Kirchhausen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

ROLL-Related Family Surnames which came from Kirchhausen: GARTNER/GÄRTNER/GAERTNER
Note: The GARTNER families arrived in Kirchhausen around 1730, as no GARTNERs are listed in the church records prior to 1730.

What you can see in the Kirchhausen coat of arms (Civic Arms) is a plow, a sign of the farming they have had for centuries, two plow knives at either side of the center plow and on top of it the black cross of the Knights of the German Order. It is black and white for the Knights of the German Order that kept Kirchhausen from becoming Protestant. It remains the only Catholic town within a radius of 25 miles. It was Napoleon who ran over Germany with his army around 1806 to fight Russia and he took the town away from the Knights and gave it to Württemberg. Württemberg is colloquially called Swabia (Schwaben) but those people have a different dialect. The colors blue and white are emblematic of Kirchhausen. All the sports teams wear blue shorts and white jerseys. Especially the FC (Fußball Club) soccer team. Kirchhausen is known all over the county.

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[ TRANSLATE: | Aerial View | Church | Kirchhausen History ]

Kirchhausen on-line map - mapping web site.


1945 photo

Listed below is a poem quoted from the 1979 issue of the "Schlossfest" Castle Fest Newspaper. The festival is a bi-annual Kirchhausen event. The author asks readers to forward the poem to Kirchhäusemer ancestors who mainly emigrated to America between 1850 and 1950.

Der Heimatlaut

Nun bin ich schon, Gott weiß wie lang
Von dir mein Dorf entfernt,
hab draußen in der Welt so viel
gesehen und gelernt.

Doch wo ich mich auch mich auch niederließ,
wo ich mein Nest gebaut,
fühlt' ich mich fremd: es fehlte mir
dein heimatlicher Laut.

Dein Laut, der aus dem lieben Mund
Der Mutter zu mir kam,
den ich bei meinem Mädel einst
zur Rosenzeit vernahm.

Der mir im trauten Freundeskreis
so froh entgegenklang
und der in schwerer Abschiedsstund'
tief in die Seele drang.

Wie oft hat er mich schon des Nachts
Vom Träume aufgescheucht!
Dann klopfte mir das Herz so laut;
Die Augen waren feucht.

Du Heimatlaut, so lieb und traut,
klingst du mir noch einmal
daheim in meinem stillen Dorf
im schönen Rotbachtal.

The Sound of Home
Translated by: Toby Bumm

I have been far away from you,
my town, for God knows how long,
I have seen and learned a lot
Out there in the world.

But where ever I settled,
where ever I built my nest
I felt like a stranger: I missed
Your homely sound.

Your sound, that once came to me
from the beloved mouth of my mother,
the sound that I perceived long ago,
when I was with my girlfriend.

The sound that came toward me
In the circle of my trusted friends
And that went to the bottom of my soul
In the hour of farewell.

How often has it made me wake up
From my dreams at night.
My heart was beating noisily,
my eyes were moist.

You sound of home so nice and familiar,
will you ever sound for me once again, back
home in my silent town
in the Valley of the Red Creek.


a) b) c) d)
ST. ALBAN CATHOLIC CHURCH () - Kirchhausen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. a) west side b) front c) inside d) back side with the Parish Center

This is the Castle of the German Order located near the church. Built in the 1500's, it was home for the Knights of the German Order. They were Catholic church-related warriors, who were sent to the holy land. There were only semi-clerical. They were more like rulers of the land than monks.

The St. John Neppomuk Fountain.


