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, the home of my Schott ancestors in the 1600s.

Although Ober-Gleen and Kirtorf (the neighboring town that is now the central administration for 7 villages, including Ober-Gleen) lie on the Deutsch Märchenstraße (German Fairytale Road) in the Vogelsberg region (a popular area for outdoor activities), they won’t be found in any guide book. Which is a shame, because they are charming examples of small town Germany.


Touring Ober-Gleen and Kirtorf


The Kunst im Kuhstall art gallery, Ober-Gleen

My host for the day was the owner of the art gallery, Herr Bloemers, a retiree from the hotel industry after managing 5-star hotels in numerous countries throughout his career (which made his English far better than my German). Although the gallery was quiet the day I was there, its popularity is evident since the exhibit space is already booked a year in advance and opening parties usually include guests from Frankfurt (about an hour’s drive away).

 I’ll admit, I expected the Kirtorf museum would be a typical local museum—poorly lit with a dusty collection of 19th century furniture and other items from people’s attics. Instead, behind its historic fachwerk exterior it was a completely renovated, bright space with well-explained displays and innovative audio-visuals.

The outer layer of wood was burned to create enough heat to melt and process the tree pitch inside the oven.

One exhibit area explained the Schmeerofen, a process that produced wagon wheel lubricant from sticky tree pitch (who knew such a thing was possible?), which was important to the area’s economy for many decades. Only a small number of places throughout Germany had the right type of trees to use for this process.

Another exhibit was devoted to Friedrich Ludwig Weidig, a pastor for a time in Ober-Gleen, but who was active in a Germany-wide movement in the 1830s that had the audacity to suggest that all the German principalities should become one nation (which finally occurred in 1871). He was arrested for his “radical” political beliefs and finally committed suicide while in prison.

Looking for Traces of My Ancestors


The Lutheran church in Ober-Gleen

But what about my own family history? Well, when I went to the bank to exchange money, it was clear the Schott name no longer held any weight here. The first bank wouldn’t exchange my dollars at all, saying something about my needing an account there. The tellers at the second bank laughingly suggested to Herr Bloemers that the problem might have been caution in taking dollars from a random (possibly suspicious) American showing up at their counter.

Of course, they also laughed when I asked for Euros. Though I spoke in German, I used the American pronunciation for Euros, which sounds like the German pronunciation for gyros, the Greek fast food. Hmm, maybe the first bank thought I was ordering lunch rather than exchanging currency?

Inside the Ober-Gleen church, built in 1735

Although I know my Schott ancestors lived in Ober-Gleen in the 1600s and early 1700s, there’s little trace of them today. The cemetery of that time was next to the church and is now a parking lot. The current church wasn’t built until 1735, when my ancestor Michael Schott had already left the village. But the baptismal font dates back to the 1500s, so it was probably used to baptize some of my Schott ancestors.

There are no Schott family members in the village today, although other names associated with my family (Mess, Fröhlich, Schleich, Jacobi, Stumpf) still exist there. I probably have some distant cousins in Ober-Gleen, descendents of Michael’s sisters. But I don’t have enough information to make the connection and neither do they. As Herr Bloemers explained to me, “They know their families have always lived here. Family history is just not so interesting to them.”

A Day in Ober-Gleen


A restored fachwerk house in Ober-Gleen. One side would have been the house and the other the barn.

My day in Ober-Gleen was not a usual tourist day of jostling with crowds to take photos of big name sights.

But learning about the local history and seeing the museum…having the typical German afternoon coffee and cake in the April sunshine as classical music drifted from the gallery…eating dinner in the local Gastätte where the mayor greeted each person while he shared an after-work beer with those at the bar…seeing the memorial to the Jewish families who had lived here until WWII…watching the Gleenbach brook tumble along the edge of the village as a bicyclist coasted over one of its bridges…spending the night in the Kirtorf hotel with its historic restaurant, but thoroughly modern rooms (and eating some of the best spätzle I’ve tasted)…seeing the local fachwerk houses in their natural habitat (far more interesting than visiting the nearby open-air museum, even one as well-done as Hessen Park)…all these things created a special visit for me to this little village, off the tourist track.

(For more stories about visiting ancestral towns, check out my book, “Yes You! Yes Now! Visiting Your Ancestral Town.”)


  1. Michael Dörr on May 14, 2011 at 2:22 am

    Hello Carolyn!

    My name is Michael Dörr from the town of Kirtorf,

    as you tell, you got ancestors with the surname “Jacobi” in Ober-Gleen.

    I also do but have no traces found to the Schott family yet, here are two marriages from familysearch, maybe they fit:

    Groom’s Name: Johannes Jacobi
    Marriage Date: 05 Feb 1722
    Bride’s Name: Eulalia Schott
    Marriage Place: Evangelisch, Obergleen, Oberhessen, Hesse-Darmstadt


    Groom’s Name: Johann Henrich Jacobi
    Marriage Date: 26 Sep 1715
    Bride’s Name: Anna Elisabetha Schott
    Marriage Place: Evangelisch, Obergleen, Oberhessen, Hesse-Darmstadt


    If you got more information about the Ober-Gleen Jacobis, please let me know because I came to a brickwall, my gr-gr-gr-grandfather Johann Jost Jacobi was born 10.Jan 1788 in Ober Gleen, he married in Lehrbach (also a district of Kirtorf), his father was Johann Conrad, born 18.Dec 1763 in Ober Gleen, he’s the eldest Jacobi ancestor I could find.

    I’d be pleased to hear from you



  2. Alan Becking on December 1, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Hi Carolyn,

    I just read your article and recognized a couple of surnames that were mentioned. I too have an ancestor by the name of Stumpf (Anna Barbara, b:1681, d:1760). My branch of the family left Ober-Gleen in 1846 to emigrate to Canada. I am still trying to find links in Ober-Gleen. If you have any information that may link to Boecking, I would be interested to hear from you.

    Also to Micheal Dorr,

    I have a record of an ancestor married to a Jacobi (Anna Elisabetha). My ancestor’s name was Johann Martin Boecking, b:1691, d:1760. If you have any information please contact me.

    Thanks to you both,

    Al Becking

  3. Carolyn on December 2, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Alan,

    My direct family line left Ober Gleen back in the 1700s, first to another part of Germany and then later to Russia. So I have just tidbits of information. I haven’t seen any links to Boecking, but I need to spend more time with the sisters (who stayed in Ober Gleen) of my direct ancestor (who left) and see what connections I can find. I’ll let you know if I spot any Boecking connections.

    Michael – I don’t know who Eulalia Schott is. But there only appeared to be one Schott family in Ober-Gleen, so I need to go look up that entry in familysearch to see what I can learn about her.

    I DO know about Anna Elisabetha Schott who married Johann Heinrich Jacobi. She is the sister of my direct ancestor Michael Schott. She died at the age of 28. I need to spend more time with the records to see how many children she had and what happened to them.

  4. Brenda on January 13, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Hello Carolyn.
    I have Frolich relatives that lived in Ober Gleen. My great-great grandmother Gertrude Frolich (Hoerle) was born there.
    I found her birth record – “[S2131] Church Records – Germany, Hessen, Ober Gleen (Kr. Aslfeld) – Roman Catholic, 1195559, 1199560, 1195561..
    In the year eight hundred fifteen, on the two and twentieth July in the evening before eight o’clock, bore Barbara Katherina, the wife of underforester Johann Jost Frólich of Arnshain, (she) born Frólich from Obergleen, her fourth child, the third daughter, who on the thirtieth of the same (ie. month) by the holy baptism received the name Gertraute. Godmother was Frau (Mrs) Oberforester Gertraute Hoffman from Whalen. Jost Fróhlich and very faint Hoffman signature.
    The father and the godmother of the child have signed this record. Carl Ludwig Suell, Pastor.”
    Just wondering if you know much more about the Frolichs, as I learned her father Johann Jost Frolich was an under forester to nobility in the area. They had several children. Any connections between you and my ancestors? Brenda Hoerle

  5. Carolyn on January 16, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Brenda,

    Unfortunately, I haven’t done very much work on the Froehlichs. My 6x great-grandmother was Heva Froehlich, b. about 1658 and d. in 1697. But I haven’t really spent time figuring out her parents/siblings/etc.

    But it’s not a huge town – I’ll be we’re related! Hello, probable cousin!

  6. Matthew Diegel on February 9, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Hi, my name is Matthew Diegel. My Diegel relatives left Ober-gleen for Canada in the mid-1850s. I too am thinking of visiting some day. Your article gives me even more enthusiasm to do so!

  7. Carolyn on February 9, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    @Matthew – it’s really a charming town! I’ve been in touch recently with someone who has actually written three books about the town. I have two of them…need to order the third. They’re all in German though, so I’m really going to have to brush up to make anything of them.

    So funny – I just got back from a trip to the Family History Library where I was poring over the Ober Gleen records again trying to make sense of them. 🙂

  8. Monika Felsing on October 4, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Dear Carolyn, we are waiting for our fourth book about Ober-Gleen to be released. In the meantime, I have asked the genealogist in our team, Matthias Eislöffel, who has relatives called Fröhlich and has done a lot of research, if he could help Brenda. Indeed, he knows about a Johann Jost Fröhlich, who, in 1841, had been Großherzoglich Hessischer Unterförster in Arnshain. He had been married to Anna Gulda Fink. The couple had a daughter, Maria Elisabetha Fröhlich, born in 1820 in Arnshain, who married in 1841 in Arnshain. The bridegroom was from Ober-Gleen: Johann Konrad Fröhlich. Matthias is quite sure that he must have moved to Arnshain for Johann Konrad died there in 1888. Johann Jost Fröhlich could have been married to Barbara Katharina Fröhlich from Ober-Gleen first. He had been the father of her daughter Gertraude, born in 1815. Divorces were not common, then. If Barbara Katharina had died – as many young mothers did in her time -, her widower could have married Anna Gulda Fink. But this is just wild guessing, Matthias says.
    Best wishes, greetings to you and to Brenda (in case that you are interested in our Ober-Gleen-Project, Brenda, see our blog Owenglie or contact us: [email protected], lastoria being our little historical Society)! Monika (Felsing)

  9. Carolyn on October 7, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    @Monika – thanks so much for being willing to help! I really should do more to trace my non-Schott family lines in Ober-Gleen. I know my Schott ancestor left, but other family lines might still be there…I may have cousins in Ober-Gleen and not know it!

  10. Monika Felsing on October 15, 2016 at 3:08 am

    Dear Carolyn, aren’t we all Cousins in one way or other? I guess you have a good Chance finding relatives in Ober-Gleen, for seldomly, a whole Family left the village. With a bit of luck, you could find out what your housename is. Mine is Paul’s. I guess, you know that.
    We could ask at our book release Party if anybody has an idea. Not the biggest Chance, but a Chance. And we could mention Brenda’s and Al’s request, as well. And Clare’s. She has responded to my comment on this blog with an E-Mail today.
    I would love to make the book release Party of th 29th of October, 3 pm (15:00) European time, a Skype session, but I am not sure if it would be possible.
    Herzliche Grüße, Monika

  11. Carolyn on October 15, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Hi Monika,

    Yes, I guess ultimately we’re all cousins…it’s just how close the cousinship is!

