Mainz-Mombach:I drove to Mainz, population about 184,000 Germans, on the Rhein River, west of Frankfurt and 33 kilometers from Mommenheim. I don't think it got much past 20 F degrees all day, and the cold made the city feel creepy with smoke rising from factories and hovering in grotesque, ghostly forms. After getting lost twice in Mainz, I found the borough (for lack of a better word) of Mombach, ancestral home of my great, great, great, grandfather George Paul.
My map had little detail on Mainz, so I had to keep driving in the vicinity of where I thought Mombach was until I saw a sign for it. I did some impressive seat-of-pants driving in Mainz. I had no map but was able to keep oriented at all times.
Records showed George Paul was from Mombach-Hesse-Darmstadt. Darmstadt was 33 kilometers west of Mainz so perhaps 150 years ago it was considered part of the Darmstadt area? It does seem a coincidence that all these names; Darmstadt, Mainz, Momenheim and Mombach, although not exactly matching the records, are within 32 kilometers (20 miles) of each other. And Franz Paul, my great-great Grandfather, Lawrence's brother, was married to a Theresa Wenzel of a town called Baden. There was a modern town called Baden-Baden on the Rhein River, 87 kilometers south of my deployed location at Ramstein Airbase, Kaiserslautern, Germany. Maybe Theresa sailed up the Rhein River to meet Franz? Based on the towns I'd seen, my mother and father's ancestors lived only 100 kilometers (62 miles) apart. Also, Dörrenbach, where my mother's ancestors (Weiss) came from was just 8 kilometers (5 miles) from France, and a little town called Weissenbourg. I'm probably part French--I do tend to salute with both hands placed on my head. My great-great Grandfather's name was Franz after all!
Mainz-Mombach was a small, older part of Mainz next to the railroad tracks and the Rhein River. I parked in what appeared to be the good part of town and walked down a mile-long hill to the not-so-good part of town, reading every road sign and house name I could. The buildings looked old and there was a church which looked to be about 100 years old, although I couldn’t find a date on it and it had obviously been renovated inside.