Posts Tagged ‘St. Killian Old Irish Cemetary’

Finding My Bavarian Roots: Blogging Prose

July 18, 2016

As I write this, I’m shedding tears of joy and disbelief. Since my high school days (1973-74) I’ve tried to find the KUHNS family link to “the old country” (Germany). I would take the bus during my high school and college years, during the summer, down to the Milwaukee County Historical Society, to do census and resident research.
I discovered that my grandfather George’s father, John, was a carpenter at the Pabst Theater. I learned that John’s father, Eugene, lived in Milwaukee, and was born in Germany.
So I kept trying and trying to find how Eugene “came over” from Germany, and where in Germany he was from. My research in Milwaukee — which spanned decades — always came up with only “Germany” as his birthplace.
Three years ago, I learned — through census records — that Eugene and several of his siblings had lived in Hartford, Washington County. I went to the Hartford Library and historical society, where some volunteers helped me find several newspaper articles about some KUHNS family. I made copies of the articles, but as I was short on time, I never really read them. In fact, I thought they were probably NOT related to me, because they mentioned another John KUHNS who was an early settler of Hartford, builder and owner of the “Old Wisconsin House” (aka “American House”
So I put the newspaper articles away in deep storage.
Eventually, I discovered that Eugene’s father, John, and his mother, Victoria, were buried in Hartford. At the time, I wrote this piece:
Alas, all censuses of this family simply said “Germany” as their residence before coming to the USA. I was still no closer to finding WHERE in Germany the Kuhns line came.
Recently, I pulled the articles out and brought them to Wisconsin. They sat on the bunkbed for months, as I only glanced at the headlines: “Old Settler Dead” and “Death of John Kuhns”.
Today, I brought them out and showed them to my father, who read them with interest. They talked of John Kuhns’ (Grandpa’s great-grandfather, NOT his father) life in the mid-1800’s in Hartford, builder and owner of the Wisconsin House / American House. But again, I never read the articles.
As I took them back into my room, for some reason, I decided to completely read them. I read of John and Victoria’s son Matthias, who died fairly young. I read of my grandfather’s grand-uncle, from Madison. I read of the death of “the Old Settler” John Kuhns, the first Kuhns from our family in Wisconsin.
Then I read this:
“The deceased was born in Falkenberg, Germany, in 1810.”
I stared.
In the next article on the copied page was this line: “Mr. Kuhns was born in Bavaria …. 1810 … and came to this country … in 1845.”
Falkenberg. Bavaria. Germany.
There is a town. A name. My KUHNS/KUNTZ line has a location.
OR is it THIS Falkenberg?
Four decades of research flash into a time warp of insight and inspiration, take me back to the old country, 50 kilometers east of a city I spent a cold November night in 1980.
Schwetze mi UrGrossEltern Boarisch? Wiss nid!
But my Kuhns/Kuntz family line has a home in Falkenberg, Oberpfalz, Bavaria, Germany, east of Nuremberg, near the Czech border.
And I’m in tears.
PS: In the same article: “He was married in the old country, Feb. 2, 1836, to Victoria Mormk.”
More information, a last name we never knew before.
John Kuhns of Hartford, Wisconsin, 1903 obituaries
PPS: Not so fast:’s a Falkenberg in Lower Bavaria.
Which one is it?
I guess I will have to do more research!… but we’re getting closer!

Six Generations Later, They Done Good: Revolutionary Blogging Free Verse Poem

September 12, 2015

They came,Kuntz_StKillianGrave_Hartford_Wisconsin_Sept2015
seeking a new life
for themselves,
for their children.

for something better.
Not knowing
they would be the first

I stood,
having passed the old cemetery
many times,
at last,
at their graves,
and wept.

A surreal
central Wisconsin
sunset moment,
a circle completed,
their names on headstones,
my face on photos
to show I was there.

I wept more,
blessed them
for their vision,
cleaned off their markers,
scrubbed their names:
“John”. “Father”.
“Victoria”. “Mother.”

Kuhns_Kuntz_Hartford_gravesite_Sept2015They were born and died
centuries ago,
but their dreams
and hopes
are alive,
in me,
on a rural Wisconsin hill.

Do they know
how much we,
seven generations
or more,
and thank

St. Killian Old Irish Cemetery,
Highway 83 east of Hartford.
I found them at last.
“Danke sehr, Victoria and John Kuntz.
Ya done good.”