    The names that would possibly be related to me in Ober-Gleen are Froehlich (my 6x great-grandmother was Heva Froehlich), Jacobi (my 5x great-grandfather had a sister named Anna Elisabetha Schott who married Johann Heinrich Jacobi), Werner (my 5x great-grandfather has a sister named Orthey who married Peter Werner).

    I might also have connections to the Diele and Schleich families, as Schott women married into each of these families. I don’t know how those Schott women are related to my Schott direct line, but there weren’t that many Schotts in the village, so they must have been somehow.

    Good luck with the launch party!

  12. Ingrid Stumpf on October 15, 2016 at 9:32 pm


    I’m really glad I came across this website.. I have been meaning to go to Ober-Gleen to learn more about my family ancestry.

    My name is Ingrid Stumpf and I am 5th gen Australian. My g.g grandfather came from this village when a whole family of brothers left for USA, Canada and Australia. I’d be interested to know if there are any other locations people immigrated to. Or if I have any cousins still in Germany.

    I am related to Johannes Heinrich STUMPF born 1812 Ober-Gleen, Germany, died in Woolwich Twp., Waterloo Co., ON.

    He is my 3great grandfathers brother who is George Peter Stumpf b 1806 in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany and died in 1861 in Woolwich, 1654341, Ontario, Canada . George’s 2nd marriage to Maria Elizabetha Froelich b 1803 in Hessen, Germany produced my great great grandfather Conrad Stumpf b 21 feb 1828 in Hesse-Darmstadt.

    Interesting to see so many people with my family names!!!

    Viele Grusse!!


  13. Monika Felsing on October 16, 2016 at 5:56 am

    Dear Ingrid,

    great to hear from you. If you are interested in our non-profit-history-Project about Ober-Gleen, you can contact me ([email protected]). At our book release Party in Ober-Gleen at the end of the month, I will ask if someone is related to you and the other’s in Carolyn’s blog (one of the best Blogs I know). There are still at least two families Ruppert. And that someone went to Australia is the first thing I hear after four years of Research. In Hesse there is a saying: You can get as old as a cow and still learn something new!
    Viele liebe Grüße, Monika
    (Monika Felsing, historian and Journalist with roots in Ober-Gleen, see also blog Owenglie)

  14. Monika Felsing on October 17, 2016 at 1:40 am

    Dear Ingrid,
    I mixed up Stumpf with Ruppert. Sorry I have caused confusion! But Family Stumpf is still represented in Ober-Gleen, as well, and there are people who descent from someone called Stumpf, because that’s their housename. You see, before streets had official names and houses had numbers, families had housenames. And they exist up to this day. My family is called Paul’s, because of Paul Felsing, one of my ancestors. In other cases, a Familyname has become housename, like Schdombs (Stumpfs). So when you search for relatives, it is good to ask for the housename, as well. It is part of the oral history.
    Herzliche Grüße,
    Pauls Monika,

  15. Ingrid on October 23, 2016 at 12:29 am

    Dear Monika,

    Thank you for your reply! This is very interesting news that will help me know more about how to find my family history.

    I have another question. In this area of Ober-Gleen, what is the local cultural identity of the region. People from Bavaria are Bavarian, in the north of Bayern they are Frankonian. What are people called from this region in Hessen?

    I ask as I am an anthropologist and interested in local costume and cultural practices and wonder what my ancestors may have looked like.

    Warm Regards,

    Ingrid Stumpf

  16. Monika Felsing on October 23, 2016 at 4:24 am

    Dear Ingrid,

    if you are interested in mentality, culture and all aspects of life in Ober-Gleen from about 1813 to today, I could recommend our four books… But as you are in Australia, where it’s not as easy to get them (maybe the first two, they are available as E-Books, too) as in the US and Canada, and as they are written in German and dialect, with a few English parts, we could maybe talk via Skype, when we are back from our our book release.

    People in Hessen are….. Hessinnen (female) und Hessen (Hessen), and in the region we are talking about, they are Oberhessinnen and Oberhessen, for that is the traditional name of that part of Hessen and for its dialect with a lot of varieties.

    In Ober-Gleen, other than in the nearby Schwalm region, did not have special costumes, but they had habits of wearing clothes in their colors, cut in a certain way. Ober-Gleen had several tailors till, say 1960. And in the 19th century people produced their textiles themselves. Thus was the great time of the Spinnstube: Girls (from age 14) and young, unmarried women worked in groups, with wool and linen (the plants, material for clothes), almost all ot the evenings in the wintertime, and young guys their age came to see them. It was an Institution, off limits for parents! Stories were told, they made Music, joked, drank alcohol and danced. It was youth culture, combined with work, and very important for the social life of a village. When there were no gatherings like that any more, after the Second World War, youth on the countryside became dull beyond belief. For at least three decades.

    Well, that’s for now. We can discuss here on Carolyn’s blog (she is part of our project, and I like very much what she does and adore how she writes about it) or you send a mail to [email protected] or post a comment in the blog Owenglie (Owenglie is the dialect word for Ober-Gleen, and this word comes from the celtic word for clear water, glenaha).

