Sunday, April 18, 2021

finally, the Kauer clan

My grandmother Ruth had four grandparents like everybody else, but only 3 pairs of great-grandparents, as her grandmothers were sisters. Each of the three pairs had numerous great-grandchildren, and my grandmother was remarkably well-informed about her extended family, so I have quite a lot of info about these 19th and early 20th century people. Although the three founder couples lived their whole lives in very modest circumstances in their respective provincial towns (one in Krefeld and the other two in Simmmern) many of the children and grandchildren used the opportunities of the Gründerzeit for geographic and social mobility.

I made blogposts about two of these clans, namely the Düsselmann family from Krefeld, and the Imig family from Simmern back in 2009, but never got round to the third clan. So here, finally, comes the Kauer family, also from Simmern. As before, details left in German are generally from my grandmother (or from the notes of her aunt Johanna), any info I have added or confirmed independently from my own research will be in English:

Mathias Kauer * 21. 6.1813 Simmern + 2. 4.1885 Simmern, a shoemaker at Simmern.

} oo 13. 9.1844 Simmern unter Dhaun (NB different place from the town of Simmern)

Katharina Sophia Weis * 25. 3.1815 Raversbeuren + 8. 1.1862 Simmern

Mathias Kauer (1813-1885) - one of the earliest family photos we have.

Note on Mathias Kauer's ancestry: His maternal grandfather Karl Henrich Weyland (1745-1796) from Idstein (Taunus) was Jewish and converted to protestantism to marry Katharine Margarethe Schmidt (1749-1792). We don't know whether the subsequent generations knew this. My father was adamant his grandmother Helene didn't, but I tend to think that naming her daughters Ruth and Esther was a hint that she did. Obviously, in the Nazi era you would have buried that little detail deep and not mention it to your grandchildren. Compare and contrast: Mathias's paternal grandmother, Maria Magdalena Hebel, was a first cousin of the writer Johann Peter Hebel. And that detail, although just as remote as our drop of Jewish ancestry, was known and remembered by everybody.

Note on Katharina Sophia Weis - her lineage is described here based on a family history written by her brother Christian Gottlieb Weiß in 1891. Her sister Maria Margaretha Weiß (1809-1885) married into the village inn at Hahnenbach which is shown here.

Note also that, in contrast to the other two clans, the names Kauer and Weiss are widespread and very little help with genealogy.

The couple had 8 children and 18 grandchildren:

1. Christoph Gottlieb (1845-1909) - the station master of Adamsweiler
oo Margarete Imig (1847-1930)
1.1. Christoph Gottlieb Matthias *12.10.1875, + 11.11.1875
1.2. Johanna Sofia * 9.11.1876 Mühlhausen, + 26.11.1953 Hahnenbach
1.3. Auguste (1879-28.9.1952) oo (1900) Wilhelm Fuchs (1872-1963) Postinspektor Münster a.St.
1.3.1. Helene (1901-1965) oo Karl Betz (Witwer; Kinder Hella und Karl-Heinz aus erster Ehe)
1.3.2. Natalie “Nelly” (1906-1984) oo (1931) Christian Paust Dieter Paust
4. Anna Katharina (22.12.1880-16.4.1965 Heidelberg Handschuhsheim)
oo Heinrich Thiebold (12.4.1877-24.8.1948), Oberlehrer in Brebach (Saar)
4.1. Erwin * 1902, an Krupp gestorben
4.2. Martha (1907- nach 1983) oo Willi Helmer, Saarbrücken +1986
4.2.1. Dieter
4.2.2. Ingeborg
4.2.3. Annemarie *1941?
4.3. Robert * 1910 oo Aenne Schmidt oo Friedel
4.4. Hertha * 1917 Güdingen + 2005; oo August Rudolf Bladt, Lehrer o/o 1944
4.4.1. Lothar Bladt * 1944 Eberbach (Baden)
4.4.2. Astrid
1.5. Louise Regina gen. Kätha (1883-1960)
1.6. Helene oo Julius Düsselmann
1.6.1. Ruth (1908-1993)
1.6.2. Werner (1911-1941)
1.6.3. Esther (1918-1983)
1.7. Karl (1888-1891) an den Masern gestorben

2. Karl (1846-1910) Postmeister in Herdecke oo Susanne Auler
2.1. Karl (ca. 1877-1904)
2.2. Gustav

3. Wilhelmina * 25.11.1847 Simmern + 23.3.1850 Simmern

4. Friedrich (1849-1921), Direktor der Taubstummenanstalt Wriezen
oo Auguste Kaufmann aus Marienburg a.d. Nogat (heute Polen)
4.1. Hedwig oo Morgenstern, Arzt in Wriezen (We think he was Jewish and may have died in the Holocaust, but we don't know for sure.)

