Family ties

By Simon Ruppert

Benalla’s Hans and Elaine Dartmann have recently celebrated the 800-year anniversary of their surname.

The name Dartmann, and its Germanic heritage, is quite rare as far as surnames go — a fact the family found out when a cousin started to arrange a reunion.

That event took place in south-west Germany earlier in the year and more than 170 Dartmanns — all related to each other — turned up.

‘‘I found out about this reunion about two and a half years ago,’’ Mr Dartmann said.

‘‘I was contacted by a distant cousin of mine who had been given my information by one of my nieces, who still lives in Hamburg.

‘‘He has a son living in New Zealand, but was unaware there were any other Dartmanns in this part of the world.

‘‘So we communicated a few times and he sent me various things like family trees and family crests and shields and things like that.’’

In their conversations Hans was made aware of the heritage of the name, which dates back to a small town called Münster in south-west Germany.

Unfortunately the Benalla Dartmanns could not make it to the reunion.

However, thanks to coverage on a regional German news program they did get to watch a bit of it on TV.

‘‘There were 170 people there. Most had come from all over Germany, but there were a few from further away who made it.

‘‘They had a family tree spread out and it was four metres long. So people could join the dots and work out how they were related to each other.

‘‘And they were adding to it when they saw someone missing.’’

One interesting thing to come out of the reunion is that most people with the name Dartmann, who trace the name back to Germany, are related.

‘‘There are different versions of the name like Hartmann, for example,’’ Hans said.

‘‘But for some reason everyone my cousin found with the name Dartmann were all part of the same family.’’