A trip across the pond: resident visits German side of family

Donelle Pardee Whiting

While a majority of Americans have little, if any, knowledge of family members who immigrated from Europe, that is not the case for one Washington family.

Dee Ann Lott said she is the third generation in her family to keep in contact with relatives in Germany.

“My great-grandfather, Adam Kerrn, emigrated from Germany in 1881,” Lott said. “He and his nephew promised to never let the family lose contact with each other.”

Lott said the family stayed in contact through letters, phone calls and eventually, e-mails, adding the responsibility passed from one generation to the next.

“I am also the first one to switch from letters to e-mail and to start a family Web site,” Lott said.

After World War II, Lott said her family sent food and clothing to their relatives in Germany.

Lott said her grandfather, Theodore Kerrn, was the first generation in her family born in America.

Lott’s parents are Frank and Peggy Kerrn, and her grandmother is Lillian Kerrn.

“I decided to go to Germany because although the family has kept in touch, I was the first one to meet the family in person,” Lott said.

Lott said her nephew, Theo Lott, and his wife, Marca, went with her to Germany June 3 through June 17.

“We flew over together and spent the first day or two together, before Theo and Marca went off to sightsee and visit Switzerland on their own,” Lott said.

Before their trip, Lott said Theo had met a German friend online to help him learn the language and about the country.

“We found out later that his friend went to school with some of my family members,” Lott said.  

Toward the end of her trip, Lott said, Theo and Marca met up with her for a drive along the Mosel River, sightseeing, shopping and traveling around the area.

“This was my first time to Germany and I loved it,” Lott said. “I am proud of my German heritage.”

Lott said she was welcomed by several mayors, who gave her a tour of their factories, museums and other local places.

During her trip, Lott said she visited Frankfurt, Mainz, Cologne and Trier, Germany, all towns located along the Mosel and Rhein rivers and Luxembourg.

Lott said she met about 25 family members, since some were away on business.

Although Lott said it was hard to pick out her favorite part of the trip, she said meeting family was one of her favorite things, along with walking where her family members walked.

“Visiting the church where my great-grandfather was baptized in 1859, and viewing the actual church/baptismal register was another favorite part of the trip,” Lott said.

Lott said her relatives still attend the same church and still live in the family’s original home.

“My great-grandfather’s family had a bank in their home and a butcher shop,” Lott said, adding, “They made barrels for wine or beer, owned quite a bit of land and were considered large farmers since they owned horses.”

Lott said the last of the family’s animals were sold recently and that she has a long line of mayors, fire chiefs, police commissioners and bankers in her German family members.

“I also enjoyed seeing castles, especially the Burg Eltz, which has been in the same family for more than 800 years,” Lott said.

Lott said her family was generous with daily gifts, cruises on the Rhine and rides on Germany’s InterCity Express train.

“I enjoy all things German, so I loved the country and the people, especially my family,” Lott said.

When family members got together, Lott said several relatives brought family documents, charts and photographs with them, which allowed her to learn more about her family history.

“I was also able to visit places where family events or history took place,” Lott said.

Lott said she plans to visit Germany again, along with family members from Germany coming over to visit her.

“It was a genealogist’s dream,” Lott said. “a real trip of a lifetime.”