Friday, June 11, 2021

Neumühl 1923

A mysterious photo from my inlaw family - there is no memory of anybody in the family ever having played a musical instrument, but then there is also this photo with the name of a great-uncle on the back (Friedrich Kosmowsky, sometimes also spelled Kosmowski), and the place name Neumühl, which is now a district of Duisburg. Several of Friedrich's relatives came to nearby Hamborn in 1922. To add to the confusion there was also a place called Neumühl in the area of Eastern Prussia where they came from (Kreis Wehlau), also very close those who didn't move west in 1922. This one is now part of Kostromino in the district of Kaliningrad. It could be either - although given that the Hamborn relatives didn't know anything about musical adventures, I am inclined to think they happened in Eastern Prussia.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

brother Klundt

Nearly seven years ago, I wrote up what I knew about the descendents of my ancestors Johannes Klundt and Eva Hust, who had emigrated to the Black Sea (today’s Ukraine) with their youngest children, while the oldest son, Johann Jacob Klundt (1782-1853; my four-times-great-grandfather) stayed in Germany.

The post has created a lot of interest (as well as inspiring a master dissertation from the young historian in the family) and most recently, two readers have been able to fill me in on the descendants of the youngest son, Georg Michael Klundt (1805-after 1866), about whom I knew nothing back then. It turns out his son became famous as a founder of the Baptist community in Bulgaria, but let’s start from the beginning again, from the migrating couple, and the new village of Rohrbach where they settled.

I found the historic report of school master Fritschle (an English translation available here) who taught at the village school in 1848 and wrote a detailed account of its history with its ups and downs. It started in 1809 with 26 families, and another 69 families arrived in 1810. Another arrival of five families brought the number to 100 families with 475 individuals. There were numerous Fritschle individuals among the settler families, so the schoolmaster definitely came from within that community, but I don't know his first name and haven't been able to identify him in the databases.

Fritschle noted that this happened under the authority of the governor “Rischileu”. I recently learned from Neal Ascherson's excellent book Black Sea that the city of Odessa, founded around the same time, was essentially run by French nobility that escaped the French Revolution. So this governor was Armand-Emmanuel Sophie Septimanie de Vignerot du Plessis, the 5th Duke of Richelieu and Fronsac (1766 –1822) who later returned to France to serve in the restored monarchy.

In 1810, my relatives at Rohrbach accounted for two households with nine individuals:

Founder family: Johannes Klundt, 51; Eva Katharina Hust, 48; Eva Catharina, 18; Heinrich, 13; Johann Michael, 9; Georg Michael, 5.

First generation family: Wilhelm Klundt, 25; Ottilia Golum, ca. 22; Jakob, 3

Fritschle notes that the Russian government paid for a stone-built house for every family. All other necessities such as farming equipment, seeds, animals and food were provided on a credit basis.

According to Fritschle, the colony failed to thrive in the first 18 years, because the colonists were lacking the relevant skills and/or work ethic, and for most of the time, the village didn’t have a pastor to instil the fear of God in its residents. Pastorn Elias Hübner was appointed in 1812, but died after less than two years in the job.

In 1824, the pastor Johannes Bonekemper (1795-1857) was appointed as pastor for both Rohrbach and the neighbouring colony of Worms (7km away). Bonekemper was of Reformed protestant faith, but was also tasked with offering Lutheran services. Also, from 1826, a new schoolmaster arrived, Wilhelm Eberhard, who taught until 1843 and is credited with a change of culture.

Bonekemper spread the “Erbauungsstunde” idea (a daily hour of spiritual recollection) around the Southern parts of Russia, creating what became the “Stundist” movement. A more extensive account of his role in the Reformed faith is here, scroll down to the subheading "Life in Russia". By 1847, the spiritual fervour of Bonekemper's followers got out of hand to an extent that authorities persuaded him to move on which he did in 1848. Schoolmaster Fritschle, by contrast, created the impression that Bonekemper resigned voluntarily and praised the spiritual renewal he achieved: "The blessings of his 24-years' work with us will long be remembered." Bonekemper was intending to emigrate to the USA, but didn't make it.

