So I, like most genealogists, have a “brick wall.” An ancestor whose forbears remain completely unknown to me due to lack of information. It’s super-frustrating.

I am looking for the parents of John Post, who was born in 1856 and emigrated from Neidenburg, Prussia (today it’s Nidzica, Poland). Naturalized US citizen in 1897. His wife’s name was Anna Meredith. He’s my great-great-grandfather.

Here’s the problem. There’s a family story (there always is) that John Post was one of three brothers who lost their parents somehow and went to live with another family, taking on the name of Post. No one knows what their original name was. Grandma Post says “Oh, I think Herman Post knew what it was” but of course Herman Post is no longer with us and hasn’t been since 1972. According to Grandma, the name sounded something like “Rexie.” That is totally not anyone’s actual name and doesn’t sound German OR Polish.

I asked on the Polish Genealogy Facebook group and someone suggested the name Reksa and said there were Reksas living in the area where John Post came from. Which is HUGE AND EXCITING. I haven’t followed up on it yet but finally, a clue!! I wonder where it will lead…

John Post and Anna Meredith

a year later and where am i at?

it seems i only post here once a year; wonder why i even have this anymore. the “about me” page needs major updating.

so i got that english horn. ended up that we paid it off altogether so i didn’t have to deal with layaway payments. that was maybe in march? it’s lovely, has a crack but it was well-repaired. old old rigoutat from like the 50s-60s. carlos coelho was like “what IS this thing?” when i brought it to him at oboe camp in july. he fixed up a sticky pad for me and all is peachy keen. i’m too lazy to link to him, but he’s quite notable and it was a treat to see him.

yes, i went to oboe camp. geekiest thing ever. it was pretty awesome. we made reeds for like three hours each day. played in small ensembles and one big one with everyone. still playing with ACWE, no other groups anymore. i’m busy. now studying with andrew parker at UT (kind of a big deal) but i’m a slacker on practicing. today would be a good day to do that.

burned out hard after the east austin studio tour in november 2014 and didn’t paint for nearly a year. did some new stuff for EAST 2015 but still haven’t been working much. my art blog remains untouched as well, though i should post as i’m now looking for a new studio mate; mine is moving out of our totally ghetto space. good for her, she needs a bigger place than just half of a room.

still a barista. still at RLM pushing a button on an old and dying superautomatic machine. can’t even remember how long i’ve been there. three years probably. let my barista guild membership lapse. coffee is no longer a career prospect. yes, i’m bitter about it. it seems none of the hip specialty shops in austin want a 45-year-old female barista, even a guild level 2 one. wtf. so yeah, done with that. i’ll stay at RLM until i think of something else. no idea what that “else” might be. getting closer to 50, still a barista.

but i can’t complain. i have a roof over my head and good health insurance. i am protected and loved. it’s all good.

english horn

i am posting everywhere i can think of. i need to either buy a used english horn or find one to rent from now until may. really really want one. a lot.

bipolar story

i keep meaning to tell my bipolar story. so here, finally.

at the very end of my sixth grade year my family moved to a new home that was outside our school district. i continued to go to the old school in april and may and then started at the new school that fall. Thirteen, what a wonderful age to change schools at. oh dear god. it was every bit as awful as you might think. i was the smart kid and kinda funny-looking and didn’t have any friends, etc. really quite ostracized for the first few years there.

that was about the same time that i noticed my bipolar symptoms. crippling depressions, manic rages that no one saw as i lived it all out in the confines of my bedroom and my own head. i turned to mild self-harm for a while as i couldn’t come up with an explanation for all the pain i was feeling, so much deeper than others seemed to feel. wanted a reason to feel such pain so i gave myself one.

fortunately i didn’t have access to drugs; alcohol never appealed to me much. and i was a Good Kid [tm]. any major acting out occurred in the dramas with the few friends i did have.

i knew this was something serious, and i suspected it was bipolar disorder. but when you’re a 15, 16 year old girl, nobody’s gonna believe you when you tell them you think you’re bipolar. just drama, just teen angst, learn to control your emotions. started seeing a counselor at school who, though very engaging and friendly, was utterly of no help.