    Viele liebe Grüße,
    sorry for any faults, I am in a bit of a hurry,

  17. Carolyn on October 23, 2016 at 10:37 am

    @Monika – this is fascinating. I love getting more glimpses of how my family in Ober-Gleen lived. And it makes me more anxious to sit down and be serious about really reading the Ober-Gleen books (rather than just picking out short sections here and there). By the time I am done, my German will be completely refreshed and fluent, I think. 🙂


  18. Monika Felsing on October 23, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Liebe Carolyn, and as you are a real talent, you will pick up some dialect of your ancestors, as well!
    When I talked to Clare, she was amused to hear that the people of Ober-Gleen are called dumpling bags, Gliesbeurel (Kloßbeutel). It’s not a joke, and noone would dare making fun of us this way. It’s a title of honour (Keep in mind that People in Hessen like to eat Klöße, Glies, dumplings). Besides: Other villager’s names are much worse!
    Viele liebe Grüße, and please keep your fingers crossed for our book release!

  19. Monika Felsing on October 24, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Ihr Lieben, I’ve got news from BOD (Books on Demand, the editor’s house in Hamburg-Norderstedt): They told me per E-Mail today that the books about Ober-Gleen are available in the U.S., Canada, UK —- AND —- just think —– AUSTRALIA by now! Could it be that these guys in Hamburg read Carolyn’s blog, as well, and know about Ingrid? The world’s a bookshelf.
    Herzliche Grüße, Monika

  20. Ingrid Stumpf on November 5, 2016 at 12:18 am

    Das ist wunderbar!!! I am happy they have them available to Australia. When the books are online please let me know. I will buy them for my family and my own research.

    What a world that someone would be interested in Ober-Gleen and research it. Thank you so much for all your assistance Monika. And hello to Caroline too!!

    If you would like to know anything about the Stumpf’s in Australia please contact me and I will assist in whatever way I can. I can suggest that many German’s who came to Australia before the war were interned in camps for their nationality. My g-grandfather Ernst was one of them. They had many possessions and their assets frozen or taken of them too. Perhaps if you were looking for the history you could look up internment camp records in Hay and Holdsworthy.

    Warm Regards,


  21. Monika Felsing on November 5, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Liebe Ingrid,

    well, Ober-Gleen… is just an example for a tiny village, its people and its connections to the world – and for the world’s connections to a little, unknown village that is similar to so many others and different from even more in this world, by its dialect, by some special events (coincidences of history, one might say) and by every individual lifestory. Plus its my childhood village, my dad’s and grandma’s home village, Heimat for those who love(d) it, even more when they had to leave it for one reason or other.
    We have been to Ober-Gleen to present the book last weekend, and as my family’s house is sold, we had rented a house that I could highly recommend for gatherings and little groups. If you ever want to stay overnight in Ober-Gleen for at least three nights, this would be the perfect place to be. See the facebook page about Ober-Gleen.
    Our books should be available now in Australia. The prize in Germany is around 28 Euros (the first two are available as E-Books, as well, volume 1 in print is 24 Euros, volume 2 is 29 Euros, 3 and 4 are 28 Euros). If it is much more expensive in overseas, we could find out how much the shipping would be and if it makes a difference, you could buy them at our history association. We still have some on stock. from the presentation. And we prepare more CDs. But this will take some time.
    I will have questions for sure, Ingrid, and I have given the informations I had about your Family to others in Ober-Gleen who do research. If they find out something, they will let me know. And I will have a look at the Internet page you have mentioned. Are you aware that in Australia, there had been camps with jewish refugees, as well, who were brought there from England? One of the “Dunera Boys” (see the Website), was Herbert Baer, the son of Betty Baer, nee Sondheim, of Ober-Gleen. He is on a list in Erica Fischer’s book “Over the Ocean”. She is the author of “Aimee and Jaguar”, among other books. We are in contact, as well, in behalf of the Research for volume 3 and 4.
    Okay. We can blog here or write e-mails (I don’t have your address, mine is mentioned in a comment I have written, also the blog). And if others have questions or informations concerning the tiny village in the Vogelsberg called Ober-Gleen, we can discuss them. I am looking forward to it. Ich freu mich drauf.
    Viele liebe Grüße, like always also an die liebe Carolyn,

  22. Monika Felsing on November 9, 2016 at 11:53 am

    No comment on the news of the day,

    but good news for those who have looked for ancestors here.
    The two genealogists from Ober-Gleen have done research and still do. I have asked them to look for Ingrid’s ancestors, for Al’s, Brenda’s, Clare’s and Gabi’s.
    They are so kind to search informations. As soon as I get news from them, I will write again. And if you have questions about Ober-Gleen or about our book and audio project, just ask.
    Best wishes for you all,
    take care,

  23. Monika Felsing on November 12, 2016 at 3:12 am

    Just in case that Alan Becking is reading this blog again one day:
    The genealogist from Ober-Gleen has sent me files with informations today that I could pass to him.
    He is still doing research for others.

    Best wishes,
    take care,

  24. Carolyn Schott on November 12, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    LOVE the conversation happening here!

  25. Monika Felsing on November 13, 2016 at 2:37 am

    Dear Carolyn, it’s more or less a solo at the moment, but it’s really interesting that a conversation from 2010 gets reactivated six years later. I had found Brenda in the internet, but no address that worked, and I have sent a mail to the only Al Becking I could track in Canada. If he is the landscape architect from Ontario, he might post a comment here soon. And: Ober-Gleen has some landscape, as well. Shaped by the celtic community 2000 years ago and by those who planted the apple tree orchard 75 years ago.
    Viele liebe Grüße an Dich, Carolyn, and thanks for not letting me talk to myself constantly!

  26. Monika Felsing on December 10, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Ihr Lieben in Europe and Overseas,
    dear Carolyn
    and readers of this section of her blog,
    I wish you a merry christmas, happy chanukka and a healthy, friendly New Year with some hopes fullfilled. And the nerves and strength to deal with anything that doesn’t work out fine.

