Friday, August 12, 2005


Desperately Seeking Spaichingen

Cousin Liz dropped me off at the train station early this morning so I could hit the rails again. After a three hour train ride (two trains) I arrived in Spaichingen. I made my way first to the Rathaus to see if they had any records on Johan Winker, my great-great-grandfather, who was born about 1823 and settled in Wisconsin about 1855. Took a while to find the place as it is a newer building that is part of the Marktplatz (think small shopping mall). It took a few minutes to locate someone who understood English. Once in the records office, we located several Johan Winkers, but all born too late to be my ancestor. The town records began in 1876, long after g-g-gdfthr left the area. That means I will have to rely on church records. I called Sts. Peter and Paul church in Spaichingen, but no one there spoke English, and a call to St. Michael’s church in Denkingen went unanswered.

I checked in to the Hotel Kreuz on the main road through town (35 euro for a single room with toilet and shower), and had a lunch of schnitzel with noodles.

There are maps of the town about every block, which makes navigation pretty easy when you’re on foot, and noticed a cemetery about two blocks south of my hotel. With camera in hand I found my way there. Grave sites are generally by family, with a double-wide plot showing several names. The grave sites are tended by family members and most have flowers or shrubs growing on them. I spent an hour or more walking through part of the cemetery and found quite a few Winkers, though none that I have in my database. The oldest was born in 1865. They are probably related to me, but I have no idea how far back.

At the friedhof (cemetery)
Photo copyright 2005 by Tim Winker
About the time I was preparing to leave because the skies threatened rain, I noticed a 70-ish woman tending the grave of Hermann Winker (1917-1998) and Stefanie Winker (1910-2000). I tried to make conversation but she did not understand English. We did finally locate someone else in the cemetery that understood a little English (the cemetery was rather busy by our standards as there were quite a few folks tending to their family grave sites) and I was able to let her know that I was also a Winker. Though I took her photo, I neglected to get her name.

I probably searched only half of the cemetery so will go back in the morning to look some more.

There is a strong wireless link to the Internet here, but it is still a pay-for-time site maintained by t-com/t-mobile. I have learned to do my composing off line rather than have the clock running while I type.

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