Tuesday, December 15, 2015


While we were visiting the cemetery in Staudt, we saw a memorial slate with names on it.  It was titled "Den Heldentod furs Vaterland starben" (died a hero's death for the fatherland).  The memorial honored those from the village of Staudt who had died while fighting during World War I.  The following names had surnames of my ancestors (and thereby could be potential relatives)

Herm Jos Heibel        gef   19 7 15

Anton Manns             gef   11 9 15

Joh Christ Heibel      gest  29 11 18

The bottom of the plaque read "Gestiftet von der Gemeinde Staudt"  (Donated by the municipality of Staudt).

Friday, December 11, 2015


Since we couldn't locate a cemetery in Wirges, Germany, our GPS said that the nearest cemetery was in Staudt, Germany.  My 8th great grandfather Oster Hober and his wife Afra were both born and died in the town of Staudt.  His son Gregarin Hober (my 7th great grandfather) also was born and died in Staudt.  Gregarin's son Johann Adam Hober and Johann's wife Sophia Maria Sabel (my 6th great grandparents), were also born and died in Staudt. Their daughter Anna Christina Hober (my 5th great grandmother) was also born in Staudt.  This gave me plenty of reason to visit the town of Staudt.

At the cemetery, we took photos of the gravestones of "potential" ancestors and relatives, including the following:

HEIBEL                   Katharina      1888-1967

HEIBEL                   Josef              1904-1968
                                 Maria             1915-1996

HEIBEL                  Bernard          1903-1976
                                Antonia          1908-1999

HEIBEL                  Josef               1902-1980
                                Irmgard           1908-1994

ZERFAS                 Mathilde          1943-2009

HEIBEL                 Theresia           1904-1988
                                Eugen              1903-1990

HOLZGEN             Werner            1931-1986
                                Maria              1931-1995

BAST                      Raimund         1922-1987
                                Elfriede           1929-2014

BAST                      Josef               1911-1993
                                Hedwig           1913-2000

HEIBEL                 Antonius          1912-1994
                                Klara               1920-2000

PFAFFHAUSEN   Leonard           1927-2001

HOMMRICH        Siegfried          1925-1991
                               Evelyn             1932-2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I had been trying to learn some words in German before my trip so that I would hopefully at least understand a few words while I was there.

We stopped at a gelato shop in Heidelberg and I saw that all of the flavors were listed in German.  This would be a perfect way for me to practice my German.  So, I tried to figure out what the flavors were in German.  Of course, I was aided by the fact that I could see the color of the gelato.

There was the following flavors --

Mandel -- Almond
Zitrone -- Lemon
Maracula -- Passion fruit
Schokolade -- Chocolate
Vanille -- Vanilla
Koffe -- Coffee
Elder Beer -- Elderberry

Okay, maybe that was too easy. I also looked up in my dictionary what other flavors would be in German

Mint -- Minze
Chocolate Chip -- Schokochip
Caramel -- Karamel
Peppermint -- Pfefferminze
Cookie dough -- Platzchenteig
Cookies and cream -- Kekse und Sahne

Friday, November 20, 2015


All of this visiting my German ancestral villages has made my husband and I very hungry, especially since we skipped lunch on the ship in order to arrive at the car rental agency on time.  So, while visiting the German town of Wirges, we stopped for a snack at Dolce Vita.  It  is an Italian ice cream shop that has 5 locations in Germany -- Wirges, Montabaur, Hohr Grenzhausen and two in Altenkircher.

The menu had several pages.  It reminded me of the multi-page menu at Cheesecake Factory.  How many ways can you serve ice cream?  There was a two page spread of the menu that featured ice cream dishes in the shape of pasta.  Does this count as a meal?

After perusing the menu, I selected a mint sundae since I absolutely love mint, especially with chocolate.  My mint sundae not only was covered in a green mint sauce but also contained some mint chocolate cookies and mint chocolate candy straws.  There is no such thing as too much mint.  It was delicious!

Saturday, November 14, 2015


After visiting Helferskirchen, we drove to the nearby town of Wirges, where the locals call themselves "Wirgesers".  The population of Wirges is about 5200 people so it is larger than Helferskirchen.

