Wednesday, November 26, 2008

HCGS Nov 25th, 2008 - "A Moment In Time...Their Story: Stiebels of Germany"

The November meeting of the Honolulu County Genealogical Society was favored with a wonderful presentation by Harriet Hoffman on the her quest to learn about her Stiebel and May family history... "A Moment In Time...Their Story" With concise descriptions and images on a power point presentation, the audience was captivated by her compelling story. It started with Harriet wanting to know about her great-grandfather Max Stiebel - the one whose photos gazed down on her from it's long-time honored position on her wall. She took us on a journey of the root-tracing saga from California to Louisville, Kentucky and Ottoway, Illionis and across the Atlantic to the 1847 birthplace of Max Stiebel, Langenschwarz, Germany. Her Great-grandmother Delphine May's roots were in Herschberg, Germany. Through many research contacts, techniques and minor miracles the story culminates in a big ceremony for the presentation and publication of a book which indexed and described those buried in the entire Jewish Cemetery in Langenschwarz, Germany. This project and book were completed due to the skills, translations of gravestones and records, and untold hours by many researchers who donated their time and energy for this project. It was conceived and set into motion by Dorothee Rupel and her father, Hans Joacuim Ruppel, after many months of e-mail communications and assistance from Harriet. Harriet's husband, Bob, provided computer input for the our Genealogy Society presentation. (see photo on left)

This story is a lesson in asking questions, seeking answers, and never giving up. We were all amazed at Harriet's research, with story and pictures of her visit to Langenschwarz to attend the book presentation ceremony with the Mayor and other invited and community guests this year. Harriet was able to find and see the gravestones of many of her family buried there, including great-grandfather Max Stiebel's father, Samuel Stiebel 1804-1878. Then there was ggg-grandfather Isaak Stiebel's gravestone which yielded, after Hebrew translation, the name of his father, which was Baruch Stiebel. So Harriet was able to go back three generatons from the photograph on the wall. It was a wonderful trip for genealogy and for friendship, which warmed her heart from the generosity and helpfulness of these Germans from the land of her forefathers.

Harriet discussed methods in Jewish research and provide her own gems of genealogy..."from the Hart"... They are: 1) Get "their" stories before they die 2) Go lateral in your research - find the cousins 3) Document your finds 4) Gather all the clues from articles - don't skip anything 5) Get the tombstone photos 6) Go to the churches or synagogues 7) Go to the local historical societies 8) Research the City Directories 9) Never leave without the document you came fore (it may not be there tomorrow) 10) Do not let anything slip by without investigating every angle 11) Go to the genealogy conferences 12) Use our Honolulu County Genealogical Society Blog 13) Enjoy your journey, and make sure to write the stories!

A poem* summed up her feelings:
"Your names are written in a row / Hanging from my family tree / And you will never ever know / what you have come to mean to me. What you were is what I am / So why will you not speak to me / Your lives are hidden in the mist / Of my German history. What you were is all I have / What more do I need to prove / What is missing is your love / To show that you were here. All I can do is shed my tears / To tell you how I feel / Please help me to unlock the years / And show that you were real.
* From Shemot, a publication of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain, 12/2001.

4 comments:

gstiebel said...

Hello, my name is Garth Stiebel and I live outside Toronto Canada. A cousin of mine came across this blog entry and sent it to me. As it happens, my father's name is Max (he recently passed on at the age of 91) and so was his father's. I understand 'Max' was a nickname for Harriet's Michael but it is the uncanny resemblance between him and my ancestors that intrigues me. As far as I know, all the Stiebels in Canada are related to me but my grandfather came here before WWI, from outside Munich, and left a large family behind, virtually all of whom he lost contact with. We are not Jewish, my father was raised Catholic but I'm not sure if that's significant. My email is gstieb@sympatico.com if you or Harriet are interested in exploring this further. I am. Thanks, Garth Stiebel

Garth Stiebel said...

Here it is, 5 years later and the last of my Stiebel uncles, Robert, has passed on. I am even more curious as to my antecedents and would like to make contact with anyone who may have information. My grandfather (Max Stiebel) had many siblings, all of whom were lost between the wars and completely disappeared. His side of the family was Jewish ( I found that out only subsequent to my last note) and I believe they went to the Nazi deathcamps. I wish I could find out if your Max was distantly related to mine. thanks for your consideration. Garth Stiebel

Garth Stiebel said...

Here it is, 5 years later and the last of my Stiebel uncles, Robert, has passed on. I am even more curious as to my antecedents and would like to make contact with anyone who may have information. My grandfather (Max Stiebel) had many siblings, all of whom were lost between the wars and completely disappeared. His side of the family was Jewish ( I found that out only subsequent to my last note) and I believe they went to the Nazi deathcamps. I wish I could find out if your Max was distantly related to mine. thanks for your consideration. Garth Stiebel

Donna Hague Wendt said...

Hi Garth, I'll relay your comment to Harriet. If you have the same email as above she may contact you there or in comments here. Hope you make a connection!