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1999 Trip To Germany And Poland

Saturday morning, June 5

Since Thomas had to work in the morning, we drove back to Pinnow to take more pictures and to talk to the elderly couple who lived across the street from the Jahnke house. This time I had the descendant printout to show them and although they recognized the Schultz and Jahnke names they didn’t seem to know where the families had gone. They told us, as best they could in German, that the house Grandma Maas was born in (at Krugstrassse 12) was the Jahnke house and the house next door up the hill was the Schulz house. The wife of the couple took me to meet the woman who lived there because she was a Schulz. However, she didn’t seem to recognize any Schulz’s on my descendant list and I got the impression that it was another Schulz family. Of course, we weren’t able to communicate either. As it turned out, we learned later that the woman who was probably about 80 years old, was the daughter of Grete Schulz, the sister of Thomas Ludcke’s grandmother. His grandmother was Elsie Schulz who married a Radloff. We wished later that we would have had Thomas with us when we talked to her.

Despite our inability to speak each other’s language, the couple seemed to enjoy our visit and were trying hard to help. I think the wife said the Jahnkes left about three years ago. Some changes obviously had been made to the windows of the Jahnke house and the entry porch had been added quite recently, but otherwise the house and gated wall in front looked pretty much as it did in the picture.

Saturday afternoon, June 5

We returned to Gartz about 12 noon, bought some bread and meat at the grocery store for lunch. Thomas said we shouldn’t plan on eating in Poland - I guess because he wasn’t sure where to eat. Thomas arrived at the guesthouse at 1:00 p.m. sharp dressed in blue jean shorts and ready to go. He had mapped out the route, based on villages I mentioned the night before, using Microsoft’s map planner on his computer and provided a photocopy of a Polish map of the area we would visit. We were really impressed by his thoroughness and willingness to devote the rest of the day to us. Before the unification of Germany, he said it took 16 years to get a car -- from the time of your first request to actual possession -- clearly he learned to have patience. He smoked, but only when we stopped and after he got out of the car. We learned that Thomas was taking courses to be an electrician. He was divorced with a nine-year-old daughter who he only gets to see one weekend a month.

We headed north from Gartz on Highway 2 and entered Poland just south of Stettin. Our route to and around Poland is marked on the map. Both the German and Polish border guards checked our passports and we were on our way. Just inside Poland, Thomas stopped to fill the car with petrol. I was expecting some rough roads based on the trip report Mark Pautz had written on his Internet Web site. [Take a look at this web site for a very interesting account and pictures of his trip.] Mark, who lives in Prague, Czech Republic, had taken a similar trip Easter weekend, except that his circular route through Saatzig, Naugard and Regenwalde counties (Kreis) was a circle about 20 miles larger in diameter than the circle route we took. However, we never ran into any of the rough, back-jarring roads he mentioned. All were paved with asphalt, although some were fairly narrow. Between Stettin and Freienwalde, there was a stretch of very wide and smooth, 4-lane, divided highway with trees removed about 100 yards or more from both sides of the highway. He said this stretch of highway was used for a military airstrip.

Our first stop was in Freienwalde (Chociwel) where I took pictures of the large Catholic church. Of course, when the Germans (Pomeranians) lived here, the churches in all the villages were Evangelische (the merged Lutheran and Reformed church). This was the largest church we saw until we got to Naugard (Nowogard). From there, we drove about a mile around the small lake to the east to the tiny village of Steinhofel (Kamienny Most). Steinhofel is the village where Emilie Koehler’s sister, Mathilde Louise, was born on 3/11/1869 and where the Koehlers last lived. On page 111 in the Maass Book, Franz Koehler, Grandpa Carl Maas’ cousin, mentions this village. It obviously is a very poor village now. A farmstead on the edge of the village was raising a huge flock of white ducks. Elsewhere, a small tractor working in a small plot was about the only action we saw. One of the features of most villages in Pomerania was the "Gut", a large estate that consisted of a large home or mansion with adjoining huge barns and farm buildings. They were usually owned by aristocrats but many were owned and occupied by ordinary people, albeit, people who had money. They are not to be confused with a "Schloss", i.e. a castle or palace built by kings, emperors and nobles. [One description of a Gut I have read was that the Gut might be compared with a "plantation" in the American south, where the owner not only had control over the land, but to a considerable extent over the workers as well.] The huge farm building on the Gut in Steinhofel appeared to be abandoned but the mansion was probably occupied. A tall smokestack on the property suggested that this Gut had been used for processing or manufacturing some product. We drove around the back of the Gut to take some pictures and then headed back to Freienwalde.

