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  • Writer's pictureRay III

KNOLL: family lore

To many, family lore is passed from generations down. However, If we reaearch the opposite direction, our family tree stops, somewhere, as the records of family at some time can’t be found.

My mother Lola’s maiden name is KNOLL. The KNOLL name origin is ‘someone who lives by a Knoll’. By a hill.

Today, we visited as far back as the KNOLL heritage in our family can be traced. VELBURG, Germany. Adjacent to a hill.

This rural German village community of 5,212 in North Central Bavaria is found in rolling hills of wheat, and a little bit of corn, wrapped on the outsides by several very tall and slender evergreens. Small village after small village, you drive upon it like a movie set. Beautiful. Stunning. Fields of wheat can be seen all around. Deep blue skies and rolling white cottony clouds. And a gentle breeze.

Ironically, the KNOLL family, descending from the generations of Urban (1692), Conrad (1712), Andreas (1732) and Franziskus (1762) all resided in or near this village. Down from the castle hill. The two oldest generations were likely buried on their farms.

They were considered Arable Farmers, rural wheat farmers likely. Andreas, at age 34 with his wife and 6 year old son in tow, ended up leaving Velburg migrating to Kansas, after a short stop with many other German farmers in the Volga River region of Russia.

Central Kansas has a very strong German/Russian heritage, of which my mom’s family came through.

As children we visited Wakeeney, Kansas to visit our grandparents and extended family. I see several of the stories, the ‘lore’ and traditions, and the similarities as we are visiting this village of Velburg. The polka music, the assemblies at strong celebrated weddings, the meat and potato dishes, the gardening and flowers, and the church bells.

Although we can not specifically identify the Knoll farm plot (which we are still working on) previous records show they were here. As farmers they likely transgressed these wheat fields, visited in town through this same town arch, possibly selling their crop.

During and around 1700, they also would have viewed up hill to the Velburg Castle ruins which was active as a castle until 1633.

St. John’s Catholic Church was built new in 1732, while they were here. Maybe they helped. Maybe they attended here. This trip allowed us to set the research in further motion.

Many German residents left here after being worn out from the Thirty Years War In the early 1600’s. The recovery period was long. They sought a new beginning. Peace and prosperity. Eventually, they sought the same American Dream of all US immigrants.

For their journey to Kansas we are thankful. For their journey prior here in and around Velburg ultimately led to my mother Lola, and us as her children, and grandchildren, and now great grandchildren.

Thank you Urban, Conrad, Andreas and Franziskus. We are thankful to have learned more about you, and we’ll continue our journey to learn more about you. We will move your family forward.

We will meet you someday………

St. John the Baptist Church, Velburg, built 1723

The church tower from the wheat fields below. possibly the view of our ancestors.

Generations of KNOLL’S, the first 4 spent time in Velburg, Germany

Aloysius ’Al’ Knoll and wife Elizabeth ‘Liz’, our grandparents, our mother Lola’s parents.

Gates and arch to the City, originally guarded by the castle above.

Burial plots are often family plots. Regardless of how many utilize the space, they are beautiful. Possibly a characteristic of their meticulous farming. Graveside after graveside was beautiful, and highly revered.

The two memorials next to the cross were for WWI and WWII soldiers, respectively. The other stones were from the 1800’s, although many have been too worn to identify names.

Church Bells

Burg, translated, is Castle. Steep climb ahead!

Castle north side entry.

After the climb of Velburg Castle.

The final steps after a very steep and extended ascent.

Velburg Coat of Arms

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