On Jan. 23, 1943, my uncle, Frank Ebner Gartz, (photo in uniform, above) reported to the draft board in Chicago to start his training for WWII. So began the correspondence between him and family & friends, comprising almost 300 letters going both ways. I’m posting many of these World War II letters, each on or near the 70th anniversary of its writing. To start with his induction, click HERE.

This blog began in Nov., 2010, when I posted a century-old love note from Josef Gärtz, my paternal grandfather, to Lisi (Elisabetha) Ebner, my paternal grandmother, and follows their bold decision to strike out for America.

My mom and dad were writers too, recording their lives in diaries and letters from the 1920s-the 1990s. Historical, sweet, joyful, and sad, all that life promises-- and takes away--are recorded here as it happened. It's an ongoing saga of the 20th century. To start at the very beginning, please click HERE.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Train Journey-Part II - To Catch a Ship

A century ago this summer, my grandmother, Elisabetha (Lisi) Ebner, was heading to America to meet and marry my grandfather, Josef Gartz. Her diary of the trip is often confusing because she intermixes train schedules, recipes, addresses, and meals. (See The Train Journey-Part I), but the important thing to me is that she actually recorded enough details,  that I can follow along on her journey.

Here's an overview map of the route she took, all noted in her diary: through the Austro-Hungarian towns of Budapest, Galanta, Trencin, Cadca; into Oderberg and Ratibor, the border town between Poland and Germany. She chugs along, noting the German towns of Breslau, Berlin, Hannover and finally to Bremen.

Lisi's approximate route from Hermannstadt/Sibiu in today's Romania
to Bremen. From there she'll take a train to the port.
Handwritten note from  Mrs. Jickeli's  on the back of her
 business card. See date at the end: 14/9 1911-
 Sept. 14, 1911, a clue Lisi had this note when she left.
Lisi jots down the times she arrives and departs many of the cities as she wends her way to the port of Bremen. The dates she lists indicate that she personally left on the train several weeks after dropping off her luggage on August 22nd. (See that first entry at Farewell, My Homeland).

The first date she lists of the actual train trip is September 15th, departing from Budapest at 6:50 pm.

It's about 267 miles from her home town to Budapest. I believe she started her trip on September 14th,  because she brought along with her a business card from her boss, Mrs. Jickeli, dated September 14, 1911.  (see photo) That date jives with the length of time it would have taken her to get to  Budapest.  I'll reveal what I discovered on that card in a future post,

On the right, the border town between Germany and
Poland is large and clearly written:  Ratibor
9/15, Friday: 6:50 pm depart from Budapest

9/16 Saturday: 1:00 a.m. arrive Cadca

9/16 Saturday: 2 a.m. arrive Oderberg; 2:30 a.m. 
Change trains to a “fast train” on the
Preussische Staatsbahn (The German State Train)

9/16 Saturday 4 a.m. Depart Oderberg (track #3)

9/16 [Saturday] 11:20 am arrive Berlin (at the Friedrich Street Train Station, where the porter takes her to the “Cashier” to exchange her Kroner (Austro-Hungarian money) for German Marks

[9/16 Saturday] 11:52 a.m. onward [from Berlin]

[9/16 Saturday] 5:55 pm arrive Bremen

9/16-9/19 [Sat. - Tues.] overnight in Bremen

Before changing trains in the “German area” (perhaps Oderberg), she writes:

Our tickets are checked and we each receive a little piece of paper, giving us our seat number [on the next train].

Of course Lisi must keep track of expenditures, so she records payments:

-Her tips to every porter at each train station.
-a cup of coffee cost 25 Pfennig (like “pennies”)
-the cost of her room and the money she pays each worker at the "B and B" where she overnights in Bremen.

The room: 15 Taler [coins-of indeterminate worth today]
Waiter 4 taler
Valet 6 taler
Chambermaid 2 taler
Total cost: 27 taler and 15 Pfennig

In Bremen, she records both what she eats and at what time:

1:00 pm -- a coffee
5:00 pm -- 1 soup and 1 schnitzel, 1 compote, 2 glasses of water, and 2 rolls
9:00 am -- 2 coffees, 3 rolls with butter 3 cups of coffee

September 16th - 18th were the last three days she would ever again spend in Europe.

9/19 Tuesday depart from Bremen at 8:00 am

This is it! The final leg of her train journey that will take her from the city of Bremen to the port--and to the ship that will carry her to America.

At some time in these last few days, she learns of the ship on which she'll cross the Atlantic. She enters its name and her cabin number--on the facing page of her diary’s first entry, which she had created on August 22, 1911. It's too important to be buried within.

Her ship name and cabin number, noted left - added to
the facing page, blank when she made her first entry,
the "22nd of August" right.

Elise Ebner
Cabin 731
Kaiser Wilhelm II

Coming up: Lisi starts a second diary--of her voyage across the Atlantic to America--closer to  Josef’s waiting arms.


Friko said...

How absolutely wonderful that you should have these details. Fascinating to follow your ancestor's journey through the old Europe.

She must have been of German descent, or possibly Austrian. Nobody else would keep such exact records. You are very, very lucky.

Friko said...

Sorry, me again.
My cousin's family name is Gartz, but as far as I know, they have always been living in Germany near the Dutch/Belgian borders.

I have been collecting my own history, also on my blog, but so far I am sticking with my own experiences.

I must repeat, this is a wonderful journey you are making.

Debi Austen said...

Lisa was so detailed which is such a gift for you. I can't wait to hear about her sailing across the ocean and into Josef's waiting arms!

Michelle Goodrum said...

I love how you were able to plot out each stop that she had recorded in her diary onto a map. The visual is so helpful. Lookingforward to more...

Kathy Reed said...

Our local genealogical society offers courses on how to read old German script. It hit me in light of recent news accounts that we may be raising the first generation who cannot read the cursive writing we grew up with. The state of Indiana just made teaching cursive writing totally optional. I just realized that they may not be able to read records we leave them. Someone questioned what signatures will look like in the future. I'm so happy you have these artifacts.

Margel said...

As always, I love your posts. I'm a sucker for a great story and this is definitely a great one.
I think a television series using the stories genealogists have found would be great. Some stories would be one episode and some would need multiple episodes to tell. What do you think?