After leaving Switzerland in the 1600s due to religious persecution, my Swartzendruber ancestors moved north to Germany. In the town of Mengerinhausen, they set up a mill and also farmed the area. The area was originally known as “The Gallows” (Galgen), so the mill and subsequently the farm earned the name Galgenmüehle (literally Mill of the Gallows). In 1833, the Jacob Schwarzendruber and his extended family left first by horse-drawn carriage, then a river boat, and finally an ocean-going sailboat for America. They would eventually settle in eastern Iowa.
It was apparently a large group of family that emigrated, and the account is accurately recorded in a diary that begins at Galgenmüehle and ends in the port of Baltimore nearly four months later. There is a modest collection of photos of the old mill and homestead from the 1800s near the time at which the Schwartzendrubers emmigrated. The farmstead and mill subsequently went through several owners and fell into disrepair, though in 1969 a family purchased the site, restored some of the buildings, and opened a restaurant and hotel. They renamed the location Lüisen-müehle.
Currently the daughter of the founder of Lüisen-müehle owns and operates the location, which has a nice restaurant, about 16 guest rooms, conference facilities, and small swimming pool.
It was thus a pilgrimage of sorts to visit the site of the Galgenmüehle, eat in the restaurant, sleep in the hotel, and walk the grounds, which are on the edge of town, just east of a beautiful railroad viaduct.
Since the train connections from Köln were less than ideal, we rented a car and drove the two hours on the Autobahn system. Yes, it is correct that there are no speed limits, but only in some places. There are sections that are limited to 120, 80, or 60 km/hr. But for much of the drive, I was routinely cruising along at 140-150 km/hr (88-94 mph), even hitting 160 km/hr (100 mph) for a stretch…and still getting passed.
Thank goodness for the GPS on board the car, though it took us 30 minutes to how to figure out how to program the route; the display and voice prompts were all in German. Our German vocabulary: about 10 words. The female voice giving us dirctions in
Since our tour guide in Amsterdam can’t accommodate us until Tuesday, there wasn’t a pressing need to get there early. We got up at a leisurely (for this trip!) 7:30am, had breakfast, and checked out. Earlier, while Karen was getting ready, I went and explored the hotel and the grounds a bit more. The owners have decorated parts of the restaurant and lobby with old photos, some of which would pertain to the Schwartzendrubers. I also found a house across the street, much newer, that sports a sign on the front gate that says “Galgenmüehle”.
Behind the restaurant/hotel is some rich farmland, and also a few streams and a channel that looked as if it could have been a part of the old mill. We drove through Mengerinhausen and took a few pictures as well.
The traffic going into Köln was pretty heavy, and mixed with periods of torrential downpours, there were some accidents that slowed traffic down. The end result is that we missed the 12:46 pm train we were hoping to catch, and instead had to take the 2:46 train.
Arriving in Amsterdam at 5:27, we were trying to catch the 5:36 train to Bloemendaal, which is where we are staying the last two nights. Bloemendaal is several kilometers west of Amsterdam, almost to the North Sea. So far throughout Europe, we have managed to catch dozens of the correct trains by 1) finding the departure time on the information board in the train station, 2) finding the name of the city at the end of the line that the train is going to, 3) verifying that the train number is correct (they don’t always show the train number), and 4) going to the correct platform shown for the desired train. This method has worked well…until this time. Bloemendaal is on the way to Uitsgeet. It turns out two trains left Amsterdam at 5:36, both bound for Uitsgeet; one by way of Bloemendaal, the other by way of Zaandam. The train number was not displayed, making it even more confusing. You guessed it, we got on the wrong train. By time we realized we were on the wrong train, and we back-tracked and caught the correct train, it had added another hour the our travels. By the time we had arrived at our host’s, it was after 7pm.
Arno is a retired Mennonite minister who lives in a retirement community. The community has several guest rooms, one of which we are staying in. We had a light supper with Arno, and then he took us on a short tour of Bloemendaal and Haarlem. We went out the the beach and stuck our toes in the North Sea, and then went in to Haarlem to see several “hidden” churches. After severe persecution in the 17th and 18th centuries, Mennonite churches were tolerated by the early 19th century but their buildings could not be visible from the street, so the entrance was usually through a non-descript street front door, which then after passing down a long alley opened up into the full church.
Our host formerly pastored the Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente te Haarlem church, and he took us there to visit. Afterwards,we went and visited with the sisters of Jan Gleysteen, whom some of you may know from Mennonite circles in the Goshen area.
Tuesday, our last full day on Europe, will be spent at Zaanse Schans, an open-air Dutch museum, and then later in downtown Amsterdam.
ections in German we referred to as “Helga.”