After I published Jordan’s Journey, I always fantasized about doing a volume two sub-titled: The European Edition! It would be a fascinating way to dig deeper into my heritage before my ancestors came to America. While, unfortunately, I don’t think such a book will happen any time soon—for a variety of reasons I won’t get into here—I do intend to explore my international heritage in whatever ways I can. I took the first step towards this last summer when I visited Germany to learn more about my Beck ancestors.
My Beck family can be traced back to a small city called Ebingen (which, today, has become part of a larger city called Albstadt). Initially I was going to visit Ebingen on my own just to see what I could find there. I had no real hopes of accomplishing anything in terms of “serious” research because—most unfortunately—I do not speak German. So… that makes research a bit difficult if not impossible.
Then along came AncestorCloud, a new service that specializes in connecting genealogy buffs like myself with professional genealogists and historians. I thought, what the hell, why not give this a try. And, sure enough, they were able to connect me with a professional German researcher who agreed to take on the job. I met Kathrin in Ebingen one day and she had prepared a wonderful historical tour of the city. This gave me so much insight into the the cultural and economic circumstances my ancestors lived within, which I found incredibly valuable.
On top of providing a broader context for me to understand the lives of my German ancestors, Kathrin presented me with a multitude of church records she had retrieved before I arrived in Germany. We spent a whole day together, sitting in an outdoors cafe on the streets of Ebingen, sipping lattes and teas and enjoying a wonderful day of research and conversation and laughter.
My time in Ebingen came to an end all too soon. Leaving the city–and Kathrin–felt very sad. In such a short time I felt “at home” there. I had connected with my German roots in ways I simply never thought possible.
So… I don’t know… Jordan’s Journey: The European Edition… maybe it is actually possible. It’s a nice dream. But even if it doesn’t take the same form as the original Jordan’s Journey project, rest assured this is only the beginning as I explore my European heritage more deeply.