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Ortner family celebrates centennial in Holyoke PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Four generations of the extended Ortner family gathered in Holyoke Saturday, Dec. 14 to celebrate the “Comin’ to America” of their father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Johann Ortner, who 100 years ago at age 17 left Austria to start a new life in the USA.

The family gathering began with toasts offered in appreciation of Johann’s faith and determination, his accomplishments in his new country and the values he and his wife Mary instilled in their children.

The John and Mary Ortner family is pictured from left, front row, Helen, Mary, John R., John and Dorothy; and back row, Catherine, Margaret, Joseph and Marie.

Authentic Austrian dishes of Tafelspitz, Blaukrout, Wiener Schnitzel, Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, and Apfelstrudel were enjoyed by over 40 relatives. Table decorations featured American and Austrian flags and edelweiss napkin rings.

Memories were shared and stories were told while Austrian music played in the background. Mementoes were on display along with family pictures. An oral and video history was presented by two of Johann’s (John’s) children, Dorothy and John R., and grandson Richard Ortner.

On his journey to America, Johann (John) was accompanied by three other emigrants from Austria, one of whom kept a daily journal during the trip. This journal was passed on to the Ortner family and had been translated from German by cousins in Austria.

Over the past month, in anticipation of the celebration, excerpts from the story of the journey, which began in a port in Bremen, Germany, Nov. 14, 1913, were recounted to the extended family via email on each corresponding day.

Thus John’s descendants were able to appreciate some of the joys and trials of his adventures at sea.

Following a month-long journey across the Atlantic, John disembarked from the ship Chemnitz on Dec. 14, 1913, in Galveston, Texas.

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Holyoke Enterprise December 26, 2013