(Translation of the text of May 30th 2013 Swiss Newspaper „Der Glattfelder" by the author Koni Ulrich, for the many friends in America who asked for it, specially on facebook)
On May 23rd two young couples from Virginia came for a visit to our town. They followed the tracks of their pre-pre-pre-pre-ancestor Casper Glattfelder, who migrated with his family to America in the year of 1743.
Last Thursday two young American Couples arrived in our town (or rather village, of 4500 inhabitants). They came from a business-trip to Frankfurt, Germany and thought to invest at least one day following their roots in the person of their ancestor far back, Casper Glattfelder. The four people were enthusiastic about the old center of the town, the « grey house », (built 1526), the Gottfried Keller Center (Swiss author 1819 to 1890) and the church where Casper once had been baptized, before he left his hometown.
Donnie Gladfelter, his wife Helen and their friends John and Andrea Frankovich, all in their thirties, had to do some work in the neighboring country and thought: Why not try to wander for a while on the tracks of good old Casper, our grand-grand-grand-grandfather down south in Switzerland? As they were used from their home-country, the young people from Virginia just jumped in their rental car and drove all the way south into the larger area of Zurich, (not the capital, but the biggest town in the country). So, on Thursday-morning they made it out to the Zurich Underland. They took a walk to the river Glatt (that gives the name to the village) and its newly rebuilt wooden bridge. They looked at the old logs in the grey house. Postcards with sights of the town were stamped at the near post-office, so they could later be sent home from the hotelroom.
Where Casper was baptized
When reverend Christian Birkner lead the young people into the near protestant church, it was going to be somewhat solemnly. „The baptismal font has been moved sometime and may not be the original one from the 18.th century", explained Birkner in English. But nevertheless, in this church, the ancestor at least of the couple with the name Gladfelter has been baptized and later was married to his wife.The Americans were impressed. One could speculate, how the name Glattfelder changed into Gladfelter over all these years. Glatt (the river) changed into glad, which means happy. Felt ist the participle of feel, so with a healthy portion of proudness and patriotism, I risk to say: The Gladfelters are the ones who feel happy in America.Later, while walking along the „Fränzli"-quarter on top of the village (where the author lives in a 87 years old house), we drink a beer together in the garden. This is a surprise for the Swiss guide, since the yearly meetings of all the Glattfelders near York in Pennsylvania used to operate without alcohol. Three times, a delegation of Swiss Glattfelders took part there, the last time together with the major, Pier-Luigi Quattropani in 2005, when it was the 100th meeting.In the meantime, many of the older representants of the „Casper Glattfelder Association" have died and our American friends must be careful, not to loose this worthy contact between the continents because of the lack of younger people growing into the group. Those who want to know more about this can inform themselves on the website www.glattfelder.org.
Pin up Helvetia
Before the young people started towards the Rhinefall in Schaffhausen and then to Germany, they took a light lunch together in the „Gottfried-Keller-Stube". There, they admired the good looking Swiss money of which they had none in their purses. Specially mother Helvetia on the piece of two franks impressed them very much. Finally a lively changing of Euros (the money in Germany and many other countries in Europe, but not in Switzerland), American Dollars and Swiss Francs lead to a lucky ending, without dishwashing in the kitchen of the restaurant.
(Picture, from the left: Andrea and John Frankovich, Koni Ulrich, Helen and Donnie Gladfelter)