i got through my high school years without incident, amazingly enough. i was deathly afraid of my parents’ potential reaction to whatever was wrong with me, so i hid it inside, locked away like a top secret file. didn’t dare do anything drastic. i was terrified they’d “institutionalize” me.

i got to college and the disease only got worse, mostly huge depressions but once in a while a manic rush here and there. it was a religious school and i was studying theology — mainly because i was manic and wanted to “glorify god with my intellect” — and my peers had me convinced that some sort of spiritual warfare was going on and that satan was trying to keep me away from the joy of christ. yeah, really. so, no help there. prayed so hard and so much to have it all taken away from me, to no response. i was high on jesus the first two years but during the first week of my junior year i realized everything i was doing was wrong, wrong, wrong. i had screwed up my future in a colossal way and i had no idea what to do.

fall of my senior year was the worst. i had realized that my theology degree was going to get me nowhere — i had never planned on going into ministry but had vague ideas about an M.Div from some seminary and then going into teaching, but nothing ever came of that. i couldn’t imagine surviving on my own. terrified of ending up living in a cardboard box somewhere in some seedy part of minneapolis. couldn’t possibly imagine any sort of work that would give me a decent living considering all the student loans i had.

i went down, down, down. i played oboe in the concert band, and oboists need sharp instruments such as razor blades and knives to trim their reeds and such. so during rehearsal one night i had a razor blade out, gently tracing over the lines in my left hand instead of playing. the other oboist was horrified and unsure what to do. i managed to contain myself for the rest of the rehearsal and then went into the band director’s office, hiding under his TA’s desk and sobbing. for an hour.

my friend kim, also in the band, watched over me. eventually she said “look, i love you very much, but sometimes i think you need to go to the hospital.” as i could see it, the only choices available to me were to either go to the hospital or go home and slit my wrists. do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

i chose the hospital.

i was there for seven days, not very well cared for. they recognized my depression, but that was all they saw — put me on prozac and after a week had passed they sent me home.

i took incompletes for the fall semester and made them up during the one-month “january term” between fall and spring semesters. my professors were all very sympathetic and understanding. the art department had sent me flowers while i was in hospital.

being in the hospital meant that my parents had to find out about my mental illness, which mortified me. my mom didn’t take it very well and didn’t really get that mental illness was actually a real thing and not just excessive drama. dad was just quiet and worried. they said later “we always knew something was wrong but we didn’t want to say anything and make you angry.” yes, i grew up in minnesota, can you tell?

my plans for taking the GRE and going to graduate school fell through. there was no way i was going to be able to prepare for the test that year, so i never did take it, never did go to grad school. i put my nose to the grindstone, finished spring semester by the skin of my teeth and then graduated.

i found the cheapest apartment i could get that wasn’t technically subsidized housing. i temped for a while, struggling to pay my student loans, struggling through the depression without any health insurance. couldn’t afford the prozac. i remember my dad trying to help me find some sort of social security help, but i couldn’t go into the building. i walked by it and couldn’t open the door. not that it was locked. i just. couldn’t. open it. he paid for my prozac for several months.
i was so suicidal. so so very very suicidal. but despite it all i have never once attempted it. too afraid. afraid of failing, afraid of god’s wrath. i sat in my quiet office cubicle and thrashed around in my mind for something to hold on to. nothing worked.

i got a credit card and developed a taste for fancy scotch. the depression turned around into mania and i got super promiscuous and super drunk rather often. one night i was at my friend amanda’s place visiting and as i left she told me she thought i had a drinking problem. this totally horrified me and my thoughts whirled around in my head a thousand miles an hour. drinking problem?? that’s some serious shit, man. what do i do, where do i go, i can’t be alone right now. i called my friend bill from a pay phone (remember those?) and said i need somewhere to go, i can’t control myself, will you take me in… he very kindly obliged and so i went downtown to his apartment.

i was in what we call a “mixed state,” manic and depressive at the same time, changing by the minute, laughing and crying and laughing and crying… bill had severe OCD and depression himself, and so he got on the phone to his doctor and was asking him advice on how to keep me safe through the night. i was on his futon going completely out of my mind while he patiently watched from the other side of the room, checking in with his doctor every hour or two.

in the morning he took me to the community health clinic that he went to himself. doctor listened to my story and he goes, “sounds like bipolar disorder to me.”