We drove to St. Boniface Catholic Church, which was built in 1885.  It is commonly known as Westwalder Dom. The church is located at Kirchstrasse 6 and belongs to the diocese of Limburg.

The church doors were unlocked so we happily went inside to take a peak.  We took photos of the beautiful stained glass windows and ornate figurines above the altars.  We also walked around the outside grounds where there is a grotto with a statue of the Blessed Mother, and some ancillary buildings including Bonifatius Haus (which looked like a church hall with meeting rooms) and a garden area.

There was no cemetery on the grounds nor one listed on our GPS for the town of Wirges.  According to FindAGrave.com,, over 200 people were buried in Katholische Friedhof Wirges.  According to Family Search.org, most of the older German graves have been replaced with newer deceased persons. This makes me wonder what they did with the older graves' remains.  Also, what happened to the former cemeteries that are no longer there?  I am thinking that the churches used to own a lot more property surrounding their current church building (which probably included a church cemetery) but through the years that land was sold off.  Perhaps this is one of those mysteries I may never solve.

Friday, November 13, 2015


My 6th great grandfather Johann Adam Hommerich married Anna Manns (my 6th great grandmother) in the town of Wirges, Germany.  They both then lived the rest of their lives there.Their son Christian Hommerich (my 5th great grandfather) was born and died in Wirges.  Christian's spouse Anna Christina Hober was born in Staudt (a neighboring town) but lived in Wirges after she was married.

Anna and Christian's son Christian (my 4th great grandfather) was born in Moschheim (a neighboring town) but married a woman Anna Maria Bast from Wirges, where they both lived for the rest of their lives.  My 3rd great grandfather Johann Adam Homrich also lived his entire life in Wirges.  Johann's son Sebastian Homrich was born in Wirges but later immigrated to the U.S. and to Michigan in particular.

So, you can see that a lot of my direct ancestors were either born and/or lived in Wirges, so it was a "no brainer" to want to visit this town while I was visiting my other German ancestral towns.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


 On this Veterans' Day, I wanted to honor my father Donald Sherlock, who served in the US Army from 1951 to 1953.  He served overseas in Korea from 1952 to 1953.  In the above photo, he was celebrating Christmas in 1952 in Korea while his wife and 4 month old baby son celebrated back in Southern California.

Donald was the youngest of 3 sons, all of whom served in the military.  His oldest brother Charles Sherlock served in the Air Force.

His older brother (the middle brother) Edmund Sherlock served in the US Navy during World War II.According to my cousin, Edmund was only 17 years old in this photo. He looks very young. 

Thank you, Dad, Uncle Chuck and Uncle Eddie for your service to our country and your devotion to your families!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


As I left the prayer chapel in Helferskirchen, I wondered where the cemetery was located.  After all on Find A Grave.com, I found the listing of persons buried in the Katholische Maria Himmelfahrt cemetery which included a number of my ancestors.

I looked down a street and saw a cemetery.  This must be my lucky day!  We walked down the street and walked through the cemetery.  The cemetery looked new, like it was created in the 1980's not the 1700's.

Whenever I visit a cemetery in one of my ancestral lands, first, I look for any of my known ancestors.  I have yet to find any of them from the 1700 and 1800's.  Then I take (and also ask my traveling companions) to take photos of all the gravestones with specific surnames.

The gravestones are much larger and more beautiful than the typical ones found in the US.

I found graves for the following people (who may be related to me) in the Helferskirchen cemetery --

                                    HEIBEL    Fridolin        1913-1996
                                                      Sophie         1919-2004

                                   HEIBEL     August          1908-1989
                                                       Frieda          1911-1996

                                   HEIBEL     Margareta     1906-2005
                                                      Wilhem         1904-1989

                                   HEIBEL    Anton            1903-1990
                                                     Hildegard      1908-1995

                          HOMMRICH    Artur              1925-2007
                                                    Monika          1927-2012

                                   RAMM    Bernhard        1929-2007
                                                    Gertrud         1920-2007

                                  RAMM    Ewald             1929-2003

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I learned originally about Helferskirchen on Find A Grave.com.  According to Find a Grave.com, the Assumption of Mary Church "was built in 930-959 as a fortress church".  "The present church was built in 1769" and "is considered one of the most beautiful baroque churches in Westerwald".

My husband and I drove into town and headed towards the Catholic Church -- Katholische Maria Himmelfahrt.  I was disappointed to find that the doors of the church were locked but that didn't stop me from exploring the church grounds and taking some photos.  Then to get a better feel of the area, we walked east of the church and saw some cows grazing in a pasture.  Walking a bit further in that direction, we discovered a darling little prayer chapel, hidden by some large trees.

Of course, we went in the chapel to see what was inside.  I wonder if I can find out the history of this little chapel.

I was amazed at how beautiful the area surrounding Helferskirchen is.  Okay, you know I need to show you one more photo!


My 7th Great Grandfather Valentin Zirfas was born and died in Helferskirchen.  His daughter Anna Catharina Zirfas (my 6th Great Grandmother) was also born in Helferskirchen.  Collateral ancestors of the Hober and Zirfas family branch were born and died in Helferskirchen.  In addition, members of the Ramm family branch also lived in Helferskirchen.

Helferskirchen has a population of about 1100 people.  It is north of Wirges, northwest of Staudt and northeast of Dernbach.  Helferskirchen is 34.3 kilometers and 25 minutes from Koblenz. So it is an excellent place to start visiting my German ancestral home towns.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


What would make a Rhine River Cruise even more memorable to me?  Visiting some of my ancestral home towns in Germany. So, my plan was that we (my husband and I) would skip the tour of the Marksburg Castle, rent a car and drive 30 minutes or so to the towns of Helferskirchen, Wirges, Staudt and Dernbach. We would try to visit the Catholic church in the town and see if we could also find the cemetery and locate any ancestors buried in the cemeteries.  Well, that was my plan ...

The ship was originally supposed to dock in Koblenz (or so we thought) at about 11am.  However, we found out that morning it wouldn't dock until at least 12:45pm.  Okay, that still works.   Then we found out the rental car agency closes at 1pm.  What?? I saw my plan and the opportunity to visit these ancestral towns going up in "smoke". This was going to be my best opportunity, probably ever, to see these towns.  

We talked to the ship's concierge and he arranged for a taxi to meet us 50 yards from the dock.  Now, we needed the ship to dock on time.  Even though, they announced that we would be docking at 12:30pm, it takes the ship's crew at least 15 minutes to secure the boat to the dock and make it safe for passengers to disembark.  Well, thankfully the crew was a bit speedy that day.  The concierge made sure that we were the 1st two off the ship.  We ran the distance to the waiting taxi.  He drove us the 10 minute ride to the rental car agency, with us arriving at 12:50pm.  My husband rented us a car and we were on our way to Helferskirchen, the furthest of the 4 towns.  It is really happening ...

Sunday, October 18, 2015


"The scenery castles are beautiful.  Got off the boat in St. Goar."  (Excerpt from Grandma Theresa's journal)

There are many people who love the scariness of fairy tales and is probably a reason that the TV show "Once Upon a Time" is so popular, as well as Grimm's Fairy Tales.  I, on the other hand, enjoy more the romantic aspects of fairy tales and was eagerly awaiting seeing castle after castle while cruising the Middle Rhine.

Our ship left Rudesheim and the first castle we saw was Rheinstein Castle, located near the town of

Trechtingshausen and built originally in 1316. The next castle we saw was Reichenstein Castle (also known as Falkenburg) and it was built in 1100.
Then we saw Sooneck Castle, which is located near the village of Neiderheimbach.  These first 3

castles were all located on the left side of the ship.  And seeing castle after castle, continued for our 3 hour ride down the Middle Rhein.  We also saw the famous Lorelei, a huge rock formation which has various tales linked to it, including the one about a beautiful female sitting on the cliff, distracting ship men with her beauty causing them to crash.

