OBERKALBACH, HESSEN, GERMANY
Village of My Berthold and Ullrich Ancestors
A Hero's Tale
During the 7-Year War, which raged from 1756 to 1763, a sergeant named Krieger from Kassel was quartered at the home of a farmer in Oberkalbach. Annie, the daughter of a neighbor named Weissmueller, had romantic feelings for the sergeant, but her father did not approve of the relationship. He scolded her and sometimes even beat her for meeting with the soldier.
One evening, when the sergeant and his host were having a good time drinking and laughing, they heard Annie's cries of pain from next door. Sergeant Krieger thought that Annie's father was beating her again on his account. "I'll shoot him," he decided, and attempted to go to her rescue. However, the door was barricaded. Determined, he leaped through a window and hurried toward Weissmueller's. As he approached, he heard whispering voices and footsteps. Then all became quiet.
In the living room he found father, mother and his beloved Annie, bound and gagged, lying on the floor. He freed them and listened to their tale. Robbers had broken in, overcome them and looted the house. Krieger had arrived just in time to prevent the thieves from stealing, among other things, 800 Gulden which the farmer had hidden in the brickwork of the chimney. They had escaped through the kitchen window.
Through this lucky circumstance, Sergeant Krieger now was regarded with great respect and gratitude by farmer Weissmueller, who no longer objected to his romantic interest in his daughter. He was invited to quarter in the home of the grateful father the very next day. In fact, Krieger married Annie and never left Oberkalbach at all. He later served as mayor of Oberkalbach for many years and was well-respected by the citizens.
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The Russian Soldiers
One morning in the early 1800's, the call "Cossacks are coming! Cossacks are coming!" resounded through the village. The Cossacks emerged from the forests and cut criss-cross over the farmers' fields on their small horses. They set up a camp nearby - huts of straw. Some of them camped within the village and built fires, which, fortunately, did not spread to cause any destruction.
The General went to the pastor and requested that the mayor come to talk to him. He asked the mayor for supplies for his troops, but the mayor indicated that there was no surplus that the villagers could provide. Not to be denied, the General signaled his men to take whatever they needed. Those watching could hardly believe the soldiers' barbaric behavior. They stole bread, milk, flour, fruit and clothing, as well as hay and straw from the villagers.
The young boys of the village visited the camp and became friendly with the soldiers, learned their Russian language, drank with them and bought from them things that the soldiers had stolen from people in their travels - red caps, leather pants with silk stitching, table cloths, etc. One afternoon, the Cossacks left as suddenly as they had come.
The villagers visited the deserted campsite. One of them found a bag with 50 Gulden in it. The others, thinking they also could be so lucky, went through the remains of the Cossacks' leftovers - through hay, straw, corn, flour, potatoes, etc. which lay everywhere in a terrible disarray. One lucky fellow found a silver watch, which was a treasured item in his family until the coming of the American soldiers in 1945. The watch is now somewhere in America.
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Watch Your Language!
During harvest time in Oberkalbach one fall, in the fields surrounding the village, young and old were industriously working to gather the dry hay into large piles in preparation for loading the wagons to bring the hay into the barns. The sky was getting darker with rain clouds and thunder resounded through the air.
The pastor, coming from an errand among his flock, was hurrying towards the vicerage in hopes of getting there before the cloudburst occurred. As he was passing an old farmer, he saw the need for a helping hand and assisted in loading the haywagon. Then he walked alongside the heavily laden wagon toward the village.
The road was bumpy and grooved and the wagon was in danger of tipping over. The farmer had all he could do to keep control. Suddenly the road began a decline, causing the wagon to go much faster than was safe. The farmer, in his predicament, yelled in a loud angry voice to the pastor, "Doggone it, Pastor, put the brakes on!"
Soon the brakes were doing their job, and the haywagon reached the barn before the first raindrops fell. The pastor, in a sweat, reached the vicerage, smiling at the memory of a sheep of his flock losing his composure and loudly commanding his pastor, not out of disrespect, but out of the need of the moment.
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The above tales were included in the 1967 publication "800 Jahre Oberkalbach", the festival booklet of the 800 year celebration of the official first mention of the village name in written history. The translation is my own.
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