Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cousins in Germany

Alois, Heinrich, Kathy, Bill, Mathilde, Hubert

In an earlier post, I told you that our friend and local genealogist, Werner Honkomp. Werner met us where we were staying in Holdorf and took us on a full-day tour of the area. In the afternoon, he had a special surprise. He took us to the home of Alois von der Heide. Alois lived in a home that had once belonged to a von der Heide who married a Borgmann. His brothers Heinrich and Hubert, and his sister, Mathilde also came. Werner suspected that we might be related.

There is no way to describe how much we enjoyed this. We suffered from a bit of a language barrier, relying on Werner to translate. They explained to us that in this region of Germany, even German is a second language. They grew up speaking Plattdeutsch (often referred to as low German). Alois had prepared numerous pictures and documents for us to take with us. The family verified for us that the family plot we had photographed in the cemetery was their family plot. We were given copies of correspondence to their Borgmann family that had relocated to Cincinnati. Upon return I was able to verify that this branch of the family was related to Jim Borgman, editorial cartoonist. In addition, we are (as suspected) distant cousins sharing a ggggg-grandfather.

Alois gave me a picture of the house and identified the people in it. I know the picture is hard to make out, but the picture is the family of Heinrich von der Heide and Joanna Borgmann. Their daughter, Mathilde, is looking out of the window on the left. Son, Heinrich, is on the horse with his brother, Franz, standing nearby.

Alois, Mathilde, Heinrich, Hubert, Werner and me sharing family documents.

Alois shared two additional pictures that had been in his family. We were told that the first picture was of the Borgmann/von der Heide family and I recognize the man in the upper left as a August Borgmann who came to Cincinnati. The woman to his right is his wife, Bernardina Von Wahlde. I think this picture may have been taken in Cincinnati in 1905 and returned to the family in Germany.

I am unsure of what occasion is reflected in the next picture. Unfortunately, Alois did not know the names of those pictured. He did, however, circle one face on the back of the picture. It jumped out right away. I don't know who it is, but recognize that "von der Heide" look.

Look at the pictures of five von der Heide men below. Is it just me or do you see similarities in facial structures. Post your answer in the comments section.

By the way -- the identities of the von der Heide men are as follow: Hubert (a Catholic priest), Heinrich (holds a position in Cologne similar to a city councilman), our g-grandfather August, August as a young man, and unknown von der Heide in Germany.

I want to acknowledge Werner, pictured on the left, without whom none of this would have been possible. He has patiently answered my questions and those of many others tracing their genealogy in this region. I will forever be grateful to him.

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