Helfenbein Family - Personal Sketch

Compiled by:
Elizabeth Hagge, Adam Helfenbein, and Margaret Hartmus and other members of the Family



Fields of Far Away

Ho, for the Fields of Far Away!
Let us go back there brother mine,
Let us return for a dream and a day
Back where the beckoning vistas shine.
To be back where the road leads forth and far,
Into the Bourne of the Days
There where the wraiths of our memories are
Lifting a finger to you and me!

Down in the Fields of Far Away,
How are the loves ones holding out?
What are the old folks doing today?
What are the boys and girls about?
Still does the Mother sit and croon,
Ballads of love to the brother wee?
Still does the Father's fiddle tune,
Stir with its melodies you and me?

Lo in the Fields of Far Away,
Father's asleep - and the grass above!
Mother - bless her - is bent and gray.
Let us go back and take our love,
For you are the brother once so wee,
And we are the children that used to play.
Mother is waiting for you and me,
Back in the Fields of Far Away.

- by Robertus Love               

Peter Helfenbein and his wife Elizabeth Heinz Helfenbein and their six children left Osthofen, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, November 1st, 1853, and sailed from Havre, France for America.  They arrived in New York Christmas morning, 1853 and in Waverly Ohio, January 17, 1854.  Here they had relatives - the widow and children of Wendall Best. 

When Grandmother [Peter's wife, Elizabeth] was five years of age, her mother died.  She had three brothers - John, Karl, and Bernhardt.   Her mother's brother, Wendall Best and his wife took her into their own home where she grew up as one of their children.  When she was confirmed, her pastor explained to her her parentage and restored her name - Heinz.  After the death of Wendall Best, in Germany, his widow and children came to America.  They settled in Waverly, O., where the children, several grandchildren still live, and where Grandmother Best, as she was known, died.  It was to these relatives that Grandfather and Grandmother Helfenbein came, in 1854.

A brother and half-brother of Grandmother's came to New York, later, but returned to Germany.  Grandmother's brother, Karl, married his cousin, Rosa Best - niece of Wendall Best.  At the time of their betrothal, the laws of Germany prohibited the marriage of cousins, so Karl then came to America, leaving his wife-to-be with her parents until he could send for her, which he did, but she was not allowed to go.

Karl then returned to Germany, where they were married and continued to live.  During his absence in America, his son was born.  As there had been no legal marriage ceremony, the son must bear his mother's name.  He was christened Karl Best.  This son is now (1922) in New York City.  He is head of the wholesale Dry Goods  Co. of Karl Best and Son.  He visited Grandmother Helfenbein in Waverly, O., for two weeks in 1890.

Ottilia Best Messel is the one for whom my mother, Ottilia Helfenbein Schmidt was named.  Frederick Louis Messel, her husband, has a Jew.  His family were bankers in Worms.  They disowned him when he married a Christian, so he came to America.  He was highly educated and taught school in Waverly.  Mother went to school to him and called him Uncle Messel.  She often spoke of him and his refusal to pronounce the name of Jesus Christ or any compound of the words.  He sometimes told his pupils who could not pronounce the words to "Jump over the d-l".

The Ohio family of Heinz of the "57 Varieties" (Fancy pickles, etc.) are related to grandmother Helfenbein.  Of Grandfather Helfenbein's relatives, the children now living, know or remember little, as none came to this country.

- Written by Clara Elizabeth Helfenbein Schmidt.