Friday, May 04, 2007

Places named Geyer

On our recent vacation, we happened, mostly by chance, upon two places related to the surname Geyer. First, on our way up to Berlin, we decided to stop in Bamburg for lunch and sightseeing.


Residenzschloss Geyerswörth

First, it was a pleasant surprise to find ourselves driving on a street called Geyerswörth (this translates as something like, "Geyer's Place") as we headed towards the old city center. Then, as we pulled into the parking deck next to the Tourist Information Center, we were greated by a large overhead sign reading "Parkhaus Geyerswörth."

The nearby Schloss Geyerswörth, or Townhall Castle Geyerswoerth, was the home of the well-known Geyer family of Nürnberg (Nuremberg), who settled in Bamberg in the 14th century. In 1580, the palace was taken over by the bishop of Bamberg and over the years, many alterations and renovations have been made, so there is not much left visible of the original home.

Schloss Geyerswörth (Geyerswoerth Palace)

Tourists are encouraged to climb the tower for the view of Bamberg, the keys are available from the Tourist Information Office. The courtyard is often host to concerts (Feierhof Geyerswörth blog - in German/auf Deutsch).

The entrance to the courtyard of Schloss Geyerswörth



Berg und Bingestadt Geyer

A few days later, on our way from Dresden to Karlovy Vary, I noticed a sign that we were entering the Erzgebirge, or Ore Mountains. I remembered from looking up the origin of the name Geyer on Ancestry.de that one possibility was a town of Geyer in the Erzgebirge, so I quickly whipped out the map book and found that the town was almost directly on our route.

That's me at the city limits
(27 weeks pregnant with the next Geyer descendent)


Geyer is a small town of approximately 4,000 residents located about a half hour to the south of the city of Chemnitz in the German state of Saxony. The city is almost completely surrounded by the Geyersche Wald (Geyer Forest). The first mention of Geyer is in 1381, but there was mining going on in this area far earlier. It is from this mining that it has its status as a Bingestadt ("Binge" city). A "binge" (link in German) is a large area of sunken earth created by the collapse of a mine.

Postdistanzsäule (postal distance column)

The postal distance column located in the town square gives the postal delivery time between Geyer and various other cities in the year 1730. For example, the delivery time between Geyer and Leipzig was 24 hours ("St." stands for "Stunden", meaning "hours"). The columns were erected in many Saxon towns on the order of the Saxon Kurfürst (elector) August "Der Starke" (August "the Strong"). The obelisk carries the Saxon-Polish double coat of arms for Kurfürst Friedrich August I of Saxony, who was also King August II of Poland. The posts became obsolete starting in 1840 after a new standard of measurement was developed. Click here for a closer look at the Postdistanzsäule

The Wachturm (watchtower)

The square base of this 42 meter (138 feet) high former military post and watchtower, was built around 1395. The tower's octagonal upper section was added on between 1561 and 1564. It continued to be stocked and kept as a military post and watchtower until 1947. It is now the location of the local history museum. Next to the tower are markers listing the names of soldiers from Geyer who lost their lives in battle. There was no one named Geyer listed on these, and since the surname distribution maps I examined previously also did not show a large concentration of Geyers in this area of Germany, I can only conclude that if this is the origin of some Geyers, they moved out of the area a while back.

The view of Geyer from the base of the watch tower

The visit to Geyer was a bit sad. It is clearly one of the still very run-down towns of the former East Germany that suffers from high unemployment and a lack of money. But renovations have been made to the historic buildings and the town seems to be working hard to advertise the skiing and hiking in the area. For more photos, there is also a nice photo album of the city on it's website (in German/auf Deutsch).

1 comments:

Rene 10/27/2008 11:30 PM  

Hi there,
My name is Rene . I was born and raised in Geyer / Saxony. The Town received the name Geyer because of the way that this place was discovered so to speak. A Noble from the Village of Tannenberg went hunting for Vultures ( Geier or Geyer in old spelling). After he made his way to the nesting place he tied up his horse on the foot of a hill which was the Geyersberg, now known as what is left as the Binge. His horse was scraping the ground with its hoof and exposed silver in the rocks below. From there on the mining started and people started to settle and started to build. The name Geyer as you can see, came from the reason that this noble went out to hunt, namely vulture or hawk. The coat of arms of Geyer also shows those three birds. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Wappen_Geyer.png

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