Ah the joys of sleep….contented from a good meal, snuggled up warm under a fluffy eiderdown and lying one’s tired head on a soft feather pillow. This week’s Sepia Saturday takes us on a journey back in time.
How this image transported me back to my ancestor’s inn in the tiny Bavarian village of Dorfprozelten on the River Main. Sadly I never got to stay there as it was demolished in the 1970s, but I’ve stayed in others so my imagination can make the leap. The postcard was sent to me by the local historian Georg Veh, and the history of Das Goldene Fass is summarised in his book Dorfprozelten am Main, Teil II (2002).
The inn is first mentioned in the 1730s when it was owned by my 5xgreat grandfather, Johann Martin Happ. It wasn’t until the marriage of my 3xgreat grandmother Eva Catherina Happ to her second husband, Adam Kunkel, that the Kunkel name is associated with the inn. Catherina had inherited the inn from her father and lived there until her death in 1868. Prior to her death, her eldest surviving son from her first marriage, Jakob August Ulrich, was managing the inn and lived there with his mother and family. It was the sad death of Jakob August, his wife Elisabeth Firmbach, son Karl and finally Eva Catherina, within a few months of each other in mid-1868 that the inn passed out of the family’s hands. Jakob and Elisabeth Ulrich’s family dispersed to America, settling mainly in the upstate New York. The inn may have been a golden barrel for visitors, but the luck had run out for the Happ family and its descendants.
Meanwhile Catherine’s next son, George Mathias Kunkel, had emigrated to Australia and by 1868 was settled on his farm at the Fifteen Mile near Murphys Creek in Queensland..miles away in lifestyle, community and accommodation from the inn.
Thanks to Georg Veh’s book I have some information on what was served at the inn and from that I was able to write this excerpt from my Kunkel family history (pp 22-23).
Dorfprozelten has long been a place for visitors from the bigger cities to come for quiet relaxation beside the River Main. Towards the end of each day, the visitors from Berlin, or other faraway places, would return from their day’s explorations, adding a holiday atmosphere to the centre of town, and causing a flurry in the inns owned by George’s parents and their relations. The evening meals would be being prepared and no doubt George had his part to play in the activity. On offer would also have been a bottle of the traditional white wine of the area in its Bochsbeutel ( a bulbous-shaped bottle). There were culinary treats awaiting the visitors: fresh pike cooked with cardamom and mustard, salmon prepared with lemon, special beer, home-made apple-wine, bacon, roast pork, varieties of home-made sausages, and the local wine. After meals like that, no doubt the guests slept well on the deep beds with their fluffy eiderdowns and feather pillows! The mornings would be no less pleasurable. Imagine waking to the smell of freshly-baked bread and pastries from the neighbouring bakeries.
(I don’t know about you but I’ve always found it intriguing how German eiderdowns are folded over while we have ours spread out).
I have written several posts over the years about the inn and this family, including the American immigrants. You can find them here:
The Happ/Ulrich family emigrants Part 1 (to America)
My book is Grassroots Queenslanders: the Kunkel family. P Cass, 2003.
 Veh, op. cit. pp. 193-195.