How Diving Into The Histories Of Ancestral Geography Expands Understanding

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. ” –  Marcus Garvey

diving into the histories

Diving into the histories of the families which converged into one and eventually made their home at Maison Steinbüchel, is an ongoing endeavor.  We do so, to better understand the Kansas Historic Landmark where we have made our home since 1988.

I am grateful for the personal history put together in the book “A Living Gravestone” by Elisabeth Wilson Gouldner.  She was the daughter of Hermann Joseph Steinbüchel of Cologne, Germany, Marie-Louise Hahn-Stackman’s second husband.

In 225 pages, Elisabeth covers, to varying degrees, the family history from the 1100’s up to the death of her mother in 1947.  Whew!

Stories are Gifts

Elisabeth wrote the book to her grandchildren for several reasons:
  1. To compile family documents and record stories as she recalled them.  The book reads like a conversation around a fireplace, as you took a walk or even worked on some task in the kitchen or garden, with her.
  2. To honor her son who died in WW II and never found.  There is a sense of her processing the last of her loss by diving into the histories of this family.
  3. There is a third reason the author wrote the book, which I doubt she had any conscious intention of:  To provide valuable information on which the basis of a Historic Designation might be granted to a significant property.

As current owners and caretakers of this house, this book provides invaluable information from which to draw on.  What a gift!

Was ist das Steinbüchel?

diving into the historiesPages 10-20, of the book, are devoted to the Steinbüchel ancestry.  At the time of the writing in 1973, the author compiled the information at hand, written and oral.  It appears to be accurate, as far as it goes.
Googling  “steinbüchel” today, a wide variety of things pop up:
  • family names,
  • German businesses,
  • streets,
  • a village and maps,
Among other things.  So “Was ist das Steinbüchel?” – (imagine said with a German accent.)  It is in fact, all of the above, but especially a family and a place – or really, places.

Diving Into The Histories Abroad

In our preparations to move to Brussels in 1995, Max Steinbüchel, the great grand-son of Marie-Louise, whom we had met on several occasions, sent us a map of the locations of the Steinbüchel estate in Germany.
He also sent a list of contacts of Steinbüchels in the area.  It was not until in spring 1997, we were able to make the trip to Cologne.  Off we went, speaking little German, not realizing the day we chose was a German holiday.
For some reason the contacts Max had provided did not work out.  Still, we found the town and somehow managed to stumble onto the manor house.  Max told us of its existence.  Deserted and in poor condition, we found it.

We walked around, took pictures, tore the “Steinbüchel” page out of the local phone directory, and followed up with letters via post.

A Knighthood near Cologne, Germany

diving into the histories
From “A Living Gravestone” E. Guldner
The earliest mention of Steinbüchel found thus far via the internet is about the same era as mentioned in the book: circa 1200 A.D.  The site states in “1158 Konrad von Steinbüchel acquires a knighthood”.  Knights were essentially a private army of a King or Lord.
The Knighthood in High Medieval Germany were a part of nobility.  The title included land.  We discovered the name of our Historic Home was also the name of a sort of township near Cologne Germany. Steinbüchel, named for Sir Konrad von Steinbüchel, bestowed in conjuection with the title.
Today, “Steinbüchel” is one of several villages in the area that make up the municipality of Leverkusen.
diving into the histories
Courtyard Of The Steinbuchel Estate – Cologne, Germany
In diving into the histories forming the families for whom our house is named, I realize the value of our trip to the Steinbüchel estate.  The links in this post to maps and the current state of that manor house would be less solid had we not walked those places ourselves.

Your Stories are a Gift Waiting to be Given

Like Elisabeth. I tell these and other stories for several reasons, to:
  1.  share in the most accessible manner possible, the backstories of our home and other areas.
  2.  spark awareness in your world of the value of Your stories.
  3.  serve as examples of stories for you to follow.

Elisabeth’s book is a perfect example of why we all, including you, should record in some way, your stories.  Could it be that diving into the histories in your world and writing them down could be for some purpose you are not yet aware of?

To help in this process I have created a Free PDF download of FIVE LEGACY STORY TYPES TO COLLECT.   

Get Access to your free Download start today!

I am a former air traffic controller, pilot, Aircoupe owner, married 42 years to a great guy. We live in a 125+ year old historic Victorian, enjoy cats, vintage anything, precious friends. My passion is Giving Lost Stories A Voice – Giving Found Materials Fresh Form and Purpose!

4 thoughts on “How Diving Into The Histories Of Ancestral Geography Expands Understanding

  1. I am Carla Lara Steinbuchel (Davis) and I am the daughter of the late Mark Joseph Steinbuchel who was Max Steinbuchel’s brother. Our family history is very interesting. I know of many stories which have been passed down through our family by word of mouth and then their are the history facts that have been compiled by my aunt and others in our family. Looking forward to sharing. Thank you for taking good care of our legacy!

    1. And I am looking forward to you sharing as well! Thanks for reading and commenting. The family’s perspective is always welcome.

  2. Thank you, Nancy! You have captured photos of the village Steinbuüchel outside of Köln, Germany that I only have in my memory. When we visited (1980), our 9 year old daughter was so excited to see her last name on a bus destination marquee! I also appreciate the pdf!

    1. I can imagine how eye-opening that was for your daughter. Just think, to most folks, that sign was just a destination, to your family it carried you to your roots! wow

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