Katherine bertsch compagno



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Die Familie der ROSA HEIDLER

und des FRANZ JOSEF LORENZ
by
KATHERINE BERTSCH COMPAGNO
Copyright 2005
All Rights Reserved

Our family story begins with the marriage of Franz Josef Lorenz and Rosa Elisabetha Heidler circa 1891 in an area called Bohemia, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at that time. We do not know exactly where the wedding took place; presumably it was in the hometown parish of our Rosa, or that of Franz Josef. Our Franz Josef Lorenz was born on 16 November 1864 at Markt Schonlind, Bohemia, now Krasna Lipa, Czech Republic, about an hour’s walk away from where Rosa was born in Neuhammer, now Nove Hamry, on 20 July 1869. After a long day working in the fields, Franz would walk over to visit with Rosa during the evening hours. The family remembers that he would then walk home that same evening, in order to work in the fields again the following day.

We do not know if Franz worked for another farmer, or if his family owned or rented fields to work them for themselves. We do know that Franz’s father Josef Lorenz had worked as a schlosser, machinist, in 1857 when he married Regina Katharina Richter. Katharina and Josef Lorenz had seven children. Two daughters named Anna and Sophie married and stayed in Bohemia, two sons named Josef and Karl also stayed in Bohemia, and three sons named Wenzel, Anton and our Franz came to America.

Rosa Heidler was the daughter of Franz Heidler and Ottilia Rosa Gareis, who had five other children. We do not know what happened to our Rosa’s sister Bertha Heidler, nor to her brothers Karl, Franz Josef and Otto Heidler who stayed in Bohemia. We do know that Rosa’s favorite sister, Josefa ‘Bep’ Heidler, emigrated as a young woman to Brazil where she ‘owned a coffee plantation’. It is believed that Bep married, but we do not know if she married in Bohemia or in Brazil, nor do we know the name of her husband. We have been unable to trace any descendants. During World War II, Frank and Rosa’s daughter Luella served as an Army Nurse in Europe. When Luella was transferred to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, Rosa hoped she could visit some relatives in their hometowns,

“No, I didn’t get the chance to hunt up any of our relatives. In the first place all I know is that Mom’s maiden name is Heidler, and of course now the town since Jo sent it, but I’m afraid I do not know any of the Aunts’ and Uncles’ names, nor even grandfather and grandmother Heidler’s name. It’s all my fault because I should have been more inquisitive when I was home, but it’s funny, I only always thot of them as grandma and grandpa and nothing else. The same applies to Papa’s people. I saw a store with the name Lorenz over it in Mˆnchen-Gladbach, but the place was so bombed out, I know if any of the Lorenz’s of that place were alive they were pretty far away from there by the time I got there. . . I only wish I had had that map and remembered Falkenau when I was at Marienbad, for it would not have meant anything to have run up there. Now that we are not in Czech, we cannot go across the border without a special pass; also Army rules are that one may not visit overnight where there is no hospital installation housing nurses. Anyway, I shall see the pastor if you get a letter to me in a hurry, giving me all the names possible and some direct people to see.”

Josephine’s reply tells us much about Rosa’s family, “Regarding Mom’s folks. She hasn’t heard from them since her Mother died during the last war [Ottilia Rosa Garreis Heidler, 1836-May 1915]. The names I sent you of her people are the only ones we have. Whether living or dead, she doesn’t know. We do know, though, that Uncle Tony and Aunt Annie Lorenz (Dad’s brother) went to Schˆenlind, which is three hours walk west of Lanz. Mom was born at Neuhammer and then they moved to Lanz. The nearest large town to Lanz is Faulkenau. Here is the family: Mom in America; another sister [Bertha] died during the last war; and the 3rd sister [Josefa ‘Bep’] was in Brazil when last heard of. There were 3 boys; the oldest, Karl Heidler, would be 75 next June; the next is Joseph, who died after the 1st World War and not married; and the 3rd was Otto, married and about 64 or 65. Mom said, don’t go to any trouble as they most probably aren’t living anyway. If you should meet them, they’d only want money. Fooey on ‘em.”

