Sepia Saturday: Sleeping zum Fass

SS 340Ah 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).

fass postcard
A postcard for Das Goldenes Fass, owned for many years by the Happ family.

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.

A postcard of Das Goldene Fass mid-20thC. Kindly provided to me by Georg Veh, local historian.
Das Goldene Fass before its demolition for a bank in the 1960s. Image kindly provided by Georg Veh.

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.

back of kitchen
The kitchen for the old Kunkel house is on the local heritage list.

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.[1] 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).

dorf street bw1
The streetscape had remained very similar over the decades, but the Happ inn is no longer – overtaken by the bank on the left.

I have written several posts over the years about the inn and this family, including the American immigrants. You can find them here:

19th century Dorfprozelten emigrants in America: Part 1

19th century Dorfprozelten emigrants in America: Part 2

The Happ/Ulrich family emigrants Part 1 (to America)

Finding the Fass in Dorfprozelten

Lunch with Catherina Kunkel

The Happs: Innkeepers in Dorfprozelten

My book is Grassroots Queenslanders: the Kunkel family. P Cass, 2003.

[1] Veh, op. cit. pp. 193-195.



7 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday: Sleeping zum Fass

  1. That looks so much like several inns I stayed in in Germany and Austria. It brings back wonderful memories of several trips. Sleeping under those massive eiderdowns and then going down for breakfast of fresh rolls, cheese, and eggs. Perfection. My first breakfast in Germany had me wondering how American motels/hotels could call what they served continental breakfasts. No similarity at all. Thanks for the memories.


      1. It’s been so long since I’ve stayed in any motels/hotels that I can only hope that now that they know more people have been exposed to real European breakfasts that they provide something more than the faux Danish pastries and coffee. Well, we can hope.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Having just driven up through Germany from Switzerland I really enjoyed this story. Thanks. Having said that we didn’t stay in any little village inns on the way up, but did on the way down – in the north, Bad Segerburg. I have also previously stayed in a little family owned hotel in Bad Bramstedt where my Holdorf ancestors come from and I could identify a little with your lovely description of how it must have been in the old days at the inn during holiday time. The pictures of Dorfprozelten on Google look gorgeous. Must have been hard to resettle in rural Queensland!

    Liked by 1 person

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