Othmarsingen is a small town with a population of a couple thousand. It is about an hour from Zurich. This is the town where my great-grandmother, Susan Marti, was born, and my Swiss ancestors lived here for uncounted generations. There were Martis living here all the way back into the town's early history in the Middle Ages. There are still many Martis who live here, and I suppose if you trace their genealogy back far enough, we are all related.
Werner and I stayed for two weeks in the family home that had been built by his parents (in the 1950's, I believe). As I mentioned in an earlier post, Werner's father passed away in 2010. His mother had been in nursing home for several years due to a stroke. The house was vacant, but Werner would return here to stay on his frequent visits to Switzerland. This year, his mom passed away. (I am so glad that I had an opportunity to meet her during my stay in Othmarsingen.) Werner and his siblings have decided to hang on to the house. This past summer, Werner had the house completely renovated. It was a very nice, large, comfortable place before; now it is even nicer. Werner hopes to rent it out as a vacation rental. Othmarsingen is not a center of tourism, but hopefully its location close to Zurich (where prices are sky-high) will generate some interest. Werner still wants to be able to return there when he is in Switzerland... and, of course, I hope to stay there too on future visits.
Werner's family home
View of Othmarsingen from the balcony of the house.
My first morning in Othmarsingen, the first place that I wanted to visit was the town's church, where my great-grandmother had been baptized. It is a beautiful little church, inside and out, that was built in 1675
We had figured out in which house my great-grandmother was born. It is on the edge of town, and is now owned by an elderly gentleman who is not a Marti. Werner called him, and arranged a visit to the house. The gentleman, frail of health and with a long white beard, was very kind. He reminded me of the grandfather in "Heidi". He showed us a stone from the original oven. It was inscribed with the date 1742. We don't know if the Marti family lived there all those years, but it proves that the house is very old. Originally the house had a thatched roof, and it was one of the last houses in Othmarsingen to have one.
I also made contact with Niklaus, the town councilman who was responsible for finding the link to my Swiss family. I took him and Werner out for supper at a restaurant not far from town. I was a real pleasure to meet him face to face.
During my stay in Othmarsingen, I met most of Werner's family. Of course they are my cousins too. I met his brother and sisters, his nephew, and two cousins and their families. Everyone treated me with great hospitality and kindess. I had many emotional moments in Othmarsingen... seeing the house where my great-mother was born, and the church where she was baptized. But probably the most emotional moment, which literally had me in tears, was when we went to visit Werner's aunt Sophie. She pulled out the family photos, and amongst them was a family portrait of my great-great-grandparents and their children. I can't describe the feeling when I looked into the faces of those ancestors! Susan, my great-grandmother, is the young girl seated on the left, next to her mother. From the date on the photograph, this picture was taken after they immigrated to Ohio. They must have gone to a studio in Berea and had a family portrait taken so that they could send it to the family back in Switzerland!