By Bishop Jude Speyrer
Back in 1991, things were just as feverish in Dörrenbach, but on a grander scale when the town was just one year away from its 1000 Anniversary. In many ways the momentum we sense building up among us is similar to what Ernst Lammering described in an old letter to Father Jules Speyrer. Rereading this letter, I was intrigued by another story it tells and wondered how many people have heard about what happened.
Some called it serendipitous. It seems that workers repairing the church for the big celebration came across a metal box concealed between two rafters in the steeple. What did that box contain? Inside, the carpenters found a four-page document dated 1791, written and signed by one Johannes Anthon.
Always with a passion for mysterious discoveries, I can remember my growing interest as I first read Ernst's report. I retell it here today, hoping that you too will sense the same thrill I experienced back then. Let us briefly review the tale
But first, back to Ernst's letter. Most of it describes the residents' preparation in the months immediately prior to July 10, 1992, the start of the 1000th anniversary observance. In those days, no one in Dörrenbach, it seems, had time for sleep. All were busy making arrangements; no one was left in peace. With barely nine months to go, the top floor of the city hall had been quickly converted into a central headquarters. Seven committees (consisting of from two to twelve members) were getting their projects in shape. Some worked on the area's history; some reviewed plans for dealing with record traffic in streets designed more for the horse and buggy.
Some people worked on the budget, calculating costs while others ordered materials and recruited staff. In short, there was no lack of jobs for those willing to work.
Suddenly, in the midst of all this commotion important historical documents were found. In the church tower, (where close-by lie the graves of many Speyrer and Cuntz family members), carpenters brought to light a cache of yellowed papers.
What follows here is a translation provided by Klaus Lammering, son of Ernst and Hedwig Lammering. (His mastery of English equips him to teach the language, where he did for several years in Singapore).
The document concludes:
In our own attempt to leave a lasting record of the 1996 Speyrer Family Anniversary celebration, repairs and renovations are currently underway at the grave-site of Conrad Speyrer in the church cemetery of Grand Coteau, La.
Although not yet completed, even today there is already something to be seen.(Editor's Note: The renovation was completed in late December) Visitors to this burial ground will find a large stone already bearing the date of 1996, and which refers to the devotion of Conrad's grateful descendants. This memorial, we hope, will serve as a reminder for those who follow us. When they grow old enough to wonder about the origin of the Speyrer family, this new stone's inscription will be there to inform them.
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