Sunday, October 24, 2010

Are you my mother?

I have always been fascinated with history. When I was younger and in school, the common assignment from many of my teachers would be to go home and ask your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles where they were on a particular day in history. Most of these days, if not all, included some kind of life changing event, such as Pearl Harbor, D-Day, JFK Assassination, etc. Those types of assignments always fascinated me because hearing my relatives personal experiences was great and all but I so badly wished that I could jump back into time and experience all of these days on my own. I guess it’s the unknown that bothers intrigues me the most.

The same goes for family histories. I am a quarter German, South Alabamian (if that’s even a term), and a teeny tiny bit Creek Indian. As you can imagine, this has led to many stories about my family and heritage. For starters, my father’s family was one of two survivors from the Fort Mims Massacre back in 1813. I don’t mean to brag – who am I kidding, I love this stuff! So yes, I’m going to brag a bit. After hearing some of these stories, it really makes you wonder. Pretty crazy! My mother’s side of the family has had a more prestigious and romantic background. Her mother immigrated from Germany after the war and fell in love and married a true Southern, Christian Gentleman. With this came plenty more stories of my grandfather surveying Hiroshima days after the Atomic Bomb was dropped, his lineage to old Marietta and Spartanburg and of course the Mayflower. Ever heard of John and Priscilla Alden?! Cha! They’re my 9th Great-Grandparents!

While all of these stories have intrigued me in their own way, for some reason I’m fascinated and fixated on my maternal grandmother’s story. My grandmother, or Oma as we called her, was born in 1923 in Fulda, Germany, a small town an hour and a half northeast of Frankfurt. This may not seem like something out of the norm but Frieda, my great-grandmother, lived in Frankfurt until she was forced to leave during the war. Why would my great-grandmother go to Fulda to have a baby? This is where it all begins! The next question that soon followed for me was, what happened to her father? So the story my mom heard when she was growing up was that my great-grandmother and great-grandfather got married but shortly after my grandmother was born, the marriage was annulled because he wanted to return back to his hometown but my grandmother didn't want to go. Sounds normal right? Wrong! If this were the case, then why on my grandmother's birth certificate under Father does it say "Unknown"?!

Over the last several years, since my grandmother passed, I feel like it has been my calling to figure out who my great-grandfather is. We have found several pieces of the puzzle recently. My mom found a picture of my great-grandmother and great-grandfather at a cafe in Frankfurt. So we have a face! On the back is his name: Heinrich Reuther born 27. Oktober 1899 in Saarbruecken. JACKPOT!!! So I go on, email the Saarbruecken States Archive and yet I've come up with nothing. I've found several records that have been close to his birthday or in the vicinity of Frankfurt but so far nothing. I even stooped so low as to message another member on Ancestry who has an ancestor with information close to my great-grandfather. Can you imagine? "Hi, I think your great-grandfather is the father of my illegitimate grandmother!" Nice!

So I'm now beginning to think that possibly my great-grandfather was a spy or was married back home or some crazy thing like that and had to lie about who he was or maybe all records were destroyed, you know, something more reasonable. Whatever the reason, or who he was, my search for my great-grandfather is not over yet!
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