“I don’t believe in coincidences,” said Laurence, as we drove from the train station in Horb toward Sulzau, Germany, the tiny village where my great-great-great grandfather Franz Kotz first learned his trade as a schreiner (cabinetmaker) and which he left in 1848 to find a new life in America. I never imagined that I might be back in Sulzau so soon, in search of the Sulzau-Kotz connection – and I certainly never imagined I would meet a distant cousin, today. Read on!
Six days after my visit to Franz Kotz’s hometown in Germany, I visited his hand-built home in West Virginia.
Just six days after our visit to Sulzau, Germany – the original home of my great-great-great grandfather Franz Kotz – I was chatting with another direct descendant inside the home Franz built in West Virginia, holding his Wander-Buch and following his youthful travels in my imagination. Read on!
A trip to Germany, and back in time, to discover our family heritage.
On a late-winter day more than 180 years ago my great-great-great grandfather walked out of the Main Office of the Kingdom of Württemberg carrying his Heimath-Schein (Certificate of Residence) inside his Wander-Buch (“wandering book”). On that day, March 8, 1830, he was just fifteen years old. This ‘passport’ allowed Franz Kotz to travel beyond his home village of Sulzau – now part of southern Germany. Sulzau, still a tiny village tucked alongside the Neckar river, is just a two-hour drive from Zürich, so we decided to make a quick visit. Read on as we wander the quiet streets of Sulzau, dine in a castle, and dig into our family history.