I just wished that Grandma Theresa had written more in her journal about these castles.  It would have been nice to have gotten more thoughts from her. She did see them in the opposite order that I saw them too, as she was going upstream while I went downstream.  Perhaps she just enjoyed them so much "beautiful scenery castles" was all that needed to be said.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


In 1961, Grandma Theresa visited Sankt Goar and Bonn in Germany.  She then stayed overnight in Heidelberg.  Theresa didn't get the opportunity to visit the fun town of Rudesheim in Germany.

Rudesheim is located on the Rhein River and is a wine making town.  My husband and I spent only a few hours in this town in August, but it was well worth our time,  We arrived on the shores of Rudesheim in the early evening and did a dinner tour of the town.  After boarding a little train, we arrived in the main portion of the Old Town.  We, along with our group, walked to Drosselgasse, which is a pedestrian street and the main attraction in Rudesheim.  There are a lot of wine taverns and open-air restaurants on this very busy thoroughfare.

We ate dinner with our group at the Rudesheimer Schloss.  Our appetizer included sausage, cheese and bread.  Then we were served potato soup.  Our main course was sauerbrauten, red cabbage sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and applesauce.  Our dessert was an apple pastry. Of course, there was a lot of music being played and then a game that involved shots of schnapps!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


In May of 1961, Grandma Theresa Sherlock visited the city of Heidelberg in Germany.  She stayed at the Hotel Park Haarless Heidelberg.  Theresa and Charlie visited the ruins of the Castle Heidelberg, attended Mass (probably at St. Peter's Church) and visited the University of Heidelberg.

In August of 2015 (less than 2 months ago), I retraced her steps by also visiting the delightful town of Heidelberg and the ruins of the Heidelberg Castle, with its sweeping views of the River Necktar and Alstadt (Old Town).  In the castle, I saw the world's largest wine barrel, which was shaped from 130 oak trees and once held 50,000 gallons of wine.

After touring the castle, we visited the Old Town portion of Heidelberg.  One of my favorite hobbies (after genealogy, of course) is buying Christmas ornaments on my travels.  Well, I wasn't disappointed in Heidelberg.  Kathe Wohlfahrt is a delightful Christmas store where I bought several darling ornaments.

Then it was time for a cappucino mit milsch (with milk) for me.  If you prefer cream, you ask for cappucion mit sahne.  Of course, why just drink cappucino when you can have a delicious pastry with it -- I ordered a slice of a delicious sponge cake that was filled with a peach preserve.  What a delightful day in Heidelberg!

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Grandma Theresa visited Triberg, Germany, which is located in the Black Forest in 1961.  Triberg is home to the Triberg waterfalls, which are located on the Gutach River and are among the highest in Germany.  Triberg is also known for having the largest cuckoo clock.

Fifty four years later, I was very excited about the opportunity to visit the Black Forest.  After all, it is the home of cuckoo clocks, cherry schnapps, Black Forest gateau and of course, Black Forest ham.  It was also the locale for many fairy tales -- Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel, just to name a few.

Our visit to the Black Forest, took us to the town of Hollsteig, which is about 45 minutes southwest of Triberg.  It turns out from my research, I discovered that Triberg is in the heart of the Black Forest.  We watched several demonstrations during our short stay in Hollsteing -- glass blowing, creation of Black Forest gateau (above photo is the finished product) and yes, cuckoo clock creation.  What did I learn from my visit -- that the most important ingredient in the Black Forest Gateau is cream, cream and yes, more cream!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


In 1961, Grandma Theresa visited Nice, France but she was sick so she went to bed and skipped dinner.  After eating breakfast in bed the next day, Grandpa Charlie and her visited Monte Carlo.  While Grandma's travel diary ends there, according to photos from their trip, they also visited Paris.  So, I will never know if they also stopped at other French towns along the way.

On my Grand European Adventure, I did not visit Paris (it is still on my bucket list) but I did visit two French towns - both located in the Alsace region -- Colmar and Strasbourg.  While both of these towns are currently in France, their histories do include being ruled by Germany at specific times.  So it is not surprising to see that they display both French and German influences.

While in Colmar, I saw a nest with 2 storks in it.  I had never seen anything like that.  They consider it a very good thing, which is very understandable.

