Monday, April 13, 2015

Part 1: Fischbach (Bad Schwalbach) Germany - Burgess Ancestral Home

According to professional research (see the 2001 Journal of the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association) our Hessian ancestor is from Fischbach bad Schwalbach, Hesse, Germany. 
Johann Christian Borges was born on March 6, 1754 in Fischbach bad Schwalbach, Germany - 14 miles northwest of Wiesbaden and 40 miles from Frankfurt. In 1971 Fischbach became a borough of the city of Bad Schwalbach. Christian's mother, Catharina Magdalene Prebers was from Ramschied, a village to the north and his father, Johannes Borges was from Fischbach. Both villages were a part of the parish of Bärstadt. His grandmother's family (father's mother) was from Herxheim. Johann Christian Borges was a member of the Hessian military which came to fight against the colonists in the Revolutionary War. Christian deserted while serving in Rhode Island and changed his name to the English sounding John Christian (sometimes Christopher) Burgess. He married and settled in New York state.

In early 2015 our second cousin, Reed Slack arranged a 24 hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany during his return trip to Nigeria. He was able to visit Fischbach, Ramschied, Bärstadt and Herxheim all important to our Burgess ancestors.
He has kindly shared his thoughts and photos which I will post in four separate blogs.

Fischbach crest

Part one of Reed's ancestral journey:

I was able to visit Fischbach, Barstadt, Ramschied (which are all kind of one valley over from each other, with Fischbach in the middle), and Herxheim bei Landau (150 km south of Frankfurt and where the Starcks come from). All were incredibly beautiful, but Herxheim is very different than the others..

Well, where to begin. I guess let’s do the logistics first. Fischbach is an easy 30 minute drive from the Frankfurt Airport. I had printed Google maps before I traveled, but the navigation system really proved essential. Driving in Germany is relatively straightforward, though I did read up online a little, particularly to familiarize myself with the road signs. It took no time before I felt completely comfortable--the autobahn has its own formal/informal rules that are a must to read up on, but easy to manage nonetheless.

The Taunus mountains aren’t really mountains in the sense of Pine Valley/Rocky Mountains, but they are more than mere hills. The mountains are cut with deep, narrow valleys, with the town nestled on the valley floor alongside streams and expanding up the hillside. The hill tops remain heavily forested, but much of the land has been cleared for farms/pastures. The trees are a mix of evergreen and deciduous, with the deciduous more prevalent. It absolutely reminded me of upstate New York, so Christian would have felt quite at home there.

 Panoramic view of Fischbach (three photos stitched together)

Fischbach is a very small village, especially the older parts down along the stream. The streets are exceedingly narrow, with barely room for 2 cars to pass. It was Saturday today, and many of the people were outside their homes, walking and talking with neighbors. I spoke with a few people, but unfortunately, their English was no better than my German, which is to say zero. I did show them the fan chart for Christian that I had printed, so they understood why I was visiting the town. 

The “fishing stream” for which the town is named is quite small, though it was running high due to overnight rains. It is about the same size as the [small] stream in Pine Valley that runs behind ------'s cabin 

There is a small cafe in Fischbach. I stopped in while walking down through town, but they weren’t open yet for lunch. I drove back the last thing before leaving the area and heading back to Frankfurt, and they were closed again because the power had gone out due to a heavy wind and rain. I had been looking forward to eating in Fischbach, but it didn’t happen.

More of Reed's photos of Fischbach:


Thank you Reed for sharing with us. Click below to see his visit to the other villagess:



Marilee said...

Reed, I am apparently a distant cousin as we share the same ancestor. I am planning a trip to Germany in July and am thinking about visiting the same places that you visited. Thanks for posting the pictures and the information about them. It was very helpful to me.

Sophia Pole said...

Planning a trip to Germany
Very nice information. Germany is my one of the favorite holiday destination. In this blog I found some amazing pics. Thanks for sharing

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