Yesterday was Father’s Day so, naturally, I gave my dad a call. Yesterday was one of the few days of the year when the following does not happen: I call, my mom answers the phone, I ask for Dad, and he answers with “what’s wrong?” Usually it’s about my car. Or I can’t figure out how to use a drill. Or I need to borrow something like sawhorses, or an electric sander, or his handheld saw. But yesterday was one of those days where it is just about talking to Dad. About wishing him a happy day and letting him know that I appreciate him.
However Father’s Day also has me thinking of all of my fathers – my grandfathers, my great-grandfathers, my great-great grandfathers and so on, those whose lives inevitably led to me. Since a significant percentage of those men have had the last name “Langholz”, it has also made me think about my male line and my last name even more. And that topic, that of the Langholzes, has been a frustrating one for me in my genealogy research.
I know that my dad, Tom, is the son of Merle, who was the son of Karl, who was the son of August, who was the son of… someone. While I can trace other lines of my family back hundreds of years with many, many greats before the word “grandfather”, with the Langholzes I get stuck with August, my great-great grandfather. And even August is a bit of a mystery as I have no actual information pertaining to his life, just documents relating to his sons. What I do know is that my 21 year old great-grandfather, Karl, left Germany in 1923 and came to the United States. From what I understand, he left behind his parents and brother. I know that there was communication between the separated family but I do not have very many details and therefore a lot of information has been lost to me.
What I know about us and where we came from is now derived only from the small details. My last name literally translates to “long wood”… so there’s that. On the 1923 passenger list, Karl’s hometown is listed as Schönewalde while Schönewalde am Bungsburg is the home of a war memorial in which Karl’s brother’s name is inscribed. Then, about 60 miles northwest of this town, on the shore of the Baltic Sea, sits the small town of Langholz. Did we live there?
In the end, this posts is about everything that I do not know. So I suppose that my next steps are to keep learning German, sew myself a dirndl, and participate in Oktoberfest annually. I’ll do these things in the hopes that when I arrive on German soil, with the determination to learn more, I do not stick out too much.