Thursday, October 24, 2013

European Adventure- Part 1

At my house just before leaving
As I mentioned in my last post, I had made a trip to the Netherlands and Germany. I traveled with a friend with whom I had taught at East High in Waterloo. Steve Moravec was also in the history department there and is an experienced traveler to Europe. He is working on his family’s genealogy and had always been after me to make the journey and visit some of my ancestral “homes”. He finally convinced me to go when he offered to be a “travel guide”. That sold me on the idea! 

We left from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on September 3 and arrived in Amsterdam about 9 hours later.
Bikes, bikes, bikes and more bikes!
We stayed in Amsterdam for three days. What a city it is! I simply could not believe the number of bicycles! They are everywhere and at all hours. The picture above is a three-level parking area for bikes. My favorite pastime  was walking along the canals. I did not realize how many they have. You can find so many quaint little shops and cafes along them.

On Saturday, September 7 it was time to use our first Eurail pass trip to go to Stuttgart. Our Eurail pass was good for five trips and we used every one of them. What a system! On all five of our trips, we got to our destination on the minute we were supposed to have arrived! I got my first introduction to German food at an outdoor restaurant in Stuttgart. It was time to experiment, so I chose an entree called schweinebraten and it was simply delicious. It was so good that I looked for a recipe and made it when I returned home! It was terrific again if I may say so!

On Monday, September 9, we headed out to an old medieval town called Rothenburg ob der Tauber. For a couple of old history teachers, this was quite the place. As you can see in these pictures, it has maintained its medieval charm quite well. Being medieval, the town was surrounded by a high protective wall. You can walk atop it nearly the entire length around the town- it’s about a 2-mile walk and this picture below shows the covered walkway on
Atop the wall
 top of the wall. More good food here-- I chose some schnitzel this time!

When Wednesday rolled around, it was time to board the train to Nürnberg, or Nuremberg as we know it. After finding a hotel, we took a stroll around the old part of town and came upon a Pizza Hut. That really sounded good so we ducked in and had some Italian for a change. The next day we toured the Nazi Documentation Center; they have done an excellent job in telling the story of the rise of the Nazi Party without pushing any agenda. The stories and displays pretty much lead you to the obvious conclusions. It’s good to have this kind of place lest we forget; as a matter of fact, there were several German army personnel taking the tour at the time we were there. I wonder if it is a requirement? We were able to walk
Zeppelin Field
over to Zeppelin Field where the large Nazi rallies were held and you can actually walk up to the reviewing platform that Hitler would have stood upon while reviewing the thousands of troops lined up before him. It was really a somewhat eerie feeling to be there. Again, a couple of old history teachers just really ate it up! We also visited the Albrecht Dürer museum which happens to be the home in which he lived in Nürnberg. He was a famous artist.
Dürer home

On Friday, September 13, we left for Stuttgart on our third Eurail trip-- two to go! I’ll continue the trip in the next post. If you happen to follow my other blog “Schell Seekers”, you will find this exact same posting there.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Frederick Happekotte- Adventurer

Before I get to Frederick’s story, I just wanted to mention that I took a little “sabbatical” from posting in September. I was on a trip to the Netherlands and Germany where I got to meet an eighth cousin on the Schell side in Stuttgart, Germany. He and his wife then took us to visit the Schell ancestral home of Erfweiler, Germany. I will have a post about that trip later.

I am skipping the generation with Bernard “Barney” Happekotte and will return to him in the near future. Some new information has recently come to light about Frederick Happekotte, who was Bernard’s father. And this is very exciting news in deed! Frederick Happekotte is my third great grandfather. He was born in Germany on 12 Aug 1821. There may be some question at this point as to where in Germany he was born, but it seems to have been in the Essen area. On May 17/18, 1847, Frederick left Germany and was a part of a German colony in Guatemala. The colony was started in the early 1840s. I do know exactly when Frederick entered the United States. That happened on June 4, 1850 when he, wife Christina, nee Kreitz, and their infant son, John Frederick, entered the port of New Orleans on the ship John Bell. From there, they made their way up the Mississippi to Quincy, IL. Their infant son died in Quincy on 28 Jun 1850. So, this Happekotte family arrived in Quincy sometime between  the 4th and 28th of June. Another son, Mathias, was born about 14 Aug 1850 but only survived until the August 31, 1850.

Here is the exciting development. I was contacted by Jóse Francisco Monterroso back in early August of this year. He had come across this blog and saw the Kreitz connection. He is a direct descendant of Petrus (Pedro) Kreitz who was the brother of Christina Kreitz and was also in Guatemala.  It seems as though Christina was previously married to a Carl Stütggen. This was new information for me. He drowned in Guatemala trying to cross a swollen river on horseback. Then, Christina married my third great grandfather, Frederick Happekotte in Guatemala on May 2, 1848. This was another really exciting piece of the puzzle to obtain. I am indebted to Mr. Monterroso who supplied me with a marriage document for Christina and Frederick. Christina and Frederick went on to have four other children in Quincy: Fidel in 1852, Isabel in 1853, Bernard Frederick in 1854, and Maria Catherine Isabella in 1856. Only Bernard Frederick, my second great grandfather survived. None of the other children seemed to have survived past one year of age. Maria Catherine Isabella is a question because I have no death date for her. I can only imagine the pain that Christina felt in her life. She lost her first husband and, at least,  four of her six children in infancy.

I am also very indebted to Christine Cano who wrote a book about the Kreitz family. Most of the information on the Kreitz family in Guatemala came from her source. She has also painstakingly reconstructed a timeline for the Kreitz family and their Guatemalan experience based upon the new information provided by Mr. Monterroso. This is an ongoing research project as we search for more corroborating evidence. Somethings may never be proven, but Ms. Cano has put together a very convincing and likely story for the Kreitz family in Guatemala which includes our Frederick and Christina Happekotte. 

I am also indebted to Mike Happekotte for providing much of the early Happekotte history. He had obtained information from Frank Habekotte who lives in the Netherlands. Some of that early history now must be substantiated with some documentation. That will be an ongoing quest. 
Pictured: Frederick and Christina Kreitz Happekotte (seated), standing are Miss Bergsneider (family friend) and Bernard (son)