Translated by: Toby Bumm

St. Alban

Catholic Parish


Parish History
Kirchhausen was a town of the German Order till 1806. This is why the town stayed mainly Catholic. The first mentioning of Kirchhausen goes back to the "Codex Laureshamenisis" in 843. A "Widegavenhusa" in the Garden County is mentioned there. Real proof is missing that the place is identical with what is nowadays known as Kirchhausen.
It was not before 926 (after the attack of the Hungarians) that in the books of the monastery Weißenburg in Alsace (now northeast France; also spelled "Elsace") the town-name Kirchhusen is mentioned for the first time. The writings say there were devastated farms that got burned down by the Hungarians. Even a church building is mentioned there. But no one knows how long it had already been there in those days. After the devastation, Kirchhausen was part of the possession of the Earl of Calw. After a very eventful history, Kirchhausen eventually became a part of the German Order in 1433. In 1486 the feudal lords, Eberhard and Wilhelm, of Neipperg renounced their rights in Kirchhausen, in favor of their brother Knight of the German Order Reinhard of Neipperg. So Kirchhausen became a part of his possession. The description of the parishes from 1582/83 the parish of Kirchhausen is said to have belonged to the bishopric of Worms (till 1817) and had already been 400 years old. According to the Worms synod-book, even the old church that was built in 1468 and torn down in 1841 had St. Alban as a patron saint. The tower on the west side of today's church, which is 3 stories high, is still from that time and has a pointed slate roof. The 2nd and 3rd story has late Gothic sound openings in the keel bow and under the roof cornice, the number 1579 is carved. The pointed tower door was the entrance to the old church looking to the east.
The successor of the Church of the German Order from 1468 is today's church, made according to the plans of County Architect Abel in Ludwigsburg (1841-44) was built in the finance chamber style and is placed in a southeastern direction on the longitudinal axis. Father Karl Wernek was the supervisor of this project.
The entrance from the street to the three parallel round bow doors is a broad stairway.
There were 1209 catholic and 28 protestant Christians in Kirchhausen in those days.

On November 1st in 1844, the new church was consecrated and a new pulpit was built in 1853, because the old one was adjusted in an unpractical way.

In the 70s of the 19th century, new-Romanesque accessories were brought into the church by Benz from Schwäbisch Gmünd. In 1930 (Supervision Father Anton Bühler) the interior was painted by the artist August Blepp (Transfiguration on Tabor, ceiling fresco). During a renovation in 1952/53 the excellent new-Romanesque wood altars were removed.
In 1966 the art expert of the diocese Rottenburg-Stuttgart suggested a total renovation of the interior and the exterior of the church. In 1972 the interior of church was renewed during a small renovation and built in the two choir windows according to drafts of Josef de Ponte. In 1978 a total renovation of the church was started and finished in 1981. On November 1st, 1981 suffragan bishop Franz Josef Kuhnle consecrated the altar. The renovation from 1972 till 1981 was supervised by Father Richard Fischer. [He was also responsible for the building of the Adolf-Kolping Parish Center (annotation of Tobias Bumm).] Kirchhausen has about 3,600 inhabitants nowadays. 2,100 of them are Catholic and 1,100 Protestants.

Picture: High Altar around 1931

Description of the church's interior
Next to the entrance of the tower there is a statue of St. Anthony. There is a place in the tower where the visitor has the chance to do his devotions. There is a picture of Our Lady of Sorrows and one of St. Anna-Selbdritt. During Christmas time the Christmas manger, bought in 1995, can be found in here. The stable was created by local hobby artist Albrecht Pfau. The wood-carved figures were made in South Tyrol. At the west side of the nave is the group of apostles made in the second half of the 19th century. It is the only one in the Lowlands of Württemberg. The statues were not created according to the historical personages, but according to the colors and gestures. The front group is:
Simon Peter (Key), Paul (Sword), Jacob (Pilgrim Staff) and John (Chalice)
Middle Group: Andrew (Diagonal Cross), Simon Cananean the Fanatic (Saw), Matthew (Square) and Phillip (Cross Staff)
Group at the back: Matthew (Ax), Bartholomew (Knife), Judas Thaddeus son of Jacob (Mace) and Thomas (Lance)

Aisle Window (1981, Artist Josef de Ponte)
Single characters from the bible are shown to the believer as idols of practiced faith. Starting from the back window on the right hand side, moving to the left, the beholder can see scenes of the Old Testament to recognize certain characters of faith in their test situations in the Holy Bible: Abraham (Departure when God told him to go), Moses (march through the Red Sea, the commandments and the dance around the golden calf), Isaiah as a prophet (Prophecy of the Savior, coming out of the Jesse's root), John the Baptist (Preacher of penance, arrest by Herod).

