Kaiser Reunion 2002
Lokalanzeiger Newspaper and Web Site
August 14, 2002
Ein Beispiel der engen familiären
Beziehungen zwischen Amerika und Deutschland
Waldbröl (rs) "Kaisers"
besuchten letzte Woche einen ganzen Tag lang Hillesmühle, das kleine Dorf mit 9 Häusern
an der Bröl in Waldbröl, gelegen am Abzweig Bladersbach an der B 478.
"Kaisers", 33 Gäste aus Amerika, freuten sich schon Wochen vorher drauf. Was
ist bloß so interessant für sie an Hillesmühle?
Well, it was in 1926 during the bad times before the Second World War that the Kaiser family emigrated from Germany to America. Others followed them in 1933. Today they are an extensive American family, spread out over the USA from Florida to Chicago, from Rochester N.Y. to the West Coast. There about
350 of them and they have had large family reunions. About 33 of them were here looking for family and relatives in places like Waldbröl, the Westerwald, Lüdenscheid, Wuppertal, Gummersbach and Kierspe.
They are being accommodated in Schloss Friedewald near Daaden in the Westerwald for a week. This castle which once was under the jurisdiction of the Sayns is now the home of the Ev. Sozialakademie. It was from this area that Friedrich Kaiser and Dorothea Fries, the grandparents of the Kaisers, came.
Later they moved to Hillesmühle where they took over the mill.
In Hillesmühle the group visited houses and had many conversations with the distant relatives who live there. They had a wonderful evening together over a barbecue in the house of the grandmother, the house where the Conrad Osseg Family lives today.
One day they hiked around the Nutscheid beyond Bladersbach (here they had picked blueberries once) and they visited the old school in Geilenkausen and then went to Langenbach where they had once sledded down to Hillesmühle.
They were provided with hay wagons pulled by tractors for a ride through the countryside. Kurt Romünder of Bladersbach organized this and decorated the wagons nicely. They had lunch at "Im alten Behnhof" and then visited the metal shop of Manfred Glebe. "This was Uncle Eduards factory which is now run by Mr. Glebe."
Friends and relatives from as far as Köln joined the group in the evening. The Americans, as open and uncomplicated as they often are, immediately got into conversations with all the new guests, asking their names, introducing themselves and seeking common roots.
The oldest among them was Ewald Kaiser, a very vigorous 94 year old. Ronald Kaiser had the oversight of the group and with a few words he greeted some of the guests, gave some family history, and kept the program of the evening moving with a few short sentences.
A special surprise for the group was a concert by the Berkenroth Brass Band, led by Guido Rödder. For Ewald Kaiser, who himself had played flute and piccolo in this band 80 years ago, this was simply an overwhelming experience. Four Kaiser descendants played in the band.
As the Kaiser family left for America in 1926 from the train station in Berkenroth the song "Auf Wiedersehen" was sung by the mixed glee club of Bladersbach. Hermann Romünder, 93 years old, had himself been with this choir and was pleasantly surprised that it was just this song that was sung by a choir especially organized for this occasion by individuals from Bladersbach and Hillesmühle. The Americans were visibly touched by this and in response they sang several songs. A number of them are musical. The song "Pass it on", well known here in Germany, comes from the pen of Kurt Kaiser, who is a descendant of a Hillesmühle Kaiser. Kurt Kaiser is also well known in the USA for songs he writes.
Well, if one is already in Germany: There were day-trips to Heidelberg, Weimar, to Buchenwald, to Eisenach and also to Bacharach on the Rhein. This was a busy and varied schedule for their one week. However, they hadnt all traveled here as a group. They traveled in individual family groups and some came earlier and some stayed later each following their own interests.
Together with 30 relatives, Ewald Kaiser returned to his Home town where a large sign was put up to great them.
Hillesmühle: "Aufwiedersehen" were the words to the song that was song as about 26 emigrants from Hillesmühle stood at the train station in Berkenroth in 1926 to leave for the USA. "The trip took us from Waldbröl and then to Wuppertal and then to Hamburg where we sailed for ten days on the Andania to New York", says Ewald Kaiser. He arrived here yesterday with about 30 of the descendants of these emigrants in order to visit the hometown again. They were greeted by a giant sign which said "Kaisers 2002 Welcome in Hillesmühle".
"My brother-in-law who had been in a successful masonry business in America for several years kept raving about the conditions there", Mr. Kaisers said. Mr. Kaiser himself was studying at an engineering college in Elberfeld at the time and wanted to stay in Germany, however, his mother said. "Either we all go or no one goes" so he decided to go along. The relative in America had work for all of them. Later Ewald Kaiser worked as a technical draftsman for a company that manufactured greenhouses and he traveled all around the world for this company. It was in 1962 on one of these business trips that he returned to Germany for the first time.
Grandfathers Mill Isnt there anymore.
