Time has flown by on our latest trip and we were busy from morning to night. I just did a private tour with some sisters (and their niece) from Pittsburgh, PA to visit their ancestral hometowns in Germany and France.
Our first hometown was Flieden, Germany, which is in Hessen near Fulda, Germany. We arrived by train and were met by the local researcher, the former mayor (who bears the family name) and a local school teacher who helped with the translations.
They whisked us away in 3 cars to the nearby village of Rückers, where our first stop was at a local restaurant where we were met by about 6 or 7 people who were cousins. Much hugging and talking and picture taking ensued. We enjoyed a beer or two before taking a walk to the church (Assumption of Mary), we visited and took pictures and then walked on to the cemetery. As you may or may not know, cemeteries in Germany only contain newer graves, perhaps 30 or 40 years old. There is no enough room for centuries of graves so families rent the grave space and not quite sure what happens but you certainly won’t find graves or stones from 100 years ago. But German graveyards are usually always beautiful, live flowers are planted on the plot and you usually always find someone in the cemetery tending to the graves. The former mayor told us that this cemetery was revamped in the past decades so that all the stones are about the same height and on many stones there is a carved picture of perhaps what the occupation of the interred was (like a shepherd or woodworker etc) or sometimes what they liked to do, one showed the Alps because the person liked to hike in the Alps. It was really a beautiful, restful place. (sorry my pictures of this are lost??)
We then walked back to the restaurant where the “cousins” had waited for us and we had a wonderful meal of salads and schnitzel and of course some dessert. Then over to Flieden to visit the church there. This was the church of St. Goar, the oldest part of the church from around the 13th century.
The priest arrived and gave us a little history of the church and one of the ladies asked if the priest would give us a blessing (the women were Catholic) and so we knelt down and Father blessed us using a relic (bone of St Goar!) First time this happened,
Later we walked over to the Rathaus (city hall) and were met and welcomed by the very young mayor. He gave the ladies some info on Flieden in a nice little stamped bag. He also told us the following story about why the symbol of Flieden says ” Kingdom of Flieden”
Folklore says that back in the day when Germans were fighting against Napoleon (the 19th century short-statured, feisty French emperor) a general asked where his recruits were from. Unlike modern day Germany where Saxony, Prussia, and Westphalia are all united under one flag — each was its own kingdom. One man said he was from the Kingdom of Hannover, another Kingdom of Prussia and then a young lad yelled he was from the Kingdom of Flieden, not knowing whose kingdom the town belonged since the borders were always changing. Afterwards the town forever became known as Königreich Flieden. Although, today it technically belongs to the federal state of Hesse — and no part of Germany is a kingdom.
Last but not least we visited Flieden’s heimat museum (historical society museum). It seems the school teacher who was one of the translators was the President of the historical society. He gave us a tour and it was nice but the weather was so hot we were kind of drained by this time. All in all, first hometown day was GREAT!