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Sauerzapf Castles


Welcome to our family web site!

The Sauerzapf family in the USA consists of Mary, Maria and Joe.

We live in the Little Village area of Chicago. It's a predominantely Mexican neighborhood a couple of miles north of Midway Airport.

Mary graduated from Lincoln Park High School where she played the oboe and won city wide writing and science awards. She was a member of the prestigious Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, the high shool arm of the Chicago Symphony and was a member of Illinois State orchestra. Currently she is an EKG technician doing heart readings by telemetry from all over the United States.

Maria is Coordinator of School Based Clinics (3) for Alivio Medical Center. She is retired from the Cook County Bureau of Health, Chicago Department of Health and the Chicago Board of Education.

Joe was an associate pastor at three Chicago Catholic parishes and is retired from the American Cancer Society. He taught at Tepeyac High School and St. Augustine College. He is also a ham radio operator, K9HNL, and a pilot.

In the right column of this page you see one of the castles that Familie Sauerzapf owned along the Iron Road. They owned and operated a number of foundries and castles including one in a rock cliff near Regensburg. Pictures are on the Sauerzapf Castles page. Charles V granted Sauerzapf nobility to the family. What this means is that there is no title or location designated (like Count von (of) Sulzbach). Nobility goes with the family name. So nobility is formally expressed by saying VON Sauerzapf. This area of the Upper Palatine suffered enormously during the Thirty Years War. Most of the castles were burned. Some, like the one in Rohrbach, have been restored.  Today there are no Sauerzapfs living in this area. In a visit to most of the parish churches you can see the Sauerzapf coat of arms above the center of the church or above the main altar. A lumber industry as well as the Iron industry brought about the migration of other Sauerzapf family members Southeast down the Danube to the Vienna area or West on the Danube to the Baden area of Germany.
How I came to discover the Sauerzapf  story is a strange tale, that began when I was a year old. A very old lady pulled up in a Rolls Royce. She approached my mother and explained that she was from Germany and that she wanted to inform us that she was the last Sauerzapf.  She placed me on her knee, which frightened my mother. She said she was extremely rich and was able to buy passage on a submarine, that was bringing German spies to the US through New Orleans. America was entering World War II. She said she wanted our family to know about her property and riches and that, after the war, we should go to the Black Forest and claim our inheritance. My mom understood "Black Forest" , but what she must have really said is "Bavarian Forest".
The FBI pulled up almost immediately after she pulled away. They wanted to know what the old lady wanted. My mother  said she just wanted to see the baby and talk about the family. The FBI told my mother that they had been following her and two men. They remarked that she was easy to follow because she had one of only two Rolls Royces in Illinois. They speculated that she made up a family story to get my dad to sabotage Crane Company, a foundry with defense contracts. My mother told them that she didn't even ask about my dad or where he worked. After that, whenever we picked up the phone, a whirring sound could be heard.
A couple of weeks later, the old lady stopped by again saying that she wanted to see me a last time. She reminded my mother about going to Germany to claim our inheritance. Then she said that she would not visit again. She kissed my cheek and left. About a week later the FBI came to our house again. They asked if my mother had seen the newspaper. The FBI had gone to the hotel where the spies were staying and during a gunfight the three nazis were shot dead.
Many years later I searched for information about the Black Forest, the name Sauerzapf, and castles. I found nothing. I read lots of literature and found the coat of arms but little else.
I put the name Sauerzapf on search engines in 1996 and to my surprise found about 100 listings. One was about the Rohrbach castle. Then I found that the area is known as the Bavarian Forest. Recently I discovered more castles and that no Sauerzapfs now live in that area.
However the spirit of Daniel Sauerzapf and the family is remembered in a medieval feast in his honor each year.
I also learned why I had so much trouble researching the Sauerzapf castles, even though there is a plethora of information and plenty of castles and coats of arms. This area of Germany was ignored because it was just a few miles from the Czech border. The cold war isolated it. The area had suffered from the thirty years war, Napoleon's invasion, conflicts between the German empires of Berlin and Vienna, ethnic problems with the Czech people, the first and second world war, and the cold war. Today, the Upper Palatine country is quiet, beautiful, historical, even mythical.  A scenic area also having a large Sauerzapf castle is Sulzbach / Rosenburg which also commemorates the Sauerzapfs.
Another curious story is about Sauerzapfs in the discovery of the Americas. One Sauerzapf married into the richest family of Europe,the Fuggers. The Fuggers were the major campaign contributer to Carlos V, emperor of most of Europe and practically all of North, South, and Central America. Carlos, as emperor, owned all of South America, Central America, and essentially everything in North America south and west of New England. Carlos gave Venezuela and Brazil to the family as a wedding gift. Most Germanic people did not emmigrate to the new world, but a number of Sauerzapfs did. Their descendants can still be found, especially in Parana, Brazil. To understand why Sauerzapfs are only in three or four locations, we need to understand nobility. Nobles were set apart for their deeds and usually had training in leadership and social responsibility. Nobility should not be confused with royalty which is more related to power than to responsibility. Some nobility have titles and are noble because of the title. The title might be personal like a knight or ritter and or attached to a place like a duke or crown prince. The Sauerzapfs were a noble FAMILY. Every member of the family was equally noble or "Answerable only to the emperor". Rich members of the family helped other family members by placing these family members in key business locations. Sauerzapfs also built churches and provided jobs for the local communities. Until very modern times Sauerzapfs owned castles and foundries all along the Iron road and family members settled where the products were shipped along the Danube, the Baden and Vienna areas. Family members even went to South America to oversee their wedding gift from Carlos V. The govenorship was very brief. This is why the Sauerzapf name is only common in these locations. Many Europeans still take great pride in being noble or having a title. Nobility must be traced back more than 400 years to be recognized. Obtaining a title in the last few hundred years has been so easy, that recently acquired nobility is not honored or respected. Some have just assumed a title. Since 1918, however, there is no practical value to being a noble anyway.

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What's New?

Check out our Sauerzapf Magazine  
In February 2008 we took our first cruise. We went to Antarctica. On our way we visited the Falklands, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay.
In May of 2006 Maria and Joe vacationed in Bavaria, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Milan, St. Moritz, Zermatt (Matterhorn), Italian Riveria, and French Riviera including Provence.

Photos of our trip to Castles and Europe as well as Antarctica and Southern South America.


You can see Joe, Maria and Mary standing before the entrance of the ancestral Sauerzapf castle in Rohrbach, Bavaria in Germany. In the second picture you see the Familie Lang who now live in the schloss. They have a friend who is writing a book about the Sauerzapfs. The third picture is the entrance. (Sorry you have to tilt your head 90 degrees to the left.)

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