A pleasant visit from a California relative

On the second Sunday in June I went down to the train station here in Freiburg to meet up with two people. The people I was meeting were Mary Ann Wood née Schaller and her husband Don from California. They were finishing off the German part of their mixed business and pleasure trip before they headed off to their final stop in Paris. We had a little trouble finding each other at the station but in the end the connection worked.

They were staying at the hotel right next to the train station so I accompanied them there. I asked them if they were interested in me giving them a bit of a foot tour of the sites in Freiburg and they said, yes, they’d love to. I showed them what I thought were the highlights of the town. We talked about this and that while we walked: the Wyneken relatives we knew, our work, music, architecture. It was all very easy going, natural and fun.

We walked around town together for maybe two hours or more. Then we hopped on the street car to my home so they could meet the rest of my family. There we continued our chat, and Don and my wife, Cindy, were tickled to discover that they had something in common professionally. Much too soon after we had finished our simple dinner our visit had to come to an end because it was time for our youngest daughter to go to bed. So I accompanied them back to the street car stop so they could go back to their hotel.

It was a great pleasure for me to talk to a Wyneken relative who knew and had met personally numerous relatives that I only know by name from my research. But it turned out that she also knows people from my direct family. When she talked about meeting the family of a Wyneken missionary to India when she was a child, I informed her that that was my grandfather and his family. She remembered that most of the boys — including my father — were a few years older than she was. At that early age those few years make a huge difference so they didn’t really have much to do with each other, but she does remember fondly the youngest child, my aunt.

Dot Bonavito 1943

Dot Bonavito in 1943

Another person we talked about in depth was her cousin, Dot Bonavito, with whom I had corresponded may years ago. Dot led a highly interesting life, having entered the foreign service shortly after World War II. I really know only a very few details of everything she experienced, which is why I highly regret never having had the opportunity to meet her in person. Mary Ann, on the other hand, knew her cousin very well and often visited her at her home in Paris.

Dot has an interesting pedigree. Dot’s father, Mary Ann’s uncle, was a son of FCD Wyneken’s youngest daughter, Pauline, and Dot’s mother was a granddaughter of FCD Wyneken’s oldest daughter, Louise Buehler in San Francisco. Thus, Dot is at the same time FCD’s granddaughter and his great granddaughter.

Through Dot’s relationship to the California Wyneken relatives descended from Louise Buehler, Mary Ann had opportunity to meet and know the Koenigs, the Tietjens and the Hargens. Living in California herself, Mary Ann throughout the years has met many of the California Wynekens descended from the twin brothers, Martin (including, as mentioned above, my grandfather and my father) and Henry. She also knew the Brohms, who were closely related to Martin’s wife.

As I mentioned above, this is a large group of Wyneken relatives that I either know personally or am closely related to, or with whom I am very familiar through my research. And here I was talking to single person who has met all of these people personally. My genealogist heart couldn’t help but think that this get-together with Mary Ann was very significant.

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