    Our little historical society Lastoria, Bremen, has tried to contact the Historical Society of Ontario again, to tell them about our Ober-Gleen-project, but we don’t get any responses from there. Never thought Canadians to be rude. Still think they aren’t. I just don’t understand why they ignore us completely.
    If anybody has problems to get volume 4 of the Ober-Gleen-series in overseas, our historical society could send the book after payment of 28 Euros and shipping (which would be 7 Euros to the U.S., for example). Please contact [email protected] if you want to know more about our books and cds or if you have any questions concerning our non-profit-unsponsored-project about Ober-Gleen.
    On Alemannia Judaica Ober-Gleen you can see a lot of photos we have sent there, the Synagogue under restauration, the plans from the 19th Century and photos of family Sondheim. I can highly recommend some English books that are connected to Ober-Gleen (Diez/Lahn and Lauterbach) and to Nieder-Ohmen, a village nearby: “The Gate”, written by Ruth Stern Glass Earnest, and “An Accidental American”, written by Ruth Stern Gasten. Don’t miss them if you are interested of life in rural Hessen in the NS-time. And there is, of course, Mathilda Wertheim Stein’s book “The Way it was”. Mathilda’s greatgrandfather was from Ober-Gleen, her mother from Kirtorf, her father from Angenrod. Her family lived in Lauterbach until they emigrated to the U.S., in order to survive.
    Our genealogists still do research as mentioned, and we are about to release two cds (the barock organ of Ober-Gleen, played by Veronika Bloemers on our Weidig-Wochenende 2015, and revolutionary songs from the early 19th century, interpreted by Duo EigenArt, Nidderau, in the church of Ober-Gleen at the same week-end. Some topics seem very familiar, and the melodies are German folksongs). Six or seven more audio cds about Ober-Gleen, with oral history, are planned. We hope to release them in 2017, including an audiobook about the jewish families of Ober-Gleen and one about Ober-Gleen in WWI. The cds come in very small numbers, almost by demand, and are only available at our historical society.

    That’s it for now. Hope we stay in contact. We will see what the old and the new year will bring.
    Take care, Carolyn, and don’t lose your energy and sense of humour,

  27. Carolyn on December 10, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Monika – thank you for all these updates and especially, THANK YOU for all your hard work bringing the history of Ober-Gleen to life in the 21st century.

  28. Monika Felsing on December 31, 2016 at 3:06 am

    Get well into the New Year, Carolyn and you, readers of her blog!
    Let us stay in contact and do whatever we can for human rights in 2017. That’s the global sound of our Ober-Gleen project – it shows the value of freedom, peace and understanding, of humanity and friendship, of a protected environment, of culture and democracy. And it shows what it means to have a good sense of humour. To stand by each other. To support each other. To celebrate with each other.
    The joy of living.
    Viele liebe Grüße,
    Monika (
    P.S.: The cd with the freedom songs from the 19th Century, played by Duo EigenArt, Nidderau, in the church of Ober-Gleen in 2015, should be ready in January. We are looking forward to it!

  29. Carolyn on January 2, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Monika – your inspiring words are a great way to start a new year! The more I study my roots, the more I travel to places outside my own city and country, the reality is that our “family” is the human race is ever more apparent. And so we all need to come together in peace and understanding, valuing each other’s freedom and humanity.

    Happy New Year!

  30. Douglas Fink on March 6, 2017 at 2:42 am

    Liebe Frau Felsing

    I have also descendants that may have come from the Ober-Gleen / Alsfeld area, that emigrated to the Waterloo, Canada area sometime before 1850. Heinreich Fink ( as registered in the Canadian Census of 1850) and his wife Elisabeth Kauffmann Fink ( note exact spelling of Kauffmann is unknown) were born around 1822 or 1823 in Hessen Germany. I am wondering if you have more information on the Fink families from that area. From what I have been able to determine is that they may have been part of a larger emigration from that area to the Waterloo Canada area.

    Do you have recommendations on other genealogists or resources there in Ober-Gleen / Alsfeld that I could contact?

    As I am an immigrant myself back to Central Europe 10 years back, I would be happy to take a road trip up there! I live now in the Basel, Switzerland area, so only a few hours drive away.

    I look forward to hearing from you ( or anyone else on this thread who may have information on the Fink and Kauffmann families !

    Mit freundlichen Grüssen aus der Schweiz,
    Douglas Fink

  31. Monika Felsing on March 13, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Lieber Douglas Fink,

    there are several possibilities. First I will ask the two genealogists that I know about your ancestors. Maybe they can help. A lot of names of migrants are mentioned in volume 3 (Himmel un Höll), one of the four books our historical society Lastoria has published about Ober-Gleen since 2013. And yes, from Basel area, Ober-Gleen is not far, compared with distances in Canada. In spring, it’s especially nice. And nowadays one can even find acommodation in Ober-Gleen itself, if one stays for three or more nights.

    I am not in Hesse any more, but live in Bremen, Northern Germany. Anyway, I could try to get you in contact with some people to make it easier for you.