oh. my. god. VALIDATION. the reason i had been searching for, the reason for all my pain, suddenly appeared before me like an angel. oh my god, you take me seriously, i can’t believe it, this is amazing, THANK YOU. i was 23, having gone it alone since i was 14.

the community health place set me up with a doctor — thankfully i’d found a steady job with insurance earlier that year — and sent me away without charging me any money. i went to the doctor as soon as i could and was prescribed depakote, a mood stabilizer, to take along with my prozac.

it wasn’t the perfect drug, but it sorta made a difference. years went by and we tried lots of different drugs to see which one was best — i didn’t really truly stabilize until i moved to massachusetts in 1997 and found a doctor who got just the right mix of antidepressants and mood stabilizers to keep me level and sane.

i’ve had episodes here and there since then, one major one in 2006 when the first doctor i had in texas messed with my effexor dosage so bad it sent me into huge mania (and nearly destroyed my marriage) and then the deepest depression i have ever ever known. had to switch doctors and advocate for myself even though i was at the lowest point i had ever been. but the doctor i changed to has been the best one i’ve ever had, and i can say today that i have never felt better. i take six different drugs; four antidepressants, a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic. it’s a lot but it works and i’m not about to mess with it.

my life is really pretty normal. been happily married for 16 years. i’m an artist with a part-time barista job. at 43 i’ve become the person i was meant to be and i’m stable and happy. there are ups and downs but they are quickly dealt with and i spend most of my time in a very good place. i am a lucky, lucky person, and thankful for every day that i have.

Kienholz legends

Kienholz is a small part of the town of Brienz.

Kienholz is a small part of the town of Brienz. Photo by Andrew Bossi, used under Creative Commons License CC BY-SA 2.5


There are a million versions of this story, but they all contain the same main points: The village of Kienholz was buried by a landslide, an old man and a boy survive in a pub cellar on wine and cheese for years until a curious dog starts digging; excavation starts and they find the old man who dies three days later. The boy survives and they change his name to Kienholz.

That’s the short story. Here are two longer versions that I received from my aunt years ago. They were typewritten and photocopied a million times over; I ran them through an OCR scanner and cleaned them up… [brackets] indicate where the original was blurred and so I filled in the blanks with the obvious choices.






(Copied from the Bigstone, S.D. “Headlight” about 1880 )

Over four hundred years ago in a small but freedom-loving land of Switzerland, there was situated in the highlands of the province of Berne, on the northeastern slope of a mountain that rose from the shore of the deep Lake of Brienz to a height of nearly 2,000 feet, the village of Kienholz, an earthly paradise, surrounded by fruitful fields and meadows bright with flowers. The most magnificent fruit such as apples, currants, cherries, etc., grew luxuriantly. A failure of the harvest was altogether out of the ordinary, for large forests of fir and pine surrounded the isolated community forming, as it were, a beautiful green room which protected ti fruit from the raw cold winds that would often have damaged it. In these forests, too, were many turpentine trees, from which torches were secured to furnish light for the village. These torches burned with a very bright flame and for a long time. This circumstance gave the village and the surrounding community the name of Kienholz”, as the trees from which these torches were made, were known as “Kienholz”. The town bears the same name yet today.

To the north of the village towers a snow-capped mountain, its slopes broken by two tablelands, called Giebelegg and Gammen. Just between these two plateaus, high up near the peak of the mountain, a large spring bubbled forth, and gaining volume as it rushed downward, formed a brook of crystal clear-ness, flowing through the village and supplying it, both winter and summer, an abundance of clear sparkling water. In short, the people of Kienholz had nothing to be desired and believed themselves hidden as it were, in a Zoar. But they were soon to learn that safety is only where the wings of divine Providence are outspread.

One day the little brook suddenly ceased flowing, causing great distress to the inhabitants of the village, owing to the sudden cutting off of the water supply. To be sure the Lake of Brienz lay only three quarters of a mile away but considerable difficulty was encountered in carrying the water from there. This then was an earnest warning from a neglected Providence to the inhabitants, who considered themselves so secure in their little paradise spot. But greater judgment was in store for them. The reason for the sudden stoppage of the flow of water in the brook was now ascertained. It was found that the waters of the brook, but a short distance from their source, again disappeared into the ground and no one could learn what its underground course was. Grave fears were entertained that eventually a gigantic landslide would occur and bury the entire village. As time went on and nothing happened, the people became indifferent and careless as formerly. After seven years after the brook had ceased to flow, on a beautiful warm day in mid-summer almost all the people in the little village were out in the meadows making hay, a great mass of earth, comprising a great part of the mountain softened by the constant flow of water into it, tore itself loose and overwhelmed the village and surrounding land so that apparently every human being had been destroyed.

