Saturday, April 30, 2011

They Were Wearing...

At the beginning of the 19th century, clothes told the story of who you were.  It was the style of clothes as well as the materials from which the clothing was made.  The Simeonstift Museum in Trier has a representative collection of "what they were wearing" when our ancestors lived in the Trier or Saarburg Kreis.

Let's walk around the museum display cases and look at a few of the exhibits.

Town Woman's Day Dress

Young Woman's Cotton Muslin Town Dress

Older Girl's Dress

Woman's Special Occasion Dress

Outerwear of a Well-Dressed Town Man
Farm Wife's Sunday Dress

Young Farm Girl's Sunday Finery
Farmer's Work Tunic

Country Women's Sunday Church Shawl

Monday, April 25, 2011

When Summer Comes Early

It has been a very warm "summer-like spring" in Germany this year and growth is early, often looking more like late May rather than late April.  Josianne has been hiking the fields of Lorraine and the German Saar lands, her camera in hand.  Once again she has found rare wildflowers and also a landscape filled with green, white and even gold - because there is a rape field already in bloom.

Solomon Seal

Gromwell -any of various plants of the boraginaceous genus having small greenish-white, yellow, or blue flowers, and smooth nutlike fruits

Apple tree in full bloom

Trees in their meadow

Rape field already in bloom

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Irsch - Almost As It Once Was

There are some old postcards that show Irsch in earlier times.  They are black and white and often a bit rumpled and time worn.  But from early and to late spring, color gradually becomes so vibrant that there is a need to show views from modern times.  Then one can let the imagination dissolve the village's modern expansion.  The old, central part of the village stands alone once more - to let us picture the hue of the spring days and nights of long ago.

Here and there a hint of green wakes in the village

Above the city, wild herbs and plants lurk, waiting to appear

Green brightens the old mill site
"In der Lay," seen on a sunny day, is one of Irsch's oldest sections

The trees again have leaves in May

The sky is always as it was in olden times

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Village Fruit/Viez Meadow

According the Ernst Mettlach who grew up in the Trier region, each village in the Trier and Saarburg areas had apple trees.  He says, "Trier is Appleland."  The apple trees in past days were part of the meadow land called the "Streuobstwiese"  It was similar to our English word "orchard"  But these orchards were also pasture/meadow lands, serving a dual purpose.

Thus all over the regions apple trees stood (and other fruit trees like plum and pear trees) with very high, knotty tree trunks.  In our own modern times, trees are pruned to grown low and have very short trunks so it is easier to harvest their fruit.  But because of this, very little light reaches the ground and almost no vegetation grows beneath these trees as it did in the olden times.   The Streuobstwiesen-orchards, with tall-trunk trees, gave space to a lot of species.  Animals and plants sheltered beneath the trees and took advantage of the meadow land that surrounded there.  Ernst painted an excellent word picture when he said that these trees had a ground floor which was used by the cattle as pasture, while the upper floor produced fruit and gave a home to several kinds of birds and small animals,  such as Little Owls (Athene noctua).

Ernst took the pictures below in Aach, 10 km north of Trier and known as the Mecca for the regional hard cider known as Viez.  So he shows us the "Roter Trier Weinapfel" and the "Weisser Trierer Weinapfel."  These apples are used to make Viez. They are small, hard and very sour. They are sometimes called "Holzapfel" (wood apple) or "Roter/Weisser Trierer" or simply "Viezapfel."  There is also a picture of a very traditional pear tree called "Sievenicher Mostbirne." These pear trees are very huge and have broad crowns.

All the trees shown below produce fruit that is not very edible when plucked from the branches.  But they are fine to produce Viez or distilled spirits.

Roter Trier Apple Tree

Roter Trier Apples

Weiser Trierer Apple Tree

Weiser Trierer Apples

Weiser Trierer Apples with Mistletoe

The Two-Story Red and White Trier Apple Trees

Sievenicher Mostbirne (Pear Tree)

Viez Krug

Saturday, April 16, 2011

When they were young

My great-great grandmother Lena was the youngest child in her family.  She and Thias (Matthias) her next-in-line brother were the last of the ten Rauls children.  As I imagine them, they sometimes would sneak away together to the nearby woodlots or small forests, Tice leading the way; Lena his faithful shadow.

As they got older, there was hard work in the fields from spring until harvest, but I think Lena and Thias spent some early evenings, especially in spring, in the wild areas or rocky hills, looking at the sky, hearing bird songs, splashing a foot in a pond if the weather turned warm.  And all the while they were inhaling the April smell of fresh growth and the shriveled plant remains from the year before.

Let us tiptoe along behind them.

Barefoot on the road?

purple deadnettle (purple archangel?)

white dead nettle doesn't sting says Josiane

Lying on the damp ground

Looking up, chattering, and dreaming
Walking back home

Barge Shipping on the Saar River

Below is an image of the town of Saarburg, drawn in the time before photography.  It is a part of a lithograph by Peter Becker.  At the time the print was first made, there was no bridge between the town of Saarburg on the left-hand side of the Saar River and the village of Beurig on the right.  The first bridge was built in 1861, so the lithograph was made at an earlier date, probably about the time that most of our emigrating ancestors lived in the small towns near the Saar. 

On the Saar you can see a Lastschiff (barge). It is pulled by horses along the river on the Beurig side using Leinen (long ropes).  The ropes can just be made out, and the men who guided the horses on the towpath - the Halfen - are invisible.  It is my guess that they are there but that they look like a cluster of trees.  The artist was interested in the castle, the city of Saarburg, and the river itself.  He gave short shrift to the Halfen, as was all too often the way they were also treated in real life.   

However, a postcard from the collection of H.D. Jung of Saarburg shows a picture of one of the Halfen and the strong horses that pulled the barge's load against the tide.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When the Family Came in from Outside

There are still fields, woodlots, forests, wild flowers, herbs - all of which existed in earlier times but that we can see and photograph today.  But things man-made have changed.  The old dishes, furniture, cooking utensils, even the materials of the houses are clearly from our own century, and our cameras do us little good unless we visit open-air museums like Rosheiderhof near Konz or one of the small town museums.  Here we can step back to our ancestors' time to see things big and small that the 19th century family used every day.

Kitchen wall counter

On Cupboard Shelves

The Hall Between the House and the Stable

Slate Tile Hall

Multipurpose Room

Bedroom with Wash Pitcher

Upper Hallway Storage

Inside Plumbing in Earlier Times

Shared well

Friday, April 8, 2011

Murals Show the Old Boundaries Along the Saar.

Josiane wrote, "a few other pictures from above Saarhölzbach...another place above the river this time. The paintings on the walls in the shelter make us dream of old days in the area along the River Saar."

A little background explains "Kutrierish." Kurtrier (also Archbishopric and Electorate of Trier) was one of the original seven electorates of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. The temporal dominion of the Archbishop of Trier existed from late Carolingian period until the time of Napoleon. Its capital was Trier, residence since the 17th Century Koblenz .

The Lorraine -- Lothringen in German -- region is the only region having borders with four countries: France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany. The location of Lorraine has contributed to its being seen as a strategic asset, and as the crossroads of four nations, it has played a very important role in European affairs.  Hence the border markers in the murals below.

First chapel built 1430
New building 1792
Extended 1848
Enlarged again 1933

Rest-stop for barges

Memorial (Unreadable)

Kurtrierish - Lothringisher
Borderstone marker
Built on the right side of the Saar River

Kutrierish - Lothringisher
borderstone marker
Located on the left side of of the Saar

Viewing point
for the Saar River