Chapter 2 – Our German lifestyles around 1900 to 1914


                As I reviewed all my information about our family during this period, I realized that to make my story understandable to our community, I will first have to explain some detail about what is coming.

Germany, by European standards is a large country. The area of Germany, the Black Forest, which we are concerned about in this story is very small part of the country. A very rural environment consisting of small villages constrained from expansion by the   allowing for lots of open space between them. Not a bad concept at all. Was readily visible to Lynn and I living there in 1980’s. Smaller home town feeling exists.
One very large city, Freiburg, lies just at the edge of the Black Forest on the western side close to the Rhein River and France. It happened to be ‘the’ city of prosperity for the region during the time we are talking about. It was probably one of the bigger places the folk from the rural mountainside went to seek work and do business.
“Everybody is somebody” in Germany. No matter what your individual abilities are, you are guided and then trained to achieve the best you are capable of. Rosel and Gus took advantage of that.
The Black Forest itself was relatively untouched by the first world war (1914-17) so life there went on as usual. In chapters ahead, you will see lots of pictures as the families changed with new generations arriving and older unfortunately disappearing.
Rosel & Gus’s roots are in the Black Forest and their places of birth were very much different as you will see but the geography brought them together in a remarkable way.

wappenWith that intro, Let’s look at Germany and then some pictures of the families. The map on the left is of all Germany, quite large.. The map on the right shows only the key areas of Black Forest we are interested in. The red dot is Muggensturm, Rosel’s village of birth. The green dot shows Basel Switzerland, the city of Gus’s birth. The blue dot is the large city of Freiburg where all the magic happened for us. This is where Gus & Rosel workedbaden_wuerttemberg together, learned the good life, fell in love and plotted the future to America. The area between Routes E35, E41 and E52 is roughly the Black Forest and the municipality is Baden-Wurttemberg.

               Gus was born as a Swiss citizen in the city of Basel. It must be noted that this was simply a matter of circumstance because his father worked there as a German employee for the railway System which terminated in Basel. They happened to live there as a result and so, as a family, settled there. Basel is just ‘down the hill’ from the high BlackBernau Forest where Gus’s heritage really is.  Up there on the German side are the villages of Bernau and Hausern from which the families of both his mother (Herr) and father (Laubis) come from. More on that a little later.

Now, lets go to the top side of the map where the red dot is. This area is the northern foothills of the Black Forest and it is there, near Karlsruhe, lies the village of Therese’s families, Muggensturm.muggensturm

Note in the Picture: The size of the church and the tiny black steeple at very far end of the village. Pictures of those will come next.

                  As you can see in this post card of the time (1905), the village was very small. Then you can see lots of open space between the edge of it to the next village Malsch.  Folklore has it that sometime around 1100 AD, the whole of Germany was master planned, something like this. A tight circle was defined in which houses and barns could be constructed. A larger circle was made around the tight one, and that land was made into parcels and owned by the village residents. The space between that outer part of the circle and the one from the other nearby villages is called the ‘gemeinde’ and belongs to the towns and can be used as open space for lots of reasons, taking cows out to feed on grass, have gardens etc.. Below you see the grape harvest, the RR station, Church and Cemetery in old postcard. In addition is a watercolor of Rosel’s home. It is still there and preserved as a historical building today. If you click on one you will see larger picture. To see Muggensturm today, click on the link.

The Kottlers        We already met some of the family. Here is a composite picture of my grandmother Kottler, my mother Rosel and her Brothers and sister. These very early years were tough on the family as  Rosel’s mother, father, grandmother, and two brothers Franz and Karl never made it past 1917.

     Valentin Lutz was the family businessman being in the barrel making business. Wine and beer, still the staple drinks in Germany, needed barrels and he made them as is evidenced in the next sets of pictures. He taught Otto Kottler the trade which gave Otto the ability to make a living for the Kottler’s young families. Women had to contribute also. Rosel relayed to me that it was typical that young women like her, were expected at age 14 to go take a position in the home of wealthy individuals, learn to care for a household and send some of their earnings back home. She learned to be a cook as you shall see. Here are some pictures of Barrel making in the early days. Many large barrels for wine are still in use today. Lynn and I visited a winery in Rastatt which has the finished products of multiple generations of Lutz & Kottler manufacture still in use today.


