was private and they could not help me. It appears one must contract with an approved private genealogist to get access to the data.

In the morning we had a very pleasant breakfast. A place for two was set at a table (we were the only guests.). When we arrived, the owner's daughter (who spoke very good English) brought out soft boiled eggs to add to the juice, breads, jellies, and lunch meats that were already on the table.

Both pfarrers at Oberbaldingen and Öfingen were very helpful. I even showed Pfarrer Krauth some data in his books he didn't know he had - the Held family pages. He asked for copies of my information on the Held Family. However, he could not help fill in the 30 year gap to tell me who old Hans Held's parents were. He suggested the archive in Donaueschingen or the Baden church archive in Karlsruhe.

We did visit the schloß (pronounced schloss, meaning castle) at Donaueschingen and its gardens where the spring that is the official start of the Danube River is. It is strange that they consider this spring the start and not one of the two creeks that flow together near the same point.

The next day we moved on to Mönsheim and Aurich near Stuttgart . The pfarrers here seemed to be less helpful.

Pfarrer Haffner at Mönsheim really didn't have much to offer us. He did take us over to the church to take some pictures. The church is named for St. Nicholas (Santa Claus). There were some stained glass windows depicting the generosity of the saint.

When we arrived in Aurich, only a few miles away,  there was a funeral going on. The people were streaming from to church and going to the gravesite just a block away. We followed. While the ceremony was given we looked at the gravestones. We found only two Helds. The people then walked back to the fellowship hall at the church for a dinner. I assumed the the pfarrer would be at the dinner.

Eventually I went in and asked for the pfarrer and found he was in the pfarreramt (church office). Pfarrer Häcker got out the old book and we looked at it.  I did get a photo of the page in the book of Joachim Held's birth record (s/o Michael Held and Anna Cathorina Messerschmid and Johann David's grandfather and Christina's great grandfather). I had to photograph it, because Pfarrer Häcker was afraid the bright light of the copy machine would destroy the page. My copy from the LDS microfilm was bad because the microfilm page was fogged. The original book was very clear. But, Pfarrer Häcker had to run and would not let me to look through the book any more, eventhough the office secretary was still there. As we were driving off, we saw Pfarrer Häcker, dressed in shorts and teeshirt, mount a bicycle and ride off.

It is easy to see how the Helds felt right at home in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. The terrain here is almost exactly the same. In fact, the road down the hill into Mönsheim is very reminiscent of the hills in Leechburg. This is also considered part of the Black Forest and there did seem to be more forest here.

We moved on to Karlsruhe. Downtown Karlsruhe is like any large city, and the hotels looked expensive, so we moved out to the suburbs looking for a gasthaus. We found one, and took it. It wasn't near as nice as the one in Oberbaldingen, and it did not include breakfast.

The next morning we headed into town. We were trying to find the Evangelischen Landeskircke (Baden Lutheran church archive). We stopped at a downtown bookstore, because June was looking for some children's story books on the Alp little people (in English). They didn't have any, but they kindly directed us to the archive. I talked to a Frau Schlia at the archive. She seemed to think they could help in my search for old Hans Held and family. I authorized a maximum expenditure of 200DM (about $110) to search.

After doing some shopping at a large department store nearby, we moved on to June's home area near Saarbrücken. An internet contact told us that there was a local genealogy museum at Ludweiler-Warndt that might help her. Ludweiler is in the middle of the area where the Dreistadts hail from. We arrived on Friday evening and were very fortunate to find the museum was only open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. June became the "talk-of-the-town" in Ludweiler when the gasthaus owner found out she was a Dreistadt. Someone even called an officer at the museum to tell them we were coming. They spent three solid hours with us Saturday morning. June purchased several Ortssippenbuecher (books that contain linked family registers of the families in a town or area) that contained some of her family members. The price was ridiculously cheap, 40DM (about $21) for a 1-1/2 inch hard bound volume.

We drove around to some of the villages where her family came from: Pettite-Rosselle, Vieille Verrerie, and Differten. We spent several hours looking at every gravestone in the Vieille Verrerie cemetery, but there does not appear to be any Dreistadt's left there. Because of the high cost of real estate, the gravesites are rented for a limited number of years - about 50-100, so only current families will be represented. As we were driving into Differten, June shouted for me to stop the car, she had to take a picture of the sign painted on the building that advertised the Dreistadt Gasthaus and Metzgerei (hotel and butchershop). In town the place was closed. Eventually we found that the owner, Rudolf Dreistadt, had died the previous Monday. We talked to his son and he told us he had to hurry to go to Saturday evening mass for his father. We went also. The son did say that his family is related to the Marie Bowers' Dreistadts in Pittsburgh. We haven't found the connection between these Dreistadt families, yet.

Back to Aurich on Sunday. I decided I wanted look through the old church book somemore to see if old Joachim had any siblings (all of these microfilm pages were badly fogged), and to get better copies (photos) of young Michael and Joachim's wedding entries. I went to the Pfarreramt on late Sunday afternoon and Pfarrer Häcker told me to come back Monday morning. We got there around 10AM and waited until noon. The Pharreramt was not open and there was no Pfarrer Häcker to be found. So, we left for Munich, very disappointed.

Link to August 1998

Copyright 1998 by Fred H. Held