Remembering Our
Danube Swabian Ancestors

Donauschwaben Villages

"Helping Hands"

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world.
In fact, it is the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead


Susan Sander
New York, USA

Glogowatz Village Coordinator

College Point Coordinator



“—never stop asking questions!  And remember that
direct questions don’t always get you the best answers."

Mover & Shaker
Interview by Rose Mary Keller Hughes
Published at 25 Apr 2005 by Jody McKim Pharr

We are lucky to have had time to visit with Susan Sander who is the Village Coordinator for Glogowatz.  We also know her from her helpful messages on the DVHH List.  Read along to learn about another one of our DVHH Movers & Shakers . . .

Hello Susan . . . I know the other Listers are as eager to learn about you as I am . . . we read your messages and are appreciative of the help you so generously give. Let’s get acquainted—tell us a little bit about yourself.   

Sometimes questions are easy to answer and sometimes they can be difficult.  That seems to be the case for me because I feel I am in a “transition” phase of my life.   I was born in College Point, New York—the town where my Hungarian grandparents settled when they arrived in 1911 from Glogowatz with three of their children—my father’s two older brothers, George and Paul and my father, Frank, who was nine months of age.  Like many children, I took the town of College Point for granted.  Now, looking back, I realize what a unique place it was in which to grow up.  College Point is located in the county of Queens, one of the five boroughs of New York City.   It’s located on the East River, just a stone’s throw across the river from LaGuardia Airport.   I never considered myself living in New York City . . . the “city” meant skyscrapers like the Empire State Building and Times Square. 

I’ve been married to my husband, for 37 years and we raised two daughters. We’re both in a transition period as we are starting up a travel business selling cruises. My interests include writing, which I’m getting to do lots of now that I’m “writing the Family Stories,” photography, and beachcombing whenever I can do it. I like to think I’ve enjoyed hours and hours of rearranging beaches all over. I even love walking on beaches in the winter and taking snapshots. 

What got you started in doing genealogical research?

My genealogical research started just prior to the opening of the Ellis Island records.   I knew that my Dad’s family was from Hungary and my Mom’s family was from Bohemia.  Unfortunately, I never thought to ask questions when those who could have answered them were still here—a trait I share with so many who are sorry they waited so long!
(I think that most of us can identify with that!) I’ve been at this project for about five years.   My interest really started when I found my father’s birth and baptismal certificates hidden away in a metal box with an assortment of papers.   I found the name of the town of Glogovat and soon learned that most books in my local library did not have maps that were old enough to show this little town.  Then I started searching on Google and quickly found Peter Schmidt’s Village of Glogowatz site.   I was amazed at what he and others had put together.  I located the listing of Dave Dreyer’s Manifest Records including people arriving from the town of Glogowatz—the first name on the list was someone who was traveling to College Point.  From that moment on—I was “hooked on genealogy.”  I confess I did not have to struggle through the searching that many others did—in a way, much of it was done for me.  Just about the time I connected with Peter Schmidt he was completing the job of having the Glogowatz church records photographed and transferred to CD—lucky me—once I received my CDs, I started reading and recording trying to put order in names that I had never heard before.  My husband soon learned where he would find me—at my computer reading these records—he even coined a new term for my new-found hobby!  Glogowatzing! 

When asked what kind of software she might be using, Susan answered: 

I tried using a family tree program to record my Glogowatzing but just didn’t have the patience to really learn to use it.   Instead, I’ve used Excel spreadsheets to record all the people I have found—listing the birth records and then using the program to sort by parent’s names.  

Susan was asked of all her ancestors, who had made the biggest impression on her.  She responded: 

I would have to say that I have two ancestors who have made an impression on me—they would be both of my grandmothers—my Paternal Grandmother, Sophie Sander nee Reichert, and my Maternal Grandmother.  They both were strong women—something I never quite realized while they were living—another example of taking people and times for granted, unfortunately.   Since this is about our Banat ancestors, I will concentrate on my Paternal Grandmother.  My grandmother’s father died when she was about six years old.   Within a few years, her mother remarried and Granny and her brother were sent to live and work on other farms.  At the age of 7 or 8, Granny had a job feeding chickens among other chores.  It was her employer who encouraged her to leave Glogowatz before she was “attached” to anything.  He loaned my grandparents the money for the trip . . . all of which was paid back through their hard work.   She was the first to find work by helping another woman with laundry.   She told her new employer that she had a baby (my dad)—this woman said that’s fine, bring him along and he can play with my son, Joseph, who is about the same age.   And they became life-long friends! My grandmother moved away from College Point in 1946 with my aunt.   

My aunt and her daughter, my cousin, have been the ones to really teach me about my Granny.  They were the “keepers of the stories and the photographs” that have helped me learn what a strong woman my Granny was!   Granny’s maiden name was Reichert and she was always so proud to be a Reichert.  I heard all the stories of hard work and the fun of dances, horseback riding, and walking across a frozen river to attend a dance only to be frightened on the way home when they heard the ice start to crack and groan.  Granny was the one who told me my “best” color was green and how I would never find anyone to marry me if I didn’t learn to cook and sew.  Granny was a tiny woman with a soft voice and long, long hair which she tied up in a bun.   Her pictures look as if she didn’t change from the time she came to America until the time she died.    As my cousin and I discover the German words and gather information about Glogowatz, my cousin says she can almost hear Granny’s voice as she told her about this place where she grew up—Glogowatz—almost as if Granny were teaching us how to find our way to Glogowatz.    

Susan, what has been your most remarkable find in your roots research?  Has your world opened in that you have found living relatives you didn’t know existed?