In the first aisle window on the right hand side the birth of God's son Jesus Christ is pictured, with which the plan of salvation is fulfilled and the new time of God's reign has begun.

During this walk through church the beholder can see the vocation of the apostles at Lake Genezareth in which the believer can see his own vocation. In the next window, the proclamation of the gospel by Jesus' word (Sermon on the Mount) and deed (Healing of the Blind) are shown as the sign of the dawning of God's Reign. You can also see a picture of the Last Supper, with the passion announced by the cross.
The window in the back tells us about Easter and Pentecost and the mission of Jesus and his being around us to work on earth.

Choir windows (created in 1972 by Josef de Ponte, made by the art window company, Derix, Rottweil): They show the beginning and the end of the "Heilsgeschichte", history of salvation. Creation and Re-Creation, heavenly Jerusalem. The end of the window is the circle window (1981) in the choir of the church, which symbolizes the holy spirit and the seven gifts.

In the choir area is a picture of the Trinity next to the crucified Lord.

At the eastern side altar, where the relic of St. Sebastian is placed, this statue is the center. Sebastian is pierced by arrows. To his left we can see St. Laurentius with a grate. He is the patron of the poor souls in the purgatory. Students also call him for help. To the right of St. Sebastian is St. Stephen, the first martyr. He was stoned to death and his day of remembrance is December 26th. Even today, horses are consecrated on this day, since St. Stephen is the patron of horses. Even consecration of oats are carried out in some regions. In the old days, the stable boys and coachmen got new jobs on that day.

Behind the priest's lectern is a statue of St. Alban. He is pictured with the bible on his head. His day of remembrance is June 21st. He, being the patron saint of Kirchhausen, is celebrated on that day.

The stations of the cross are placed at the east side of church. Two Sundays before Easter, on April 5th, 1992 the Stations created by artist Wolfgang Kleiser from Vöhrenbach-Hammereisenbach near Furtwangen in the Black Forest, was consecrated by, then dean, Ottmar Möhler.
The artist worked 6 months to finish the 14 stations made of oak. The plates are grouped in three parts. Even though Jesus is in the center of the plates there are people around him, whose faces, gestures, and acts comment on the gruesome event and those people therefore express the relationship to the suffering and dying Jesus. The artist wanted to allow the beholder to relate to what is happening and to let him find his own life on the plates.
The stations are an obvious question to the beholder about how they see the suffering of their fellows. Either as an observer, who does nothing, or as a helper. The creator wants the beholder to meditate and pray.

The baroque picture next to it (17th century) shows the Assumption of Mary into Heaven.
Next to the picture of Mary is St. Josef (March 19th). He has a lily in his right hand and baby Jesus is sitting on his left arm.

Every craftsman asks him for help, especially the carpenters, and furthermore, families, married couples, and the dying.

Underneath the gallery there is a statue of a saint on each pillar. These are from the east side moving left:
St. Alban as a bishop with his head on the bible (June 21st), Patron Saint of the farmers. St. Sebastian, pierced by arrows (Jan. 20th). Numerous professions adore St. Sebastian as their patron, especially soldiers have always asked him for protection.
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St. Leonard, he is carrying a book and a chain (Nov. 6th). He is one of 14 helpers in need, and at the same time, patron saint of the cattle breeders, farmers, and prisoners. But even miners, coachmen, locksmiths, stable boys and smiths ask him for help, even mothers and women in childbed.

St. Wendell, he is holding a shepherd shovel in his hand and there is a sheep at his feet (Oct. 20th) he is the patron saint of farmers and shepherds. His day of remembrance, October 20th, was a day of rest for animals and people. A service was given on that day in Kirchhausen, even though the harvest had to be done.