The guests are visiting buildings some of which they were familiar with from childhood. The mill, however, which the Kaiser brothers Richard and Edward managed, was torn down years ago. In the 20s there was also a metal shop there in Berkenroth which is still there. "They made nails for horseshoes there" says Ewald Kaiser as they walk through the shop, "and I remember working here when I was only seven years old."
Conrad Osseg, the director of a local choir, and his wife Bärbel, also a descendant of the Kaisers, have organized a ride up to the Nutscheid for the group on wagons pulled by tractors. They will be returning to villages there that some of the older relatives know well because they played there as children and picked blue berries there.
They were also retracing childhood paths by going to their school in Geilenkausen. The younger ones among them also showed great interest in everything.
Ewald Kaiser, 96 years old, has a lot to tell to his granddaughter, the youngest of the clan here.
"Is Hilde still alive?" Ewald Kaiser, a 96-year-old man, remembers it exactly. "Her birthday was on the same day as mine" he remembers, "but she was a year younger". 76 years after they left Germany, this senior citizen remembers now how the Free Evangelical Church used to meet in Kalkenberg. He even remembered individuals who spoke then as Mr. Kaiser speaks at a Sunday morning church service here.
About 30 descendants of the emigrants who left here in 1926 spent a week here in Germany tracing their family roots. They also visited places like Weimar, Heidelberg and Cologne. Around Waldbröl they visited the old school house in Geilenkausen, the Nutscheid, and Hillesmühle on the Bröl. They were greeted here by a branch of the Kaiser family that had returned to Germany after immigrating to America.
Another stop in their travels: the Haupt bookstore in Waldbröl. It was here at the print shop of Christian Haupt that Otto Kaiser, an older brother of Ewald Kaiser, learned the printing trade during the years 1919-1923.
Ewald Kaiser was 20 when he and his entire family left Hillesmühle to go to America. A brother-in-law had raved about the new country and Ewald's mother gave the order "Either we all go, or no one goes." Mr. Kaiser remembers the little celebration at their departure at the train station in Berkenroth. They went from there to Wuppertal to Hamburg and from there to New York and then to a place near Chicago.
Nate Kaiser, a nephew of Ewald, began to organize the trip after a large Kaiser reunion last year where about 180 of them gathered. It was here that they began planning "Reunion in Germany, 2002". It was in view of this reunion that Nate visited earlier with Wolfgang Schmidt.
One of the more important documents in connection with this was a book which contained many details and memories of one of the emigrants. Included in this book was even a ground plan of the old mill. This mill is no longer in existence. In the book are also many photographs of the family life of the Kaiser now in America. One of the oldest of these photos shows Otto Kaiser with his boss, Mr. Christian Haupt.
The group left Waldbröl yesterday. Some are traveling on to Hamburg, Berlin and Dresden. Others plan to go to Paris and London.
Top Photo: Walking in the footsteps of their ancestors. A family reunion is what led the Kaisers of Chicago here to Waldbröl and the surrounding area
Middle photo: He can remember it well: Ewald Kaiser who left for America in 1926 is in conversation with Wolfgang Schmidt.
Bottom photo: A picture from Nate Kaisers collection. It shows his grandfather, Otto Kaiser, (right) with Mr. Christian Haupt (left) and Mr. Haupt's daughter, Käthe, in the former print shop.
Wilden/Mauden/Niederdreselndorf. About 33 people from the USA of the Kaiser clan were in this region in the past few days seeking to walk in the footprints of their ancestors.
In 1926 Lina, born Brebach, Kaiser, a widow of Richard Kaiser, immigrated with her seven children to America. The Kaiser clan in America consisting of about 330 descendents still maintain close family ties. They have frequent gatherings. Four generations of them, with Ewald Kaiser, age 96, and Cassidy Muir, a 3rd grader, as the youngest, were taking aim at the home land of their ancestors. They stayed at the Friedewald Castle and undertook day trips to Solingen (Bethanien), Heidelberg, Buchenwald and Waldbröl.
The high point of their travels was, of course, actually laying eyes on the birthplaces of their forefathers. Friederich Kaiser was born in Friedewald in 1838. His wife, Dorothea Fries, came to this world in the neighboring village of Mauden. Later, they both lived in Hillesmühle near Waldbröl. In this region the best known of their descendents was Paul Kaiser, a teacher in Niederdreselndorf, who is not living anymore. Only his daughter-in-lay, Friedelore, and his grandson Michael and the two grandchildren, Nils and Moritz still are alive, residing in Wilden.
The visit in Mauden was a special highpoint for the Kaisers during their stay in Germany. The mayor of Mauden, Manfred Rosenkranz, led them through the town. They all stopped and reflected on the past history in front of the Fries House, where Dorothea Fries was born in 1838. Included in their fly-through visit was participation in the village feast, in this 'the most beautiful town' in the Koblenz Township. Hopefully then they went home with the best of impressions of their ancestor’s hometown.
