In my first year of blogging I got a bit over zealous and created four blogs. It made sense at the time because they were about different subjects. The downside was that I couldn’t keep up a regular posting schedule.
In my recent WordPress Blogging U class – Blogging 201 – I began to think about my brand and what I wanted to accomplish by blogging. The course emphasized the importance of maintaining consistency across various forms of social media. I made the decision to trim my four blogs down to two, but I’m still struggling a bit with exactly how that will work. I really need to renew my efforts to create an editorial calendar – I know it would help.
All Things Kalen – Gathering Stories is my personal blog. It began as the place to capture whatever didn’t fit in the other three blogs. “All the News that Doesn’t Fit Anywhere Else” doesn’t tell your readers what they’re likely to find on your blog, so I narrowed it down – I write about family history/genealogy, nature and creativity. That’s still a pretty wide range of topics but I’m going to give it a go, even though I’m still working on a better title.
If I ever achieve my ideal posting schedule – 3 times a week – I could post on each topic once a week. That seems to make sense and would make even more sense if the post for each topic appeared on the same day each week! Very do-able.
So without further ado – here is “Friday’s Family History Post:”
The dates and days of the year 2015 align perfectly with those of 1914 – meaning that in 1914, August 14th fell on a Friday, just as it does this year. (It’s a phenomenon that happens every 7- 10 years as you might know if you’ve ever tried to reuse a calendar.) Rewind 101 years to Friday August 14th, when my grandfather Joseph B. Kingsbury, then 24 years old, was on a summer trip to Europe with three buddies. He had one more year of college at George Washington University in Washington, DC.
My high school history classes didn’t cover World War I in any detail. All I remember was that Archduke Ferdinand (not sure I could have told what country he was Archduke of) was killed while visiting Serbia. For some reason an image of him being assassinated while in a parade (or maybe watching a parade?) comes to mind. That happened on June 28, 1914 but must not have seemed significant enough at the time for my grandfather to postpone his European vacation. While Joe and his buddies were aboard ship getting close to Bremenhaven, Germany, on July 28th Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and Russia began mobilizing troops.
On their first day in Bremen after a quick tour of the town, the boys got a train to Berlin. Within a day or so of their arrival in Berlin, Germany declared war on Russia. That pretty much put a damper on travel in Germany because German trains stopped running for civilian travel and were activated for the war effort – moving German troops to the eastern border.
Ever the journal-ist (as in one who keeps a journal regularly –not one who writes for a newspaper) my grandfather kept a journal of his daily adventures in Germany as he tried to find a way home. Not only had the German railroad stopped running but the shipping line that he was to sail home on had ceased operations in Germany. They were stranded without any idea of how to get home.
It is true that the letter in which Joe recounts his adventure was written after he was safely back in the States. Easy to be nonchalant when you know it will all work out in the end. But knowing him, I suspect he did take it all in stride and made the best of a bad situation.
In the early days of their trip, Joe and his friends, Jim and Bassett, seemed to enjoy the typical tourist activities – visiting museums, touring the town, shopping and restaurants. After a short stay in Berlin, they made their way to Nuremberg on August 2nd. On August 4th, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany and the US declared its neutrality. Once that happened, life got a bit more difficult for the three friends. Joe recounts a few times when angry mobs, mistaking them for Englishmen, harassed them or had them arrested. In an amusing account shortly after his first arrest, Joe recalls “trying to raise a mustache” so he would look more like a typical German.
Despite daily trips to the Consulate to figure out what to do, not much was happening in the evacuation effort. Joe and his friends met a group of Americans who had been in Germany all summer and were now staying at the Grand Hotel in Nuremberg. Like the boys, they were trying to find a way out of Europe. Joe met Mr. and Mrs. Christian Heurich at the Grand Hotel who were from Washington DC. The Heurich’s took the boys under their wing and offered to provide extra cash if needed. A Google search confirms what Joe described in his account, Mr. Heurich was an American brewer who had immigrated to the US from Germany in the late 1800s. Check out the second picture on this blog link to see what Mr. and Mrs. Heurich’s Washington DC home looked like. Christian Heurich’s Home in Washington DC
I will definitely include a stop at the Heurich Museum on my next trip to Washington DC, It seems that there are several events each month, celebrating different craft breweries in the area. Heurich House Museum
In his own words, here’s what Joe was doing on Friday August 14, 1914. At this point in the trip, he and his friends had been in Nuremberg for twelve days.
“I went to the Consulate alone to take our applications for transportation on the American relief ships which we had received from the Consul. There were two messages from the embassy at Berlin, one saying that the cruiser Tennessee with 24 Naval Officers and the Assistant Secretary of War left August 7th to arrange for the return of Americans in Europe on ships which are now being chartered. Another was about relief societies for stranded Americans. Many are entirely broke and in serious need.”
The effect of these messages was to make Joe “bluer that morning than I had ever been.” He also took his characteristic frugality to new heights and avoided all unnecessary expenses.
On Friday evening Joe and his travel companions attended a church service at the Grand Hotel. There was a large group of Americans staying at the Grand Hotel in Nuremberg and Joe and his friends migrated to that circle, even though they were staying in a cheaper hotel nearby. Mr. Wissler, a Dutch Reformed minister from Carlisle PA, led the service and did a good job cheering folks up but in Joe’s opinion, “he wasn’t much of a preacher.”
The evening ended on a positive note when Joe got word that Mrs. Killen (one of the Americans staying at the Grand Hotel) was arranging for a train to take a group of 9 Americans from Nuremburg to Holland where it might be easier to get a ship home. Joe and his friends were included in her group of 9. They went with Mrs. Killen to the train station and got through to the commandant of trains who confirmed that he could get enough cars to accommodate any Americans who wanted to leave and would add them to the special train that was arriving from Munich on Monday. The train would take the stranded Americans to Holland.
Here is Joe’s account of his celebration of the good news –
“We were happier that night than any time since we landed, at the prospect of seeing a new country, and being near where the ships will leave for America. We figured of course on staying in Holland for several weeks or months, but Mr. Heurich decided to go to Holland also and promised to take care of us. To celebrate the good news we went to the Nassauer Keller, an old restaurant under one of the oldest houses in town, built by Adolph of Nassan 700 years ago. We had the best dinner of our whole trip, beefsteak and every kind of vegetable, lebkuchen and fruit to end up with. The proprietor showed us every corner of the old cellar, led us back to where the old underground passage led to the Rathaus (City Hall) and the burg. It was as interesting as a story book.”
Thanks to the internet and the fact that der Nassauer Keller is located in the oldest surviving building in Nuremberg (and is now 801 years old) you can take a virtual tour of the restaurant that three stranded American students ate at 101 years ago today!