Ways Locals Can Enrich Your Travels For Genealogy

If you have been following my last two posts, you know I am recounting my search trip to Germany from just last month. There were six of us that traveled together, starting with my research portion of our trip in Radolfzell am Bodensee and Böhringen in Baden/Wurttemberg Germany, continuing to Basel for a 8 day Rhine river cruise and ending in Amsterdam. Our first day was traveling (Seattle to Radolfzell am Bodensee). Our second day was still traveling for some, while I visited with the archivist in Radolfzell ( Visiting the Archivist in Radolfzell am Bodenzee).
After my visit with the archivist in the morning we all headed out to meet with my contact at the church in Böhringen, St. Nicholas. I had been given this contact by another volunteer archivist that Hilde had  referred me to regarding the church in Böhringen. This is the church whose records I had originally found on microfilm at Salt Lake City Family History Library years ago. Böhringen were about a ten-minute drive from our hotel in Radolfzell. My sister-in-law’s friend had finally been able to meet up with Roy and Liz at the Zurich airport while I had my meeting at the Archives. Now that we were all together we headed out for our next appointment.

At the church we met our contact, a lovely local couple and their friend who had agreed to interpret for them. I had been looking at pictures of this church for years and now we were going to have a personal tour of this picturesque parish church.

The travelers

St. Nikolaus church in Böhringen

The first mention of a church at this site of St. Nikolaus church in the ancient village of Böhringen, was in the 13th century. In 1728 the Baroque style church was built by the Böhringen residents. The church was sanctified in 1749 with the patron “holy Nicholaus of Myra”. With the growth of Böhringen an expansion was made in 1952-54 with a larger nave facing north, where the original nave was in an east/west configuration. Many iconic items in the original section are ancient in history.

  • The ancient wood crucifix dates back to the 14th century.
  • The original high alter oil painting of St, Nicholas was done by Radolfzell artist Xaver Lang in 1735/37.
  • The sandstone Sacrament Vault to the left of the original alter dates back to the late gothic period in the 14th century.
  • A wooden statuette of the virgin Mary holding the body of Jesus was found in 1894 in the church attic and dates back to the 1500’s.
  • The Baptistry dates back to the 18th century. it is crafted in the shape of a chalice probably of concrete, lined with a silver bowl.

These were all items that were probably very familar to the Kornmeyers of Böhringen who were baptized and married in this beautiful parish church.

Today there are about 35 Stork nests in the village of Böhringen including the one on the church. In this part of Germany there appears to be quite a few communities that facilitate storks in providing places for them to build their nest. According to Wikipedia:

Storks have little fear of humans if not disturbed, and often nest on buildings in Europe. In Germany, the presence of a nest on a house was believed to protect against fires. They were also protected because of the belief that their souls were human. German, Dutch and Polish households would encourage storks to nest on houses, sometimes by constructing purpose-built high platforms, to bring good luck. Across much of Central and Eastern Europe it is believed that storks bring harmony to a family on whose property they nest.

Storks breed during the summer and they migrate in August thru September to Africa, returning to Europe in late March and April. The males return first and choose their nest. We were there after all the storks had left for their annual migration south.

Our interpreter explained that St. Nikolaus church in Böhringen forms part of the parish unit of St. Radolf. Radolf received his education at the top ranking convent on the Isle of Reichenau [in Lake Constance] and was bishop of Verona at the end of the 8th century until 840. From 834 Radolf of Verona mainly lived in Radofzell and is buried in the Cathedral “Unserer lieben Frau”, Our Lady.

Radolf was declared holy by the Catholic Church and gave birth to the long foundation process of the town of Radolfzell which was finished in the year 1267

Edgar Weidele

Dinner out was a special treat at a restaurant in Radolfzell am Bodensee. right on the lake with outdoor dining.

My next installment will include more discoveries thanks to our second volunteer archivist who showed us around Böhringen. Until then hope you are enjoying my blog, if so please leave a comment below. If you have questions I will be happy to answer.