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Feedback from the 1997 Schuttertal reunion

Müllerleile Reunion Schuttertal, Germany, 1997

by Marianne Muellerleile, Los Angeles, CA

When it was announced in June at the reunion that there would be another one in Germany in October I was surprised so many folks showed an interest in going. When my sister Jeanne said she wanted to go, nothing could have prevented me from going.
Jeanne and I met in Chicago O'Hare airport and boarded our United flight to Germany on October 10. It had been 17 years since we traveled together so we were eager to do it again.
Elizabeth was there to greet us in Frankfurt and then drive us to the Schuttertal region for the reunion.
Once there we unloaded our bags at Anton & Rita's and took a tour of their historic home and farm. I remembered visiting it 15 years earlier when I was there doing family research and had just picked a number out of the phone book.
Here I was again, at the oldest working Müllerleile farm in the region, dating back to the 1600s.
The Kasperbauernhof produces enough to feed itself, as well as ten other families. These 200 acres, including 40 in the Black Forest, has cows, pigs, chickens, a garden, baking oven, a licensed schnapps still, smoke house, butcher quarters, cider mill, and cellar. I marveled that the barn was on the top of the house accessible only from outside. I noted in the comer of the barn Anton's great grandfather’s buggy.
Jeanne and I took photos of every activity and stood in the doorway with its engraved history overhead "Michael 1829 Millerleili" indicating the date of its rebuilding after a great fire.
Elizabeth then drove us through all the towns in the Schuttertal Valley. The richness of the valley is palpable. The quaintness belies its modernity. We visited the Schutter River which is more like a stream and a small church with its adjacent graveyard. The graves with their eternal lights and holy water chalices with lids are good only for 30 years (enough time to decompose). Then you are buried elsewhere and space is made available again in the limited area.
The towns are very clean and well maintained with every window having a flower box. We saw a tiny chapel on top of one of the highest hills. Elizabeth said it is used by those tending flocks or hiking.
We also went to the ruins of our Great X 6 grandparents borne with it's dilapidated flour mill. I'd been there too, years ago and it looked the same .. This time though it was blocked off from the general public. It's a great old home that could be restored. Elizabeth said the government makes it fairly difficult for restorationists to do the job within a reasonable price.
With just an hour to go before the reunion opening, we visited the local castle ruins. Climbing to the top yielded magnificent views of the whole valley. It was lush and green. I'd wished my whole family could see the beauty of this region. What a heritage.
We got to Gasthaus “Zur Eiche”, the local restaurant just in time to register and say hello to the 14 Americans who had made the trip. Christoph opened the reunion by introducing the Mayor who welcomed us to his region. After showing an edited version of our Iowa Reunion video, the local historian Gerhard Finkbeiner gave a wonderful presentation on our genealogy.
They also showed my acting demos and had me stand up and take a bow. It was a wonderful feeling seeing all those 140 relatives and I was humbled by their gratitude for my contribution. They then presented me with a hilarious baseball cap that has a solar generating patch that powers a fan built into the bill. This is to keep me cool during the next Iowa Reunion.
The rest of the time was spent eating and greeting. I was surprised and delighted so many Germans spoke English. What a lucky break. People danced to a one-man band.
Sunday through drizzling rain we gathered at St. Antonius Catholic Church for Mass. The bilingual priest welcomed us and various family members did the readings and petitions.
Next, we assembled at the local. high school to peruse the Iowa genealogy chart. Gerhard Finkbeiner was there with the books he has published about the region. Markus Müllerleile was manning the computer to take any additions or corrections.
Then it was off to the Kasperbauernhof for a feast of sandwiches and drinks. Entertainment consisted of folk dancers and musicians. The closing ceremony took place on the ample front porch.
I presented Christoph with the engraved Reunion plaque and a Superman t-shirt representing our acknowledgment of his yeoman's effort. Next, we congregated for the group photo. I stood next to an older woman who was in traditional German dress with her hair braid circling her head. Even her large tortoise shell hair pins fascinated me.
Our farewell lunch was held back at the “Zur Eiche” in Schuttertal. A few hours later we were loading up the van and driving back to Frankfurt.
Our extraordinary few days in our motherland had come to an end. But Jeanne and I had created memories for a lifetime.
Put it in your five-year plan - October 2002, Schuttertal, Germany, homeland of the Mülllerleiles.

(From: Müllerleile Reunion Newsletter. Müllerleile Reunion Committee, Los Angeles (ed.), Vol 3, Issue 1, January 1998.)


Speech of Marianne Muellerleile at the Kasperbauernhof in Schuttertal on October 12, 1997. To the right Anton Müllerleile. Photo: Gerhard and Annette Müllerleile