01 November 2012

Exploring my German Roots: Amend/Ament

One year ago today I experienced an Amendt Genealogy Miracle

Earlier, on August 15, 2011, I found which town in Hessen, Germany that the Ament family came from.*

Today I visited that town--Heuchelheim, Gie├čen, Hessen--and visited the church where my family attended 200 years ago.

In the past year, I've been incredibly blessed to start a career in which I travel to Germany for business. My job itself is in the genealogy field and my boss loves this stuff. He gladly gave me some tips on how to use my days off wisely. Today is a German holiday, and so it is a day off. His niece niece's family is learning English and invited me to speak with them over dinner. My boss suggested that they spend the day with me in Heuchelheim. His niece stayed home to prepare while her husband and daughters gladly gave me a ride. The daughters are taking English in school and they did a very good job of translating for me. 

We walked the town cemetery and photographed two Amend headstones which they spotted for me. Then we went to Martins Lutheran church (Evangelische Martinskirche). We walked around the church and into the church yard, looking for any old headstones or a date of construction for the church. We didn't find what I expected, but much more: After we were about to leave, we happened to walk by a glass wall of the church's addition right when a maintenance person was walking on the inside. In a moment, she opened the door and was talking with all three of my wonderful hosts. They explained to her why I was there, and we were invited to go inside. I took pictures and enjoyed the feeling of walking in my ancestors' footsteps. We then went to the office and were directed to a beautiful set of professionally bound church book transcriptions. The teenage girls did more than practice their English, they were enjoying the entire trip. One later indicated that she had never done anything like it and was more interested in her own family history than before. Here, they referenced the index at the back of the books and turned to each Amend entry so I could quickly photograph the page with my cellphone. I ended up with almost 70 Amend records. While the originals are generally kept back for better preservation, they allowed me to look at one of the old volumes. The entire experience was as if doors were being opened before me in a hallway that I didn't know existed.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Michael,
    My name is Tom Green and my ancestors ( on my mother's side ) came from Heuchelheim. The Krock ( Kroeck) family came to the US in 1850 and my 4 times g.grandfather generated records during the Civil War here in the States. That is how I discovered the town where they lived. I sent for the filmed records held by the LDS but could not figure out the exact connections. I wrote to someone in the church and they were able to trace the Kroeck family back to the late 1500's. The church holds what they call the Familia Bouken ( something like that, I can only read some genealogical German). There is a bit of a dark side to this book. Evidently, the Nazis wanted the churches to unscramble the family connections to find out who carried Jewish blood. Anyway, the good part was that they were able to send me all my family lines back to before the 30 Years War when most of the records were destroyed. In my home library I have a book written by a church member that tells the history of Heuchelheim and the various family names. As you probably know it is and was a very small town. ALL of the families are related. Cousins married cousins. ( hey, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were second cousins). I know I have Amends in my family tree too soooooo hello cousin. Like you I was able to visit Heuchelheim about 7 years ago. The church is fantastic. The grave yard that you visited is fairly new. The grave yard around the old St. Martins Church was leveled years ago. No really old stones exist. Through out most of Europe and the UK the remains are removed from the grave after the passage of some years and the land re-used. The stones are sometimes stacked along the edge of the grave yard but this is not the case in Heuchelheim. All the records are miraculously preserved in the old parish registers. I only saw the filmed copies. Lucky you to have seen the originals. If you would like send me an email. I can be reached at tbgnewpaltz@hotmail.com. A little about me. My name is Tom Green. I live in the Hudson Valley in New York State and am a retired teacher.


Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments.