Freilichtmuseum Beuren

Friday, May Day, turned out to be a rainy day – like what we would expect in Bellingham, Washington, this time of year. In fact, Bellingham and Schönaich are at just about the same latitude which explains the similar weather and vegetation.

In preparation for our visit to Germany, Manfred had sent me a list of sites to visit and one of the sites on that list of interest to me was the Freilichtmuseum Beuren. Dale and I saw Beuren from the Hohenneuffen Castle when we spent Monday with Manfred and Henrik, so, knowing it wasn’t too far from Schönaich, I suggested to Heike and Jörg that we visit there.

The Freilichtmuseum is a living history museum with authentic Swabian buildings that have been relocated to Beuren to create an historic village. Visiting here would give us an idea of what it would have been like to live in Schönaich in the 1800s when our mutual ancestor, Johann Georg Ulmer, Sr. (1827-1911), was alive.

Most of the buildings at Freilichtmuseum were originally built in the 1700s and 1800s, but a few of them, like the farmhouse below, were much older, though still in use in the mid-1800s. This farmhouse (“Bauernhaus”) was constructed in 1509. The ground floor was used as a barn for the animals and farm implements (see the grey barn door?) and the farmer and his family lived on the upper floors.

Around back and adjacent to the Bauernhaus was the little Ausgedinghaus, a retirement cottage for the farmer’s parents. It was common in the old days for the parents in their dotage to enter into a contract with their children, the Ausgeding, to transfer title of the farm to the younger generation in exchange for a life estate in the Ausgedinghaus and a promise by the younger generation to provide the parents with necessities for the remainder of the their lives. While an actual, written contract is apparently no longer commonplace, from what I have seen, the tradition remains.

Here’s a view of the Ausgedinghaus and the back of the Bauernhaus. The Ausgedinghaus consisted of only a small kitchen and livingroom on the ground floor with a tiny, drafty bedroom in the attic; the two families shared toilet facitilites in the farmhouse.

Just down the hill was the Weberhaus (the weaver’s house) from Laihingen, built in 1677 as a farmhouse with a stable on the ground floor. It was renovated around 1790 and, sometime thereafter, converted into a house occupied by two families engaged in the weaving trade.

The next building of interest to me was the little communal oven (Backhaus) from Esslingen-Sulzgries. In the mid-1800s, the state of Württemberg mandated the closure of private home ovens in favor of a communal oven to reduce the risk of fire. The Backhaus shown below was constructed in 1887. I was interested in seeing the inside of the bakery because my Great-Grandfather, Johann Georg Ulmer, Jr. (1860-1936), son of Johann Georg Ulmer, Sr., was a baker when he emigrated from Schönaich to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1880.

After visiting most of the historic structures at the Freilichtmuseum, we had a nice lunch, coffee and cakes at the restaurant in a farmhouse built in 1726.

But, this being a holiday, it was also necessary for us to stop at the bakery in Böblingen on the way home for a refresher of baked goods.

They definitely know how to bake in Germany.

Time to pile into the van and get back home; there’s another food adventure coming up!

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