Sunday, September 17, 2017

Glastonbury, Canterbury and London

Our final week in the British Isles began in Glastonbury, then proceeded to Canterbury, with a final five days in London.  Glastonbury was the site of one of the largest monasteries in England, until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VII.  On the grounds is a stone marking the supposed burial spot of King Arthur.  But since Arthur is a legendary figure, possibly based on a great warlord, the site is either the grave of that warlord, or a medieval ruse to attract visitors and raise money.

On the way to Glastonbury we stopped in the small town of Wells and visited the cathedral there.  The scissors vaulting in the nave is most unusual.

Our next stop was Canterbury where we thankfully avoided being arrested for mistakenly driving down a pedestrian only street. The cathedral there was dark and gloomy, and would have been a waste of time except for two things. The first was meeting a wonderful docent who invited us to her home to share a bottle of french champagne, and the second was seeing the altar marking the site of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket.

Our final destination was London where we became acquainted with the tube, the bus system and London cabs.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Tower of London, where we took a Beefeater Tour.

The next day we had lunch at the Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martin in the Fields Church and enjoyed a Stravinsky concert afterwards.  On our third day, we visited the British Museum where we saw ancient Egyptian, Assyrian and Greek sculptures as well as dozens of mummies, acquired by rather dubious means by the Brits.  We also saw the Rosetta Stone.

When we were tired of admiring several thousand year old artifacts, we headed out into the rain and hailed a taxi to take us to the portrait gallery, where we had a leisurely and amazing lunch while gazing over the rooftops of the city.

The next day we took a Thames River Cruise and spotted many iconic landmarks such as Parliament, Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe, the Shard and other buildings.

After the cruise we spent a little time in Westminster Abbey where pictures were not allowed.  Even if they had been, however, the place was swarming with tourists and pictures would have been pretty much worthless. On our final day, we were exhausted, but mustered enough energy to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum which was pretty amazing.  We only had time to browse through two rooms: the cast room with reproductions of famous statues, and the medieval room with sculptures, paintings and entire altar pieces from the Middle Ages.

 We had lunch in their cafeteria and then headed back to our hotel to rest up before leaving for home the next day.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Trip to Ireland, Scotland, Britain: Bath and Stonehenge

After spending three days and four nights in the Cotswolds, we drove to Bath, a beautiful city centered around 2000 year old Roman baths which have been amazingly preserved.

We toured the baths, visited the Pulteney Bridge, ate at Sally Lunn's and took a bus tour of the city, admiring the beautiful architecture, including the Circus and the Royal Crescent, two sets of residences built in a distinct crescent shape. No doubt you have seen them in British television dramas. 

The highlight of our time in Bath was an evening tour of Stonehenge. We boarded a minibus with 18 other tourists and drove to the ancient site after the visitor center closed and tourists had left for the day.  On the way, we stopped and visited Avebury, site of even more stones spread out over a much wider area. 

Sheep were grazing among the stones and homes were a few yards away.  Not all the stones are still there as the Catholic Church encouraged farmers in the Middle Ages to remove the stones as they considered them demonic.  We also visited a preserved medieval village, had dinner at a tavern once frequented by Charles Dickens, and then made our way to Stonehenge in time to see the stones at sunset.  Unlike other tourists who must stay behind a fence, we were allowed to walk up to the stones and take pictures.  It was an amazing experience, the highlight of our entire trip.  I had heard about Stonehenge for so many years, and seen so many documentaries about it, that to actually be able to walk right up to the stones and see the evidence of how they once fit together was something I will never forget, nor be able to adequately describe.  Here are a few pictures. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Trip to Ireland, Scotland, Britain: The Cotswolds, and Stratford Upon Avon

We left York via rental car and arrived within a short time in The Cotswolds, a lovely area in the countryside dotted with small villages with honey colored stone cottages.  The surrounding areas are mostly farmland, with fields of brilliant yellow safflower and grazing sheep.  The area became wealthy at one time because of the wool trade, and farming is still a big industry here, but the sheep no longer come through the town on market day.  Below is the sheep market in Chipping Campden.

The small market towns in the Cotswolds have a few shops and hotels, but they still look very much as they did hundreds of years ago.  The primary activities to do in the area are hike the many trails or visit a few attractions nearby, like Shakespeare's birthplace at Stratford Upon Avon, below.

A short drive away is the thatched roof cottage, home of Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway, and it is not only beautiful, it is surrounded by stunning gardens.

We also visited Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried right  in front of the altar.  Apparently, Shakespeare was afraid that the notorious grave robbers of the day might disturb his grave and those of his family members, so he paid a great deal to secure those grave sites for himself, his wife, daughter and son in law.  