The fearful deep abyss with its high craggy walls today gives evidence of the terrible disaster when that stupendous mass of earth broke away from the surrounding slopes, burying in an instant an entire village with its inhabitants. After a time the road loading from Brienz to Merigen which passed through the village of Kienholz was restored. Now, one of the freighters, who freighted goods from Brienz to Oberhasle, owned a remarkable dog and who, on every trip, when he reached a certain spot, would stop and scratch and would not leave until his master had gone a long distance ahead. At first the dog’s actions were given no attention, but finally it occurred to the driver as somewhat strange that his dog should act so always when reaching the same place in the road. He obtained permission from the authorities to make an investigation. The permission having been obtained, he set to work and had not dug long [when his] pick struck against a stone arch, which proved to be the roof of the wine cellar of an old hotel in the ill-fated village of Kienholz.

The driver now proceeded to work his way to the door of the cellar, which was soon done and the door forced open, when to his astonishment, an old grey-haired man and his two and one-half. year old nephew stepped toward him. With them was a rooster who had shared their lonely imprisonment. The old man died in a few days for he was too weak to endure the light of day. Before he died he was able to relate the incidents which placed him and his nephew in such a strange predicament. He said that his people had all gone to the meadows to make hay. Before going they had placed the child in his cradle and carried him down cellar for the old man had wished to wash the cheese while watching the child. The rooster had cone into the cellar to pick up the crumbs of the cheese that fell to the floor. Suddenly the old man heard the crashing and roaring of the landslide but was unable to leave the cellar before it was upon him and he had only time to shut the cellar door and thus he, with the little boy, and the rooster, were buried alive.

The Inn had been carried away and destroyed by the great mass of falling earth and rock. Fortunately the road had been built again directly over the buried cellar and they daily heard the rumble of vehicles in passing. At first every time the old man heard the rumble of a wagon he shouted with all his force and the rooster, too, had bravely added his voice to the clamor, but finally after many fruitless efforts, he ceased, resolved that no help could be expected from the human agency. For food they had cheese and wine with which the cellar was stored. There was a large quantity of the cheese remaining. The supply of wine, however, was nearly exhausted.

This is the story the old man related before his death. The little child grew and prospered and since he was the only remaining inhabitant of the once beautiful district, the rescuers resolved to give him the name of the city so suddenly destroyed two years before, and so named him Kienholz. . The child so strangely [rescued] became the founder of the Kienholz family.

(Research and typing done by Marion F. Kienholz, wife of Leon H. Kienholz, M.D. 10 Ellis Place, Ossining New York) and Ella E. Kienholz, wife of Lawrence Kienholz, Spokane, Wash.)


Brienzer Legends by A. Streich


Underneath the mudflow of Lammbach the blooming town of Kienholz was buried. It’s wealth in houses and fields was greater than its neighboring “Church Town” of Brienz.

On a nice summer Sunday some hundred years ago, a man of the Alps came into the town of Kienholz and told the people to be careful of the mountains. Towards the evening, thunder, and a big grey cloud appeared in the blue sky. Everyone who lived in Kienholz fled from their houses. One of the mountains collapsed and an avalanche filled the valley. The castle Kien was crushed, and mud and stones covered the town so completely nothing more could be seen.

It now looked like a desert. Nothing more indicated that there ever was a town there, so great was the devastation.


A merchant wagon arriving in the country of Brienz passed through Kienholz of necessity. After the town was buried they travelled over rocks and mud that covered Kienholz.

Some weeks after the avalanche, some wagons were traveling to “Tracht”. One of the dogs started to dig on the side of the road. On the return trip the dog started digging at the same place as if there was nothing more important to do. Everytime they passed in the the next few days the dog repeated this act. Finally the owner of the dog reported this act to the officials in Brienz.

