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Saturday, April 1, 2023

The search for Clara's roots

 The view from the balcony of the Gasthaus in the quaint German village of Neulautern was pastoral.  The rolling green hillsides could have been a view in upstate Pennsylvania but were dotted with whitewashed half-timbered homes with terracotta tiled roofs separated by tall evergreens that created a traditional German village scene. It was this tiny rural town that spawned the Neumeister family line.  40 miles northeast of Stuttgart the village was famous for glass manufacturing during the eighteenth century.  By the time the glassworks closed in 1821, the area became impoverished.  Johann Friedrich Neumeister struggled to raise his family in the village during the early nineteenth century.  

He lost several of his children and his first three wives to early death. One of his sons, Christian Gotlieb Neumeister was only 13 when his mother died and he found life in Neulautern difficult.  He married in the village and had a son Karl, but twin sons born in August of 1849 lived only a few months.  Shortly after this tragedy Christian Gotlieb packed up his wife and remaining son emigrating to Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. 

Neulautern, Germany 2006 - C. B. Kehler

It was a long modern journey to find the Neumeister ancestral home as the family stories had been lost over time. Recent generations of Neumeisters did not pass on photos or stories of the previous generations so the family history was quilted together bit by bit over time.  The family history notebooks on our library shelves are color coded.  The documents for each of the four branches of our children’s heritage are organized in blue or red or green notebooks.  The yellow-colored books for the paternal mother’s line was the smallest section on the shelves.  It was bothersome that an important branch of our family tree was atrophied.  In an effort to honor the memory of Clara Kehler, all the documents left by her mother and husband were organized and research began.  Lines of ancestors traced back to small towns throughout South West Germany who emigrated to Pennsylvania and intertwined to create a saga of struggle and triumph culminating in the beauty of Clara Elsie nee Miller, Kripplebauer by adoption, and Kehler by marriage.