My Great Agenda for the Family History trip included two very personal stops.
I had heard rumors some time ago that the old Schmitzer house was still standing on South Dehmel road in Frankenmuth. I was given a photo from my uncle of the Johann Michael Schmitzer family that, if I’m not mistaken, was taken at the house on Dehmel. This was the home where my great-grandfather would have grown up. To say that I wanted to see the house was an understatement. To stand where my great-grandfather may have stood, where his daddy and granddaddy may have stood–the idea has been drawing me for some time. In the end, no one was certain where the house was–though I think Uncle David knows more than he realizes! I’m not disappointed that we didn’t make it to the house on Dehmel road, because I know it will be the first thing on my Great Agenda for the next trip. It gives me a place to begin.
The other point of interest was Frankentrost. Mom has told me about growing up in Frankentrost, but the few times we’ve passed through the small town, I haven’t thought much of it. After all, the house where they lived is no longer there; the church has burned down and been replaced. It just doesn’t hold any visual memory for me to connect with. However, one of my cousins shared a photo on FB last year that showed my dear Grandma tending her flowers:
When I showed this photo to my mom last year, the first comment she made was that this was Frankentrost! You can see the old church in this image, and the driveway. On this side of the photo, beyond the flowers, was the house where my mom grew up. Though the landscape and buildings have changed, I wanted to see the place where they lived and served (and they did serve–behind the church was the Lutheran School where my grandfather taught). It meant so much to me to see where they lived, but I know it meant a lot to my mom to see it again, as well.
The greatest part about the trip, though, was spending time with family. Not only did I have a fantastic time with mom and Jer, but it was so nice to visit with several of my cousins, and my aunts and uncles. We never had those strong connections as children, so to be building those relationships now as adults is very important to me.
My Aunt Judy did something remarkable. She brought photos to my mother that she’d been hanging onto. Remember when I said I was surprised to find the Schmutzer record? I hadn’t been expecting it. It was the same with these photos. No one had known that I’d been wanting (something fiercely) the two photos below. And yet, Aunt Judy had been holding them for my mom. Now…I’m enormously thankful that Judy held them, and also that my mom didn’t mind sharing them with me!
The above is my Grandma Schmitzer’s family. From left to right, the four children: Genevieve, Margaret (my Grandma!), Ewald Jr, and Norman Raatz. Seated in front is their mother, the infamous Grandma Hanson (actually, my great-grandma, Jennie Pieczynski–the good Catholic girl who married a Lutheran boy…I’ll take Family Mysteries for $1000, Alex).
And here, we have the Schmitzer brothers. Handsome fellows! From left to right, Alois Sr, my grandfather–Herman, Richard, and Alfred.
What a precious gift–to see the faces of my grandparents and their families!