Organs in St. Alban
On January 20th, 1845 the first organ in the newly built parish church was consecrated. It was built by the J.H. Schäfer company from Heilbronn, Germany for 3,100 Gulden. This organ was made an electric one in 1931 under the supervision of Father Anton Bühler by Späth Bros., Ennetach. It had 1762 pipes from then on.
At the end of the 1950s great damage was discovered. And it could not be repaired anymore. So a new organ was purchased in 1961.
This organ was built in 1963 by an organ building company in Markelsheim, named Heißler, and was consecrated in September 1964 by then dean Dietrich. The whole organ had 1554 pipes and cost 52,000 DM.

Bells of St. Alban
The chime of the church consist of four bells:
St. Georg, F-sharp, 1575 lbs., 1749, 40 inches
Christ King, G-sharp, 1425 lbs., 1948, 39 inches
Ave Mary, a-sharp, 1000 lbs., 1948, 15 inches
St. Michael, c-sharp, 600 lbs., 29 inches

Saint Alban
Saint Alban is a priest from Mainz, Germany. His name means "from Alba", i.e. coming from the city Alba Longa, near Rome. Around 400 he came to Mainz. The legend says that he came to Mainz from the Eastern Mediterranean, Upper Italy and Eastern France.
In 406 the German tribes of the Alans and Vandals conquer Mainz, and destroy it. Alban is killed during this attack. We don't know what it is that made him so popular that we still know about him. Archbishop Rabanus Maurus, the most educated person of those days (died in 856) reports on him. He is the first one to adore Alban. Mainz was situated in the very North of the empire and one of the four big Roman Cities along the Rhine, besides Worms, Strasbourg, and Basel. His grave can be found in the late-Roman cemetery. The admiration was started in the Carolinian time and brought to areas outside Mainz. The patronage might have come to Kirchhausen in those days. So the church that was burned down by the Hungarians in 926 could have been a St. Alban church. Or the title might have been given to the newly built church. Even the original catholic parish church of Frankenbach was a St. Alban church.

The day of remembrance of St. Alban is June 21st.

He is portrayed with a sword and holding his cut off head in his hand. He is admired as the patron saint of farmers, to protect them from thunderstorms. His intercession is against throat and neck diseases, headaches, and urine diseases.

The chapel of the Holy Trinity

Ignaz Pfau writes in his book from 1844:
Next to the mill, at the little valley that is filled with meadows and going in the direction of the town, you can see a small hexagonal flat building with a bell tower, which is placed in the direction of the road and seems to say hello to the walkers and invite them to pray in the sunshine, with it's white tin roof and the double iron cross.

According to these documents, the chapel was built in 1716 by Joan Debatia, a mill worker. There have been processions to this chapel each year on Trinity Sunday (Sunday after Pentecost). In the years 1834, 1866 and 1880 renovation work had to be done at the tower and the roof of the chapel. From 1991 through 1993 the outside was totally renovated by private persons. On Trinity Sunday there is a 6 a.m. rosary prayer to honor the trinity. A special rosary that is only prayed in Kirchhausen is in this special way!
During the summer months there is a rosary prayer each Sunday night at 6 p.m.

The legend of St. Anna's Chapel
Between Kirchhausen and the Hipfelhof, near the demarcation to Leingarten, there is the "Annalinde" (St. Anna's lime tree). And the Cross of St. Anna that can also be found on the county map of Heilbronn. There is a plate next to the cross with an inscription telling us about the destruction of the chapel by fire.
Nothing about this fire can be found in history books. It has only been passed on orally. Rumor has it that at the beginning of the 14th century the chapel was donated to Kirchhausen by the believing spouse, Juliana, married to the Knight of Kirchhausen. She also said that the tenants of the fields around the chapel had to donate the altar wine on a daily basis. They also had to donate six wax candles as high and as big as a brawny man.
The tenants did not want to do this anymore one day. Legend handily uses the rivalry between the towns around Kirchhausen and says that all tenants were exclusively from Großgartach (part of Leingarten today).
They had a odd notion during the time of the reformation:
They brought six candles on St. Anna's remembrance day, as usual. But only they knew that the candles were filled with gunpowder! During the mass the priest gave for several pilgrims, the candles blew up. The priest was just reading the gospel, when the catastrophe happened. Many people were killed or injured. The culprits didn't achieve what they wanted. They had to donate the altar wine till the middle of the 19th century - ground wine as it was called - as a rent.