Our Heidlers and Lorenzes lived on the western edge of Bohemia, northwest of Prague near the resort town of Karlsbad, which was a health spa. Pauline remembered hearing that the towns were in the Erzgebirge Mountains (found in southeastern Germany), but these mountains in the Czech Republic are now called KrusnÈ Hory. The German names of our Lorenz and Heidler villages cannot be found on any modern maps; the political creation of Czechoslovakia after World War I (and its re-creation after World War II) erased all German names from that area. The towns now have their Czech names and are part of the Czech Republic.

It is necessary to understand the changing politics of Europe in order to locate this area precisely on a modern map. Place names that were remembered by our family are all in the German language, because our Lorenz and Heidler families were Germans and that is the language they spoke. Before World War I, this area of Bohemia was a bilingual home to two different major ethnic groups. A millennium earlier, circa 500 AD, the Slavic Czech peoples had moved into their present area and called it Cechy; it was also home to a few Teutonic tribes at that time. The Czechs later established an independent kingdom called Bohemia (the name remembers the Celtic Boii tribe which lived in the region circa 300 AD).

In the 1200’s, Bohemia saw a major population increase due to the immigration of German speaking peoples who came from over-populated areas of Germany. Some were farmers, while others were encouraged by the King of Bohemia to found urban areas and to help develop silver mines. Although they were welcomed by the Czechs, most Germans retained their separate language and identity. These Germans became an urban middle class which retained valuable privileges, such as German law. By 1621, Bohemia was conquered by the Austrians and absorbed into their empire as German Bohemia. In 1628, King Ferdinand II of Bohemia authorized the use of the German language as the official court language; he also required conversion to the Roman Catholic religion.

In the mid 1700’s, Czech leaders within the Austrian empire began working for a rebirth of Bohemian patriotism and culture; most peasants had continued to use their Czech language. By the 1800’s, provincial loyalties were often stronger than ethnic differences; the bilingual National Museum was established with support from both propertied Germans and some Czechs attempting to revive their Slavic heritage. Progressive Germans continued to support the Czech intellectuals; some preferred German unification rather than Bohemian autonomy.

In 1867, Austria-Hungary became a dual monarchy, within which Magyars dominated the Slovaks in Hungary and the Germans dominated in Austria to the detriment of Czechs, Poles and other Bohemians. By 1871, a compromise failed that would have given Bohemia autonomy within the Austrian Empire; Sudeten Germans (those to the southeast of modern Germany) now supported a unified Austria in order to preserve their political power, rather than unity with Prussian Germany. It is interesting to note that during World War II, Rosa Heidler Lorenz stoutly maintained she was of Austrian heritage, not German. Her allegiance had been to Austria, not to Germany; she detested Hitler and all that he represented. This was not unusual, as Meter describes in Border People, the Bˆhmisch,

“Few recognized the existence of these Bˆhmisch as a distinct cultural group. Usually, they were lumped in with other nationalities. Some census takers listed them as ‘Austrians’ since their homeland was under the rule of the Austrian empire when they emigrated. Some were labelled ‘German’. Still others were called Bohemians, a term that seldom distinguished them from the Czechs. In rare cases, census takers precisely designated our people as ‘Bohemian Germans’. Such confusing categories mirrored the split loyalties of the German-Bohemians themselves. Some clung fiercely to their Austrian identity, especially when Americans were persecuting Germans.”

An alliance in 1879 between the Austro-Hungarian Emperor and the German Hohenzollern princes increased German ethnic identity within the former Bohemian borders. The Germans still dominated the civil service and military appointments (a source of great influence), while the Czech population was increasing in numbers.

Rosa Heidler Lorenz told her grandchildren that she came from an area “where people were always fighting,” and that her hometown Neuhammer was a divided town. On Rosa’s side of the street, they spoke German; on the other side of the street, the people spoke Bohemian (a Slavic dialect now called the Czech language). Meter spoke of this division in Border People, The Bˆhmisch,

“The German-Bohemian emigrants were classic border people, with one foot walking in each of two conflicting identities. Their home villages were close to the border between Bavaria and Bohemia. Some knew how to speak both Czech and German. Many had learned to change political and religious loyalties rapidly after a new landlord purchased or conquered their lands. Many were expert in bi-lingual commerce. . . When they chose their new world homes, they were adept at fitting in.”

