Further to our previous genealogy pub discussion here, the Seattle Times recently published a travel essay - "In a German pub, genealogy takes living, breathing form" - by Jan Burak Schwert.
A funny thing happened to Schwert and her husband as they were rooting for ancestors around Konstanz, Germany.
A man walked into the German restaurant, and my jaw hit the floor. I'd never seen the man before. It was my husband.
But let's begin at the beginning ...
My husband, Ron, and I had traveled to Konstanz, Germany. Ron was on the trail of his German ancestors. He disappeared into the archives office as soon as we arrived, while I set off to explore Konstanz, a city of ancient buildings and tangled passageways. Every once in a while I pictured my husband stuck in a dark, dusty cellar, surrounded by cobwebs and ancestral records.
I was sunbathing when Ron caught up with me.
"There you are," he said, barely able to contain himself. "You won't believe this. I found out where the Schwerts are buried in Binningen, only 20 miles from here."
The next morning we took off in the rain, looking for the tiny ancestral village among rolling hills and farmland. When we located Binningen and its Catholic church, Ron leapt out and headed for the cemetery. He returned a half-hour later, having spotted five Schwert graves.
As the couple were leaving, they passed a gasthaus (pub) and decided to celebrate. As they walked in, everyone became silent. The waitress took their beer order and asked if there was anything else.
"Well," said Ron, "I'm looking for information about the Schwert family. Do you know ... "
Sylvia questioned the men in German. They came alive, talking and nodding emphatically. "They're saying you look like a Schwert," reported Sylvia.
"I do?" he asked, astonished.
Pub owner Jesse made a phone call, then said, "Don't worry, he's coming over."
"Who?" said Ron.
We looked at each other, speechless. I thought my husband was going to burst.
Read more to find out more about Ron's doppelgänger (twin) who arrived with his family chart at the ready, proving they shared a great-great grandfather.
Imagine if the couple had simple ordered their beers, drunk up and left without a bit of conversation?
Schwert ends with "When a name on a document came to life, I finally understood the magic of genealogy."