FORT LORAMIE – Poeppelman Legacy Day, held on Sept. 8 in Fort Loramie and Steinfeld, Germany, was a huge success.
In Ohio, more than 450 people attended a luncheon and were able to meet many relatives from around the state and other parts of the country. Guests in attendance traveled from other states including Tennessee, Georgia, Indiana and Arizona. Other local attendees were surprised to see other people they have known for years but did not know they were related.
A highlight of the day was the live connection with 40 family members who traveled to Northwest Germany to meet with Poppelmanns in Germany. During the connection, Heinrich and Angelika Poppelmann, who live at the ancestral home, were hosts to the 40 Americans and thrilled to observe the festivities in Fort Loramie.
In Ohio, the event started with a prayer in English led by the Rev. David Zink and following that via Skype in Germany the same prayer was said in German to the family members who were attending the German dinner.
The day brought together all lines of the family from the six children of Heinrich and Catherina who lived to adulthood. The six original children were John Henry, who was a Civil War veteran, Maria Hilgefort, Bernard Poeppelman, Clemens Poeppelman, Jacob Fritz Poeppelman and Josephine Drees. Today, many descendants live in the area, but many are spread around the country.
Many people did not know each other but because of the color of shirts or labels (by line of the family), many people met strangers from their own family line. Each of the six lines of the families wore the color representing the respective line. Comments included, “I didn’t know we were related,” and “It’s great to meet you.”
Melvin Poeppelman, a great-great-grandson of Heinrich, served as master of ceremonies in Ohio and his brother Dave served as master of ceremonies in Germany. Melvin created artwork of the homesteads of each line of the family that were auctioned, and many family heirlooms including the original trunk that Heinrich traveled with from Germany in 1837 were presented as well.
Later, many visited the five legacy farms and the Egypt, Fort Loramie and Minster cemeteries where the ancestors are buried. The day finished at the Arrowhead Golf Course, which was originally the farm of Josephine (a daughter of Heinrich Poeppelman) and her husband, Bernard Drees, a Civil War veteran.
Highlights of the trip to Germany included the following:
• Visit to the ancestral home of the Poppelmanns located in Grandorf, Germany. This is the present day home of Heinrich and Angelika Poppelmann. The property has been in the family name for more than 700 years.
• Visit to the Emigration Museum in Bremerhaven. This is the port where thousands of Germans left to come to America from the 1820s to the early 1900s including the Poeppelman family and the majority of other local families.
• Tours of the Heritage Village located in Cloppenburg, Germany. This museum/village recreates a village and homes that existed during the early 1800s in Germany and helps to understand the conditions of the local people at that time.
• Visit to the Poppelmann GmBh Co. located in Lohne, Germany. This is a successful company that has operated in the plastics industry for the past 70 years. It is privately held by the family. A tour was provided by the company along with a buffet luncheon.
• Visit to the Catholic Church located in Damme, Germany. This is the church that the ancestors who immigrated to the United States attended prior to their departure to the United States.
• Other visits on the Legacy Tour were to the cities of Munster, Bremen and Osnabruck and to the ancestral homes of the Enneking, Winner, Prenger and Bornhorst/Bruns families.
The event has been a life-long dream for Diane (Poeppelman) O’Connor, who originally traveled to Germany as an exchange student in 1974.
“During that trip, I was able to obtain a document of Poeppelman family history dating back to the 1200s when our ancestor, who was a serf, was involved in saving the archbishop of Osnabruck’s life when he was attacked by highway robbers,” O’Connor said. “For his bravery, he was granted his freedom and was able to own land and build a life for himself. This history has piqued a life-long love for family history and genealogy. The trip and Legacy Day were successful beyond my expectations, and I want to thank everyone who made this possible.”
Artifacts of the Poeppelman family will be on display at the Versailles Area Historical Society located at 552 S. West St., Versailles, beginning Oct. 13 through Dec.15 on Sunday afternoons. A special wine and cheese celebration open to the public will be held from 1-4 p.m. Nov. 10. During the event, highlights of the legacy trip to Germany will be shared along with the historical items. The event is open to the public.
For those interested in obtaining additional copies of the family booklet that were passed out on Legacy Day, copies will be available for $5 each by contacting Mark Poeppelman at email@example.com.