JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

Seeking my family history in Austria (From 3/13/10)


As many of you know, I am visiting Austria for some coachings at the Staatsoper, but have had some time to do some exploring and sight-seeing. My cousin Rachel has been with me for this first half of the trip and leaves tomorrow. Today was really a highlight. (And please bear with me if there are any weird typos – german key boards are different than ours, and I’m having quite the time…)

Today, we drove out to the area of Austria north of Salzburg and west of Linz. Fortunately, David’s friend Jane (David is our contact here – he is an excellent coach who works at the Music University in Vienna) volunteered to drive us. (yay!)

We didn’t have too much info to go on. Just that Daddy was born just outside of Taiskirchen im Innkreis and Rachel’s mom was born in Ried im Innkreis. Daddy also remembered a name, which turned out to be Partzer – the name of the family that owned the farm where he and his parents were tennants. Let me also give a little background for those that might not know my family that well. My dad is quite a bit younger than Aunt Maria, his sister. Around 18 years I think? So Daddy was an Uncle from the time he was around two. So my first cousins are closer in age to my parents and my second cousins are closer in age to me. So technically, Rachel is my second cousin. That might make some of these details a little more clear as I go on with the story. (So my Aunt Maria and Uncle Andy are Rachel’s grandparents.)

We headed out on this snowy overcast day to Taiskirchen. We found the village (very small) and started taking pictures. Then we went into the Gasthaus to get some tea/coffee and ask around about the name. I was able to tell the man working there (in my broken german) who i was and a bit of the history. (Thanks goodness Jane was there – here german is much better than mine.) Turns out he DID know the name and sent us in the direction of the farmhouse.

We had to stop at another farmhouse along the way, as we didn’t know if we were going the right way. They let us know that we just had to keep going and take a right at the fork in the road.

Sure enough, there was a farmhouse there and there were some men working outside. We pulled up the car and asked them if it was the right place. Sure enough, it was! They took us into the house, where the wife had the info of the last person who owned the place. She called him and he remembered everyone – my dad, my grandparents and my aunt. He wanted to come over and have a visit with us. His name is Herman Partzer. He came over with actual documents. I think they were records showing who lived there and who they were. Oma and Otta’s names were there along with their information – how long they lived there as well as their parents’ names. Daddy’s name and birthday were also there. The house had been renovated a little over ten years ago, but he let me know that Daddy was born right in the room above our heads. (We were in the kitchen.)

He also had a friend in Ried (where my cousin Hermina was born – Rachel’s mom) who had known Aunt Maria and Uncle Andy. Herman wanted to take us to Ried to see him. We left Daddy’s birth-house with a very strong invitation to please come back some time. (Maybe Daddy will want to take a trip? hint, hint…) So we were off to Ried to visit Herman’s friend. On our way, we went through Peterskirchen and saw the church where Uncle Andy and Aunt Maria were married.

When we got to the house, we found out that this gentleman did not know Daddy, but was very good friends with Uncle Andy when he first came to Austria. In fact, he said they were like brothers. He and his wife had been at their wedding. He spoke very fondly of him and even teared up a little. Apparantly, he was also a shoe maker, just like Uncle Andy! And he was very sad to hear that Uncle Andy had passed away.
I have the name of this gentleman that was close to Uncle Andy written down in the hotel room; I think it’s Franz Rüdel or Rüder? Or Rüger? Darn it, I forget. I’ll have to check and update later. They asked us questions and we asked them questions. It was really neat. They had only a few pictures from back then – but there was one of Uncle Andy in 1947.

It was getting closer to 3, so we were going to have to leave. At both places we exchanged addresses. I made sure to get pictures at the Partzer farmhouse and we got pictures together with Herman, Franz, and his wife.

I definitely got a good mental workout today with my German. I’m really rusty on some things – I’m beyond the basic level, but certainly not fluent. So the tiredness is definitely kicking in – haha!

Overall, it was a good day. The only tiny downside was that all the snow and clouds made it so that we couldn’t see any of the mountains as we drove around that part of the country. Maybe on a future trip? 🙂

I’m really overwhelmed in general by all the kindness we’ve been shown on this trip. From David setting up my coachings at the Staatsoper (and treating us to two WONDERFUL meals) to Jane offering to drive us all the way out there, even though she had only just met us. Then the kindness of the people who were connected to our family history. What a wonderful trip it’s been so far. Rachel leaves early tomorrow, but I’m here until Thursday. More updates soon. And when I get back, lots of pictures!




Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And last year, I started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm married to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

2 thoughts on “Seeking my family history in Austria (From 3/13/10)

  1. Pingback: Journey to Romania to explore the past… | JenSop: The Singing Travel Agent!

  2. Pingback: Helpful Links | Jen and Milos

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