A couple of miles northwest of Freienwalde is the small village of Karkow (Karkowo) where Great Grandma Emilie and her older sister, Wilhelmine Caroline Auguste, were born. We stopped to take pictures of the stone church where Emilie would have been baptised and looked for the cemetery but found no sign of it around the church. [Emilie’s parents moved often after Emilie was born in 1851. Carl Friedrich August was born 5/29/1853 in Alt Damerow (Stara Dabrowa), about 10 miles southwest of Freienwalde. Friedrich Wilhelm was born 7/17/1855 in Buchholz (Polish name unknown), five miles further southwest. Four more siblings were born in Kitzerow (Polish name unknown), a couple of miles east of Buchholz -- a second Carl Friedrich August on 9/12/1859; Christian Friedrich Franz on 11/23/1861; and Auguste Albertine Bertha on 11/17/1863; and Auguste Albertine Mathilde on 1/9/1866.] We simply didn’t have the time to visit all of these villages and we were anxious to get to Braunsforth where the Julius Maass family came from. At the edge of Karkow, we came across the ruins of a fortress or Schloss but there was no identification on it other than a sign in Polish that Thomas said read "Stay out - building broken".

We returned to Freienwalde and headed about five miles northeast to Vehlingsdorf (Wielen Pomorski) where Grandpa Carl Maas was confirmed. I expected that Vehlingsdorf would be larger but as it turned out, it was smaller than Braunsforth (Brod). Again we took pictures of the church and the large farm buildings on the Gut. A stork in a large nest up on a pole was an interesting site and another photo opportunity. The church was no larger than a small country church but was constructed of attractive, multi-colored stone with bricks framing the windows. The double, solid wood front doors were varnished and well maintained. Regrettably, the German cemetery behind the church had been abandoned and vandalized. Headstones and grave markers were knocked over or destroyed -- a couple of cast iron crosses lying in the weeds under the trees had names, but none we recognized. If we would have had more time, we could have been more thorough in checking the head stones.

As we headed into Braunsforth, just a couple of miles west of Vehlingsdorf, I was thrilled about seeing the village where Julius and Emilie had lived and all of their kids were born except Wilhelm (Bill). Grandpa Carl Maas essentially had grown up here; he was 16 when they emigrated to America. I couldn’t help but wonder in which house they lived but unfortunately with all the Germans driven out and only the Poles living there now, there is no way to ever find out. I pondered what Grandpa said about having to walk about three miles to school and skating about a mile across the lake in the winter. We didn’t take the time to drive over to the Wothschwien See, a lake between Braunsforth and Teschendorf (Cieszyno), but I doubt if that was the lake he meant. Teschendorf is more like five miles away and being about the same size as Braunsforth, it probably didn’t have a school either. The closest bigger village was Freienwalde, also about 5 miles away.

As far as I know, no other Maas has ever returned to these roots. As we drove into the village, I stopped to take some pictures and videotape the surrounding area. The land was fairly level with crops of wheat, rye, potatoes, and sugar beets. The village is pretty good sized with another large Gut. Visible behind the village signpost was the church with a white steeple. We stopped at the church to take pictures and look for the cemetery but could find none. We drove about one kilometer (0.6 mile) south looking for evidence of the sheep farm [identified as "Schäf" on the 1895 map on page 10 of the Maass Book] but found no evidence of it. We drove around the village, which seemed to have two parallel streets. Took pictures of the Gut and a small fire station that probably hadn’t changed much in the last 100 years. Would have liked to have taken more time to wonder around there, but we had more villages to see and the time was getting late.