As soon as they heard of it the officials sent some men out to excavate.Toward evening they dug out a brick house. It was the cellar of the Kienholz pub. Within the cellar they found an old man and little boy that were still alive. These are the two the dog sensed.

After the old man was brought to the town of Brienz, he explained how he and the boy were taken unawares, and how he and the boy survived off cheese and wine stored there, and from the water that dripped through the stones. It seemed to him as if they were buried for seven years. They would have had food for only three more weeks. Three days after that the old man died. Some surmised it was because he couldn’t stand the daylight anymore. The little boy recovered. As a memory of the strange happenings, the city officials changed the boy’s family name Schneitter to Kienholz.

as translated by Margita Calkins from German for Cliff Chapman.

Five Generations

5 generations


Five generations of cranky German ladies. From bottom right, clockwise: Alvina Pirius Quast (great-great-grandmother), Clara Quast Schultz (great-grandmother), Lavarian Schultz Post (grandmother), Jeanette Post Hauschildt (mother), and I’m the baby in Clara’s lap. Must have been taken around 1972 given my age in the photo; can’t be any later than 1974 as that’s when Alvina died. I was born in 1971 but have no memory of her at all.

Caspar Hauschildt, blacksmith

While I was in Neuenfelde in 2006, Jürgen Hoffmann supplied me with a whole bunch of material on the Hauschildts, including a bill for blacksmith work from Caspar Hauschildt to a Peter Quast in Hinterbrack. Most of the items relate to horseshoes being applied or adjusted.

blacksmith bill

Other items include:

  • Neuen Stiel an Striegel (Gerät zur Pflege des Pferdefells) gemacht,
  • neu Stiel and Kantüffelhack (Kartoffelhacke mit großem Blatt) gemacht,
  • Pflug scharft (wurde mit dem Hammer gedengelt),
  • an Feuer-Zange (für den Ofen) verdient,
  • Niet in de Kussel gemacht (Kiefernstiel mit Niete am Werkzeug befestigt),
  • Klinck verbessert (Türklinke repariert),
  • neu Gewinn zu Häng gemacht,
  • 2 Bein und Stirt an Dreiangel (für Getreidemühle) gemacht,
  • Scher-Eisen Schärft,
  • 2 neu Sackheng und 3 Hakens, 1 alter zu seinen gemacht un 15 Pfannnägel dazu,
  • an die Deiß verdient,
  • an Krüselhaken und Feuerpot verdient,
  • an Tappen an die Schnid verdient,
  • und Schlag-Schaufel beschweret,
  • und an Meh-Schaufel und Scherschaufel verdient,
  • und neu Schraube and die Will (Welle) gemacht,
  • neun Tappen und Ring gemacht (für die Getreidemühle).



John & Anna Post

So my great-great-grandfather John Post is my total brick wall. I have his obituary, which says he was born in Neidenburg, East Prussia. (It’s Nidzica, Poland now.) Neidenburg was the name of a Kreis (sorta like county) AND a village, so there’s a larger area I need to look at than just one village. So far I haven’t come up with anything. He married in 1881 and came over after that with his wife and presumably one child. Family rumor has it he wasn’t a Post at all but was born with another name and then raised by a Post family and took their name. ARGH. I’ve looked at some of the church books in the area (I was told there were Posts in the Narzym, Poland area), but so far nothing’s come up. I’ve got like five more microfilms on order with the LDS and I’m hoping something comes up there. It’s SO frustrating when I’ve got Quast names back to 1635 and can’t get past 1856 with this guy.

At any rate, someone posted this URL of pictures from old Neidenburg, among other villages in the area, which is really really cool. Pictures of other villages are here.


The Church at Neuenfelde

This text comes from placards posted for visitors to the old church in Neuenfelde, Germany.

Because the third mile of the Altes Land (east of the Elbe) was settled in an ancient river valley, the Saxon settlers built their church on the highest point for miles, the “church dune.” It offered everyone refuge when floods covered the land, most recently in the flood catastrophe of 16. and 17. February 1962. It is unknown when the old church was built. From it remains the baptismal font in the vestibule and the gravestone of a Priest Johannes from 1507, which is now located in the south wall.

