Village of My Berthold and Ullrich Ancestors
Year Event
826 first mention of Oberkalbach in written history
1167 official year of first mention of Oberkalbach in written history
1348 Black Death in Europe
1407 plague and harsh winter in whole area
1596 Calvinism (Reformed Religion) becomes dominant religion in this area
1618 Beginning of 30-Year War in Germany
1632 65 families live in Oberkalbach, among them 7 widows
1634 destructive fire during war; vicerage, parish records, and the greater part of the village are burned
1648 end of the 30-Year War
1653 34 households; before the War there were 70 households
1654 parish records were started again
1658 harsh winter in which many animals and people froze to death
1696 harsh winter
1698 41 Reformed families, 5 widows
1705 39 Reformed families, 2 Lutherans, 1 Catholic, 2 widows
1720 harsh winter
1737 new vicerage built
1763 some area residents accept Catherine the Great's invitation to colonize Russia
1770 first house numbers assigned; 65 houses
1813 17 Oberkalbachers take part in the war against Napoleon
1817 Kaiser Friedrich II requires the Reformed and the Lutheran churches to merge
1846 potato famine in the area is the cause of considerable emigration to America
1847 788 inhabitants (786 Lutherans, 2 Catholics). Of these, 382 are farmers and have animals, 200 work as daylaborers, 185 work as skilled laborers, 15 receive assistance from the state, 6 receive assistance from the church and the state.
1850 new church is built
1875 new cemetery begun
1885 808 inhabitants
1888 new school house built; two classrooms; two teacher quarters
1907 running water system built
1910 114 residences; 136 families; 325 males, 362 females; 687 total; 686 Lutheran; 1 Catholic
1914-1918 WW I; 20 Oberkalbach soldiers died; 3 missing
1917 618 inhabitants; 247 males; 371 females
1930 electricity installed in the church
1939 546 inhabitants
1939-1945 WW II; 35 Oberkalbach soldiers died; 18 missing
1943-1944 98 refugees taken in from Offenbach, Hanau and Frankfurt am Main for protection from the heavy bombing in the big cities
1945 5 April - U.S. troops come through Oberkalbach, damage 6 homes, 33 businesses; 70 people were left homeless, 6 were killed, 59 animals burn to death; the pastor negotiates with the troops and the devastation stops
1946 748 inhabitants, incl. refugees from Poland, Hungary and other eastern countries
From 1948 to 1967, a sports center was built, the dirt streets were paved in asphalt, and additional water lines were added.  The streets were named and new house numbers were assigned.  A refrigeration facility was built for use by 3 communities.  But by 1967, there were fewer than 600 inhabitants.  There were 55 students in the local school in grades 1 through 6.  Those in grades 7 through 9 attended school in Mittelkalbach.

Reasons for the declining population in Oberkalbach in this century include the lack of opportunities for gainful employment, a result of the industrial revolution,  as well as
 the inability of farmers to support  their families as the land was divided into smaller and smaller portions through inheritance.  Some families moved to Westphalia and the Ruhr.  In the beginning of the 20th century, several families left for the area around Hanau and Frankfurt am Main.  By 1967, only 12 full time farmers remained, as well as 1 blacksmith, 1 bricklayer, 2 whitewashers, 1 saddler, 1 shoemaker, 1 tailor, 1 butcher and 6 merchants.  The remainder of the wage earners still living in Oberkalbach worked elsewhere.

In the past, each small village had its own town government.  In 1971, many of these were consolidated.  Oberkalbach was consolidated with Eichenried, Heubach, Mittelkalbach, Niederkalbach, Uttrichshausen and Veitsteinbach.  As a result of this consolidation, the area comprised of these villages is now called Kalbach, but each village still has its own identity on a map. Each one has a sign indicating which village you are entering. The approximate population of Kalbach today is 6155.

In 1999, Oberkalbach no longer displayed the poverty that I recall seeing when I  visited there as a child.  This community and others in the area had undertaken a project called "Unser Dorf Soll Schoener Werden".  In English that means:  "Our Town Will Become More Beautiful."  The village has had a wonderful renewal.  All streets have been paved and sidewalks constructed.  Fences are mended and homes remodeled. The air is fresh.  City-dwellers drive here to enjoy this lovely area and peaceful setting.  Oberkalbachers are rightly proud of the beautiful transformation.  In June 1999, while I was visiting, a street fest was held to celebrate the attainment of these beautification goals.

In recent years, the population of the village has been building up again.  Dirk Frohberg, a native Oberkalbacher, wrote to me to share his ideas of the reasons for this trend.  He feels that since the Berlin Wall crumbled and this area became more the heart of the land instead of being on the edge of it, new markets have opened up for doing business with Thueringen, the sister state of Hessen.  The building of the nearby Autobahn 66, as well as commuter accessability to the high speed express trains in Fulda, have made it possible for workers in the cities, tired of crowding, noise and ugly buildings, to move back to this and other nearby smaller villages.

Copyright 2000-2008 by Sue Foster.  Please contact me for permission to copy.  I would love to know why this information interests you.  :-)