MAY 25, 2001 Friday
I can hardly believe that this is our third trip to the
Island of Fehmarn. Each year in the
month of May, we make this pilgrimage to the land of our ancestors.
Another year has passed, and off we go again to do our genealogy research
and to meet with the wonderful people that are so kind to help John in this
John and I arrived in Hamburg, Germany about 9:15 am, on
Friday, after an uneventful flight from Miami, Florida that started yesterday.
Our first stop in the Airport was to pick up our rental car at the
National counter. After loading our 5 pieces of luggage in to our cute little
Mercedes vehicle, we were leaving the Hamburg Airport and within minutes of
driving into the city, we were confused by the construction around the Airport.
Two years ago, on our first trip, we encountered construction on the
roadway in and around the airport and they don’t seem to have made much
We always seem to have a difficult time getting out of
Hamburg. The new sites, busy
traffic, foreign road signs and unfamiliar roads get to us every year and this
year was no different. But…within
an hour, we had found the Autobahn using my notes from last year and were
heading in the direction of Fehmarn.
Driving along the Autobahn, we noticed the Raps flowers
were in full bloom and the fields were aglow with the brilliant yellow flowers.
I’ve been told that these flowers bloom for 3 to 4 weeks only.
The weather is beautiful; sunny and very mild (high in the 70’s and low
in the upper 50’s) and we’re on our way to the beautiful island of Fehmarn. This weekend is the Rapsblütenfest on Petersdorf, and we
have plans to attend this year. Traffic
onto the island is much heavier than we have ever seen before because of this
Crossing the beautiful Fehmarnsund Bridge, we noticed the
many, small sailboats in the water and the beautiful lush fields of yellow raps
flowers to our left. On the right
is a small harbor with local boats. It
was a beautiful, sunny, windy afternoon and it looked like we might have some
nice weather for the weekend.
After a short stop at a very crowded McDonald’s for lunch
(one of the first business you see, when entering the island), we arrived at
Anne Claussen-Mackaprang’s house in Burg auf Fehmarn. We rent a zimmer (room)
with a private bath each year in her home.
Anne was delighted to see us, and we were very happy to be “home”.
After bringing in our luggage (we don’t pack light), John presented
Anne with a gift of her pedigree chart showing her ancestors from Fehmarn.
This gift was well appreciated by Anne, as we know she is very interested
in her family history.
We had planned to rest for a while in our room, as John had
not been able to sleep on the plane. We
had left at 4 pm (Miami time) on Friday and I managed to get about 4 hours
sleep, but was still a little tired. By
now, John had been awake for a little over 24 hours. But we were too excited to
take a nap so we decided to organize our luggage, the room…. anything but get
the rest that we needed!
At 3 pm, we had an appointment in Landkirchen for a tour of the St. Petri’s Church that had been arranged by Dorothee Gossel. Dorothee is a Fehmarn native who has settled in Iowa with her husband and children, but she still has most of her family on the island. In previous years, Dorothee has helped John and I make the arrangements to stay on the island. She has arranged a tour from America for a small group of 13 people. This is the second year she has done a tour to Germany and John’s website has helped to promote it. This particular tour is a little different from her first tour, as most of the participants have ancestral roots in the small island of Fehmarn and with John’s help, they will be researching their family history.
We arrived at St. Petri’s Church in Landkirchen about
2:30 pm. The cemetery is located
all around the Church… one of John’s favorite places.
While we waited for the arrival of Dorothee Gossel’s tour group and the
local historian who would be our guide for this tour, John and I started to take
photographs of all the headstones in the cemetery.
We each have digital cameras this year, enabling us to takes hundreds of
photos. John’s goal is to
photograph all the headstones in 6 different cemeteries on this trip.
You will be able to see the photos of your ancestors gravesites on the
website under “Visit the Cemeteries”.
Soon, we noticed no one was showing up.
3 o’clock…. 3:30…. 4 o’clock…. No one!
Inside the church, it looked as thought it was set up for a wedding, but
no one was around. So we were beginning to think that the plans had been
changed at the last minute, before anyone could notify us. Disappointed, but not discouraged, we went back to our
Today was not going well……. we couldn’t get the key
to work in the front door. Anne was
not home, so we decided this was a good time to go to the grocery store.
All the larger grocery stores are located on the main entry road onto the
island. We choose the Penny Market,
as I have not gone to this store in previous years.
John likes the cemeteries and I like the grocery stores.
(We all have our quirks!) We
bought our water and snacks and went back to try the door again.
This time Anne was home and she showed us how to work a door key.
As we were coming in the door, the phone was ringing.
It was Dorothee calling us to tell us about the change in plans due to
the wedding at the church. She and the group were at the Alshaus, a restaurant across
the street from the Landkirchen Church. The
tour of the church had been delayed till after dinner.
They were waiting for us to arrive before they ordered dinner.
So we jumped into our little rental car and were there in a matter of 10
This was the first time John and I have met Dorothee in
person. All our contacts, over the
past few years were by e-mail and the telephone.
The group was sitting in the back outside patio area of the restaurant.
We instantly went to our old friends and traveling companions from last
years trip to the island…. Alan and Tressie Hughes.
They introduced us to Dorothee and everyone in the group: Norma and
Dennis Keesee, Margie and Roger Nolting, Arlene and Wayne Nolting, Ruth and
Harvey Prinz, Margaret and Emil Bredekamp, and Vera Fuller.
The food at the Alshaus was plentiful and very good.
There were 4 different chooses arranged by Dorothee for the group to
choose from, and everyone enjoyed the excellent food.
After the meal and much conversation during dinner, Dorothee had arranged
for a local dance group to perform for us.
After translating the name of the group to me, she said they were called
the Folk Dancing Group of Farmer’s Women. Dorothee even admitted to having
belonged to this dance group before moving to America.
They performed about 3 or 4 German folk dances and were enjoyed by all in
our party. This show of local
performers really made the dinner a very special treat for us.
After dinner and the dance performance, John handed out
Family Pedigree charts to everyone in the group. On next Tuesday, John will be helping them do genealogy
research at the Neustadt Archives and wanted everyone to be prepared to work
hard. These charts were a pleasant
surprise to all in the group. Immediately,
people were unrolling charts on tables and the floor.
Quite a site, as it brought attention from some of the other restaurant
diners and soon others were looking at the charts also.
Before long, it was time to leave the restaurant, and cross
the street for the tour of the Landkirchen Church with Karin Kleingarn.
She is a local historian and teacher in the area.
She told us the history of the island of Fehmarn and all about the
prominent families who are in the portraits on the walls and in the epitaphs
displayed in the church. Tressie
Hughes, editor of the Fehmarn Cousins Newsletter (displayed on this website)
will be writing an article about the information that Frau Kleingarn shared so
graciously with us, so I won’t go into this tour in further detail.
Check out the Newsletter for this historical article. But I must mention, that I enjoyed this tour very much and
learned some interesting facts about the island of Fehmarn.
After a very enjoyable tour, and much conversation, John and I were on our way back to our room on Klaus Groth Strasse (street) in Burg. By this time, John had been awake for about 30 hours and was in need of a good night’s sleep. I stayed up to work and type this journal, but it wasn’t long before I had to go to sleep also.
Tomorrow’s plans: A tour of Lübeck with Dorothee’s tour group.
The FEHMARN GENEALOGY Site