As the community grew, the old church became too small. Under the pastor and provost Johann Hinrich von Finckh (whose picture hangs on the north wall) it was decided in 1677 that a new church be built. After two years all the permits were approved, and after three more years the money for the new church was all collected, in the most part from the sale of seats in the new church. In 1682 the building proceeded easily. The old church was torn down, on 23. May the cornerstone for the present church was laid, and soon on the first Sunday of Advent, 3. December of the same year, the first worship was celebrated in the new church. This record build time was only possible because the build-master Matthias Wedel from Stade employed four building firms to work simultaneously.

The uniformly Baroque decor makes the church attractive; it wasn’t done over hundreds of years but came together in only fifty years. The baptismal font of 1683, probably made in Hamburg, replaced the old baptismal font (now in the vestibule). The crest on top, in today’s form not on the cover – stood until 1954 as the overhang of the pulpit. In the baptismal bowl is told the history of the fall from grace; the crest shows Christ with the world in his hand (“To me is given all power in heaven and on earth; therefore go and make disciples of all men, baptize them…”) [Matthew 28:19] and in two layers underneath are the twelve apostles.

Baptismal font

Baptismal font

The Hamburg wood carver Christian Precht built the altar from 1686 to 1688, though generally he worked in Stade [three miles away]. The altar is an extraordinary early example of altars on the south shore of the Elbe. The picture is a riddle; there is no Last Supper or crucifixion. [Is my German failing me here? Original: Das Bildprogramm gibt Rätsel auf; so fehlen eine Abendmahls – wie eine Kreuzigungsdarsettlung.]

Church altar at Neuenfelde

Church altar at Neuenfelde

On the pulpit gallery are the church chairs for the family of the provost von Finckh (north) and the family of the organ builder Arp Schnitger (south). His signature mark showed a compass, work of the organ builder, to whom an arm reaches out of the clouds. Schnitgers avowal: My handiwork that makes me world famous is a gift from heaven. The organ builder Arp Schnitger, 1648-1719, working before this in Stade, was involved from the beginning of the build. He planned the very high place of the organ and built 1683-1689 a still world famous organ with 34 registers in the main body, manual auxiliary and pedals. He married a woman from Neuenfelde and remained here as a community member and was buried in the church (a grave marker in the north door remembers him).

The house of Arp Schnitger, organ builder

The house of Arp Schnitger, organ builder

Also noteworthy:

— The ceiling paintings of the Hamburg painters Berichau and Wördenhoff of 1685

ceiling of Neuenfelde church

ceiling of Neuenfelde church

–The large crown of candles given by a church member in 1709

Candelabrum in the church in Neuenfelde.

Candelabrum in the church in Neuenfelde.

–The pictures of Jesus and the apostles on the lower gallery (painter unknown) and the chairs in the altar area

–The brightly colored chairs in the north side from 1729, where many community members sat. The “Bunten Stühle” were crowned by eight virtues: facing the church, the four cardinal virtues of antiquity; self-control, bravery, wisdom, and justice; facing the altar the three Christly virtues of love, faith, and hope – and here is a fourth, patience. Opposite in the south stand the lectern and pastor’s chair of 1730 and the provost’s chir of 1731.

The altar vestments are modern. The unicorn on the green hanging is an ancient symbol of Christ: the unicorn is the strongest of all animals, no hunter can capture it, only in the embrace of a virgin will it let itself rest — a reference to the son of God, who became human from a virgin, the holy one, the “unicorn of the holy,” which with unbeatable power even tears apart the bonds of death. The pelican on the white hanging is also a reminder of Christ: as the pelican feeds its young with its own heart’s blood, so Christ gave his life on the cross, so we can live  through him.

Altar vestments at Neuenfelde church

Altar vestments at Neuenfelde church

The old church tower fell victim to lightning in 1786; today’s church spire from 1841 with its height of 39,60 meters protrudes into the flight corridor of the Finkenwerder firm Messerschmidt-Bölkow-Blohm and therefore sports a red flight warning light.

Neuenfelde church.

Neuenfelde church.

Around the church sits the old graveyard, which until our century served the people of Hasselwerder and Nincop (in 1927 united with Neuenfelde) and Francop as a resting place for their dead; the old sundial there warns: “you do not know the day or the hour…”

Cemetery around the Neuenfelde church

Cemetery around the Neuenfelde church