5. Katharina Sophia (*12.9.1851 Simmern + 24.12.1880 an Scharlach/Diphtherie oder bei Geburt von 1.?) oo 1879 Friedrich Schmitt (1844-1912), von Beruf Schmied, Simmern Hundsgasse 1. August (1880-1921) Lehrer zuletzt in Wiesbaden, + an TB, ledig

6. Maria Magdalena (1854-1934)
oo 19.4.1879 Gustav Auler (-1906), Färber, Auler-Haus am Simmerbach,
+ an Folgen einer Kriegsverletzung von 1870
6.1. Luise ( -1925) oo Heinrich Faller
1 Sohn
6.2. Sophie oo Leonhard
1 Sohn, * 1916, + Norwegen [laut Ruth]
1 Tochter [laut Johanna]

7. Johanetta Augustina (1855-1931)
oo Heinrich Martin (-1902), Schneidermeister, wohnten im Kauer-Haus in Simmern
7.1. Henriette gen. Jettchen (-1948), ledig
7.2. Johanna (-1960) oo Albert Klugt, Lokomotivführer, Simmern
7.2.1. Ruth
7.2.2. Albert
7.3. Lina oo Karl Kehrein (-1942), Bäcker in Kirn
7.3.1. Heinz (-1944) oo Else Elke Rainer
7.4. Helene (1891-) oo Schmidt, Textilgeschäft in Idstein
7.5. Sophie, oo Gottfried Goldbeck, Juwelier in Wiesbaden 1. Gottfried (Friedel) + bei Stalingrad

8. Christina * 1.6.1858 Simmern + 8.12.1858 Simmern

Monday, April 12, 2021

coffee time

A little light relief for plague year two - there is a lot of research on the effects of caffeine, simply because it's easy to round up a bunch of students, give them caffeine or placebo, and let them do some tasks. However, we're still surprisingly uncertain about the real life effects of coffee consumption on heart, brain and everything else. As the people championing the legalisation of drugs like to point out, coffee is much more powerful than things like cannabis or ecstasy, so if coffee were to be invented today, it would risk being banned straightaway. (Some authorities did try banning it in the past and failed.)

So what do we know and what remains to be uncovered? In my feature I've rolled out a bit of the cultural history and discussed some of the questions being investigated right now. Bottom line, while we're still unsure about many things, the health advice has become more encouraging in recent years. Moderate consumption of coffee probably isn't going to be detrimental to your health.

The feature is out now:

What coffee does to body and mind

Current Biology Volume 31, Issue 7, 12 April 2021, Pages R311-R313

Restricted access to full text and PDF download
(will become open access again one year after publication)

Magic link for free access
(first seven weeks only)

Roasting beans is a crucial step in producing the complex mixture of flavours found in coffee. (Photo: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay.)

Oh, and I was very glad to discover in the course of my research for this Bach's coffee cantata. Here's the video that inspired the introductory paragraph of the feature:

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Gastwirthschaft Ferd. Weirich

I'm sharing some vintage photos in a new flickr album of family history with social context, i.e. no portraits, but people engaging in activities or posing outside their work place, this kind of thing. To provide some more supporting information than I would put on flickr, I've started a new series here, which is called "Every picture tells a story". I've retrospectively tagged the recent blog entries about Heinrich's string quartet and about the station master of Adamsweiler to become the first parts of the series. (Part of the inspiration is the ongoing series of picture stories in Der Spiegel, called Familienalbum, where I submitted the string quartet photo but failed to get it published.)

Now to a village inn that was run by a cousin of that Adamsweiler station master in the 19th century. The connection goes via the Weiss family which is extremely well documented thanks to a write-up from the 1890s which luckily survives in a transcript. So, essentially, our station master's mother was Sophie Weiss, and her sister Maria Margaretha married an innkeeper called Johann Peter Schmidt in Hahnenbach, and his daughter married Ferdinand Weirich, whose name appears on the sign here:

This postcard is from the 1890s, it carries the signatures of the inn keeper family as well as the station master family who had come over from Adamsweiler to visit (maybe 200 km away). This may have been part of a legendary journey to the home land to find husbands for some of the five daughters. Helene, who signed the card, married in 1907, so it was definitely before then.

Ferdinand Weirich's daughter Lina married Christian Giloy, and they kept the business going. In the more recent picture below the signage refers to her as the widow of Chr. Giloy, but I'm not sure when he died. The picture could be from the 1930s I guess, which is also when the oldest daughter of the station master, who had remained unmarried, acquired a piece of land from her cousins and built a house on it to retire there.

(Loving all the bicycles in this photo, today I wouldn't dare to cycle there, the roads are murderous.)

Some dates for the four relevant generations - quite incomplete, which is why I'm struggling to date the second photo:

Maria Margaretha Weiß (1809-1885) oo 1842 Johann Peter Schmidt aus Hahnenbach

Wilhelmine Caroline Schmidt (*1848) oo Ferdinand Weirich

Carolina Weirich (1871-1951) = die alte Lina oo Christian Giloy

Ferdinand Giloy (1895-1979) oo “junge Lina”

The place was still in the same family in my childhood, but I'm not sure who owns it now. It's been known as "Hahnebach Stubb" in recent incarnations.

Friday, April 09, 2021

a short-lived city

#lostcities bonus episode: Hamborn

When I was rounding up 10 cities which my ancestors inhabited between 1900 and 1970, it struck me that my in-laws were attached to one city during that time, but with a duration of stay that is unrivalled on my side. A young couple arrived in the industrial city of Hamborn (now part of Duisburg) from rural East Prussia in October 1922. She registered at the new residence on the 13th, he started work at the coal mine Gewerkschaft Friedrich Thyssen, Schacht 1/6 on the 23rd (and yes, I have the documents for both these dates). They married five months later and stayed at Hamborn the rest of their lives, which in her case meant more than 56 years. The last of their children died there in 2015, so that makes 92 years of family presence.

That’s real commitment to a place. The lifetime of Hamborn as a city was much shorter, however. After a decade of dramatic population growth, the village, which had only started to run a market in 1898, became a city in 1911. In 1929, its 132,000 inhabitants lost the fight against the all powerful neighbour and became part of Duisburg, initially as a conglomerate called Duisburg-Hamborn, but from 1935 simply as one of many districts of the city of Duisburg. Although many never accepted that state of things. Postcards were still printed with the line “Industriestadt Hamborn” (the example below dates from 1961, would you believe). Another city lost to the efficiency drive, like Rheydt on the other side of the river Rhine.

I borrowed the photo from the usual source, but we do in fact own a specimen of this postcard, and around 20 more. I've visited the attractions in the two frames at the top, but need to go back to see the old town hall and water tower in the one at the bottom left.

#lostcities series:

  1. Elberfeld / Wuppertal 1919 - 1961
  2. Strasbourg 1901 - 1908
  3. Minden 1903 - 1952
  4. Tangermünde 1888 - 1916
  5. Rheydt 1923 - 1935
  6. Königsberg 1935 - 1945
  7. Aachen 1936 - 1940
  8. Idar-Oberstein 1940 - 1962
  9. Bad Nauheim 1945 - 1972
  10. Würzburg 1961 - 1968

Saturday, April 03, 2021

flattening the Earth

Some thoughts on

Mercator: The man who mapped the planet
Nicholas Crane
Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2002 / Phoenix paperback 2003

The Mercator projection is everywhere these days, although some of us are aware that it is problematic because it inflates the size of countries further away from the equator, thus creating the wrong impression that South America is no bigger than Greenland, and Africa smaller than North America. Alternatives are available but rarely used.

The reason is, of course, Google maps. The Mercator projection is mathematically the simplest way of straightening a globe to make a flat map. You just use the longitude and latitude lines as an orthogonal coordinate system, as your x and y axes. So once you know coordinates of places, it is computationally extremely simple to create a flat map. Nothing wrong with that when you do that for a city map or even a small country, but when people use Mercator to (mis)represent the globe, as Royal Mail does, I come out in a rash.

Reading the biography of the man behind the projection, I learned that mathematical simplicity wasn’t his motivation. He had happily drawn heart-shaped maps of the world before, and he had produced much-coveted globes. The problem he set out to solve was based on the fact that sailors in his time navigated by compass bearing, i.e. the angle between their direction of travel and the measured direction of magnetic north. The simplest way to navigate would be to keep this bearing constant throughout. However, this isn’t the shortest route on a globe, and on most maps it isn’t a straight line. So, to Mercator, the attraction of the orthogonal projection was that the longitude lines will always be straight and vertical, so a route following compass bearing will always be at the same angle to them and thus also be a straight line. Simples.

Born in 1512 as Gerard Kremer, the son of a cobbler latinised his name in line with humanist contemporaries such as Erasmus. His life of just over 80 years neatly falls into two halves, split by a near death experience courtesy of the Spanish Inquisition, after which he decided the Spanish Netherlands weren’t safe for him and settled in the small town of Duisburg on the other side of the river Rhine. Having grown up not too far from that place, which in the 20th century became a major centre of heavy industry complete with Europe’s largest inland harbour, I found it cute to read about the peace and quiet Mercator found in the town, where he completed most of the work that he is remembered for, including the first maps using his famous projection and the book of maps that gave us the word “atlas”.

His move was linked to plans to launch a university at Duisburg, which then fell through. The town later did get a university, which was founded in 1655 but dissolved in 1815. The modern university was set up in 1972 as a Gesamthochschule. In 1994 it was named Gerhard-Mercator-Universität, but in 2003 Mercator lost this honour again, as his university merged with the University of Essen.

Another irony is that, while Mercator mapped all of the known world, and even some speculative geographies that turned out to be fictional, such as a ring of islands surrounding the North Pole, he never left the boundaries of a map of the Rhineland area shown at the front of the book, which covers around 400 km by 600 km. (It amused me that this map prefacing a book about a map maker shows Cologne on the wrong side of the river Rhine. As Colonia is a Roman foundation, it’s not hard to remember that it belongs on the left bank.)

Crane published the biography in 2002, before Google maps started flooding the world with Mercator projections, but I was still a bit disappointed that the epilogue doesn’t even mention the perception problems it creates and the alternative projections that others have produced to create a fairer representation of the planet. The biography is available as an e-book but the paper version seems to have gone out of print, unfortunately. Mercator's 500th birthday in 2012 would have been an opportunity for a new edition both to celebrate his work and re-assess it in the brave new world of Google maps.

PS: I just discovered his descendants are on GedBas. No obvious connection to my family history, but good to know.

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