Who would have known a hopeful posting on a genealogy website could have started all this!
In 2003 Caron Primas Brennan, an avid family researcher near Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., received an email from Franciska Diehl Sundholm, another avid family researcher in Helsinki, Finland, concerning a posting of Caron's on a genealogy web site. Within a few minutes a “brick wall” was broken down.
Caron had been searching for a family from Norway by the name of Diehl, which was a German surname. She knew her great-great-grandfather was Adolf Adam Diehl, born in Germany, who had married Inger Marie Enger, born in Norway . Adolf and Inger had 5 known children; the youngest was Sigurd Adolph Diehl who came to Chicago about 1886. Sigurd Adolph Diehl was Caron's great-grandfather. That was as much information as she could find to that time.
Franciska had been searching for a family from Norway by the name of Diehl as well. She knew her great-great-grandfather was Adolf Adam Diehl married to Inger Sophie Enger, living in Norway with six children. The second oldest child was Fredrik Diehl, a photographer who lived in Stockholm , Sweden, and then in Wiborg, Finland. Frederik Diehl was Franciska's great-grandfather.
In their correspondence, Franciska and Caron learned that Frederik and Sigurd, who was known in Chicago as Adolph, were brothers, and sons of Adolf and Inger from Norway. They corresponded by email sharing family history information for a year, then Franciska announced that she would host a Family Gathering in Helsinki Finland in July 2005. She had made contact with many Diehls in Sweden and Finland, as well as the US and Canada and invited all to her home in Helsinki. Caron and her sister, Donna, decided to go to the Family Gathering and meet all the relatives they never knew existed!
About two months before the event, Franciska sent a message to Caron with amazing, almost unbelievable news! She had traced Adolf Adam Diehl to his birthplace in Germany, a little town named Butzbach. She was in contact with Hildegarde (Hilde) Diehl, who is the last person in Butzbach to carry the Diehl name. Hilde wrote that her great-great-grandfather Christoffer Dietrich Diehl (1760-1814) was the uncle (brother of the father) of Bernhard Diehl (1775-1851), who in turn is the father of Adolf Adam Diehl. Hilde knew of Adolf Diehl's emigration to Norway, and had tried to trace relatives in Norway without any luck.
Hilde Diehl's nephew, Alfred Häuser, promised a German delegation would attend the Family Gathering in Helsinki. He and his aunt were very surprised to learn they had relatives in Finland, Sweden, the U.S. and England !
The Family Gathering in Helsinki brought together about 50 Diehl relatives, many whom had never met each other prior to arrival. Everyone had a wonderful time and was very happy when Alfred and Hilde extended an invitation for all to come to Butzbach for another gathering in June 2007.
In between the gatherings, much family information has been shared and more research continues in Europe and the USA. Franciska has authored and shared a lengthy family history paper.
At the second Diehl Family Gathering in Butzbach, Germany in 2007, the 56 attendees were made to feel like a “big deal.” The family members were invited on special tours of the town and the town museum to see sites and artifacts related to their ancestors, a local historian and genealogist gave a lecture about the family at the family dinner, and there were stories and pictures in the local newspaper. Near the end of the family dinner on the final day of the gathering, Donna Primas asked “Would any of you come to Chicago in 2009 for another Family Gathering?” The answer, in several languages, was a resounding “Yes!” Plans are now under way for the Diehl Family Gathering in Chicago July 31 through August 2, 2009.
DIEHL HOUSE SIGN ( Hausmarke - Auf Deutsch unten )
(Edited from information sent by Alfred Diehl to Franciska Sundholm on May 21, 2005)
The Diehl family has a symbol, which can be seen here. It is not a “coat of arms” (called a Wappen in German), which is reserved for the nobility and could be registered even today.
In the German language, the Diehl family symbol is more correctly called a Hausmarke. A translation of this term into English is difficult. The best I found is “house mark,” “house sign” or “mark of ownership”.
I was looking for an English translation for quite some time and came across the terms in a Genealogical Dictionary. ( German-English Genealogical Dictionary by Ernest Thode . Gebundene Ausgabe - Genealogical Publishing Company, Erscheinungsdatum: April 2000, ISBN: 0806313420. )
“Marks of ownership” are historically older than coats of arms and were used to mark possessions (such as tools) and even animals (such as cattle)! “House signs” are a type of “mark of ownership”. Sometimes these ,arks are identical to each other and sometimes there are variations. House signs are simpler in design and not coloured as compared to coats of arms.
Here is a bit more explanation of the German text. The Diehl Hausmarke we use was found on book containing the bills ( Stadtrechnungen ) paid by the town of Butzbach in 1504. In that year Emerich Diehl was one of two mayors of Butzbach and the house signs of both mayors was embossed on the leather cover. This Emerich Diehl is the Diehl first mentioned in Butzbach, where a proven connection to our ancestors exists.
So you see, Butzbach is worth visiting for Diehl descendants!
HAUSMARKE (auf Deutsch)
(Herausgegeben von Informationen, die von Alfred Diehl zu Franciska Sundholm am 21. Mai 2005)
Haus- und Hofmarke: Im Laufe der Zeit erbliches, geometrisches, geradliniges Zeichen, das einer Person oder Familie (=Haus) zur Kennzeichnung von Besitz, Werkzeug, etc. dient und manchmal auch wie ein Wappen verwendet wird. Wenn die Hausmarke bei einem Besitzerwechsel auch auf den neuen Besitzer übergeht, so spricht man von einer Hofmarke .
Wappen: Bleibende Bildkennzeichen eines Geschlechtes, selten auch einer Einzelperson. Dargestellt unter Benutzung der mittelalterlichen Abwehrwaffen (Schild und Helm mit Helmdecke und Helmzier) nach bestimmten Regeln.
Die Bedeutung der Hausmarken
Hausmarken haben eine lange Geschichte. Sie tauchten vor dem erscheinen der Wappen auf und sind mit diesen verwandt. Man nennt sie auch Familienzeichen oder Besitzzeichen und sie haben, im Gegensatz zu den Wappen, keinen kriegerischen Ursprung. Damals dienten sie den Leuten, die des Schreibens unkundig waren als Möglichkeit, ihr Eigentum und ihre Güter zu kennzeichnen. Die Hausmarken waren wirklich für die Person repräsentativ und wurden auch zur Bekräftigung von Verträgen benutzt. Das Merkmal dieser Kennzeichen ist, dass sie einfache Linienzeichen sind. Die Besitzzeichen verschwanden mit der Verbreitung der Schrift oder wurden durch Monogramme ersetzt. Im Gegensatz zu den Familienwappen waren diese Hausmarken nur an den ältesten Sohn vererbbar. Die anderen Söhne mussten die Hausmarke erweitern. Die Hausmarken wurden mit dem Aufkommen des Wappens von Bürgern, Bauern und Handwerkern auch als Wappenzeichen übernommen.
Vereinzelt begegnen uns bereits im Mittelalter Wappen nichtadeliger Familien, z.B. in Gestalt von Bauernwappen oder Hausmarken. Das Recht zur Führung eines Wappens ist seit dem 13. Jahrhundert nicht mehr auf den Adel beschränkt. Geistliche, Bürger, Handwerker und Bauern haben seit dieser Zeit ebenfalls Wappen bzw. Hausmarken geführt und von dem Recht zur Wappenannahme und Wappenführung in oft großem Umfang Gebrauch gemacht.