Many of Liz's friends will know that she comes from a long line of German Lutheran pastors. But many would not know that her maternal great-great grandfather was a pioneering pastor and was the minister at St Lorenz Evangelical Lutheran Church in Frankenmuth MI from 1851 to 1857. When Liz's Dad, himself a missionary (now retired) heard we were crossing Michigan, he mentioned this connection and suggested we make a visit.
Liz made contact and the minister very kindly made arrangements for us to be shown the church and the museum. Once again, there was a strong American Indian connection, with a very close bond forged between the Lutheran settlers and the Chipewa tribe.
Frankenmuth is a little Bavaria, with a picturesque main street and attractive suburbs. It is exceedingly German and the residents are very proud of their heritage. It also boasts Bronners, the largest Christmas store in the world. It is indeed huge.
The church still plays a key role in the affairs of the town and it is a beautiful place of worship.
What struck us is that the folk are so interested in their history when we mentioned to Dan Haubenstricker that Liz was related to Pastor Karl Röbbelen, he knew exactly who he was and immediately said that he was the only former minister of the church of whom they had no photo, and of whom they knew the least. They are very keen to know more. It is clear to us that it is only the Röbbelen family who can fill the gaps. Hopefully this can be done. We are grateful to our guide, Marion, and to Dan, for their time and interest.
After visiting Bronners (wow!) we once again turned east, aiming for the Canadian border at Port Huron. The crossing was quick and we were soon on our way to London's Ontario, where we were scheduled to have dinner with Gary Röbbelen and his wife Laurie.
Over a very tasty Mexican meal and a glass of Shiraz, the history of both branches of the Röbbelen family were explored and plans discussed on how to determine the connection. Three of their four children were also introduced to us and the evening was very pleasant and too short. Hopefully they can visit Australia sometime, but we also hope to return in the future.
That was a big day, especially for Liz. Check out photos on The People and Places tab
Duncan learned to ride a motorcycle at the age of twelve on a 50cc Honda belonging to his older brother, Ronald. The arrangement was a short ride in return for cleaning it. He has graduated over the years owning and riding many different bikes, but he has never ridden a Harley Davidson.