Jul 302016
 
A Village of Quiet Charm

My 1999 visit to Gräfenhausen (origin of my Billigmeier family) epitomizes what not to do when visiting an ancestral town. I showed up there one afternoon, completely unplanned. I stood on the street, looked around, didn’t talk to anyone (didn’t actually see anyone to talk to), took a photo of a building that looked important, […Read more]

Apr 242016
 
The History of the Schott Name

There are several theories for the origin of the name Schott. The one described by Johann Schott von Schottenborn in 1587 is that Schott ancestors originated in the town of Schotten in Hessen, Germany. He describes how his branch of the family left Schotten and settled first near Eisemroth, Hessen. They were smelters and forgers […Read more]

Jan 262016
 
Schotten, Germany: Land of My People

The town of Schotten is said to be the place of origin of both the Schott family and the Schott name sometime between the 11th and 13th centuries. The official history for the town of Schotten, Germany, is that an early document mentions a church “ad scotis” or “of the Scots” that is one of […Read more]

Mar 292015
 
Berlin: Then and Now

Even before I first saw the Berlin Wall in 1983, my Cold-War-era childhood filled with black-and-white movies of Soviet spies made it an ominous symbol of repression. Along with a bus full of fellow recently graduated college students who were my travel companions in July 1983, I’d spent the morning seeing West Berlin with a […Read more]

Oct 192014
 
I Need a Dirndl

  In September, my thoughts turn to Oktoberfest even though Americans usually think about Oktoberfest in, well, October. But in its German homeland, Oktoberfest begins in September. (Something about wanting good enough weather to be able to drink beer outside.) For years, Oktoberfest in München was not high on my list of travel priorities. A […Read more]

Sep 112013
 
The Borders Are Closed

I was in Germany on 9/11. While my friends and family started their day with the news of the attack, I didn’t learn about it until evening. For Americans in the U.S., it was a day filled with unfolding horror. For me, it was a day filled with sightseeing in Hannover with my cousin David, […Read more]

Apr 272010
 
Off the Tourist Track

Castles, cathedrals, Oktoberfest, cruising the Rhine River—these are the things most people go to Germany to experience. But my itinerary was one you wouldn’t find in a tour book: the local museum in a small town, the village church and cemetery, and the small Kunst im Kuhstall (Art in the Cowstall) art gallery. I was visiting Ober-Gleen, […Read more]