Drove north and west passing through Breitenfelde (Dobropole) and Weitenhagen (Grzezno) to Voigtshagen (Wojtaszyce) where we encountered what appeared to be a very large, modern, and obviously prosperous Gut. However, it apparently was a large Polish state farm. The entire farmyard was neat, orderly, clean and paved with cobblestones. Seven tractors with cabs were lined up perfectly in a row. A self-propelled combine and numerous other pieces of farm machinery were parked in the yard. Modern, well maintained, farm buildings surrounded the farm equipment on three sides. On the fourth side facing the farmyard was an enormous house or mansion beautifully painted and maintained. Surprisingly, this was the only modern farm or equipment we saw during our trip through Poland.

Just west of Voigtshagen is the tiny village of Klein Kniephof (Konarzewo), a town we would call a wide spot in the road. I was reminded of the 1872 baptism of Bertha Wilhelmine Johanne Maass recorded in the Pagenkopf (Bagna) church register that listed Julius Maass of Braunsforth and Johanne Maass of Klein Kniephof as sponsors. Now that we know that Julius and Johanne’s parents lived in Hohen Schönau (Jenikowo), only a couple of miles away, I suspect that Johanne, who was 22 years old then, may have been working there.

As we entered Hohen Schönau, we passed by a very well maintained cemetery. We stopped to walk through it but it obviously was the current Polish Catholic cemetery with no German names anywhere. Just a block ahead was another large village church, this one constructed of brick. It was the only church that we found open and I went inside to take some pictures, but when I came out, a man came up and told us in Polish that we were not allowed inside. Of course I don’t understand Polish but it was clear what he meant. We checked the surrounding grounds for a cemetery but found no evidence whatever of one. Hohen Schönau was a bit larger than most of the villages we had passed through other than Freienwalde. It would have been nice to have known where the Maasses lived and where great, great Grandpa David and later his son, Carl, had their tailor shop. I suspect the building still exists.

We continued north about 3-4 miles to Zampelhagen (Sapolnica) where Heinrich and Johanne Lüdke had lived. As in the other villages, the church is one structure that we could assume with reasonable certainty was an important part of our ancestor’s lives. Even though we cannot identify their homes or places of work, we can see where they were baptised, married and attended church services. The church was constructed of rectangular blocks of gray, blue, brown, and tan stones with a large tower built of brick. The entrance was framed in brick and had double doors with large, decorative hinges. Three of Heinrich and Johanne’s children were probably christened here. Their first child, Bertha, was born in Langkafel (Dugol>eka), a couple of miles to the west so we headed there next. I’m sure there was a better road, but we headed out of Zampelhagen on a dirt road that became very rutted with grass and weeds in the middle and a few mud holes. I was hoping we wouldn’t get stuck but Thomas seemed unperturbed. It was getting dark as we reached Langkafel, mostly because of heavy cloud cover and it was starting to sprinkle. As we stopped by the church to photograph it I realized I hadn’t gotten a picture of Thomas yet so I asked if I could take his picture before it got too dark. The church was a small, white masonry building with a tower built of wood. At the back of the church lot in either Zampelhagen or Langkafel (we can’t remember which) we noticed that all the gravestones had been piled on top of one another in a large pile. I wish now that I had taken a picture.

It started to rain harder and because it was getting too dark for pictures, we decided to head back to Gartz. On both the trip into and back from Poland we could see Stettin situated at the harbor.

There was much to see and I wish we would have had a couple of days, but I was thrilled that I had gotten to all of the former villages that I wanted to see.

Thomas was so willing to accommodate us. When I asked him what I owed him, he said only $30 for fuel. He had already said US dollars were fine. I gave him $70 to compensate him for his car and time. He was reluctant to take it, but I think he was happy to get it. He had one favor to ask and that was to provide him with contacts in the US for electrical supply and house alarm companies whom he could contact when he begins his electricians business. Before we said goodbye, I gave him the printout of the Schulz descendants so that he could check with his family to see if they recognized or were related to anyone on the list.

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