In the early 1840s, seven families from Rohrbach, including Georg Michael Klundt and his wife Elisabeth Feiock (* 1817 Rohrbach) moved to the new colony Neu-Danzig and took the stundist idea there. They had married in 1836 and had three children, including Margaretha (1837), Jakob (1839) and Barbara (1841). They may have had additional children in Neu Danzig, possibly including Beatha Klundt.

By 1840, the founder couple Johannes Klundt and Eva Hust had died, but all their children had families, with up to eight children. In stark contrast to the school master's moans about the colony’s initial lack of economic success, this family was thriving rather nicely, as judged by survival rates. Not counting the descendants they left behind in Germany, the founders had at least 19 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.

In 1864, the Klundts in Neu Danzig became Baptists, which was a growing but illegal faith in Russia. In 1866, Jakob and his young family fled to Katalui, in the Danube delta, which was then a German colony under Osman rule, now known as Cataloi, Romania. This wider area on the West Coast of the Black Sea is called Dobruja, and the German settlers were known as the Dobrujan Germans. Georg Michael followed them and died there after 1866. The above-mentioned Beatha Klundt and her husband Johann Wilhelm Graf also moved there. Their first three children were born in Neu-Danzig in 1862-1865, but the fourth was born in Cataloi in 1867.

Jakob started a Baptist community in Katalui, which appears to have been so successful that he was hired by the British and Foreign Bible Society as a Bible colporteur for Bulgaria and part of Macedonia and Albania in 1872. For eight years he worked and traveled from Albania, but dangers and difficulties he faced there led him to move his base to Bulgaria.

From 1880 and for the rest of his life his base was in Lompalanka, now Lom, Bulgaria, and any history of Baptism in Bulgaria includes his biography (see eg here) and sometimes even a portrait (see below). His name in Bulgarian looks like this: яковъ клундтъ (in case anybody wants to dive into Bulgarian sources). Accounts mention his wife Regina as an active participant in the Baptist community, but don’t mention his descendants by name. He did have a son in law who later took over his role as pastor in Lom, so at least one daughter survived. We believe that no sons survived to adult age.

Jakob died on March 28, 1921, in Kazanlak, Bulgaria, where he was staying with his son in law (the obituary does not mention his daughter at this point, not sure if she was still alive).

Of Jakob’s sisters, we know nothing about Margaretha beyond her date of birth, but his younger sister Barbara married Philipp Krause and had five children. Only Barbara Krause (* 1864 in the Black Sea colony of Worms) survived to adulthood, she married Johann Brandner, emigrated to South Dakota (as many other descendants in her generation did too) and had 14 children.

Portrait of Jakob Klundt which appeared with his obituary in The EVANGELIST, Organ of the Evangelical Baptist Union of Bulgaria, editor: Rev. V. Tachtadjieff, Tchirpan.

Special thanks to Mihai, whose comment under the original Klundt Clan post already contained a lot of information about Jakob Klundt and set further investigations and contacts rolling.

Monday, June 07, 2021

giraffe genomes

I tend to write about species that are underappreciated, eg because they are living underground or in the deep sea or because they are invisibly small. Every once in a while, however, I also cover the big beasts that everybody knows from their local zoo or wildlife park. So this week it's the debut appearance in my writing of the mighty giraffe. I had noticed a paper on its collective behaviour, as well as one on genomics explaining its extreme adaptations, and then it turned out Current Biology had another one in the pipeline with more giraffe genomes.

So here goes, the questions you were asking on your first visit to a zoo, can finally be answered:

Survival of the tallest

Current Biology Volume 31, Issue 11, 07 June 2021, Pages R697-R699

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)

Giraffe mothers with calves are more often seen near human settlements, presumably due to the lower risk of predation from lions and hyenas. (Photo: 12019/Pixabay.)

Thursday, June 03, 2021

delta rising

It is fairly obvious now that the delta variant (formerly known as B.1.617.2, first identified in India) is out of control in the UK, as the week-on-week increase in case numbers has been accelerating dramatically over the last 10 days.

