When I first read Peter Brown’s book The Brauns of Osterwick, I never expected to actually see the gravesite of my great-great-great-grandfather Jakob Braun. It was just in a field somewhere over on the West Reserve, not even connected to any sort of village. How could I find it?
But then, Norman Hildebrand sent me an email: “I can show you where Jakob Braun is buried.”
I blinked and had to read that twice. This was amazing!
I jumped at the chance — and that is how I ended up in this canola field in the middle of a rainstorm:
Many fields have random trees growing in their midst. I find myself ever-increasingly assuming that this means there are graves below the trees. Perhaps that is not always the case. But this tree does mark several graves.
Now, a better, smarter person than I might have canceled the grave-hunting appointment upon waking up to a rainstorm. Not me! I enthusiastically jumped in the car and headed out to visit Norman, with Andrew swept along for the adventure. Although when we arrived at the field and saw the rain pelting the windshield, Andrew changed his mind. He is a better dresser than me… and by this I mean he is more stylish as per his city upbringing. Me? I’m more farmgirl in my old MCC clothes. I threw on my rubber boots and rain jacket, grabbed my umbrella and headed out after Norman.
Norman is awesome. He knew precisely where Jakob had been reburied. The spot is indicated with stakes. My great-great-great-grandmother Maria Fast is buried to the right of Jakob.
Apparently some Browns put up this beautiful wrought iron fence several years (decades?) ago. I’m grateful it’s there. I can’t help but hope that it’ll remain there.
Jakob and Maria do not have headstones. Jakob died in 1903 and was buried in Osterwick… but then the villagers, thinking his ghost was haunting them, forced his offspring to come dig him up in 1907 and move his corpse out of there. Jakob was reburied on his daughter Katharina’s property. She was married to Peter Hoeppner. Peter is the only one who has a gravestone at this site.
Maria Fast Braun died in 1915, and was buried beside her husband… right here:
I love that I could visit the gravesite in a rainstorm. I think inclement weather is the best for grave-hunting. Also, it kind of enhances the thought that, well, who knows? Perhaps Jakob’s restless ghost is roaming the canola.
Other posts about Jakob and Maria: