Lutz Family and Schoenaich Germany

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Report by Nathan Butler. October 6, 2004

I had a wonderful time with the Lutzen of Schoenaich, especially with Fred and Sonja Lutz, who escorted me around. I really want to go back again for a longer period of time. Loved the countryside and learned lots about our "roots," too. They organized a meeting at a restaurant and as you can see below had a large and friendly turn-out.

Front (l to r): Walter Jehle (who wrote the historical book on Schoenaich), Juergen, me, Juergen's wife Ulrike, Juergen & Ulrike's son Pekka, and then Fred.  Back behind Juergen's head is cousin Margrit and her husband Heinz. In the back, between Ulrike & Pekka, is Juergen's dad (Erwin) with his wife (Irmgard) to his left.  The man with the blue plaid shirt in the back/right is Hans Ulmer (a cousin of Fred's). On the far right is Reinhard Metzger who dug out all the church records on our family, which no one else had access to, apparently because he is an elder at the church. He was so very nice and very helpful, and spent a lot of time there at the pub trying to explain what he knew, even though he had just lost his wife a few weeks earlier.  He seemed to think he might be related to us by marriage, possibly through Adolph Metzger, but Margrit wasn't so sure this was so.

Some stories seem to back-up what we know -- some seem very different. For starters, and the one thing I really hoped to learn -- Johann Georg Lutz's father's name is Caspar Lutz. And there are several more ancestors with the same name up the line from there. I have the ancestry back to about 1700, with some possibilities before that.

Margrit Koehrer, Nathan Butler and Heinz Koehrer

Our closest cousin there is Margrit Koehrer, whom I met and who is the granddaughter of Jakob Lutz's daughter Anna. However Anna didn't have 5 daughters -- she had two sons?! Below is a photo Margrit gave me of Anna and her husband, Adolph Metzger. She would really like to have copies of the photos of her grandmother that we have. Her daughter is supposed to be sending me more info later, too.

Anna Lutz Metzger with husband Adolph

Jakob's son Christian is one of the more "famous" Lutzen in Schoenaich. He lived up until 1960, there in the Lutz house (actually the back of it), and was widely known as Bakker Kasper ("The Funny Baker"). He had a wife (who died in 1957) but no children, and the house was sold and torn down in '63. There is a commercial bakery there now. I got to sit in the garden behind the bakery, which would have been the Lutz "winter garden" they said (not entirely sure what that means exactly). They say the Lutz house was built sometime around 1740 to 1750. There was a "glass house" back there at one time, maybe built by Christian (I was unclear about that, too). The folks who own it now seem to know a lot about him. Their father had bought the house originally. They have a brother in Pennsylvania who not only knows about the German side, but the American, too, apparently.

They say (through this fellow, Erwin Brodbeck, in PA) that Johann Georg and the others didn't die in an epidemic, but rather they all "ate bad meat" (got food poisoning?) at a Lutz family gathering and died from that. Apparently there were 3 Schoenaicher families that owned a hotel together -- one in Philly (our Lutzen), one in Atlantic City, and one in Redding -- and they used to get together once a year. This 1881 (?) gathering took place in winter, and snow prevented the other 2 families from attending. So our Lutzen in Philly ate the meal themselves, which was ham, and it killed everyone including the housekeeper. Their version of the story is that all the children except for the baby died, because the baby didn't/couldn't eat any meat, but I told them that at least the two youngest had lived and that we had thought some of the other boys survived, too.

Christian ("The Funny Baker") Lutz's sister-in-law Frieda Binder was responsible for his grave, and she just died recently at age 100+something. They say she had a very clear mind and remembered everything, so some of them regretted that I hadn't come sooner to talk to her.

That picture we have of Frederick Lutz (below) was taken in front of the Lutz house, but looking the other direction, The building behind them was the storehouse where the people brought a tenth of their goods to store up for bad times. It is still standing and has been restored.

They say the picture of Jakob and family (below) is at the corner of the Lutz house looking down the street toward the RatHaus (town hall), in the opposite direction from the storehouse. Some of the buildings in the background are still standing. I tried to get photos from comparable directions on most of these.

They also gave me a photocopy of a "baking house" (that stood behind the Lutz house) where the people in the community could bring their bread for baking. You can see a part of the Lutz house in it.

Bakery building behind the Lutz family house (on left)

Their records are incomplete because of bombings/burnings in WW II, so they don't have any record of Johann Georg's younger sisters. There is actually no record of Frederick either. They only know about Johann Georg and Anna Katherine because they emigrated, and Jakob because of his descendants. They have strict "data protection laws" which don't allow the release of certain info, so it is hard to know how many of the Lutzen are related to us, including my host Fred. All the families were supposed to make up "family trees" back to the 1800s, during the Nazi period, to prove they weren't Jews, but for some reason these trees weren't made or no longer exist.

They said Johann Georg might have left to avoid military service as well as the grinding poverty. They said this without me mentioning about Ruby's ancestor doing the same. (Ruby Smale is married to David Butler, Nathan's brother. Her family has a story about her great-grandfather emigrating to America to avoid the draft.)

By the way, Schoenaich is pronounced similarly to "sure-nike" (rhymes with "your bike") over there. They gave me a copy of Schoenaich history book (the author even came to the "Lutz meeting"). He thinks all the Lutzen trace back to one source, but can't prove it on paper. More information about Schoenaich can be found at

Fred says he has heard that the name Lutz derives somehow from "Ludwig" and/or that it has something to do with the fact that the family originally lived very near to the French border. Interestingly, the name is often spelled "Luz" (sometimes with a little symbol above the "u") but they said it is still the same. Similarly, you see the name Metzger as Mezger a lot. The family names Metzger, Rebmann, Schilling, Binder, and some others are VERY common in the Schoenaich area and appear quite a bit in our Lutz family line.

The people in the area are known as Swabians or Schwabians -- which is the original language spoken by people -- and they are known for being "penny pinchers." So they were delighted to find out that you and I are that way, David, and pronounced us true Swabians.

They are looking forward to seeing the new info on the web site. (A couple of them said, "Now your brother has a lot of work to do!") They had a print-out of the entire Cromwellbutlers web site that they passed around at the Lutz meeting.

Fred and Sonja Lutz. Nathan's hosts in Schoenaich.

Juergen Lutz and his family also hosted Nathan on his second day in Schoenaich

Interestingly, as far as I can tell, the last time someone from our line of Lutz travelled from America to Schoenaich was in 1903. Almost exactly 100 years before my trip there. Below is a photo we have from that trip.

Schoenaich Germany 1903: "Taken on top of the vineyard"
Back: Jakob and Christine Lutz, Frederick Lutz and wife, Anna Lutz (daugther of Jakob)
Front: Amelia and Katherine Lutz (visiting from America), two of Jakob's sons.