Mar 062012
 
...and a Night in Teplitz

The hospitality was bounteous, if not terribly personalized. A short visit with the mayor and his wife, then they handed us over to the guesthouse where we’d be staying that night. As with every Ukrainian meal, plates of food covered every square inch of the table’s surface. But the guesthouse owner hovered over us like […Read more]

Mar 032012
 
A Day in Benkendorf...

The stout, kerchiefed woman took one look at the Americans appearing in her village and whisked herself away from the group gathering around our van. It couldn’t be something we’d said, because we hadn’t said a word. At least, not one she would have understood. The four of us stood by as Serge our interpreter […Read more]

Jan 172011
 
No Way Out

If you’re stuck in a blizzard, there are worse places to be than a cozy house overlooking a snow-covered lake, with internet access, satellite TV, and a well-stocked freezer and pantry. My ancestors who settled on these prairies had a much tougher time when they encountered blizzard conditions—crammed together in a sod house, the sheet […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]

Apr 172010
 
Karmanova aka Neudorf, Glueckstal

My Schott ancestors left the town of Osthofen, Germany, about 1809, heading east toward a better life in Russia. I don’t know why they left this pleasant town in a wine-growing area near the Rhine River, accepting Tsar Alexander’s invitation to German settlers. Great-great-great-grandfather Philipp Jakob Schott was a tailor, so it wouldn’t seem likely a hunger […Read more]