An ocean apart, distant cousins Jörg Bertsch, of Scherzheim, Germany, and Erin Pence, of Anna, Ohio, are uncovering Anna’s German heritage on both sides of the Atlantic. The two will present a talk on “Anna’s German Roots” during Bertsch’s visit to the area.

Bertsch will share information and images about the German villages of Scherzheim and Lichtenau and the circumstances that led so many Germans from the Baden and Alsace regions to immigrate to America.

The program is presented by the Anna District Historical Society in partnership with the Shelby County Historical Society and will be held Monday, July 31 at 7 p.m. at St. Jacob’s Lutheran Church in Anna, Ohio. The program is free and open to the public.

The presentation will focus on why so many people left the regions of Baden, Germany and Alsace, France during the 1800s to start a new life in America. Beginning in the 1830s, the land surrounding Anna, Ohio became the new home of many German immigrants from the villages of Lichtenau and Scherzheim, Germany. Many area families can trace their roots to these two towns including the surnames Accuntius, Bertsch, Billing, Eisenstein, Finkenbine, Fogt, Harman, Heiland, Kah, Knasel, Leiss, Losch, Ludwig, Martz, Meyer, Pfaadt, Schiff, Schilling, Stengel, Rohr, Timeus, Wenger, Woehrle, Zimmer and Zimpfer. The Elsass, Hagelberger, and Altermatt families emigrated from the Alsace Region of France, just across the Rhine River from Lichtenau. These families settled the farmland in Dinsmore and Franklin Township in Shelby County and were founding members of St Jacob’s Lutheran Church in Anna.