Roman Catholic records for German parishes were written in the German language. Since 1628, the German language had been used for parish names and ‘official’ place names on maps. However, Slavic Czech names were remembered by the locals and often used interchangeably. With Czech independence in 1918, and again in 1946, the Czech names were used officially once again.

So a modern map of the Czech Republic shows no villages named Neuhammer or Markt Schˆnlind, although some larger maps do show the modern Karlovy Vary with the subtitle Karlsbad; this town is west of Prague. The puzzle was solved by a lengthy visit to the Map Room of the undergraduate library of the University of California at Berkeley. The helpful librarian produced a set of German maps that had been confiscated by the Allies after Germany’s surrender ended World War II in Europe; they had been used by the German army after they ‘liberated’ the Sudetenland territory in 1939 and required the use of the German language. These were provisional maps, labelled Vorla¸fige Ausgabe!, temporary issue, and titled Karte des Deutschen Reiches, map of the German empire. All the place names are given in German, but the maps are NOT indexed.

Careful searching by Frank and Rosa’s grandson Hugh Bertsch found the names of our villages in the area northwest of Karlsbad. Picture a triangle formed by drawing one line north and another line west of Karlovy Vary (formerly Karlsbad), whose hypoteneuse is the modern border between Germany and the Czech republic. Within that triangle you will find our ancestral villages. A second visit to the library enabled us to correlate villages on the German map with those listed on a current map of then Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). Such correlations and translations are now readily available at various internet sites, such as the German Genealogy website for Sudetenland Orte. Neuhammer is now called NovÈ Hamry and is a small town north of Nejdek (the old county seat of Neudek); Markt Schonlind is now Krasna LÌpa, a small town just north of Sindelov· (the German Schindelwald) between Kraslice (formerly Graslitz) and Nejdek (Neudek). They are in a forested area in the foothills of the KrusnÈ Hory mountains (formerly called Erzgebirge, the Ore Mountains).

Krasna LÌpa, our Schonlind, is located about five miles south of Mylnske Chalupy on the road to Jindrichovice; Schonlind was first mentioned in 1508 as the location of a manor under Niklas von Globen. The Sudetenland Orte website states that a quartz deposit in the nearby mountain H¸ttenberg was probably the reason for the settlement. In 1512, the town had a mill, a glassworks (called Alth¸tte, the old houses, it operated until the Thirty Years’ War), Zinnseifen (tin or pewter working) and a quartz mine. Since 1618, Schˆnlind had a school, which existed up until 1945 as a “2-Klassige” School. In 1631, the town received the privilege of a market town (in fact, our family remembered it as Markt Schˆnlind). In 1680, plague struck the village, remembered in a pestsage, a legend about the local steward’s family, the Schaffners (unfortunately, the website only mentions the legend with no further details). In 1784, Schˆnlind became a branch church, filialkirche, of Heinrichsgrun, and in 1831 Schˆnlind became its own parish due to the reorganization of the old Schlo_kirche, castle church. In 1938, the parish district included the hamlets Schˆnlind (Kr·sn· LÌpa), Schindlwald (SÓndelov·), Kohling (MilirÍ), Vogeldorf (PtacÌ) and Hochgarth (Obora, now in Graslitz district). The 1930 census counted 3052 Catholics and 136 ‘not Catholics’ living at Schˆnlind; the Catholic parish church is dedicated to Heilige Saint Joseph.

We are fortunate to have two Correspondenz-Karten, postcards from our ancestral village, found recently amongst the postcard collection of Josephine Lorenz Lightner. They were probably sent within a cover envelope, as neither has an address, message nor a postmark to suggest when or by whom they were sent to Ohio. However, even a blank back has information; one of our cards dates from before 1905, when postal rules first allowed a message to be written on the same side with the address. This card shows a black and white photograph of a row of four buildings along the bank of a river or canal; their images are reflected in the water, while we see a small village in the distance with a tall church steeple rising out of the trees. Most of the buildings are large and white with steep gable roofs, while their small windows have no shutters. Some are one story, others are two-story, but all have ‘extra windows’ on the taller sides of the house which suggests the attic area was also used. Farm fields with varying crops are seen behind the houses, with a slight hill slope on one side. Captioned Radfahrerheim, Gruss von Teich bei Schˆnlind i. Erzgeb. (Place for Bicycle Riders; Greetings from Teich by Schˆnlind in the Erzbegirge), this postcard was published by M¸nchener Chromolith Kunstanstalt.

