“Our ancestors are our roots, without roots there is no life” (Perings, 1990, p3).
Agnes Perings was my second cousin twice removed on my paternal side. Without her research, I would know little about the Kersten side of my family. Her booklet as she calls it, sheds light on the family and heritage of Mathias Kersten and Anne Maria Reiter.
Agnes in her booklet, describes the way property was divided historically. The “Realteilung” or Real Division meant that each child inhereits part of the families property and could marry. However, this meant that the property got divided and subdivided into smaller and smaller parts. “This explains why already from 1840 people began to move from the Eifel to the Ruhrregion (to the mines of northwest Germany) or to emigrate to America hoping to find work and bread there” (Perings, 1990, 7).
The essence of the tale is one of poverty. Due to the structure of the homesteads and the time period (19th Century), there was not enough “work, money and bread” so Peter the eldest living son emigrated to America. His brother Hubert also emigrated (Perings, 1990, 9). Peter Kersten was my great-grandfather. We have discussed him previously in this blog.
The name Kersten was at its origin derived from the baptismal name Christian. Historically the name was written in a variety of ways: Kirst, Krist, Kirsten, and eventually, Kersten.