In Strasbourg, we visited the area known as "Little France", a covered bridge (which isn't covered any more) and the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Strasbourg (I will confess that I love old churches and Europe has a ton of great old churches and cathedrals).  The Cathedral of Notre Dame was the highest medieval building in Europe.  It is has a famous astronomical clock which is fascinating to watch.  The clock depicts the beginning of life until the man's death.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


When Grandma Theresa (Sherlock) visited Luzern (Switzerland) in 1961, she wrote about visiting the "Dance of Death" bridge in her travel diary.

I started researching activities to do while in Luzern and saw photos of a beautiful covered bridge and made plans to visit this bridge while I was there.   Approaching the bridge, I thought "the bridge is so beautiful, I hope the pictures of death don't ruin it for me".  Well, I guess I should have done more research.  There are actually 2 bridges in Luzern -- Kapellbrucke (Chapel Bridge) and Spreuerbrucke (Mill Bridge).

I visited Kapellbrucke and as you can tell from my photo above, it is very beautiful.  Kapellbrucke is located near the junction of Reuss River and Lake Lucerne.  There are lots of triangular paintings on this bridge, but thankfully not of death.  The paintings chronicle the history of the city of Luzern.  There is also a water tower next to the bridge.

On the other hand, Grandma Theresa must have visited Spreuerbrucke, which is down river from Kapellbrucke.  Spreuerbrucke has paintings about the plague, titled "Dance of Death".  It also has a small chapel.

After visiting the bridge, Grandma Theresa went on a bus tour to Mt. Rigi, which is almost entirely surrounded by water -- Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug and Lake Lauerz.   Since we took the tour to Jungfrauoch, we didn't have time to visit Mt. Rigi, but it is definitely on my "to do" list for my next trip to Switzerland.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


 "Switzerland is so beautiful -- so far I don't know which country I like best".  That was an excerpt from my Grandma Theresa's travel diary in 1961 after visiting Switzerland and Austria.  I will have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with her.  Even though I am a Southern California gal, there is something about the Alps (whether they are in Italy, Austria or Germany) that I find so completely irresistible. They are just so majestic!

On our 2nd day in Switzerland, we went on a tour that took us to Jungfrauoch -- the highest railway station in Europe and an amazing place to visit.  It was August but there was snow everywhere!  I walked through the Ice Palace (ice on all the top, bottom and sides of us), basked in the sun on the huge glacier and enjoyed the awesome views from the Observation desk.  It was all very magical!

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Can I possibly include my passion for genealogy on my dream trip to Europe while also trying to re-trace my Grandparents (Charlie and Theresa Sherlock's) steps from their European trip of 1961?  I knew what I wanted but how hard would it be to achieve it.

So, ten months ago I started planning for this "bucket list" trip with the following goals:

1. It must include a trip down the Rhine River.  I wanted to see the Black Forest and all those amazing castles in the Middle Rhine.

2. I wanted to visit the places my Grandparents visited in Germany, France, Switzerland and Ireland.  I had my Grandmother's travel diary to use as a guide.

3.  I would love to visit my ancestral towns both in Germany and in Ireland.

4.  I wanted to share the experience of Ireland with 2 of my adult children. (The remaining son just got an amazing new job and wouldn't be able to join us.)  I would love for them to see our ancestral town of Islandeady in County May and possibly others in County Meath.

Instead of doing a lot of genealogical research for the past 6 months, I focused on the planning of this trip to make this trip as productive as possible.   Well, on August 15th, my dream became a reality as I began my "Grand European Adventure" ....

Sunday, June 7, 2015


In 1961, my grandparents Charles and Theresa Sherlock visited Ireland on 25 May. I am trying to find out who they saw and perhaps match faces to the names with the help of Theresa's travel diary and some picture slides I have.

Charles and Theresa arrived about 5pm in Dublin and took a taxi to the Shelbourne Hotel (which was not too far from St. Stephen's Green (a huge luscious green park-like area in the middle of Dublin). They first saw 2 of Charlie's relatives when they spotted 2 women at the hotel -- a Mary Glacken and an Agnes Sherlock.

