Just when it seemed our trip to Germany couldn’t have been any better, a few days after our return , we received an email from our friend, Jens Delger:
“Are you sitting down? Good. This goes in your blog as “always check around with the neighbors and any old people in the neighborhood.”
What was to come was a complete surprise:
“If you want me, I will try to summarize the communication-chain (including Rolfi, Mrs. Feenders from VB [i.e. Vreschen-Bokel], and my mother…) later. But as a result I just finished speaking on the phone with a gentleman from the Museumsdorf Cloppenburg, Herr Volmer. He says that he has a package of letters written by Diedrich Schwans and others from the family. They were sent to the the Eilers, Niemann, and Schwans families and include discussions about selling the farm and other family news from America.
As a descendant of the Neemann family (who bought the Schwans farm) from Vreschen-Bokel, Mrs. Feenders handed the letters over to the Museumsdorf Cloppenburg to save them as a cultural inheritance – so to speak.”
Jens and Jane Delger have now received copies of the letters and are in the process of translating them for us. The letters and documents date from approximately 1861 until 1919, an incredible history of my Schwans family.
Jens’ advice is based on our visit to the original Schwaans’ land in Vreschen-Bokel. The land, now a meadow, has no buildings left standing on it. So, Jens and Jane went across the road and asked the couple living there if they knew anything about the history of the land … not only did they describe the barn (one of the last buildings left standing) but also invited us in for tea and regaled us with conversation and a bit of folklore.
I don’t yet have the full story of how all this came about, but it began with some simple questions of the local people who talked with someone who knew something about the letters! And that has lead to uncovering nearly sixty years of recorded Schwaans family history– an astounding discovery, based on “asking the local people.”