100_5803 (2) Here is my personal memento. It is a plane tool used to make barrel ‘slats’. If you look closely at the picture, you will see that unlike an ordinary plane, the bottom is rounded to be able to follow the curvature required for the inside of a barrel ‘slat’. You will see that the initials on it are ‘HL’ which stand for Hermann Lutz (Bacchus #2) the man on the left side of the first picture below. In the next two pictures stands his son in law Eric Nuss, with whom Lynn and I spent may fun times with he and his wife Gerta both in Germany and when they visited my ‘mom’ and ‘pop’ here in America.

       Lynn and I visited Rosel’s and Gus’s home towns during 3 separate periods of time. We feel very fortunate to have done so. First time was in 1966 when my parents, Rosel and Gus were just retired and had gone back for a 6 month retirement revisit of their home countries. We had their personal escort to visit their heritage and all the ‘then’ living relatives. Even then, both Muggensturm and Bernau were pretty subsistence ways of living. We had the experience in both places to visit ‘outhouses’ which were still in daily use. There were still pigs in their stalls raised for their meat as had been done for generations before. In Bernau, one of the relatives, ‘Walter’ and family lived in probably a 17th century farmhouse with low doorways and still had some rooms with dirt floors.

As we leave Muggensturm for now during this early time period we have one picture of Rosel (mom) which was taken in front of the homestead with her grandmother, sister, brother and some more Kottler / Lutz children just before Rosel left to go to Freiburg. She left to work for a wealth family, the Von Gleischenstein’s. The magic for her at that moment had just begun. Take a good look at her situation as she prepares to venture into the outside world.


      The Laubis name as I did my research was a very uncommon name, both here in the US as well as in Germany. During the years I did that research I did come in contact with an entire city in Ohio, named Kenton, where the name was as common as ‘Smith’. Most everyone else in the US stemmed from that set of roots. Their story will come in a later chapter. The Laubis family we are about to meet is my Father August, Gus, to most of the world and ‘Pop’ to me and my immediate family.

Pop was born and raised thru his younger years in a completely different social and economic environment than his wife ‘to be’ someday Rosel. His way of life’ having been raised in the city of Basel and having a simple life heritage not too far away in the Black Forest villages of Bernau and Hausern, would follow Gus and Rosel to their someday lifestyle in America. They both were of simple roots and never ever forgot who they were and from whence they came. Everyone who knew them, loved them. Here is some of Pop’s story in his youth.


Laubis Family 1

We begin with a family picture which I am guessing was taken when Pop was at around age twenty. I used the terms Groz Mutter and Vater because that is all I knew them by. They lived well on in years, but had passed on when I was still young. I never new much about Maria but Tante Hilda actually came to America in 1962 and attended our wedding. Her gift to us at the time was a handful of Gold Swiss coins which we still treasure. My Grozmutter’s maiden Name was ‘Herr’ which has the heritage back into Bernau and Hausern. Unfortunately all the work on my Grozvater Laubis is somewhere in this house. I have not come across it yet. (9/22 -Found it! so more coming later…) As I remember it though, it was in Freiburg and east though the Black Forest.  2/19/18 Even more info, look down at the end of the page!

5150The house in Basel was  a very nice and substantial one, Lynn and I saw it in 1966 trip. Pop’s father as was said earlier worked for the German Railway system which ended in Basel. At one point, he somehow lost one of his legs while at work. The German system cared for the family well and he continued employment on into his retirement.

        Pop was fortunate that the opportunity was there for obtaining a good education. He was trained in many aspects of technical work. There exists documents of certification in many fields. He brought these documents to America and had the US re-certify them so he could work in those areas where he had certification. He was also trained as a Chauffeur which eventually brought him to work for the wealth family, the Von Gleischenstein’s in Freiburg. There he met Rosel and rest comes in Chapter 3.

A class pic    25

57 32

It is time now though to introduce you to the life and times in Bernau and the Black Forest which Pop loved so much.