Before moving on to our next destination, Bath, we took a short trip to see the nearby Warwick Castle.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Trip to Ireland, Scotland and Britain: Dublin, Edinburgh, York

Well, my plan to post while we were on our trip to the British Isles did not work out as I had planned.  A series of illnesses plagued us while we were traveling, which made doing anything difficult. And then when we returned, I had to have surgery and Tony had to have treatment for a condition diagnosed before we left.  In spite of our problems, however, we did see a great deal on the days we were feeling better.

We spent two days in Dublin and one in County Laois, visiting my cousin Canice and his wife, Maura.  While we were enjoying tea, two of Canice's sisters dropped by and we got to meet them.  What a wonderful treat. Here we are  in Canice and Maura's sitting room.

We had to scrap our plans to visit Newgrange, a prehistoric burial site north of Dublin, because Tony wasn't feeling well, but we did see the grave of Strongbow in Christ Church in Dublin and we attended an evening of music and storytelling at the oldest pub in Dublin, the Brazenhead.

Our next stop was Edinburgh where it was cold and windy.  We stayed on the Royal Mile and managed to visit Holyrood House as well as Edinburgh Castle.  We also visited Mary King's Close.  A close is a very narrow (hence the name) medieval street.  This street was uncovered during the building of more recent structures and it was dismal and depressing to see how people lived in the Middle Ages.  Below is the ruin of a monastery attached to Holyrood House.  Throughout England and Scotland we encountered many such ruins, the structures having been destroyed by Henry VIII. Each was hauntingly beautiful.

Of course, in Scotland, we encountered many men in kilts as well as bagpipers playing on street corners.  After a while, the bagpipe music got old. Edinburgh was quite interesting and there was much more we could have seen with more time and better health, but we enjoyed what we did see.

After four days in Scotland, we took the train to York in Northern England.  What a magnificent city.  We saw so many wonderful things and stayed in a lovely five star hotel, the Grand Hotel and Spa.  One of the biggest tourist attractions was The Shambles, a preserved medieval street where the butchers used to carve up animals and sell the meat.  It must have smelled awful, but today is it quite lovely.

As you can see, the houses hang out over the street and we were told that if you went to the top of some buildings and reached out the window, you could shake hands with someone reaching out of their building across the street. In York we also learned a lot about Vikings, spent some time relaxing in a beautiful park, and saw another ruined monastery, shown in the picture below.

We also saw Yorkminster, and attended evensong one afternoon, and strolled the ancient city walls, first built by the Romans.  We rented a car before leaving York and then headed to The Cotsolds.  I will have more to say on that in my next post.

Monday, April 17, 2017

British Isles - Here We Come!

For eight years, I have been immersed in genealogy - finding ancestors in Germany, Ireland, England and Belgium.  I have also found ancestors of my husband - in Croatia, England, Ireland, and Switzerland.  As part of those searches, we have engaged in travel to several countries.  We have also traveled just for the fun of it.  We have been on trips to Ireland, France, Belgium, the Mediterranean, Italy and Croatia.  Now we are headed to England and Scotland, preceded by four days in Dublin. We leave on April 24 and we are quite excited.  I will be posting from the various cities we will be visiting: Dublin, Edinburgh, York, Chipping Campden, Stratford Upon Avon, Bath, Canterbury and London.  Although this trip will not involve any genealogy, we will be visiting one distant cousin in Ireland.  And it will be fun to visit places where my English ancestors and my husband's once lived.  Hope you enjoy the travelogue.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Origin of the Schuliens

My mother's mother was Mary Bernadine Schulien.  Everyone called her "Bernie."  She was the dearest, and one of the funniest, wisest women I have ever met.  Her parents were of German ancestry, though both had been born in this country.  Currently I am working on her father Joseph's family, the Schuliens.  Joseph was the youngest son of Mathias Schulien and Mary Petry. Their other children had been born in Germany. Mathias came from a large family - his parents were Mathias Schulien and Elizabeth Jung, and about half of their descendants came to the United States in the mid 1800s.  

When I began my research into the family, I knew almost nothing about them.  In fact, my mother didn't say much about her German heritage, preferring to believe she was really French.  Since the Schuliens came from a small town in Saarland, which borders the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, and since that territory went back and forth several times between France and Germany, she may not have been wrong.  But I believe her grandparents spoke German, not French, and today the town of Losheim is most definitely in Germany.

Slowly and methodically, over the past several years, I have been trying to put together the Schulien family tree.  I have found many branches in the United States, and have been in email and telephone contact with one Schulien descendant in Losheim. Last year, I visited Losheim and met several other Schulien descendants, including a cousin named Janine.  Janine showed me something I had been trying to get my hands on for years, a two volume set of books, written by her grandfather, tracing all the families of Losheim from the early 1700s.  The books are no longer in print and while Janine was all too eager to copy relevant pages of the books for me, it wasn't the same as having the books at my fingertips. So when she sent me an email a couple of months ago saying she had located a set of the books for me, I was thrilled.  She sent them to me and I have been filling in gaps in the family tree ever since.

