Thursday, October 29, 2015


I learned originally about Helferskirchen on Find A  According to Find a, 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!