The German side of things
I ramble on a lot about genealogy research into my dad’s Irish-American heritage. It is only fair to give some space to my mom’s side, the German-Americans. Her parents, Johann Rudroff and Eva Forster, emigrated to Brooklyn, N.Y. in the 1920s from a beautiful spot known as the Fränkische Schweiz (Swiss Franconia).
Administratively speaking, it’s part of northern Bavaria, but primarily, it’s lovely. The nickname comes from its landscape of picturesque hills, craggy rock outcroppings, and rushing streams. (No, I don’t work for the tourist authority, but I have visited twice, and it’s really very nice.) A German professor once told me the Fränkische Schweiz is known for its bagpipe-playing tradition, perhaps a throwback to some long-ago Celtic strain. I love it when things come full circle.
I personally have never heard bagpipes there, but once, my sister and I found ourselves in conversation with an elderly gentleman who remembered the big party given nearly 60 years prior on the eve of my grandmother’s departure for America. (Much more exciting than bagpipes.)
My German ancestors were pretty rural: farmers and farmers’ helpers and mill operators; things like that. Of course things have diversified a bit since the 20th century.
Some of my surname interests in this area include Rudroff, Forster, Held and Endres, living in or near the villages of Oberailsfeld and Kottweinsdorf. If you too love the Fränkische Schweiz, feel free to say “Grüss Gott!” at firstname.lastname@example.org .