Visit with my closest German Wyneken relatives

On the last Saturday of April 2012, my wife, two daughters and I visited my closest Wyneken relatives living in Germany. Katja and her family live in a little village ten minutes north of Freiburg. Katja’s parents, Wyneken and Katja, were visiting from northern Germany.

Note that “Wyneken” here is the first name of Katja’s father. I am not going to mention these people’s last names to protect the privacy of the living. Wyneken’s mother’s maiden name was Wyneken and she decided to pass on the name to the next generation in the form of a first name. She and her siblings had no male children that would carry on the family name so Wyneken’s mother decided to keep it alive in her son’s given name.

Wyneken as a first name might come as a surprise, but this is not the only instance of the name being passed on to the next generation like this. My database contains four or five cases of individuals who apparently had a bona fide given name of “Wyneken”. There are other persons who have “Wyneken” as a middle name. It’s not always easy to tell how much of a first name these were when it looks like they apparently went by another name on a daily basis.

I’ve known Wyneken and Katja for a long time, our family even having visited their home many years ago. It was nice to see them again in April after such a long time and reconnect in person, outside of the annual Christmas letters we exchange.

Their daughter Katja has been living in the Freiburg area, where I live, for several years but it wasnt’ until last year that we actually met. I discovered by chance that she, like me, works for the university so I figured there really is no excuse to put off calling her up. Since then we’ve gotten together for lunch several times.

On the above mentioned Saturday we of course not only visited with Katja and her parents but also with her husband, Thomas, and their children Ella, Frieda and Moritz, raning in age from 7 to 4.

I’ve met a number of very distant relatives since I’ve been working on the family history and it’s always very pleasant to experience the feeling that we really are relatives, even though we’ve never seen each other before in our lives and even though the family connections go back a number of generations. I don’t know what it is, but there people often share something intangible just because they’re related.

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