    Viele herzliche Grüße aus Bremen in die Schweiz,
    My mail-address is (I have a look into Carolyn’s blog from time to time, but check my mails daily), my website is, and the website of our historical society is

  32. Brenda Hoerle on March 29, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Monica.
    Thank you for any help you can/have provided regarding my Oberg-Gleen Frolich relatives.
    If you can send me some details on the Ober-Gleen project, I will forward them onto the appropriate
    history people here in Ontario.
    Family history buffs here would be thrilled to have such connections to Germany.
    Tell Matthias I so appreciate his background research on the Frolichs. Is there any chance he might check into
    any Horles from Arnshain or Alsfeld?
    My great-great grandmother Gertrude Frolich came to Canada and married
    a Johan Conrad Horle (Hoerle) around 1837 and they bought land and built a farm in the Philipsburg, Ontario area.
    His mother was supposedly a Seigner but we can’t track any birth records of him in the Arnshain or Alsfeld area.
    He was born May 15, 1815.
    Thank you so much!
    Brenda Hoerle
    Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

  33. Monika Felsing on March 30, 2017 at 2:51 am

    Hallo, Brenda,

    good to hear from you! I will tell Matthias that you appreciate his help.
    And it would be great if you passed some informations about the Ober-Gleen
    project to Canadians. As far as I know, it is one of the biggest research projects
    concerning a village in Germany, and still one of the least known.

    I have a brandnew website in addition to our
    Lastoria website, to explain what we have been doing so far. Some of it is in English. And my blog Owenglie (the village’s name in dialect) is in German, village dialect and English, as well.

    On the website, you also can listen to audios of the dialect. And you could send me a short audio (1 to 3 minutes) of your own telling us for example how you are related to Ober-Gleen and the region. We
    produce cds and add them to the four books that we have donated to the National Library.
    It’s all done in volunteer’s work, we have no sponsors than ourselves, and have published
    the four books that I had planned to write, an audio book about Friedrich Ludwig Weidig and the
    Social Revolution, two music cds from our Weidig Weekend in Ober-Gleen (organ and historical freedom songs) and three audio cds with German, dialect and some English statements that
    are quoted in volume 1 and 2.Six more audio cds have to be produced, and we hope to do that this year.

    The four books about Ober-Gleen are available in Canada, as well,
    but can also be ordered at our little historical society Lastoria – for 28 respectively 29 Euro plus 7 Euro for
    the shipping. We still have a lot of copies of volume 2 up to 4 in stock.
    They are written in German and the village dialect, but you’ll find some English as well, uncounted names, a timetable (starting at the iceage in volume 1 and ending in the 21th Century in volume 4) and hundreds of photos in each.

    During the research concerning volume 3 (Ober-Gleen, Band 3: Himmel un Höll), I had tried to get in contact with the Historical Society of Ontario,but got no answer at all. I tried it a second time in 2016 – and received no reaction.
    There are already some Canadian-Hessian families involved in the project, and we would like to keep the contacts and enable more people to learn something about their roots and to tell us their personal (migration and other) stories. As a historian and journalist, I am fascinated by the thought
    in how many ways such a tiny village is part of the world’s history. This project is connecting people from Australia to Canada.

    The book series is complete, but the work at the project goes on.
    We still collect digitalized photos and audio statements from everyone who
    has a connection to Ober-Gleen and wants to join in. And we want to encourage the exchange of informations and new personal contacts. If anyone wants to go to Ober-Gleen for a visit, I am willing to help him or her to organise it.

    If these informations will do for a start, please use them. And if you or others want to know more after having a look at the website, ask me. I will pass your question to Matthias and other genealogists and hope they can give you a hint. Never heard the name Seigner in our region, though.
    Are you sure it is spelt right?

    Herzliche Grüße,

  34. Carolyn on April 1, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Brenda – I wonder if our families could be connected? My 6x great-grandmother was Heva Froehlich, married to Michael Schott. She was born about 1658 and died in 1697 in Ober-Gleen. Unfortunately, I don’t know very much else about her family (parents, siblings, etc.) to be able to find the connection.

  35. Monika Felsing on May 7, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Hello, there,
    a full month of silence – that is not typical for people from Ober-Gleen! Maybe after some generations, families develop other habits. But in the village, where I grew up, people schwadsde (talked to another) all the time. Silence was reserved for the night or the old age. And often for children at the table. At least that has changed everywhere! If no smartphone is around.
    So, whereever you are, I hope you enjoy what you do! In every language and dialect.

  36. Monika Felsing on December 25, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates now and good wishes for 2018 for all of you!
    In our minds, we still spend a lot of time thinking of Ober-Gleen and of many other parts of the world. We are working on two audio books in adition to the Ober-Gleen books, one about WWI and one about the Jewish families of the village. The Synagogue has been reopened as a place for cultural events. The first two ones have been a concert of Veronika Bloemers and a little choir, and, on the same day, 111117, a concert of Yale Strom (USA, see Yale Strom and Hot Pstromi) and Nikolai Muck (Frankfurt/Germany). You can listen to a live recording on (in the audio library, Mediathek, under audios), and I have written something about it under Projekte, Ober-Gleen, mehr (more). Also in English, for you and you and you. Herzliche greetings, Monika

  37. Carolyn Schott on December 25, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Christmas – a great time to think about family traditions and how our families in Ober-Gleen have celebrated over the years.

    Merry Christmas, Moni!

  38. Brenda Hoerle on January 2, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Hi Monica.
    Just wondering if you have ever heard of the following prayer/charm that I found inside an old book of my great-great grandfather’s Conrad Horle. This is how it reads in German translated into English – “To staunch the blood
    Although the beloved Lord Jesus Christ was wounded to the quick, his wounds did not become infected, did not swell, did not produce pus and did not cause him pain. Thus shall these wounds do the same. In the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Amen. This must be spoken three times.
    Johannes Zulauf 1847”
    Any chance you’ve encountered such a saying?
    Greetings from Canada
    Brenda Hoerle
    Waterloo. Ontario

