Day 9 off the 30-Day Family History Writing Challenge was to research the hometown of one of your ancestors.
Seussling (Soy-sling) Germany
Seussling was the home of my Great-Grandmother, Catherine Harrer Marschall. She was born in 1853 one of 7 children of Ignatius and Katharina Harrer. She emigrated to the US in 1882, sailing to New York as a single woman of 28. She married my Great Grandfather Conrad Marschall in 1889 at the ripe old age of 36. They were from the same area in Bavaria, but I don’t know if they knew each other prior to being in the United States. Catherine went on to have 2 sons Frederick (1890) and Edmund (my Grandfather in 1892). At some point Fred and Ed took the more American spelling of Marshall.
Seussling was her home and is a lovely, idyllic place. My sister and I had the opportunity to visit it while in Germany in 2014. It is roughly 200 miles southwest of Berlin. Not far from Wurzburg and in the district of Bamberg in Bavaria. The population of Seussling is very small, around 2000. It dates back to medieval times – the first mention of a church was in 800 – during the reign of Charlemagne. The Catholic church that was in existence in my GG’s time and still stands today is known as St Sigismund. I can in fact find documentation listing the Priests that served the church back to the 1400’s. The town of Seussling itself officially dates back to 1013! (The city I live in officially became a city in 1915). I have a hard time wrapping my head around those dates.
St Sigismund was the King of Burgundy in the 500’s. After a defeat in battle he, his wife and children were imprisoned and executed. This story is told in graphic detail on a series of plaques in the church. At one point in its history the church housed an important shrine and relic of the deceased King. People would come from all over to view the shrine to St. Sigismund, The relic was moved for safekeeping during a time of war but was never returned to Seussling.
We went to Seussling with a cousin who lived nearby, she called ahead and they were ready for us! We were greeted by the Church caretaker and the town historian from a nearby town. We had the feeling that they didn’t get very many visitors! Our host’s were more than gracious and generous with their time. They gave us a tour of the church and also the crypt underground. We weren’t exactly sure what they were doing when they started to roll up the rug and open up a hatch in the floor in front of the alter! There were faded remnants of original artwork in the crypt – dating back to the early 1500’s. They also took us through the rectory or Das Pfarrhaus and the community building. I can not even begin to imagine the number of gatherings that building has seen through the years. Other than modern amenities like electricity and heat, the church probably hadn’t changed very much since the last time that my GG laid eyes on it. There was something so powerful and emotional to stand in that place, in the place she worshiped, the place in which her loved ones, were baptized, married, and buried. This church had been a central part of her life in Germany. This is true not only because it was her church, it was also next to her home.
Directly next to the church, was the school that Catherine attended and next to the school was where she lived. The house has since been rebuilt, but the barn from her time was still standing. I can’t fully explain what it felt like to see and touch the place where she lived and to know that it probably didn’t look all that different. Our cousin knocked on the door and the owners came out and spoke with us. When she mentioned the name of the family – they nodded and said that of course they knew the name and that the family were known for being Tailors – remember the part where I said she had left in 1882?!
We left the lovely village of Suessling with a book about its history and other memorabilia. generously given to us. They truly treated us like family who had come to visit. We took so many pictures and I am forever grateful for their genuine warmth and welcoming nature. They game me a priceless opportunity to make a deeper connection to my roots.
Neudecker, A., Schubert, E., Schubert, H., & Neudecker, H. (n.d.). Seussling Geschichte der Pfarrei und des Dorfes.
Personal photos taken May 25, 2014 by author.