The group was also guests at the Daaden Church where they heard an organ concert. A trip on the Rhein was the successful finale of their one-week stay. The communication with the German-speaking part of their clan and the people back in the homeland was a great success, they said. Many of them work at their German-speaking skills back in the USA.
(Picture Caption)33 Family Members of the Kaiser Clan who's ancestors immigrated to the USA in 1926 made a stop in Mauden, the birthplace of one of their forebear’s. Here they are grouped in front of the "Friese Hause".
Back to their roots: The Kaiser clan came from America to Mauden.A 96-year-old man was with the party and raved about the beautiful scenery and the wonderful hospitality here.
MAUDEN. "Fantastic" Ewald Kaiser, 96, feasts his eyes on the green hills and on the view from this window. He's moved deeply. His grandmother, Dorothea Fries, probably stood at this very spot right here in the ‘Liese House' into which he finally got to step.
He brought along with him a large delegation of Kaiser relatives who all have their roots here in Mauden. He thanks his nephew, Nate Kaiser, that the trip has led him here. Nate had looked up the town a year ago and then corresponded with a local Maudener, Wolfgang Hamm.
The mayor of Mauden, Manfred Rosenkranz, was glad to be able to celebrate successfully the visit of the 33 Kaiser descendents. Mauden was in 4th place in their area contest called "Our town will be more beautiful. Our town has a future". With this they qualified for the national prize.
The barn of the Strasser family had been renovated and decorated for this. Here, tasty pastry, pizza and cake were being tasted by all to the accompaniment of band music by Karl-Heinz and Lothar Rosenkranz from Derschlag. And, of course, the guests from the New World walked in the footsteps of their forebears down the streets of this town. No Kaisers live there at the present, yet they enjoyed its beauty and charm. Else Richter, age 82, welcomed them into the centuries old 'Liese House' which was acquired by her grandfather. It is called ‘Liese House' after the man who built it.
Dorothea Kaiser, born Fries, was born here in 1838, the same year that her future husband, Friedrich Kaiser, was born.
Not finding enough to eat there, they turned their back on Mauden in 1860 and settled near Waldbröl. The descendents of this couple emigrated to the USA in 1926, Among those 29 who left in 1926 was also Mr. Ewald Kaiser, then 20 years old, who eventually settled in the state of Indiana. He says, "I was only homesick for a day. It was so flat. No hills and valleys like here."
At first he worked with his brother-in-law driving a truck but later on he worked in a tile business. Since then his family has grown to 5 children, 16 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren. And the larger clan numbers to about 300 souls now. When the Kaiser visitors heard that there were but 124 residents in Mauden they chuckled.
Hearty as he is, Ewald Kaiser would not be denied this visit. His family had bought a first-class plane ticket for him, he said, and thought they had been en route for a week he felt no jet lag. He listen attentively as the story of Friedrich Fries, a brother of his grandmother, was being told. Friedrich, along with Robert Kaiser, Dorothea's oldest son, established the Deaconess "Mother House' -Bethanien- in Solingen, which is now staffed by about 800 people and 60 deaconesses.
"None of the Kaisers in America have reach such national recognition yet," Mr. Kaiser says. As the young people in the group are busy taking pictures of the old beam-houses, the flowers, and the butterflies, Ewald relates how it took him 36 years to return to his hometown. He came here returning from a business trip to Egypt. Since then he has been back to good old German six or seven times and he is always inspired anew by the charm of the wonderful woods and hills here. No one, however, has started an emigration back to Germany, but probably Germany visits will increase now.
The mayor of Daaden, Wolfgang Schmidt, and Pastor Peter Friesen joined the celebration, greeting the guests and giving them travel brochures about Daaden.
By Eva-Marie Stettner
Kaiser BookAn interesting aspect of the Kaiser history can be read in a book "Otto Kaiser - His Story" which came out in 1999. This has been translated into German and is available on the Internet at www.kaisertown.com
Wilden/Niedersdreselndorf. In 1926 Lina Kaiser, the widow of Richard Kaiser, left Germany to go to America with her seven children. Presently the Kaiser clan has about 330 members. They all have strong family sense and meet together frequently for family gatherings.
Four generation of Kaiser walked around in Wilden, Niederdresselndorf, and in Mauden, the birthplace of an ancestor, Dorothea Fries. 33 people were in this lively group that had stayed in Friedewald from where they undertook exploratory trips. The oldest was Ewald Kaiser, 96 and the youngest was Cassidy Muir, 8, a kid just out of her diapers. Paul Kaiser, no longer living, a teacher in Niederdresselndorf was a relative of theirs. His daughter-in-law, Friedelore and his grandson, Michael and two great-grandsons, Nils and Moritz, from Wilden, were, of course, very, very happy about this visit of these foreigners to whom they were related. The program of their on-week stay led them on trips to the birthplace's of their ancestors in nearby villages and to a concert in the Daaden Church. The language barrier was no problem for them since some of the clan members have kept up with the German language.