Saturday, January 28, 2017

Spessart Roots: A History of the People of a German Forest

Saturday, April 22nd, 1:00 PM 

Main Library - Third Floor Program Area

Many members of HCGS have German roots. Whether your ancestors came from northwest Germany or The Bavarian southeast, have you ever wondered how your ancestors actually lived? Fortunately, HCGS member and native Cincinnatian, Mary E. Wuest, has written an exciting book -- Spessart Roots: A History of the People of a German Forest. This non-fiction work gives a vivid account of how events and circumstances played out in one location—Spessart Forest—in northwest Bavaria. Travel the road of peasant life through the centuries: through the wars, witch persecutions, famines, and heavy governance. Learn about life as a serf from the time of earliest settlements until the time of mass emigrations; and how religion, schooling, and customs affected everyday existence. Read gripping stories of individuals, including stories of the author’s own ancestors, which bring the forest’s history to life. Finally, in the last few chapters, travel with the emigrants as they transplant their roots in new lands. And, as a bonus, in the last chapter, learn what DNA can tell us about our deep ancestry, our original roots. 

Tim Trainor, Writer and Editor, provided an excellent review of this book on Amazon.
More than a million Germans immigrated to the United States from the mid-1840s through the following decade, fleeing repression, political turmoil and bleak futures. Andreas Wust and his future wife Maria Magdalena Gessner were among this diaspora, joining fellow countrymen in 1848 in a noisome Cincinnati enclave called Over-the-Rhine, where German language and customs prevailed through the twentieth century. Former U. S. Navy Commander Mary E. Wuest, great-granddaughter of this Bavarian couple, tells their story through the broad sweep of German history, focusing on the Spessart Forest, a forbidding and magical realm where wild animals, poachers, rogues and robber knights roamed the dense woods and feudal nobility ruled a network of farms and villages.
A model of meticulous research and crisp, clear writing, Spessart Roots traces forest inhabitants to the twelfth-century settlements of the Kahlgrund Valley, a mining and glassmaking region known for crystal clear "talking" mirrors immortalized in Snow White, the Grimm Brothers fairy tale. The book chronicles eras of famine, epidemics, invasions and pillaging punctuated by times of quiet prosperity. The stream of events flows through the centuries-long reign of the Holy Roman Empire, the Thirty Years War, Napoleonic conquests and other epochs that uprooted and shaped German society and culture.
Spessart Roots also is the story of America revealed through the microcosm of poor immigrants seeking freedom and opportunities denied them in their homelands. After settling in Cincinnati, Andreas Wust (Americanized to Andrew Wuest) started a mattress-making business that grew and prospered, staying in the family until its sale to Serta International in 1999 -- the American Dream fulfilled.
We hope to see you there.

Submitted by Kathy Reed
Program Director

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