As I read the Ellis Island records I discovered that many of the people who were my father’s friends in College Point were actually cousins.   When my Granny would visit us when I was a teenager, she would always go to visit someone named “Donde Weisenburger”—at least that’s what I thought I heard.   Now I know this woman was really Tante Weisenburger—Granny’s half sister.  I’ve learned that I attended St. Fidelis grammar school with a second cousin—neither of us was even aware we were cousins.  My newfound cousin, George, said there were other Reicherts in town but we weren’t related.  Wrong!  They were cousins too—we’ll never know why the family somehow became disconnected.   Maybe it was just the hard work of living and raising a family.  

What are some really memorable experiences resulting from your family search?   

Some of the things that have happened have been “spine-tingling” too.   Early on, I joined a mailing list where people were researching some of my family surnames: Reichert, Schlee and Weisenburger. I connected with two women who had discovered they were cousins.   One of them, Erika Schulko, was trying to find the Weisenburger family who had helped her family so many years ago by mailing packages to them—packages of clothing, etc. that even as a child she knew made a big difference in their lives.   But she had no way of finding them and had almost given up hope.    She wrote me this story and I forwarded this e-mail to my cousin in Florida because I knew she and my aunt kept in contact with a Theresa Weisenburger.  Roberta then forwarded this same e-mail to another woman who is a Weisenburger descendant.  Arlene read Erika’s story . . . and realized it was her family who had sent those packages so many years ago.   She remembered helping her own grandmother wash and iron the clothing and wrap those packages.   A few months later, Erika came to New York to meet Arlene and the rest of the family—cousins reunited through the “miracle of e-mail and the internet.”   

About a year ago, I was surfing around the internet and re-visited the HOG Glogowatz site.  I started scanning through their collection of pictures and found one labeled—Family Reichert, about 1910.  Of course, the name Reichert caught my eye!  I looked at the picture with interest and then left a message in the guest book hoping someone could give me the names of the people in the photograph.  The next morning I received an e-mail from Erwin Kilzheimer of Sindelfingen, Germany.  He gave me the names of the people and I quickly realized I was looking at a photograph of my Granny’s aunt and uncle, Ferencs Reichert and Magdalena Dumelle and their children.    Erwin has since connected me with several of the descendants of this family.  Ever since then we have been exchanging pictures and information and just keeping in touch in general. Another touching story here too. One of my new-found cousins has told me how happy this has made her. It made me realize how much we take for granted.  When our ancestors came to America they left behind a life and a family—some of whom they never saw again. My cousin who is 75 told me how distraught her father was when he lost contact with his younger brother. The brother who came to America died in the 1950s. Since his children did not speak German, the families lost touch with one another. She says connecting with me and my family makes her feel as if the link that was broken so long ago has now been mended. We both like to think that our families are “dancing in heaven” as they see us get to know one another.    

If you were confined to only one tip you might give a fellow researcher, what would it be?

One tip—actually that’s not a hard one!     You may think at first that you’ve learned all you can from a particular piece of information.  But don’t stop.   Go back . . . especially after you’ve done more research.   You may find things that you overlooked.  Or it might be that since you have learned more about your family history, information that didn’t appear to be important at first now falls right into place.   My best example would be the picture of the Reichert Family I found at the HOG Glogowatz site.   I know I had seen the picture before but it meant very little to me at the time.  I remember thinking “what a sweet little baby”.  Several years later, after collecting so much family data from the Glogowatz site, I knew the names of quite a few of my ancestors.    When Erwin gave me the names of the people in the photograph, I recognized immediately that they were family!   If I hadn’t gone back, I’d have missed out on meeting my Reichert Family who now live in Sindelfingen.    

Another tip that is related to the first one—never stop asking questions!   And remember that direct questions don’t always get you the best answers.   Many times the older members of your family have memories that “have yet to be tapped.”   A direct question is answered with “I don’t remember.”   Instead, share with them what you have learned . . . and you just might trigger a memory for them.  You’ll hear a story you’ve never heard before and they will enjoy re-living a special time in their lives or a special memory about their parents that had somehow been “lost in time.”   

The interview came to a close but Susan wanted to add just a bit more . . . 

One last comment.   I am very grateful for all the friends I have made while researching—especially all those who have shared their memories on the DVHH list.   Sometimes I find others on the internet who are researching similar names, etc. and I send an e-mail to someone I don’t even know and am pleasantly surprised when they take time from their busy lives to respond.   We may not have made a direct connection, but we’ve had an opportunity to share something of interest to both of us.  

Thank you so very much, Susan, for your willingness to share yourself and your knowledge with all of us on the List.  Thank you as well for being a Shaker and Mover—it is people like you who not only assist us in our efforts to learn about our history but who are also willing to go that extra mile when researchers are in need of help.

Susan Sander & the DVHH ...

Susan has been a part of the DVHH since the beginning.  She was a member of the original DVHH Administration Team, which focused on decision making and planning of the DVHH project.  Helping others to be successful in their research has always been a priority to Susan; and her contributions to the dvhh-L mail list are those of someone who really cares and who goes the extra mile.  Susan is an expert in church record research and loves searching in the Ellis Island records!  Susan's is a first responder to researcher's inquiries, her responses can be found throughout the dvhh-L archives.


Glogowatz Village Coordinatorr

College Point Coordinator

Mail List Inquiries & Roll Call by Susan Sander

Coordinated the submission: The Banater Schwaben Memorial - Mannheim, Germany

Thank you Susan for your contributions to the DS community and the DVHH Project!

[Published at 30 Sep 2020 by Jody McKim Pharr]

Last updated: 31 Oct 2020