WAYLAND — It is no secret that many of the people in this area come from German heritage.
Some have the privilege of returning to the home country to find out where they came from.
As Barbara Cowley boarded the plane to visit an old friend in Germany, and to discover her own roots she was struck with an uneasy feeling.
“When I boarded the plane I had some symptoms. I had a hard time breathing, and I was very tired. We landed in Frankfurt, Germany. We were heading to St. Wendel from there,” Cowley said. “I had a friend there who was an historian and a genealogist. When he was here in Bath to talk about the German Immigration it peaked my interest. We found out I was related to his wife through our great grandmothers.”
On the train to St. Wendel it became clear that Cowley was not getting any better.
Cowley got to the point where she couldn’t breath well or talk, so her husband took her to the hospital.
It turned out she had a small blood clot, and water in the lungs.
“We didn’t speak much German, and communication was very hard,” she said. “My care at the hospital was phenomenal, and our bill was not nearly as high as we thought it would be. I had to have a private physician check me out after I got out of the hospital to make sure I was okay enough to go home. We picked Dr. Peter Rauber. There are many Rauber’s in Wayland that came from Germany. We asked if he knew any of them.”
Dr. Rauber turned out to be related to a lot of Rauber’s in the area.
“The generosity and care blew me away. The people in the hotel were fantastic and did not charge us for the time I was in the hospital,” Cowley said. “Dr. Rauber wanted to know if we could find out about his relatives here (Wayland) so I told him I would see what we could do. Sandy Booth did the genealogy, and found out that they were. She put together a book that we will send to him, and a care package for all his help. We invited him to come and visit us whenever he wants.”
The hospital Cowley got her care and was bedridden in for a week was called Marienkracenhaus.
Cowley was able to do what she set out to do before she got sick. They visited the Engel Homestead, but ran out of time to visit the Schumbehl Homestead.
Roland Geiger, the historian friend, was of great help as well in Germany.
“It was a unique experience,” Cowley said. “The Engel home has been turned into housing, but it use to be a big house and barn that was farmed.”
Cowley visited the church at St. Wendel as well, and this is where the saint is buried. There is a fragment of the saint’s bone in the Sacred Heart Church in Perkinsville.
Dr. Rauber was traced back to a Steven Rauber who came to the Dansville area in 1836.
Dr. Nicholaus Casper was the emergency doctor who saved Cowley’s life.
Cowley’s daughter, Lori Pritchett was with her in Germany, and helped immensely since she had been there as a foreign exchange student in high school.
“St. Wendel is the size of Dansville and looks a lot like Wayland,” Cowley sad. “You can see the reason they wanted to settle here. It must have reminded them of home.”
“If Dr. Rauber ends up making a trip here to visit our area, we would hope to gather as many local Rauber family members as we could to meet him,” Booth said. “So many of our local German families came from that area, including my own ancestors. Had they not been brave enough to make the trip, we would not be here.”
"Sandy Weiand Booth, Genealogist for the Wayland historical Society was very helpful in doing the original Schumbehl, Engel, Yochum Geneology as well as a "cousin" on the Engel side, Dan Meyer, originally from Rochester,” Cowley said. “ Prior to his grandmother’s passing she told him of "family" living in the Southern Tier on the Engel/Yochum side. At the time my dad (his mother had been an Engel who married a Yochum) had just passed away. Dan, saw the obit and contacted me and my brothers/sisters. I then contacted him and years later this was the result.”