Have you ever been haunted by old family pictures that hung on the wall at Grandma’s house. They ache to tell a story, but no one has enough information to unravel that story. My wife’s brother remembers those pictures at their Minto Township farm. One picture is of the construction of a large building and the other depicts an old homestead. After many years, the mystery has been solved and a new family connection has been discovered.
In the mid 1800s, the farming area near Ayton, Neustadt, Molke, and Mildmay become home to many immigrants from Germany. Family pictures just like these were brought from far away places and they were handed down through the family over the years. It so happened that a copy of one of these pictures followed family members to the United States and, until recently, it had remained an enigma to that family.
A couple of years ago, Will Reimer of Pewaukee Wisconsin discovered some writing behind his copy of this picture which led him to Breckendorf, Germany. Will’s curiosity and the “Internet” led him to the local phonebook to look for the surname Reimer and to contact every one by that name. He was hoping to find some information about the picture. To his surprise, within weeks an email was received from Herr Heinrich Reimer confirming that he was the current owner of the building in the picture. The building had been built by his grandfather as a “Bahnhof Hötel” (station hotel) and Heinrich had operated the hotel until a few years earlier. The picture led to a reunion of family members who had never before been introduced.
Heinrich’s brother, Peter, and wife Heidi, were also looking to update the Reimer family tree which chronicled the family from the early 1700s. While she had records of family emigration to America in the mid 1800s, the tree branches had sprouted few roots since that time and Heidi had traced ancestors’ emigration to Canada and the United states and was seeking family contacts. One of her curiosities was an old picture of a family homestead somewhere in Canada.
German shipping records determined that Catharina Reimer had emigrated to Canada around 1853 and census taken about that time indicated that she had settled near Neustadt, in Normanby Township and had married a Carl Holm, who was also from that region in Germany. A further search resulted in a connection between the Reimer’s of Germany and Wisconsin and the Holm family of Grey County. As the family tree began to blossom, it also connected the Feick family of Ayton and Minto Township. This chance meeting because of an old picture brought many Reimer family members together and a family history was published by Will Reimer including pictures and genealogy information. The curiosity of the homestead picture was solved, it was of the Holm farm near Neustadt where Catharina had settled.
Since then, the first Reimer reunion was held in Wisconsin, and on August 2011, members of the Holm and Feick families gathered at Noah’s Inn in Neustadt to welcome the Reimer family from Germany and to spend some time visiting the original homestead of Catherina Reimer and the surrounding country to where these German pioneers had settled. The day was a tremendous success and it was announced that a Reimer Reunion was being planned for 2012 in Mobile Alabama, where another branch of the family had emigrated from Germany.
Curiousity about an old family picture, assisted by the internet, interest in family history and the inquisitiveness of one man resulted in the successful meeting of distant relatives and solving of the mystery of old pictures after almost 150 years. Maybe an opportunity awaits you in your old family albums.