On a bright Saturday morning in September of 1996, a group of American descendants of Simon and Martin Dreisbach settled themselved expectantly in the bus that would take them through the villages of Wittgenstein and backwards in time.
Local historian Gustav Schneider was on board to direct the driver and to share his knowledge with the participants. At the medieval church that stands on a hill in Feudingen, Gustav showed where Dreisbachs had been baptized, married and buried. He brought out the thick little book of marriage records, and pointed to one of the earliest Dreisbach records: the marriage, in 1611, of Johan, son of "Georgen Treisbach auss der Balthe" (from Balde), to Leisen Hain, widow of Arnolt Keller. Johan and Leisen were the great-grandparents of Simon Dreisbach. 385 years after John wed Leisen, certain of their many American descendants had returned to stand in the very church where the marriage took place.
The bus then drove north to Raumland, to visit its church which, like the Feudingen church, claims to be the oldest in Wittgenstein. Here another old church record was brought out: the baptism of Martin Dreisbach on May 26, 1717. Next came a walk down the hill to the edge of the Eder River. There was the house where Martin Dreisbach had lived-- still inhabited, and in the process of being restored. In Raumland, traces of the once-important slate industry were still visible.
A stop at the castle in Berleberg followed. Parts of this seat of the northern Counts (now Princes) can be visited with a guide.
Visits to three more Wittgenstein villages concluded this day-trip. First was a stop at Balde, and the site of the house once inhabited by Georg Dreisbach and his father, Abraham. Although it was not known at the time, recent research has confirmed that three lines of Dreisbach immigrants had their origins in the house which once stood here, "Wahnersch", or the wagon-maker's house. It was here, with father Abraham, that a significant part of Dreisbach history had its beginnings.
The next stop was at a house in the hillside hamlet of Steinbach. The ground floor is of stone, but the rest of the four-story structure is almost entirely sheathed in narrow rows of dark gray slate shingles. Here emigrant Simon Dreisbach's grandfather Daniel Treisbach lived and died. Here Simon's father Georg Wilhelm lived until he married and moved to Oberndorf.
Finally, the bus came to Oberndorf, not far from Feudingen, and drove up the hill to the higher part of the village, called Aberg. An elderly neighbor-lady was summoned to show where, in the midst of what are now lawns and flower beds, the house of Simon Dreisbach once stood. Gustav Schneider informed the group that when Simon left for America it was a Schneider, one of his relatives, who bought the house. When the house burned down in the 1840's, it was not rebuilt.
Thus, the participants were able to visit one day in Raumland, Berleberg and Balde in northern Wittgenstein, and Feudingen, Steinbach and Oberndorf in southern Wittgenstein. On a subsequent tour, the town of Berghausen, now known to be the home of the third line of emigrants stemming from father Abraham, will also have to be included.