After the destruction, pious citizens placed a pillar with a picture of St. Anna on it at the place where the chapel had stood. This pillar was still standing next to the "Annalinde" several years ago. The tree's trunk is 6 yards in diameter.
After the setting up the place around the lime tree as a recreation area, and renovation of the pillar, it was put a little further away from the tree on the way.

Things worth knowing
Next to the church there is the parsonage which is close to the parish center named after "Adolf Kolping" a priest from Cologne and built in 1974 and 1975. It is the center of parish life, which has declined in recent years.

In the highest story there is a big, divisible hall and a big kitchen. A convention room and the restrooms are situated on the first floor. Youth rooms and another kitchen are in the basement. The parish center can be used for family celebrations as well as clubs and associations rent them. The parish office can tell you more about it.

At 23 Asperger Street there is the St. Francis Kindergarten that was built from 1967 through 1968. It has been redesigned in 1998, so the three groups of kindergartners in there can be taught according to the latest teaching method [Kindergarten in Germany is not what it is in the USA! Children from ages 3 to 6 go there just to play, pray and enjoy the time before school starts, there is no real tuition or grades given in a German Kindergarten! (annotation: TB).]

On Kirchhausen soil and in the town center there are many field crosses and statues of St. Mary, which points out the long catholic tradition.

Masses at St. Alban

March through October
Saturday evening 7 p.m.
Sunday morning 9 a.m.

November through February
Saturday evening 6 p.m.
Sunday morning 10 a.m.

Once a month there is a Children and Family mass at 10 a.m. instead of a 9 a.m. mass on Sunday. The times of the masses during the week can be viewed in the Town News.
In the time from Trinity Sunday (Sunday after Pentecost) through the Day of the raising of the cross (Sept. 14th) there is a special rosary prayer at 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Catholic Parish St. Alban
36 Schlossstraße
74078 Heilbronn

Parish Office: 3 Poststreet, Phone: 07066-7208, Fax: 07066-901039

Editors: Priest Rudolf Mayer (died 1998) / Werner Eggensperger
Drawings: Wilhelm Beißwenger (died in 1986)
Text sources: Town chronicle of 1844 by Ignaz Pfau
Castle Fest Newspaper Editors
Layout: Werner Eggensperger

First Edition: January 1998 (1500 copies)

This Kirchhausen couple, Mr. and Mrs. Elfriede (GERMANN) FISCHER, maintain and live next to the Kirchhausen cemetery. They were exceptionally friendly and helpful during our visit to Kirchhausen.

Mrs. Elfriede Bier, Daniel Gärtner and Sina Mayer were very helpful while visiting Kirchhausen. Sina knows English very well.

