At home at the Rhine and in America

Main characters and family businesses

"At Home on the Rhine and in America" is a story about Rhinelanders who left their home to build up and new life for themselves in America. Nonetheless, they keep in touch with their German relatives. You can read about them in another German language project, "200 Jahre Preußische Rheinprovinz". The two stories have their crossroads, particularly now in the sequel when America enters the Great War and American troops occupy the Rhineland. For better understanding, let me introduce the main characters and family businesses that you will be meeting as you wander through 200 years of German and American history.

America

Anton Tombach, master-builder in the service of the Elector-Archbishop of Cologne
Andrew, also called Andy, his foster son
Cathy, his wife, an Irish emigrant
Sean, Cathy's brother, Bradock, their fatherly friend
Lady Meredith, a noblewoman

"Merry Dragon Country Inn"
Andy and Cathy jointly open a country inn named "Merry Dragon Inn", remembering Andy's home in the Seven Mountains. Above the entrance is a large, cheerful-looking dragon carved by Andy himself. Bradock and Sean supply them with fresh bread and vegetables from their farm. Soon they welcome people from different parts of America, and sometimes people who came from even farther away places.

Ambrose and Betty, Andy and Cathy's children
Laurie and Emmet, Ambrose's children
Johann and Jakob, Hessian soldiers

Rhineland

Matthias Bergmann, a bailiff in the Duchy of Berg

America

Johann, now American citizen and Laurie, his wife
James, their son and and Jenny, their daughter, later Niklas Bergmann's wife
Heinrich Bergmann, emigrant from the Rhineland, later wine grower
Rebecca, his wife, together they own the "Mountain Men Vineyeard in the Shenandoah Valley
Joseph and Ben, their sons and Annelie, their daughter
Niklas Bergmann, Heinrich's brother
Harvey, Niklas' and Jenny's son, a political journalist
Hedy, Heinrich's and Niklas' mother

"Mountain Men Vineyard"
Heinrich and Rebecca run her family's vineyard in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Their family name Bergmann is translate into the English version "Mountain Man" and becomes a bit of a program: a new red wine is named "Mountain Men's Red Bliss", a new white wine "Mountain Men's White Bliss".

"Merry Dragon Country Inn"
Niklas and his wife Jenny run the "Merry Dragon". More than that, they supported the small school in their town and helped many children learn to read and write. Once a week they came to "Merry Dragon", sat at the table that Jenny's grandfather Ambrose had made for children, and each child got a plate made by Jenny, covered with pastry, and then they read together.

Rhineland

Hubert Limbach and his Belgian wife Henriette
Anni, their daughter Anni and their son-in-law Jean, captain on a Rhine steamer
Sophie and Hans, Anni's and Jean's childern
Emil and Lorenz Bergmann, their best friends, Hubert's nephews

Prequel: Grandma Limbach establishes the family business "Stübchen"
Rhineland, around 1813/14. Napoleon is defeated, his army hastily retreats, and in the Grand Duchy of Berg, the French officials run away, taking the Grand Duchy's money with them. Grandma Limbach, a skillful seamstress, had been obliged to work for the Grand Duke's Court at Düsseldorf. Now there is nothing left for her to do, she packs up her things and leaves for her home on the bank of the Rhine below the Seven Mountains. In her bag are the remnants of fine cloth and braids that nobody there needs any more.

The Congress of Vienna gives the Rhineland to Prussia, and in July 1815, Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm IV comes for a visit to Mount Drachenfels. The citizens of Königswinter are delighted, yet most of them have nothing decent to wear. During the last almost twenty years of war, they had other concerns. Grandma Limbach has an idea. She would use the golden braids and sumptuous threads and pearls to mend and give new chic to old garments and hats. Works of art come into being in her skillful hands. Soon many people bring their old things to her, hoping she can help, and indeed Grandma Limbach is very creative, mending and decorating old garments with her treasures from the Grand Duke's Court. Her grandchild Anni is always around her and helps.

Then the big day was there. A lot of citizens wait on the Rhine promenade for the Crown Prince, many of them wearing Grandma Limbach's creations. Her Belgian daughter-in-law Henriette offers hot chocolate to the crowd from a makeshift stand. Grandma Limbach is glowing. It is a new beginning after so many years of war.

Soon the family business is set up in Grandma Limbach's little house. One room is turned into a milliner's and tailer's workroom, where she creates nice things from old and used materials that families with little income can afford. In the other room Henriette opens a café where she offered chocolate and imbiss. Soon Grandma Limbach is well known and she becames business partners with Madame Charlotte, a self-made woman who runs an elegant fashion atelier in Bonn. Both are convinced that "less is more", and that nice clothes were not meant to display a husband's wealth, and that a sumptuous hat could not hide a lack of brain. Creativity should not be wasted on vanity alone, hard working women with little income should find something nice for themselves and their families.

Homework in the "Stübchen
Hubert is an elementary school teacher, and he often invites his pupils to the "Stübchen" and works with them on their reading. Henriette treated them to hot chocolate and a snack, and Hubert showes them the drawings Niklas sends from America.

But soon, the Prussian authorities become suspicious. It is a time of restauration, the old powers try to turn the clock back to the time before the French Revolution and Napoleon. King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia does not fulfill his promise to give his people a constitution, but joins forces with the monarchs of Russia and Austria in the Holy Alliance to restrain republicanism and secularism in Europe. The Holy Alliance even authorizes military incursions to re-establish Bourbon rule over Spain and its colonies who have just established their independence. The United States, however, are a democracy, and moreover President James Monroe has just made it very clear that they would not tolerate any interference from European powers in America

In the next generation, Hubert's and Henriette's daughter Anni takes over the "Stübchen", she has inherited her mother's and grandmother's talents. She marries Jean, captain on one of the first Rhine steamers. Their son Hans and their daughter Sophie grew up in the "Stübchen". Already as children, Hans and Sophie supported their Grandpa Hubert. As in this age of early industrialization and pauperism, it was natural to them to make sandwiches for the poor students and Hubert brought them to his classes.

America

Heinrich Bergmann, now winegrower
Rebecca, his wife, together they own the "Mountain Men Vineyeard in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
Joseph and Ben, their sons, and Annelie, their daughter, now Lorenz' Bergmann's wife
Niklas Bergmann, Heinrich's brother
Harvey, Niklas' and Jenny's son, a political journalist
Lorenz Bergmann, now a refugee ("forty-eighter") in the USA, his wife Annelie and their daugher Amber

Jacob, Count Csabany's loyal servant, he stays with Sophie's parents at the "Stübchen", which has long since become a home to him.

"Merry Dragon Country Inn"
Lorenz and his wife Annelie have taken over the "Merry Dragon" country inn. During the war, it is turned into a field hospital.

"Mountain Men Vineyard"
The Secession war rages in the United States. During the fighting in the Shenandoah Valley, a bunch of militia fighters who had long since become criminals, assault the vineyard. The whole family, on both sides of the Atlantic, is devastated. After the war, Lena and Emil travel to the USA to help rebuild it.

Rhineland and Germany

Anni, her husband Jean, their children Hans, captain on a Rhine steamer, and their daughter Sophie, a milliner and engaged to be married to Count Andras Csbany, son of an Austrian diplomat.
Emil Bergmann and his wife Lena, wine makers and owners of the "Bergmann vineyard" at Mount Drachenfels

"Bergmann Vineyard"
Emil and Lena are owners of a fine vineyard at Mount Drachenfels. They also are good friends with Hans and his fellow Rhine steamer captain Boule-Piquelot, and often host their guests for good food and good wine. Emil and Lena love to see the "Aimée" dock at the Rhine bank, and welcome their guests on their vineyards.

