In Search of Boberröhrsdorf Poland 2016

A Very Warm Welcome in Jelenia Gora – Old Hirschberg

August 15, 2016

It is very exciting to find a document with your ancestor’s names on it, but there can be no greater excitement than actually visiting the land they once called home. My great-grandmother’s birthplace of Hirschberg became Jelenia Gora after the Polish/Germanic borders changed in 1945.  I still can’t believe that this is where I find myself for the next incredible two weeks…

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This little lady is my great-grandmother, Ernestine Schiller Ludewig.  She was born on 17 January 1838 in Hirschberg, Schlesien Province, Germany.  She married Wilhelm Heinrich Ludewig, my great grandfather and second of five (5!!) husbands on June 2, 1876.

DSC_1044 (1)In 1882, Ernestine boarded the ship, Koln in the port of Hamburg along with her younger brother Paul Schiller and a toddler.  The little boy is listed above as HeinR Ludwig.  And as was often the case, this might have been when the Germanic was dropped from Ludewig which became Ludwig. Even the National Archives were not able to decipher the hand-scripted entry of the ship’s log.  But I did!  The little toddler was 3-1/2 and he was my grandfather – Henry William Ludwig.  The three of them were headed to America to join Wilhelm who had immigrated a year earlier…

Grandpa LudwigIt is very exciting to find a document with your ancestor’s name on it, but there can be no greater excitement than actually visiting the land they once called home.  My great-grandmother’s birthplace of Hirschberg became Jelenia Gora after the Polish/Germanic borders changed in 1945.  And I still can’t believe that this is where I find myself for the next incredible two weeks… 5033556_panorama-karkonoszy-z-krzyznej-gory-w-rudawach-janowickichI had less than an hour drive from Walbrzych along a scenic two-lane highway at the base of the Karpacz Mountains.  When I began to see the signs to Jelenia Gora, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. DSC_0835 The scenery was absolutely breathtaking and my hour drive became three as I stopped everywhere I was able to take “just one more photo” hoping I could capture just a little of the scenery and my overwhelming  emotions. The drive was exquisite and full of surprises.  I provided the backdraft for a group of cyclists. I withheld the urge to yell out my window, “Bonjour Papa!” like in the movie Breaking Away.DSC_0845I literally held up traffic to take photo of an unexplained upside-down house complete with tree roots.DSC_0862And I HAD to explore the cemetery around a bombed-out Evangelische church that was missing the roof and within the interior of it’s expansive sanctuary grew it’s own microsm of a forest….DSC_0883DSC_0887It was absolutely deserted except for a woman leaving flowers on a grave.  I couldn’t read the Polish sign, but sure enough, I spotted the devastating year, 1945.  As I have said before, one cannot go a day in Poland without being reminded of the cataclysm that was World War II.  (Out of focus, but you can see how those numbers literally “jumped” off the sign…DSC_0881


And eventually I was driving into the village of Jelenia Gora where, I am told is the area with all the “Spas.”  I was listening very intentently to the British lady on my GPS who was directing me to the home of my host family at 9 Niemcewicza (a street name I could not even pronounce).  When she said, “You have reached your destination,” I popped a breath mint and started to reach for my lipstick.  But appearing at my window was a pretty woman with a bun (Anna) and her teen-aged daughter Natalia.  We had been in contact for many months through Air B and B (a most remarkable source of accomodations all over the world).  I nodded and smiled that I was Mary Ann from America and they proceeded to show me my room for the next two weeks.  I was just expecting a small room with a view of their backyard for an incredulous sum of $10 a night.  But as we entered the separate entrance to an entire apartment, Natalia explained that they thought the larger room was more to my liking because it had a desk.  Imagine my surprise when I saw this…. DSC_0900DSC_0897DSC_0898DSC_0895I have this all to myself for two weeks.  I cannot believe my good fortune nor the incredulous kindness I have discovered from the Polish people throughout this trip.  After they showed me the password for the WiFi and said that they hoped it would be “OK for me,” they went upstairs.  I walked around in a daze and then for the first time in two weeks, I actually hung my very wrinkled clothes up in a cedar closet.  I went on a very great adventure to the grocery store for a few items (Another post, another time…).  I fell asleep under the Eiderdown quilt listening to the faraway sound of a train rumbling through town.

So today as I write this, enjoying a cup of mint tea and the ticking of a clock, I have the remnant of a summer cold that I have been fighting for days.  It is a holiday here in Poland and “no one is allowed to work.”  It is the Feast of the Assumption.  Since 95 percent of the Polish people are Roman Catholic, this is a very special day.  It honors the Virgin Mary and her departure from this life and the assumption of her body into heaven.assumption_01And so I am taking a much needed holiday too.  In this lovely home, I am able to write as well make some chicken soup which is simmering on the stove and should clear my sinuses.Unknown-1This will all go very well with my “booty” of groceries I got yesterday.  I even bought a bottle of Pinot Grigio (I miss you John xoxox), but schweize if I can’t find a corkscrew.  I got this far, I am sure I can figure it out.

DSC_0905Tomorrow I am expected in Boberröhrsdorf (Siedleçin since 1945) and at the foot of the beautiful Knight’s Tower that graces my grandfather’s birthplace.  Wishing I could share my soup with John, Kimmy, Johnny B, Nick, Emily, Shane, Aidan, Dylan, Colin, Sarah, Kurtina, Kris, Karen, Kathy, Forrest, Jeanne and most of all my Dad.  For now, I remain the keeper of the family tales.


xoxoxoxox from beautiful Poland…

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  • Reply Gene Meier March 30, 2017 at 9:52 am

    YOUTUBE;Das Schoenwaldauer Bethaus in Lomnitz (German)
    YOUTUBE:The Rzasnik Prayer House in Lomnica (English)
    YOUTUBE:Rzasnicki Dom Modlitwy w Lomnicy (Polish)
    This is my ancestral church
    Info to share
    Gene Meier
    1160 Bailey Road
    Sycamore, Illinois 60178
    815 895 4099

  • Reply Gene Meier October 24, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    I have the 1792 and 1842 church jubilee booklets of Schoenwaldau-Johnsdorf, and the 1842 book on Ludwigsdorf. My great aunt, Mathilde Georgine Schley (1864-1941) of Milwaukee helped Pastor Wilhelm Iwan (1871-1958) research is Die altlutherische Auswanderung um die Mitte des 19.Jahrhunderts (Breslau 1943). I visited Alt Schoenau cousins in Perth, Western Australia 1989, and visited Schlesien in 1978. Tante Tilde visited Schlesien 1926 and 1928. Her mother, Johanne Beate Schley geb. Schoen emigrated from Schoenwaldau to Dodge County, Wisconsin in 1856. I have 19th c. correspondence with Schlesier cousins, emigrant trunk material, and Tante Tilde’s diaries 1899-1941. She wrote DEUTSCHAMERIKA (1935) and FRITZ, PAT, JULES UND HANK (1940). Info to share.

  • Reply Anonymous August 15, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Loving your journey!!!!’ Keep sharing your details XOXO

  • Leave a Reply to Anonymous Cancel Reply

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