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More Ruff & Lehenbauer family trivia

Since blogging about my cousin Ernest, I've been on a family history jag. I'm not sure how interesting any of this is to non-relatives, but with Bad Monkeys' pub. date just four months away, I'm starting to get requests from publicists for biographical tidbits to feed to reviewers and interviewers, so maybe there's something here that'll qualify as "local color." And, hey, I think it's cool.

First, a couple corrections: in my previous post, I had originally written that both the Ruffs and the Lehenbauers came from Bavaria. Actually, the Ruffs were Prussian; my great-great-grandfather Johann Frederick Ruff was born in 1830 in the village of Badeleben, near Magdeburg. I think the reason for my confusion on this point is that my German publisher is located in Munich, so I regard Bavaria as my home base when I'm over there. But if there's a Bad Monkeys book tour, I'll have to see if I can arrange a stop in Badeleben, and maybe at the University of Berlin to look for J.F.'s old school records.

As for Mom's side of the family, I wrote that the Lehenbauers worked as linen weavers in the town of Oettingen "during the late 18th and early 19th centuries." Those dates come from The Family Lehenbauer, a privately published genealogy. What I'd forgotten until I started digging into my files is that I also have a set of addenda to the genealogy that pushes the timeline back even further. Turns out the Lehenbauers were in Oettingen from at least the 17th century. The ur-ancestor is a man named Johann Caspar Leonhard Lehenbauer, born in 1674.

Geez, 1674. I'm simultaneously awestruck and amused. I mean, the guy is my great-great-great-great-grandfather (one of them -- I've got, what, 31 others?). At a remove of six generations, the genetic link must be getting pretty weak, and culturally we'd be aliens to each other. So to feel a special connection to him is, on one level, absurd. And yet...

Closer to home (temporally speaking), I also did some checking on my grandfather, the Lutheran missionary who went to South America. It seems he wrote a short memoir, Roughing it for Christ in the wilds of Brazil, that is listed on Amazon.com, though of course it's long out of print. My wife Lisa is going to use her rare-book skills to try and locate a copy, but this is the sort of ephemera that is notoriously difficult to track down.

One thing I did find, though, is a street in Santa Rosa, Brazil that's named after Grandpa -- the Rua Pastor Albert Lehenbauer (Google Maps has the last name misspelled as "Lemenbawer", but it's definitely him). While I'm not sure how he came to rate a street sign, it's probably got something to do with his role in Brazilian agricultural history. Grandpa was the guy who first brought soybeans into the country and convinced the local gauchos to start growing them; today, soy is Brazil's second-biggest legal export crop.

And one more neat little discovery: if you fire up Google Earth and look at Santa Rosa from orbit, the town is disappointingly blurry. But if you track south-southwest, the satellite resolution suddenly gets a whole lot sharper (CIA must have had biz in the neighborhood), and if you look closely, about fifteen miles out you'll find a dot marked Ipiranga next to a spot where two dirt roads meet at right angles. I believe this is Ypiranga Crossroads, where my grandfather and grandmother were married and where my mother spent her childhood. The level of detail is high enough that I could easily pick out the house, if I knew what it looked like.

So again, a mixture of awe and amusement. Hi, Grandpa. Hi, Mom. Greetings from the future.


Mar. 16th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
Well, that certainly beat anything I've found in my sparsely-documented family history (although there are some suspiciously Mafioso photos and dealings).

If you happen to find yourself in Berlin, you should see if there is still a painting in the Checkpoint Charlie Museum depicting a Rock-Biter from the Neverending Story breaking through the Wall. I recall seeing it, but as time goes on I begin to doubt my memory. then again, it was all from Die Unendliche Geschichte...
Mar. 17th, 2007 03:29 pm (UTC)
Try to make a stop at the German National Library in Leipzig, if there is a Bad Monkeys book tour. They have two copies of "Roughing it for Christ in the wilds of Brazil".
Best wishes from Germany,
Mar. 17th, 2007 04:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the tip!
Mar. 17th, 2007 04:17 pm (UTC)
You're welcome.
As someone who worked in a German library for a few years, I may find a way to get you photo copies of the two books, although Leipzig normally doesn't allow that for their books.
If you are interested let me know and I'll check this out on Monday.
Mar. 17th, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC)
Yes, please, that'd be great. If it turns out you can get copies made, send me an email via the contact page of my website.
Mar. 17th, 2007 03:46 pm (UTC)
Another book by your grandfather...
called "Laßt uns unsere Pflicht tun : Eine Ermunterung u. Anleit. f. lutherische Christen zu rechtem Geben f. kirchliche Zwecke" is also available in Leipzig!
Mar. 18th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
Just want to support the thought of a Bad Monkeys book tour in Germany. Excellent idea ....
Jul. 8th, 2007 04:40 am (UTC)
family history info
hey matt, this is ernies brother, eric, i am now monitoring you and your little family tidbits, and this one is interesting to me too- thanks, and best of luck with your new book!
Oct. 4th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
Emil Eugene Lehenbauer once of Noble ,OK
Hi, Enjoyed you site. I have spent some time doing research on the Lehenbauer family in the past. The name Lehenbauer is Upper Austrian and there their names are two syllables ending in er. This told to the family by Irngard Roettger of Oettingen. My Lehenbauer family in Oklahoma comes from Johann (John) Georg Gottfried Lehenbauer. He owned 80 acres in Marion county,MO so did the wheat trashing industry for his family to make a living. Came to Oklahoma to get in on the Land run of 1892 South West of Kingfisher,OK. Kingfisher is known today as the Belt buckle of the wheat belt. John married to a German Northern Methodest and the Lutheran religion kind of left this branch of the family. Emil of Norman ,Ok
Jul. 20th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC)
Albert Lehenbauer
There is a museum in South America with the history of Albert Lehenbauer bringing soybeans there.

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