In America

Lorenz Bergmann, Annelie, his wife, and their daughter Amber
Chiara, their granddaughter
Harvey, Niklas' son, a political journalist

Rhineland and Germany

Emil and Lena Bergmann, wine makers and owners of the "Bergmann vineyard" at Mount Drachenfels
Susanne, called Susan, their daughter

Rhine steamer "Aimée"
After the Prussian-French war of 1870/71, when France has to cede Alsace-Lorraine to the German Reich, there was a lot of embitterment. Emil and Lena and Hans remain friends with Captain Boule-Piquelot. Later he vermachen his little steamer, the "Aimée" to his friends and to his foster son Etienne. The latter is warmly received, and Susan Bergman falls in love with him. They continue the "Aimée's" tradition and cruise the Rhine under German and Alsatian flag, bringing together people from both banks.

Sophie, now Countess Csabany and her husband Andras, Austro-Hungarian diplomats, representing the Dual Monarchy first in the Kingdom of Bavaria in Munich, then in the Kingdom of Belgium in Brussels

"Csabany Program"
Sophie builds up a training and exchange program for hat makers and tailors from all over the Austria-Hungary, Germany and Belgium, to help young women to build up a better life on their own forces, for themselves and their families. Soon, many reknown milliners and tailors join her, offering training places for her protégés, and the name Csabany soon opens doors for them.

Lottie and Joscha, their children
Kathi and Walter, their grandchildren
Jacob, the Count Csabany's former servant, now running the "Stübchen"

A colonial goods shop in the "Stübchen"
As Sophie's parents Anni and Jean grow older, they hand over their "Stübchen" to Jacob. Now it becomes a colonial good shop. In the guestroom room, Jacob offers hot chocolate and coffee. The guests can have a seat, read the newspapers he offers and write. Sometimes children would come after school and make their homework, often enough with his help.
In the working room on the left, where once Grandma Limbach had made and presented her creations, is now his colonial goods shop. It is a homey shop, lovingly decorated. On the shelves stand Jacob's merchandise - cocoa from Africa, coffee from Central America, chocolate and cane sugar from the Caribbean, tobacco, and tropical fruits.

In America

Chiara, Lorenz' Bergmann's granddaughter
John, her husband, instructor at West Point

Rhineland

Emil and Lena Bergmann, winegrowers from the Seven Mountains
Susanne, called Susan, their daughter
Sophie, Countess Csabany and her husband Andras, Austro-Hungarian diplomats

Lottie and Joscha, their children
Kathi and Walter, their grandchildern
Jacob, their faithful former servant and friend, he now runs the "Stübchen"
Helene, a fabulous seamstress, she works with Jacob

A soup-kitchen in the "Stübchen"
During the war, the "Stübchen" is turned into a soup-kitchen. In the guest room, Jacob and the Bergmann family daily serve one or several hot meals, soups or stews. Soon the small room is overcrowded, so Jacob sets up a large table outside on which he put big cooking pots. Susan manages to cook a halfway nutritious dish from almost nothing. Kathi and Walter ladle the soup or the stew and hand bread to their guests.

The soup-kitchen are also information centers. A lot of letters are brought to the 'Stübchen', and Kathi drives around in villages to deliver them.

Helene's sewing room ín the "Stübchen"
Jacob has put up two sewing machines in his former colonial goods shop, they are relentlessly rattling as lingerie and clothing are urgently needed. Many women and girls who had worked in service before the war had lost their jobs. Here, they could work as seamstresses, learn from Helene and earn a bit of money. Jacob could not pay much, but they got warm meals, and in winter the workroom was always heated. Helene is marvellous at making something new of old things, just like Grandma Limbach some 100 years ago.

A makeshift nursery at the Bergmann vineyard
During the war, the family ultivates potatoes on every free spot of soil. They have moved closer together and set up a makeshift nursery, and a few mothers also live with them. Susan and her aged parents Emil and Lena Bergmann were busy looking after the little guests all day long.

In most cases, the German emigrants have kept their German names, such as Anton, Johann, Heinrich and Niklas. The German family name Bergmann is quite common, and if you translate both syllables, you get Berg = mountain and Mann = man, so Mountain Man.

References

The photos are from the German Wikipedia, public domain section.