When we took a brief visit to Sibiu (Hermannstadt to the Germans), we marveled at the massive wall surrounding the city, its combination of thirty-nine towers and four bastions a bulwark against invading Ottoman Turks.
But while Sibiu defended the city in the past against those bent on its destruction, it is now dedicated to protect its Saxon German heritage for future generations. Although few ethnic Germans still live in Sibiu (a combination of mass deportations after World War II, brutalization under Ceausescu’s rule, the 1989 Revolution, and other factors, coupled with Germany's generous immigration policy for ethnic Germans), it is still a major cultural center and home to a wealth of Siebenbürgen German history. (Click to get an overview).
| Siebenbürgen German history. Researcher at Teutschhaus, Herr Rehner, |
shows brother Bill (far left), cousin Maria, and me (standing)
my great-grandfather's name with his house number
Using my great grandfather’s name, research assistants efficiently stride to a back room and within ten minutes bring out a worn ledger of former Grosspold residents. Herr Rehner turns the pages to “E” and finds my great grandfather’s house number. “Ebner, Samuel—365.” The town was small enough so that every house had its own number, rather than a number and street name as we’re accustomed to.
|Siebenbürgen German history: Detail of Samuel Ebner's name|
in book of house numbers.
|Family History- Pastor Meitert|
shows my brothers, Bill, center, &
Paul, right the Grosspold Church's
|Family History Book: columns l-r: "Family Member,"|
Birth, Marriage, Death (dates: day, month, year)
Maria Eder's maiden name was Feyri
After gathering this information, what happens next is extraordinary. Pastor Meitert carefully removes the Ebner pages from the centuries-old Family Book, folds them under his arm, and declares we’re going door-to-door in Grosspold until someone can tell us just where House Number 365, the Ebner Hof, is located!
In my next Travel Tuesday Post, we’ll find out what we discovered in our quest, and the century-old connection this visit made to my grandfather’s objection to naming me “Linda.”