According to  my research, Mary Glacken is the daughter of Patrick Glacken and Mary Ann Sherlock.  She would have been a first cousin of Charles (Charles' father Brian and Mary's mother Mary Ann were siblings).   I have not figured out how Agnes Sherlock was related to Charles Sherlock.

The next notation in the travel diary mentions a group of people waiting for them in the lobby.  It doesn't mention that exact number of people nor their names.  Note to self:  when making entries about relatives, always mention their names for future reference.

It does only mention a Margaret Sherlock.  I am thinking perhaps that was Margaret Sherlock, born in 1905, and the daughter of John Joseph Sherlock.  Margaret would have also been a first cousin to Charles.

At this point, I will include a group photo -- not sure at all who besides my Grandpa Charlie (4th from the left) and Pat (the furthest left) was in the photo --

I really hope that some day, some descendant of those in the photo will see it, recognize their ancestor and let me know who it was.  Well, we can all dream ....

Friday, May 15, 2015


"Sometimes it's not about the journey or the destination ... but about the people you meet along the way".   -- Nishan Panwar

Before Charlie and Theresa started their journey over the Atlantic for their Grand European Adventure, they visited their friend Hazel Wilson in New York. I remembered hearing the name Hazel Wilson when I was a child. Wondering if Hazel and my grandparents were just friends or actually related, I did some research.

Hazel Anderson married John Wilson in 1920.  They knew each other 4 weeks when they eloped.  Based on the ancestry of Hazel Anderson, it seems most likely that she was a friend and not a blood relative of Theresa and Charles.  

Based on my research, Hazel sounds like she was a very interesting woman.  According to a newspaper article, She had traveled all over the world, except for Greenland, Iceland and Australia. Hazel also traveled all over the United States, visiting every state except for Maine and Washington.  Perhaps she even visited those before her death.  

Disclaimer: the photo above shows Grandma Theresa (2nd from the left).  I have no idea who the other people are in the photo.  It was taken in 1953.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Fifty four years ago, my grandparents (Charles Sherlock & Theresa Nebgen Sherlock) embarked on what I like to call "A Grand European Adventure".  They left Burbank, California on 22 May 1961 and arrived back home a month later.  I have my Grandmother's travel diary from that trip and color slides that my Grandfather shot.

Their European Adventure fascinates me for two reasons.  The first reason is the places that they visited.  I have traveled to Europe three times now and I just can't seem to get enough!  My travel "bucket list" now includes many of the places that they visited and wrote about in the travel diary. I am planning my own European Adventure later this year.  I have this burning desire to re-trace as many of their European Adventure steps as possible.  I know that I won't get it all done in one trip but that just means I will have take several trips which is just fine with me.

The second major reason their trip fascinates me is that they met many distant relatives on their trip -- both in Ireland and in Germany.  Some of them were mentioned by name in the travel diary and others were just described.  I also have photos of some of their relatives and traveling companions but since no identification is given, it will require some detective work on my part to discover the true identities of the people in the photos.

Let me end this post with a travel quote that sums up my opinion of travel from an unknown source --

"Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer".

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Earlier this week (Monday, to be exact) marked the 97th anniversary of my grandparents' (Charles Sherlock and Theresa Nebgen) wedding.  I am not sure if they crossed state lines (from Illinois to Indiana) to get married because the laws were more lenient (my grandfather was 17 years old at the time) or because of the proximity.  Crownpoint, Indiana  What I have found from cursory research is that marriages in Crown Point were not publicly announced in Chicago.  Something else interesting -- marriage certificates from Indiana were not recognized in Illinois,  Why is it "the more I find out, the more questions that I have?"

I do know that their parents were not very happy when they found out about the marriage.  In fact, they made each of them live with their own parents for a few years (and that is where they were found in the 1920 US Census -- living separately with their own parents. ) I don't know when they actually started living together or if they had some type of church ceremony later.

50 years later (in 1968) they did have a church ceremony (renewal of vows) and a big party with their  family and friends.  The celebration included a cake, which I am sure was missing from that trip over the state lines in 1918.

Charles and Theresa celebrated 65 years of marriage before Charlie's death in 1983.  Happy Anniversary, Charlie and Theresa!