     This picture reflects bringing in the hay for winter storage. All in the picture are old relatives. When Lynn and I visited in 1966, the hay season was in full swing. The only difference in the picture would have been that the wagon was pulled by a tractor and there was a younger set of relatives. I helped for one day loading hay with pitchforks into wagons and into the barn loft and slept well as a result.

       Besides subsistence living, Bernau and surrounding communities provided tourist facilities winter and summer for those who could afford vacation from other parts of Germany. Even in ’66 when we were there, my relatives ran the ski facilities and lodges to support the visitors. Beautiful place, take a look.

The beautifully relaxed, easy living environment that exists there was just unbelievable for Lynn and I to imagine. We lived in one of those houses in the pictures for a few days during our visitation with Mom and Pop on their retirement trip in 1966. Pop loved his younger days here as these pictures attest.

Here is Pop in Bernau on their 1966 trip. You can see he is loving it all over again!

wappen[1]More of Pop’s relatives lived not far outside Bernau in a village of Hausern near the city of St. Blasian. They, as well as most if not all of my Bernau relatives, were from Grosmutter Herr’s family. This area is known as the “Hochschwarzwald’ or high black forest. mapLynn and I had the good fortune to visit there in 1966 and again when we were living in Germany in 1987. Our early on visit introduced us to the Herr relatives who were running a 5 star Hotel in Hausern.A Karl Herr Also at that time we had the opportunity to meet Karl Herr, who was a ‘Forestor’ or better know to us as a forest ranger. An early picture of Karl can be seen here. When we visited in 1987, the “Hotel Albtalblick” was run by the younger generation, Christa and Manfred Hammelehle. It was great to make their acquaintance and stay a few nights with them. The hotel’s pictures are also shown below.

Neither of those pictures, while elegant in their time, shows the current beauty and elegance of it today. (link) Albtalblick in Hausern! Use the < and > arrows to take you through the luxury. More pictures, one of Christa and Manfred’s wedding at the Hotel showing my Grosmutter Herr in attendance and one of Mom and Pop during their 1966 trip.

We are fortunate to have some 8mm Home movie clips of Mom & Pop’s trip back in 1966. It shows some film clips of their visit to Muggensturm (Mom’s Birthplace) and also of Bernau, Pop’s paradise growing up. Lynn and I are in some of it as well as Mom & Pop took us everywhere they could during our 10 day stay there with them. Of course , they were there for 6 months! Here is video Link====> 1966 trip back home.  If you look really close when the Bernau relatives are bringing in the hay, you can pick out Mom (Rosel-Oma) working the field of hay. Enjoy!

I recently after many years contacted Albtalblick to find out about the whereabouts of Christa and Manfred. I received a nice email back. here it is:

Dated 9/6/2017 By Cousin Christa Hammelehle

“Dear Hubert and Lynn, thank you for your mail.

We both are still alive. We are now 78 and 80 years old and still live in the
neighborhood of the Hotel Albtalblick. Now we do some easy work,
go traveling and visit our friends.     All the best for you both.
Christa & Manfred”

How fitting to end this chapter with pictures of Karl Herr’s memorial spring in the Hochschwarzwald. Pictures sent to us by Manfred & Christa many years previously. Here is the Family Crest for the ‘Herr Family’. There is also the story of the Herr Heritage in the 1200 -1600’s and included the presentation of the Crest to the family. The blue links in the PDF file called  Herr Family Crest 1 can be clicked.

A herr crest

More Follow on Comments Below!

9/22/2017 information addition by author Hubert

Thought this map would be interesting it shows the name Laubis has been around a long time.

A LaubismapHere is an item which  I just located that is interesting. There are in the Black Forest two places named after Laubis which are shown on this map. One is a tiny place called “Laubishof” and the other is a small mountain called “Laubiskopfle”. Check out the link for the village.

9/24/2017 as written by August (Gusti) Laubis in 2004. 

