On the spreading of the name Weis(s)enborn

Posted on Facebook on 20 October 2015.

Last night, between 3 and 4, I had my usual hour of waking, to which I have accustomed myself many years ago. This time my thoughts kept revolving around the theme of losing roots, becoming footloose.

Our family name didn't get spread all over the world because the ancestor involved in migrating had a great life at home, and was looking for an even better life far away, in the unknown. The vast majority of the emigrants had witnessed turmoil and devastation, or at least the threat of it, the immanent repeat of upheavals that were still fresh in their own minds, or in those of their parents and grandparents, who recounted them vividly.

From the indications I have, and from the doctoral thesis of John Theibault, I have come to believe that before the 30 Years War (1618-1648), all Weis(s)enborns - barring a few exceptions - lived in Thüringen and its border areas. After that war, the spreading started. Subsequent wars, such as those waged by Napoleon, and the revolution of 1848 created enough misery for further spreading.

The harder it is for me to trace the ancestry of all currently living Weis(s)enborns back to Thüringen, the more I find I am confronted with the devastation and destruction due to war. I derive a great intellectual stimulus from laying a puzzle of which I do not know whether the pieces still exist. But last night the thought of the footloose people involved, harking for new roots, made me question my intellectual pleasure. From now on I will think of you, the living Weis(s)enborn name bearers, who may derive a sense of rootedness from leafing through the family trees I am putting together, as far back in time as I can manage. We all need roots. Some of those in the trees lost them, or never had them.