At the same time, I have been making contact with Schuliens in the United States. I have sent letters and emails, and made phone calls.  Those contacts led to other contacts, and I have been able to gather more information, documents and photographs from many Schulien descendants.  Two of them even live close to me and we have been fortunate to be able to meet in person.

One thing that has eluded me, however, is the knowledge of where the Schuliens might have come from prior to their time in Losheim.  The two books I have only begin with the early 1700s, and I have been told that there are no organized records prior to that.  However, my cousin Janine recently contacted a former colleague of her late grandfather and asked if she had any information on where the Schuliens might have come from originally.  The colleague has sent her some information on this matter and after Janine translates it, she will pass it on to me.

Maybe I will find out that the Schuliens always lived in the area of Losheim, or maybe I will find out that, as my mother believed, they originally came from France.  Either way, I am hoping the new information will solve another mystery.  My mother is deceased now, but I keep thinking how thrilled she would be to share in all my discoveries and learn things about her family she never knew.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


I'm working on my mother's Schulien family now and from time to time I come across something that seems strange to me - missing records, dates that don't add up, or missing people.  I came across such a mystery today, and to say that I was energized and determined to solve the mystery would be an understatement.

First, a little background.  My third great grandparents were Mathias Schulien (1790-1868) and Elizabeth Jung, from Germany.  They had 10 children, as was common in those days.  While they stayed in Germany, three of their sons came to America.  The sons were Mathias (my second great grandfather), Michael and Johann Adam.  Johann Adam is the patriarch of the Chicago Schuliens who ran the famous Schulien's restaurant in Chicago for many years.  Michael (1813-1883)also settled in Chicago, married and had 7 children, as I learned from records.  And he spelled his name Shulgen instead of Schulien.  

Michael's oldest son was Mathias or Matthew (1840-1913), and I had no exact dates for his birth or death, and no dates at all for his wife, Anna Maria Schneider.  He came over to America a few years after his parents (in 1867) and younger siblings, and I do not know if he married in Germany or America.  But I did have information that he and his wife had 3  children:  Mary, Regina and John.  I had dates for John, but not for Mary and Regina, so I began searching in other databases to see what I could find.  

The first thing I found was an 1880 census that had Mathias, now a widower, living with his sister, Elizabeth Schulgen Berresheim and her 7 children.  But there was no sign of his children. Obviously, I wondered what had happened to them.  So I looked in other 1880 census records for other Schulgens, and I found a Regina Schulgen living with Dionysius (Dennis) Schulgen and his wife and their 2 very young children.  Dennis is the younger brother of Mathias.  Regina is listed as their daughter, but since she was born several years before Dennis's marriage, it seemed likely she was either adopted by Dennis and his wife or was just living with them.  Then I found the other two children, Mary and John, living with their grandparents, Michael and Anna Schulgen, also in the 1880 census.

There is no 1890 census, so I could not figure out where the children went after that, and I also could not answer the question why the children were split up, and why Mathias wasn't living with any of them.  So all I can do (unless some descendant of this branch of the family contacts me) is to speculate about what might have happened.  Here's my guess:

Mathias's wife may have died in childbirth when she had John, the youngest, leaving him without anyone to care for him adequately.  Or she could have died a few years later.  Back in the 1880s, fathers simply didn't take care of their motherless children, especially when they were very young.  Family always stepped in to help.  Sometimes an unmarried sister or aunt moved in to care for the children, and sometimes the children moved in with relatives.  Caring for children in those days was a full time job, as it is today, but without any of today's conveniences and support systems.  There was no day care, no nannies, no convenience foods or microwave ovens to cook meals.  There were no washing machines or dishwashers, so children whose mothers died had to go where there was an available woman to care for them and do the cooking and washing and rearing.  

But this still doesn't answer the question of why Mathias didn't move in with his parents or his brother, who were watching over his children, or why he moved in by himself with his sister.  So I went back to the census records and found something interesting.  Dennis Schulgen and his father lived next door to each other in 1880.  So the children would have not really been separated.  I'm sure they went back and forth between houses all the time.  But that still doesn't explain Mathias living with his sister.  They did not live next door.  The census tells me that Dennis, Michael and all the children lived in enumeration district 67, while Mathias lived in enumeration district 73.  Chicago is a big place, so I don't know how close they were, but it's possible Mathias stayed with his sister because it was closer to his work.  In any case, it doesn't seem like it would be too far away to at least see his children on the weekends.  On the other hand, he could have been having a very hard time accepting the death of his wife, and maybe he needed some separation time.  

Maybe some day a descendant of the Michael Schulgen family will have more information for me.  Until then, I feel satisfied that I have solved one mystery.  Now I would like to see if I can find out what happened to the children as they got older.