   A gusti oma (2)       I feel this is the right time for all of you to be introduced to my cousin Gusti Laubis. You see him on the extreme right in the website picture on top of the page. Gusti, on the left here, is my first cousin whom I only met when he migrated to the USA to join us in New York during the 1950’s. He was sponsored by Pop and Rosel and we welcomed him with open arms as a member of our family. Gusti, (RIP 10/6/2004) and Yvonne’s story called ‘OUR LIVES’ will appear in a later chapter. Gusti’s, opening paragraph of his story spells out the way it was growing up in Basel during the 1930’s. It paints a good picture of what Pop’s life might have been like in the City of Basel when he was growing up (1900 – 1920). Unlike their relatives living substantively on the farm in the Black Forest, they may have struggled more. It is certainly different than I thought it was after reading his writings here. Thank you Gusti! ……   Folks, as you read, remember this was way it was for Gusti in the 1930’s….


10/26/17 Contribution by Elizabeth Muller about Herr Family

Lizzy Muller 1I would like to introduce our distant cousin and granddaughter of Christa and Manfred Hammelehle, Elizabeth Muller. She is now known to us affectionately as “Lizzy”. She is with us carrying on the task of representing the family to our website. She just finished translating an older document which Christa had sent to me years ago when I inquired about the ‘HERR’ family way back in 1996. It shows the important connection between Christa & I on my paternal grandmother’s side of the Laubis-Herr family. Lizzy has been a great help so far and I look forward to her help again in the future as we progress further into this tribute website. Here is her recent note to me.

“Hi Hubert, Here is the translation I promised you of the letter sent to you by my grandmother Christa some time ago. Lizzy”

What follows is that note translation of what was  written by Christa from her knowledge of the Herr family to me back in 1996!

             “Dear Hubert, our connection is through Ignatz Herr and Nothburga, born Bregger, as they are your and my great-grandparents, so that is how we fit to each other in our family line.

Theresia Herr, daughter of Ignatz and Nothburga, is your grandmother. Ignatz Herr came from Horbach. Here is a little bit of history…..His brother had a restaurant called ‘Felsenkeller’ in St. Blasien and somehow got himself into debt. His brother Ignatz had vouched for him and as a result, got into debt trouble himself.  So, Ignatz then had to sell all their cows in the Bernau court auction.

He also owned a house in Bernau Innerlehen  also with a lot of debt. On that home place lived Sophia Herr, my grandmother, who married Josef Streit from Stockach. Very soon, because of an illness, Josef was bound to the wheel chair and thus the debts were erased by Paul, my father and Arnold my uncle. 

Bertha Herr, sister of your grandmother Theresia,  married a bricklayer named Maier, from Bernau. Their son, Emil Maier, emigrated to Chicago in the USA. Their daughter, Therese, married a Schelshorn. Theresia Herr married your grandfather Laubis.

Hilde, your aunt, born Laubis married a Strähl in Basel. They had a daughter named Rosmarie.

Gusti Laubis was raised by the Strahl’s. His mother, Maria, had died very early when he was very young.

Karl Herr from Horbach was a forester in St. Blasien. Ignatz Herr was his uncle from Horbach.

Hope that everything is right  so far, however, I will further investigate as soon as I meet with my cousin Annele Streit and together we will pursue the ancestor research. We wish best regards from the Black Forest and all the best for the forthcoming holidays for you and Lynn.

Best regards Christa

        2/19/2018 Additional Heritage Information on the Laubis – Herr Ancestry

Added by Author, Hubert Laubis 3/17/18

Through some more discovery work on the many files left by my father and mother, and with the help of Bill Varian our friend and a member of our support team who does ancestry work, we are putting up some more information on my Father’s ancestry history.
There is  an English translation link here called Marriage Records  and is very interesting to the life of our great grandmother back in the 1800’s. These details add more information to Christa’s notes above.

I also now have studio pictures of both and the details of birth and death dates. Grandmother Laubis was born Maria Theresia Herr on December 22, 1873 and died on Easter Sunday 1948 at age 75. She did not go by Maria, but chose to use her middle name Theresia. Grandfather was born Augustine Laubis on November 28, 1868 and died on July 27, 1943. at age also at age 75.

Interesting enough, Pop never saw his father again after coming to America but did make the voyage in 1945 to see his mother who was ill at the time. She passed in 1948!

Grandmother – Maria Theresia Herr and Grandfather Augustine Laubis


Use These Links to go Elsewhere on the site.

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Go Back to Chapter 1 to start this tour of our ancestors again.  ‘Let’s begin the tribute to Rosel & Gus’