Week-on-week rise in new cases, last 12 days, according to the govt. data site:
24.5. + 17.0 %
25.5. + 18.0 %
26.5. + 18.0 %
27.5. + 20.5 %
28.5. + 24.0 %
29.5. + 23.3 %
30.5. + 26.8 %
31.5. + 28.8 %
1.6. + 31.9 %
2.6. + 34.7 %
3.6. + 38.9 %

To unpack those data: any positive percentage means new cases in the last seven days are higher than they were in the previous seven days. A constant percentage means an exponential rise, but at around 20% per week, it would only double in four weeks or so, so if the figure stayed at 20% it would be nothing to panic about.

What really worries me is that the percentages are increasing, and even this increase seems to be getting faster. From Tue to Wed it was 4.2 percentage points more, a jump of a size we haven't seen recently. The likely explanation is that it started in a few clusters, but as these clusters haven't been containe, it's gaining more and more territory to spread in. If this trend holds up we will end up with a doubling time well under a week before the month is out, and then we're in trouble. Even if many of the most vulnerable people are vaccinated, the extra risks that they are likely to take because they feel safe after being vaccinated may well compensate part of the gain. The other part may be wiped out by the Delta variant being more agressive than the original version. Early data suggests it may well be, see today's report in the Guardian.

Hospital admissions are also on the way up, while deaths have just begun to rise again after Monday's minimum of 43 deaths in the last 7 days. Today this fitgure is 54. As cases have been rising for more than two weeks now, I am guessing that this was the turning point and deaths are also creeping up again.

I really don't think the lifting of all regulations can go ahead on June 21 as scheduled, and if it does we're bound to have a rather murderous summer which could rival the previous waves not just in cases but even in hospitalisations and deaths. There are always people unprotected, and an epidemic running out of control will eventually find them.

The other big covid news in the UK is that Portugal has been removed from the green list, which means people returning from there are not exempt from quarantine. This is of course a distraction. As we have a Variant of Concern spreading out of control in the UK, nobody should have been allowed to travel to Portugal in the first place, especially not those footballers who could have just sas well played their game in Wembley.

Update 6.6.: the last three days have continued the trend shown above. If anything, the percentages are rising faster ...
4.6. + 39.8 %
5.6. + 46.2 %
6.6. + 49.0 %

Meanwhile, clusters of Delta are also beginning to pop up in France ...

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

jigging into summer

Plague Year(s) Bach Project, 16th month

As I write this, it is becoming clear that the govt. has lost control over the spread of Covid for the third time, so if they continue to eff up things like this, I'm still in with a chance to get through a considerable part of the Bach suites.

In May, I memorised what was missing from the Courante in G, and promoted it to metronome work - although it's rhythmically very simple, it still needs speeding up considerably. It's a running dance, and I'm still sleepwalking. I also consolidated the minuets in D major and D minor to an extent that I can play them as a unit as they are meant to be played.

In June, I am aiming to memorise the second half of the Gigue in D minor, and also do more park "performances" (if people around politely ignore me that's good enough). May was very rainy, so not much luck with playing cello in the park, but at least the Wednesdays were ok for Cowley Orchestra, which in very much reduced formation played some chamber music on three evenings this month. And accidental audiences were very appreciative - many will not have seen any actual humans playing actual musical instruments in more than a year!

So after 15 months with 420 practice days, 12 movements studied, and 424 bars memorised, my list now looks like this:

1) movements I've studied for a month, then put aside for now
1.1. Prelude
1.2 Allemande

2) movements memorised in a significant part
2.6 Gigue (1/2)
3.4 Sarabande (1/3)

3) movements memorised in their entirety
1.3 Courante
2.4 Sarabande
2.5 Minuet I&II
3.6. Gigue

4) movements memorised and synchronised with metronome
1.4 Sarabande

5) movements recorded on video and also performed in public
1.5 Minuet I&II- VIDEO
1.6 Gigue
(ooops, need to upload the video, watch this space!) 3.5 Bourree I&II - VIDEO

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