  39. Monika Felsing on January 3, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Dear Brenda,
    this must be one of the old charms, of the Gesane (a very old word for it) that some people used to heal other people’s ilnesses, to ban evil, to get rid of lice or even to get stolen sheep back – many purposes were known. Doing research, I have been shown a list, written in 1923 in one of the few shepheard and weaver families who knew about Gesane, people whose ancestors were consulted and respected in the times when there were no doctors around. I was surprised to learn, though, that Gesane have been murmured in Ober-Gleen and other villages until the 50ies or 60ies. They ended usually with a short prayer, like the one you have.
    This is no Gesan, just a good wish: Happy New Year! Monika

  40. Brenda Hoerle on January 6, 2018 at 8:52 am

    Thanks so much Monika! I also have a contact for you with respect to the Waterloo Historical Society here where I live. Karen Ball-Pyatt is the archivist at the Kitchener Public Library, a neighbouring city, who is active in the Waterloo Historical Society. You can email her at [email protected] to share your interest in connecting with other descendants of the people in your area. Again, Happy New Year to you and we will be in touch when I have other questions and when I finally plan my trip to Germany to visit all these wonderful places.
    All the best,
    Brenda Hoerle
    Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

  41. Monika Felsing on January 6, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Dankeschön, thank you, Brenda,

    I will contact her for sure. At the moment, we are finishing the audiobooks about WWI and Jewish Life, and it is very exciting to see how our audios from Ober-Gleen, the books, the private documents, read by friends in Bremen, a lot of authentical music and a lot of research and voluntary work have led to a project that connects people on various continents. The first edition will be 25 copies, I think, and then we will see. Anyway, if you want to hear how people from Ober-Gleen talk in dialect, you find something in the audio library of my website, and in my blog. There are articles concerning Ober-Gleen that are in English, as well. And if you have questions or informations or need to know something and want to stay in contact: You are welcome. The world’s a village.
    Viele liebe Grüße, best wishes, Monika

  42. Brenda Hoerle on January 20, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Monika.
    Can you ask Matthias what an underforester’s job was? This man was indeed married to both women and was my great-great grandmother’s father. I am referring to the correspondence we had below…
    Thanks, Brenda

    Dear Carolyn, we are waiting for our fourth book about Ober-Gleen to be released. In the meantime, I have asked the genealogist in our team, Matthias Eislöffel, who has relatives called Fröhlich and has done a lot of research, if he could help Brenda. Indeed, he knows about a Johann Jost Fröhlich, who, in 1841, had been Großherzoglich Hessischer Unterförster in Arnshain. He had been married to Anna Gulda Fink. The couple had a daughter, Maria Elisabetha Fröhlich, born in 1820 in Arnshain, who married in 1841 in Arnshain. The bridegroom was from Ober-Gleen: Johann Konrad Fröhlich. Matthias is quite sure that he must have moved to Arnshain for Johann Konrad died there in 1888. Johann Jost Fröhlich could have been married to Barbara Katharina Fröhlich from Ober-Gleen first. He had been the father of her daughter Gertraude, born in 1815. Divorces were not common, then. If Barbara Katharina had died – as many young mothers did in her time -, her widower could have married Anna Gulda Fink. But this is just wild guessing, Matthias says.
    Best wishes, greetings to you and to Brenda (in case that you are interested in our Ober-Gleen-Project, Brenda, see our blog Owenglie or contact us: [email protected], lastoria being our little historical Society)! Monika (Felsing)

  43. Carolyn on January 20, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    @Monika – keep me posted on the Froehlich family. We’d have several more generations to get back to my 6x great-grandmother, Heva Froehlich, since she was born about 1658, but you never know what clues might appear!

  44. Monika Felsing on January 22, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Dear Brenda,

    a Unterförster is a kind of (lower rank) ranger who has to care for a certain area in the woods respectively for the trees.

    Dear Carolyn,
    I can get you in contact with Matthias. I think, that is the easiest.

    Dear all of you,

    the audio books “Yiddish Life” and “WWI” that accompany volume 3 and 4 of the Ober-Gleen book series are about to be ready. If anyone is interested it would be good to know before we order the first edition.
    “Yiddish Life” will take six cds and includes a lot of wonderful music (all played in the old Synagogue and in the church of Ober-Gleen, a thousand thanks to Yale Strom from the U.S., Nikolai Muck from Frankfurt and Veronika Bloemers from ober-Gleen), statements of timewitnesses (German and/or English) and documents that have been read here at my kitchen table, connected by someone who tells the stories of families, of traditions and common life, of the Holocaust and of the survival of those who had been able to emigrate.
    The audiobook about Ober-Gleen and WWI consists three cds and will be produced soon, as well. Both projects are noncommercial, as usual. The concepts of both audio cds will be online, in German and English.

    Viele liebe Grüße, a bit busy,

  45. Monika Felsing on March 10, 2018 at 6:12 am

    Dear Carolyn, dear all of you,

    the audio book about the Jewish families with roots in Ober-Gleen has been presented in the beautiful Rokoko hall of the Hohheim Museum, a palais in Lauterbach. It was a wonderful event, and the very next day, we have played some of the oral history audios in the Synagogue of Ober-Gleen. It was cold as ice, but the audience stood for an hour. The audio book about WWI is also ready and will have its premiere in Bremen.
    Viele liebe Grüße, Monika

  46. Monika Felsing on August 3, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Dear Carolyn,
    my song book of Ober-Gleen, 288 pages, is printed and available now in several countries: Owengliejer Lirrerbichelche is the title. We plan to make a cd to accompany it, with a lot of cover songs in dialect, and therefore we will spend the next weekend in the village of your ancestors. On the 11th of August, at 6 p.m., there will be a public rehearsal with recording, and the very next day, our audio book about WWI will be played at 2 p.m. in the Synagogue. We have released one more audio book this year, already: “Jiddisch Leben” about Jewish Life in Hesse. And we have an audio play about Weidig now, under 20 minutes. This project never sleeps. But I should do so now.. More on my blog Owenglie. Feel free to write a comment there. You would be the first in ages and the more welcome.
    Viele liebe Grüße, Monika

  47. Carolyn on August 8, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    @Monika – that’s awesome news – thanks for the update!

