Participants Meeting Their Living Relatives

In the Genealogy and Heritage Bulletin, we asked participants to submit their stories of meeting or contacting their living relatives.  Here are some of their stories

Participant: Kate Worland

  1. After I found my great grandfather’s passport application, I knew where in Germany he had lived before immigration.
  2. I researched the town in Meyers Orts and learned that it was a very small one. I knew that our last name was a bit unusual, so I looked it up in the German telephone book. If you don’t read German, the first word in the search box is Who and the second box asks Where.
  3. I wrote a letter and had a teacher friend translate it into German. The German society will also do this.  There were only a few Oermanns, so I wrote to each of them.  I described my ancestry and asked if we could be related. In fear that they would think I was “up to something,” I included a copy of my immigrant ancestor. My father had always said, “On the right is your great grandfather, Casper. We don’t know who is on the left. Maybe a brother somewhere over in  Germany.” After patient waiting, I did receive a reply. It turned out not to be from a direct relative, but the person was kind enough to pass along information about my actual family member and contacted him.  Dirk wrote to me and it turned out that he had the same photograph. His father had always said, “On the left is your great grandfather, Heinrich. We don’t know who is on the right, probably one of the brothers in America.
  4. In April, 2008 my niece (fluent in German) was enrolling at Cologne (Köln) University. I agreed to accompany her and help her get settled, and she agreed to interpret for me with the cousins in Büttendorf. Our family is wonderful! I’ve been back two more times and plan a third one in the fall.
We now collaborate on family history. I have been learning German every since 2008. I can read typed German. I can now make myself understood verbally and can understand my family when they speak slowly for me.

Participant: Lane Loyko

My grandfather is Joseph Charles Lehner who was born in Weiner Neustadt in 1878. His father was Karl Lehner who came to Wr. Neustadt from Burgenland. so i had found a death announcement for Karl from 1929 in Erfurt, Austria. In 2003 i made a trip to Wr. Neustadt to check out some of the addresses in the death announcement. i found a house but the gates were locked and it looked like nobody was home so i drove up the road a bit and saw a women working in her garden. i stopped and asked if she knew the owners of the house and that i was a Lehner descendant. She said “Oh yes” and the Lehners just sold the house last year. She thought they lived in Vienna but not too sure where. But her friend down at the County Assessors office might know so we drove down. her friend said it was strictly forbidden but under the circumstances she arranged to give me a phone number. it was in Vienna, about 60 km away. But I don’t speak German or know how to place a long distance call so i booked a private city tour of Wr. Neustadt and got introduced to a charming bi-lingual guide. She asked what do you want to see. i said Nothing really but could you call this phone number for and explain who i am and see if you could arrange a meeting. So sure enough the number belonged to another great grandson of Karl and he would love to meet me if i could tell him what hotel I would be staying at and what would be a could time. We arranged to have tea in the lobby in a couple of days when i was going back to Vienna for my flight home. My second cousin Franz arrived promptly bringing his 20 year old daughter Elisabeth to interpret. She was a student at the University and they both smoked a lot of cigarettes which was quite common in Vienna at the time. We had a lovely evening together and agreed to stay in touch. Long story ends with Elisabeth visiting me in Hawaii 2 years ago and now helping me to establish a possible inheritance in Slovakia. Unfortunately Franz has passed away in the meantime, which is the sad part of the story. Your Bulletin asks us to send in a story and that is mine.