Tobias "Toby" Bumm has lived in Kirchhausen for 24 years. He has a Kirchhausen site at A number of town pictures can be viewed in his gallery page. Toby writes in 2001, "I am at the University of Stuttgart now to get an M.A. degree in English and German. Half of the population of Kirchhausen is called Gärtner. But there are many different lines of Gärtners in Kirchhausen. My mother's maiden name was Gärtner, too, most people had nicknames to distinguish one family from the other. Since my mother's Gärtner ancestors had kind of a dark skin their were called "The Blackies". It is not common to search for your roots in our country, since we live together with our relatives till we die!!! People don't move around in the country as often as Americans do. There was one genealogist, though, who is responsible for the Kirchhausen history books. But he died in 1998. His name was Mayer and he was a former priest. He was just about to buy a PC and write books on Kirchhausen when he had a fatal accident. It was a real pity!
People from Kirchhausen have a nickname: We are called the Gerschtahewwel (Standard German: Gerstenhebel), the barleylifters, since during a famine some people from here tried to speed up the growth of barley by lifting it. Pulling it out of the ground was said to help it grow faster. It did not work, naturally. But ever since then we have had this nickname. "Church Town City" is a nickname for Kirchhausen used among high school students. "Kirch" translated to English is "church" and "hausen" is "house".
If I go to Stuttgart, the State Capital and talk to people they will alway say: "You must be from the Heilbronn area, you don't sound like us!" This is extremely funny since this type of rivalry has survived several centuries.
Kirchhäusemer (dialect expression for people from Kirchhausen) are said to be stubborn and defiant, but not violent. People here voted for the Zentrum (it is called CDU today), a liberal party, during the Nazi regime. Hardly any Nazis could be found here. I know, nobody would admit having been or being a Nazi, but it is true. During the elections in the 1930s, 72 % of all people here voted Zentrum. Only a small percentage liked Adolf Hitler.
That is what I am most proud of. One of my great-aunts was almost imprisoned for not giving the Nazi salute to a high-ranked state official around 1940. Her name was Klara Gärtner, born in 1900 and died in 1986.
Our dialect is very interesting, since we are influenced by different regions. Our town is at the border of Baden to Württemberg. The two parts of Germany have belonged together since 1952, but there are still differences. So we have got influences from the Swabian, Baden and even Palatinate (Pfalz) dialect. Highly interesting for me since I love phonetics. I will do my final paper in college about differences in phonetics between American and British English. Like most Germany towns, the locals are not very nostalgic, i.e. they don't really care about ancestry and stuff. So I am really sure there is no genealogist.
Every other year there is a "Schlossfest" (Castle Fest) taking place in Kirchhausen. All local clubs have got booths and sell food and beverages. There is the Brass club, the sports club, Catholic and Protestant church clubs, motorcycle club etc. This fest lasts three days and always attracts a lot of people from all over the county. There are fireworks and everybody is in a good mood. Even though, it rained this year, we liked it a lot.
And there is also a Castle Fest newspaper every time it takes place. I found a nice poem in the issue of 1979! Underneath the text, there is a little paragraph in which the author asks everyone who knows someone from Kirchhausen living abroad to give it to the one no longer living here. It was actually written for those emigrants who went to America between 1850 and 1950. And I think there were a lot. And some of them are still in touch with Kirchhausen and their families back home in Germany. It is very nice to see family reunions taking place on this occasion!
I first discovered the city of Bismarck on a USA map that I got in high school. I took it with me and it is hanging on my wall in my room now. It is quite big. When I told my parents about a city called Bismarck they thought I was kidding them. They did not believe me! The problem is: Germans very little about their "American cousins". We are only told that some Germans emigrated way back in the 19th century, but we didn't learn about preferred settlement areas like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, etc. And when kids come back to school after visiting relatives in the states, they very often have an American accent. Their teachers hate that. It is the British English that is taught in German high schools.
The Kirchhausen dialect is unique, which makes up only 5% of the German dialects. For example, the "r" is pronounced like an Italian. This is not true in all cases, as sometimes the "r" is silent. So the range goes from a silent "r" to an extreme "r", which can hardly be found anywhere else in GERMANY. "R" is strong after a consonant, but not after a vowel or at the beginning of a sentence. I am really proud of our Kirchhausen dialect.
It is a real pity that only the older people in Kirchhausen still speak a clear dialect. People born after 1960 have already been taught a mixed language of Standard German and dialect. Kids today are only taught standard German. But since many children in the kindergartens still speak a little bit of their dialect, the language the little ones have is sometimes a horrible mixture of all kinds of German tongues. As a linguist, this sounds horrible.
I love to hear Kirchhäusemers speak their dialect. One of my aunts, Agnes, is still pretty much into our dialect. It might seem ridiculous to many people, but I have started to adapt to it a little bit. It keeps the tongue alive! I enjoy speaking the dialect in my spare time. It is a bit like learning a foreign language even though it is close to my normal dialect.
It is a pretty harsh dialect. You have to listen to it for a while to discover that the person talking to you is not mad at you, but might even be friendly. Our dialect does not sound sweet like those near the Rhine. But it has its own charm."

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"The German is like a willow.
No matter which way you bend him,
he will always take root again."
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn -

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