Our other postcard, printed by Verlag von Franz Koestler, Neudek, shows black and white photographic views of Schˆnlind, Unterer Marktplatz, the market square. The smaller image, tucked in the top corner, shows Richter’s Gasthaus ‘Gold. Adler’, Richter’s Inn or Tavern, the ‘Golden Eagle’. We see a large white two-story building, with windows from an extra attic story tucked under the gable roof. A stake fence along the roadway provides some privacy for the inn’s yard. Recall that our Josef Lorenz married Regina Katharina Richter on 3 November 1857 at Markt Schˆnlind. Although Regina’s father Adalbert Richter was a Flaschenmeister, master glass bottle maker, we can imagine that this tavern might have been owned by one of our relatives.

The other photo on the postcard shows the Marktplatz, central square in the town, with a wide street that narrows in the distance. A large brick three-story building on the right has a complicated gable roof with several dormer windows. An elderly woman sits on a bench by the front door, while a child stands nearby petting a dog and three other children stand in the Platz. A smaller house nestles next to the larger brick one, and a church tower stands above the trees at the end of the street. Other buildings stand across the street, with steeply pitched gable roofs (which would be useful to help shed the winter snowfalls) and dormer windows; captioned arrows point to Schule, school (with long windows and two stories); K.u.K. Post, post office (a small one-story building with a large dormer on the attic level); and Musikschule, the music school (a large one story building with small dormers in the gable roof). Chimneys can be seen on the top roof line for all the buildings. The ‘street’ or Platz area appears to be tamped dirt; the buildings have no sidewalks or front yards to separate them from the Platz, although the large brick building has a side yard with a large deciduous tree.

So when young Franz Josef walked for an hour to visit his fiancÈe Rosa, it was not an easy stroll! Contour maps show Schˆnlind surrounded by fields and high meadows or pastures, while Neuhammer is much more hilly. The road between them does not go in a straight line, but curves with the valleys. With the fall of the iron curtain, this area now attempts to attract tourists from western countries (much of the advertising is dual language, in both Czech and German). Pictures of a pension named Modrinka (located in Sindelov·, three miles away from Kr·sn· LÌpa) show green meadows with evergreen trees; mist low in the valley reveals the next mountain range. A small river winds through the valley.

NovÈ Hamry has an internet website with several pictures. An aerial view shows the small town nestled ‘in a charming valley’ at the junction of the Rohlau, (now Rolava), and Wei_bachs rivers. Surrounding wooded hills confine the town to narrow river banks, so that the shape of the town’s borders resembles a Y (a photo of a flood control channel shows the problems of living along such a steep riverbank). A small church with a red roof has a tall belltower with a steeply curved metal roof. Winter snows blanket a downhill ski run and green summer hills beckon tourists, as do an old steam train, views from the Peindlberg and a vermilion sunset. The nearby picturesque Rohlauslu_chens valley (along the Rolava river) is the ‘gateway to Hirschberg Nature Park’. The Vittour website states,

“Neuhammer is surrounded by high forested mountains, of which the most imposing is called Peindlberg. A miners’ settlement started here in the 1400’s. Tin and iron ore produced in the area was processed directly in the village. Early foundries unter dem Hofberg gave birth to the name ‘Hammer’ for the village.

“The first reports of the mining industry are found in the Bergbuch, mining book from the years 1556 to 1651. During the 16th century, the houses at Neuhammer numbered 28. Tin mines named St. Gregor, St. Stephan, Peindls Grube and St. Michael were established in Neuhammer. Although tangible yields decreased during the Thirty Years’ War, mining continued in Neuhammer until circa 1860. Then the pits were finally abandoned as unprofitable.

“During the Middle Ages, a lively business was thriving on the Rohlau River. Placer mining harvested deposits of tin from the river; mills, wire factories, saw mills, hammer, foundries, crushing mills and schmieden, blacksmith forges were built on the riverbanks. The local wire factory was one of the largest in the area.

“St. Nepomuk Church was built in Neuhammer in the year 1789 (St. John of NepomucË was the patron saint) in the Rococo style, and the valuable organ was mentioned during the 17th century. Neuhammer had 197 houses with 1508 inhabitants by 1850 (note this averages over seven people in each house). The village had an elementary school, a wire foundry, a mill, three public houses and a manorial house for the forester am Hofberg known as Eulenhof. On the site of the Eulenhof, there was a glassworks during the 1500’s called Neuhammer mit Peindlberg Glash¸tte Eulenh¸tte. It is said that here the well-known glassmaker Christoph Sch¸rer learned how to make colored glass with blue cobalt colors.

“In the second half of the vorigen, previous century (the 1800’s) Hauserzeugung (production within individual homes, or cottage industry), spread throughout the village. They made Blech, tin or sheet metal, and Wei_blech, white tin by lˆffeln, a molten process using ladles (maybe). There were also turning lathes to make Perlmutterknˆpfen, mother of pearl buttons. Then they made roof shingles and a big saw mill which is still producing today.

1891 was a pivotal year for Bohemia; young Czech politicians dominated parliamentary elections. They emphasized religious freedoms, economic viability, and educational reforms at the expense of Bohemian autonomy. No further political attempt was made to solve co-existence problems between ethnic Czechs and ethnic Germans. These continuing tensions helped nourish the seeds of World War I and World War II; they may also have contributed to our Frank’s decision to leave Bohemia for America.

His brothers Wenzel and Anton Lorenz had come earlier; they first settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. Wenzel Lorenz first appears in the Cincinnati City Directory in 1884, as a porter boarding at the Teutonia Hotel. He then became a safe maker and iron worker. As far as we know, Wenzel was the first of this family to come to America, although it is intriguing to note that a man named Joseph Heidler, a cabinetmaker from Austria, was listed in the Cincinnati City Directory in 1880.

Wenzel Lorenz sponsored the immigration of his brother Anton, who appears in the Cincinnati City Directory in 1889 as a bolt cutter. Anton soon moved north to the smaller town of Hamilton, along the Miami and Erie Canal, but Wenzel stayed in Cincinnati and sponsored the immigration of our Franz Josef (who became Frank in America). The family remembers that our Franz was free to leave Austria because his short height exempted him from the requirement that all Austrian boys spend time serving in the Austrian army.

Frank and Rosa Lorenz emigrated together; Pauline remembers hearing that they came on the steamer SS Franz Josef (named for the Emperor of Austria, not for our Frank!). This ship was a boat of the Norddeutscher Lloyd, North German Lloyd Line, and this was her last ocean trip; she was sold upon arrival in America. Naturalization papers show that the ship left Bremen on 2 May 1891 and docked in Baltimore on 15 May 1891. Frank and Rosa came by steerage class; Pauline says this was in order “to save the money they didn’t have.” As steerage passengers, they were worried about the food that would be served to them, so Rosa hung sausages from her waist underneath her voluminous skirts. They had food for the long voyage that no one could steal from them! A letter from Mrs. S. Bartmann, published in the Boston Evening Transcript on 21 December 1892, described steerage food, usually pea soup ladled from a huge pail, as

“plentiful and good enough - though singularly tasteless, being cooked by steam - at least for the majority of the steerage passengers, who have hardly anything better on land. . . most people lose their appetites at sea and would experience an aversion for the best food.”

Rosa also brought with her a pair of heavy Czech crystal goblets, a gift to the couple from Rosa’s parents that was used for their wedding toast in Bohemia. One goblet was given to their daughter Rose Lorenz Bertsch (Patricia Minke Rubley now treasures it); the other one has been lost through the years. Rose also used a porcelain dresser set (a tray and a covered dish for face powder which were decorated with delicate blue forget-me-not flowers) that may have come from Bohemia with her mother Rosa (or perhaps Rosa bought it in Ohio because it reminded her of her homeland; in later years, her daughter Luella often wrote to Rosa about the flowers that she saw in Czechoslovakia, for Rosa had often talked about those in Bohemia). The M. Z. AUSTRIA marking above a crown and double eagle tells us that the porcelain tray was made by the Moritz Zdekauer company which began production in 1884; lack of the Gesetzligh Geschutzt patent mark suggests the pieces date from before 1900. This company was located in Altrolau, Austria; in 1909 it was purchased by the C. M. Hutschenreuther firm.

Finally, we have several old German language prayer books. One is pocket sized, titled


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