    Sorry it took me awhile to reply. A cousin from Germany is visiting me and we’ve been crazy busy! (Yes, this is a cousin who also has roots in Ober-Gleen, though she lives in Tuttlingen now.)

  48. Monika Felsing on August 16, 2018 at 2:03 am

    Dear Carolyn, you have quite a lot of Ober-Gleen connections… If your cousin from Tuttlingen is interested in our project, please encourage her to have a look on or to contact me via mail. There have been few people at our presentations in Ober-Gleen this time, but who was there was touched by the story of the young soldiers who just longed to return, by the families who suffered, by the pacifist ideas of those who had survived. The music event was cheerful. We have made a recording and will see what we make of it. The Ober-Gleen song book has received enthusiastic first comments. One musician said in a mail that this book had to be written, and that it was high time to do so. Well, much to be happy about! Viele liebe Grüße! Monika

  49. Monika Felsing on November 3, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Even if I am the only one who is writing here this year, I send my best wishes now for a living democracy. I have made a new song about it. The lyrics will be on my blog soon, and I will sing it on the 6th of November, that’s for sure. We are about to finish the voluntary work on the translation of Holocaustmemoires of a granddaughter of people from Ober-Gleen. And I don’t give up hope people are willing to learn something. And that many people have good intentions, character, empathy and civil courage. And that they go ahead and vote!! Wishing all the best, Monika

  50. Carolyn on November 4, 2018 at 6:53 am

    @Monika – Good morning from Seattle!

    Yes, we need songs, prayers, and especially VOTES on November 6 to keep our democracy here alive. Ober-Gleen has such a history of being in the center of a passion for democracy that I know this is in my roots and my heart!

  51. Monika Felsing on November 5, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    If all the women in America,

    North and South,

    stand by each other,

    if all the good people

    in the world

    speak up

    if all the children

    on this planet

    make a wish,

    if all old people

    tell a love story

    at the golden fire place,

    if all the men

    who were taught not to cry

    shed tears about long lost dreams,

    there will be no place any more

    for hatred

    and anger

    and violence

    and fear

    And all is won,

    not only an election,

    real happiness,

    real peace.

    But: The election first!

    Make democracy great again.


  52. Carolyn on November 5, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Make Democracy Great Again! Bravo!

    Thank you, Monika. This is beautiful. I’m hoping and praying for that great wave of support for democracy tomorrow! (And in addition to hoping and praying, I’ve been registering voters and writing letters to Democrats to encourage them to vote.)

  53. Brenda Hoerle on January 11, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Hi everyone! Just checking in to see if there’s any more news from Obergleen!
    Brenda Hoerle
    Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

  54. Anne McIsaac on September 15, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks for your tour of Ober-Gleen. I’m currently writing a genealogy book which includes my great great grandfather Johann Daniel Werner who was baptized in 1829 in the Lutheran Church in Ober-Gleen. I would like to use your photos of the church if I may, giving you credit for them of course! I have already included a reference to this website. Johann Daniel was the son Johann Martin Werner and Anna Maria Fröehlich.

  55. Monika Felsing on November 8, 2020 at 5:13 am

    Liebe Carolyn, this song is for you and all the others who did not want to get up any more in the mornings and got up nontheless. And stood up for democracy. Happy to know you!
    Best of wishes, Moni
    P.S.: A coversong to the melody of Blowing in the Wind.

    His time goes by

    How many lies
    did he tell every day
    and did he believe
    them himself?

    How many nasty
    things did he say?
    And there’s not one
    book in his shelf.

    How many gunmen
    cried out “Hooray”
    ‘cause he was
    their little elf?

    The answer, my friend,
    is: Bring it to an end!
    An answer that
    he won’t understand!

    How many brains
    did he wash? I can’t say.
    And now for him it’s
    ten past twelve.

    How many times
    did we hope he won’t stay
    for ever? I hoped so

    And now it is time
    for another rhyme,
    so go for it,
    do it yourself!

  56. Monika Felsing on February 20, 2021 at 3:19 am

    Dear Carolyn, dear whoever with roots in Ober-Gleen!
    I hope that are doing fine in this difficult times. We have just published a new book in German and in the dialect of Ober-Gleen, with a little English here and there. Carolyn, you are mentioned, and Bernhard Wald, an artist born in Ober-Gleen, is represented by his gorgeous and touching portraits. The book “08/18” is dealing with the Agenda 2030 of the United Nations, the attempt to save the world at last minute. Now that there is no Trump in the White House any more, we all hope that this topic will be top of the list, not only in Washington D.C., but all over the U.S. And in all the other countries of the world. The crisis we have now could make us become more dedicated to do what is good, not only for ourselves, but also for others and for future generations, not only for humans, but also for other creatures, for the nature and this beautiful planet as an ecosystem. But I don’t wanna preach, I just express my hopes and send you good wishes. Stay healthy and full of solidarity! Alles Gute! Monika

  57. Carolyn on February 21, 2021 at 8:59 am

    @Moni – Congratulations on the new book!

    The world is juggling the priorities of COVID and climate change. But thankfully, the U.S. is back in the Paris accord and re-committed to being part of the global community in fighting this! I know Biden takes this seriously and has a vision of how developing “green” solutions will also help the economy as well as the environment. Win – win.

    Dear world – we are BACK!