Family History moments: Witnessed blessings

When my wife joined a local singing group, I started going to the family history library. After only a few weeks, however, I hit a wall called "Germany."

When my great-grandfather Henry Gabel came to Wisconsin, he had listed on all his paperwork that he came from Germany. No town was listed.

But when my grandfather's younger brother, Martin Gabel, traveled to the United States and applied for naturalization, he listed his home as Muckinrode, Germany. I looked and looked, but could not find it anywhere. I was at a total loss. Then I was challenged with cancer. I spent all my energies combating this.

Several years later, however, I found Church members who could help me resume my search — a couple who had lived in Germany and a sister who spoke, read and wrote German. The search began again.

My wife and I, joined by two other couples, traveled to Germany. We found three towns, all in East Germany, named Mackinrode, a slight variation on Muckinrode. At the second Mackinrode town, we found Gabels dating back to 1859. We also visited the local cemetery and found more Gabels. I was so excited to learn the name had stayed the same all though the years. We took lots of pictures, but found nobody we could communicate well with in town.

Once home, I received an answer to a letter from a priest's assistant in Germany, which included names and dates about my great-great-grandfather's family. Eight months later we got an e-mail from a distant cousin in Germany — who had learned of our search from the priest's assistant — with more information.

Then my nephew met and was engaged to a woman from Germany. My soon-to-be niece continued my search. She contacted my cousin in Germany and looked at old photographs of the Gabel family. My cousin told us that Gables had helped build a church in Mackinrode, then the rectory, and then had built their own home. My future niece, with help from my distant cousin, added four more generations to our family history, taking us back to the 1600s.

Today I marvel at all that happened. I am thankful for the blessings I witnessed as I fulfilled my patriarchal blessing and gathered the names. — Bob Gabel, Wasilla, Alaska

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