Recollections of the Hirschland Villa

Originally posted Jan. 2011

Detail of Hirschland crest atop the Villa door. This crest was also at Franz Hirschland’s house in Harrison, NY. thanks to Laura & Anne for allowing us to use it.

Alice Moore wrote Victoria about the Hirschland Villa, and stories she had shared with her grandmother about this fabulous house. Here are some of them:

My grandmother, Waltraude Hirschland Sendlinger, was born in 1900. She was an identical twin and the girls were a “surprise” to her parents, Marcus and Maria Hirschland, as they already had three older children.

Christmas Surprise

From a Google image search: German Christmas Tree 1900. This images is on many sites.

Markus & Maria with their dog. Image from Alice and Laura.

Kurt, Gertrude, twins (Waltraude left and Editha right), Johanna 1906. Image from Alice & Laura.

Marcus was Jewish, but he married a Protestant woman, Maria Daugardt. They made the decision to raise their children in the Lutheran Church. Therefore, Christmas was celebrated at home in the Villa Hirschland. My grandmother told me of the great excitement in the house during the week preceding Christmas. A large tree was placed in the great hall, however the door was locked so that the children could not enter until Christmas Eve. Apparently there was a large keyhole to the room that would be stuffed with fabric to prevent them from peeking in.

Of course this was too great a temptation for the children and they would all sneak together to the door. Kurt, the only boy, would be chosen to poke the fabric out. A glimpse of the decorated tree was then to be had, each child taking a turn. Apparently it was worth the “scolding” when the fabric would be found lying on the floor inside the door, as they continued to do this each Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, the candles were lit as the children waited outside the door to be let inside the room. Finally when the door was unlocked and opened they could see the whole magnificent tree decorated with sweets and toys!

The Story of the Photos

In 1958, when I was ten years old, I took a train from Baltimore, Maryland to Indianapolis, Indiana to visit my Great-Uncle Kurt Hirschland and his wife Aunt Luise. I traveled alone and it was an exciting journey for me. Uncle Kurt and Aunt Louise had no children and I think Uncle Kurt enjoyed having me visit so he could share stories with me about his time growing up with my grandmother, Waltraude, his sister.

When I was getting ready to leave he gave me a packet of photographs of their childhood. These were photographs of the Villa Hirschland, their parents Marcus and Marie, and all of the baby pictures of each sibling. There were some additional photographs of them as young adults. He told me to give them to my grandmother Waltraude, as he thought that she would enjoy seeing them and he wanted her to keep them.

I was especially fond of the family photograph were the family is seated in front of the house. The parents are taking tea, and the children are all present. My grandmother and her twin sister Editha are seated on the two entrance columns. Above their heads is a coat of arms with a seated deer and La—nd underneath. Indeed, when my grandmother saw the photographs she was so moved that she began to cry and this made a great impression on me, as I rarely saw adults cry.

Alice’s & Laura’s Lineage
  1. Salomon Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers)
  2. Abraham Hirschland & Jonas Herz Hirschland (brothers)
  3. Markus Hirschland m. Amalie Hirschland (first cousins)
  4. Waultraut Hirschland Sendlinger
  5. Edith Emilie Maria Sendlinger
  6. Alice Moore
  7. Laura Roe

My grandmother lived with my parents and me, coming to America in 1952. She died in 1985 and after her death my mother went through her belongings. When I came to visit I asked my mother about the photographs and if she had found them. She told me that there were no photographs and that she had never seen them or she would have remembered them! Her comment was that “You must be remembering things- maybe Uncle Kurt showed them to you, but they have never been here!” I was sure that she was wrong, but could not prove it.

My mother died in 1989 and now it was my turn to go through belongings. I was working in my grandmother’s room when I found a leather portfolio in a bottom drawer, tucked away under some items. The portfolio was locked; there was no key. So I took a pair of scissors and cut it open. Reaching inside, I found a packet of papers and photographs. On top, was the Hirschland Villa family portrait! It had taken 31 years for these photographs to come to light again!  And now, another 22 years later, in 2011, we are sharing some of these photographs with Hirschland family descendants!

And here are some other 21st Century pictures of the Hirschland Villa.


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