My mother's father, Otto Entel (6), was the son of Carl Friedrich Entel (12), a Lutheran minister in a small town in western Silesia. Carl Friedrich's father, Michael Entel (24), as well as his wife's father, Carl Stenger (26), were such ministers, as were many of their forefathers.
A typical situation may be described by the following scheme: There was a son of a craftsman, or merchant, or minister, who did well in school and was therefore sent to a university to study for the ministry. When he received a position as a minister in a small town or village, he married a daughter of the minister of the next village. That minister himself was also the son of a craftsman or merchant and had done well in school and was therefore sent away to study for the ministry, and so on.
A particular such case is this: Otto Entel's father, Carl Friedrich Entel (12), had married Albertine (13), the daughter of a minister, Carl August Stenger (26), (son of a merchant) whose wife, Charlotte (27) was the daughter of a minister, Christian Stürmer (54) (son of a brewer) whose wife, Johanna (55) was the daughter of a minister, Daniel Spangenberg (110) (son of a tax collector).
Another such case is: Carl Friedrich Entel’s father, Michael Entel (24) (son of a cloth maker) had married Johanna (25), the daughter of a minister, Gottfried Gebauer (50) (son of a coachman) whose wife Johanna (51) was the daughter of a minister Gottfried Schultze (102) (son of a minister) whose wife, Christiana (103) was the daughter of a minister, Christian de Bouquoy (206).
The family de Bouquoy was descended from a Belgian merchant, who had immigrated to Germany. Gottfried Schultze (1717-1791) ) was the leading minister in the city of Görlitz. His father was a minister and one of his brothers, also a minister, was the grandfather of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, who was called “Turnvater Jahn” since during the Napoleonic time he invented and introduced gymnastics (Turnen) for the people to develop their health and strength. After a few years (1819) “Turnen” was considered revolutionary by the - now reactionary - Prussian government and was forbidden. Thus Jahn and his friend Ernst Moritz Arndt had the same fate.
It is peculiar that of the two non-noblemen involved in attempting democratization of Prussia during the Napoleonic time, one, Arndt, was a first cousin of a great-great-grandmother of mine and the other, Jahn, was a second cousin of another great-great-grandmother of mine.
The ancestors of Carl Friedrich Entel’s father Michael Entel (24)(son of a cloth maker) in Görlitz can be traced back to before 1500. They were mostly cloth makers, tanners, or craftsmen of other kinds. In the years after 1600, a great mystic, Jacob Boehme, lived in Görlitz. He was a shoemaker. One of my ancestors, Paul Hillebrand (157), a tanner, had sold his house to Boehme, and had later on posted a bond for him so he could be released from prison. (The imprisonment was not for religious reasons; it was connected with the quarrels between shoemakers and tanners. Boehme wrote a very witty but nasty, letter to the tanners’ guild during this quarrel.)
Most of my minister ancestors, except perhaps Gottfried Schultze and his father were rather poor. Christian Stürmer (54) was a teacher and rector at the gymnasium in Züllichau, a city in the South East of Brandenburg, for many years before he got a position as a minister. He then was 66 years old. His son-in-law and successor, Carl August Stenger (26), whose mother’s father and grandfather (106,212) were ministers, was also first a teacher and rector at the gymnasium. He was only 41 years old when he became a minister. One of these ancestors must have had an interest in philosophy. For, a copy of Kant’s “Kritik der reinen Vernunft” (Critique of Pure Reason), 1st or 2nd edition, came to me from the Stenger family.
The ancestry of Carl August Stenger, who had come from the city of Neu Ruppin, north of Berlin, can be traced far back. Among these ancestors was one who was also an ancestor of Bismarck. Another ancestor was a great-grandfather of Johann Friedrich Struensee, who for about two years, 1770-1771, ran the State of Denmark, got involved with the queen, and was beheaded. Some of the Stenger ancestry can even be traced back to mayors and senators of the cities Hamburg and Lüneburg, living in the 13th century (generations 22 and 23).
Another of the Stenger ancestors, Bartholomäus Schönebeck, Mayor of the city of Stendal in northwest Brandenburg, who died 1581, had left part of his fortune to a foundation with the stipulation that it should be used to help students of theology in need. Some of my Stenger ancestors profited from this. In fact, in 1969, when we visited some Stenger relatives, the Hoffmanns in Stralsund in East Germany, the son of these relatives, who was a student of theology, told us that he had gotten some support from the Schönebeck foundation, which still existed.
It was said above, Carl August Stenger (26) was 41 years old when he became a minister. As some of his children told my mother, he was a very happy person; but his wife, Charlotte Stürmer (27), suffered from a persecution complex later in life and had to be sent to an institution. Carl August and Charlotte had six children. I mention only two of them; Franz Otto and his sister, my great-grandmother Albertine (Bertha)(13).
Franz Otto became first a minister and later a “superintendent” in Trebnitz, a small city east of Breslau in Silesia. The function of this position was essentially that of a bishop, without its prestige. Franz Otto and his wife had a number of children. In addition, there were always some relatives in their house, who needed a shelter, among them my mother. Franz Otto died in 1912, when he was 97 years old. His unmarried sister Marie, “Tante Mauschel”, who lived in his house, was 91 years old when she died.
Franz Otto Stenger had two sons and several daughters. Since my mother grew up in the house of Franz Otto, her great uncle, she was close to all of his children, in particular to the youngest daughter, Gertrud, who was three years older than my mother. My mother was also very close to the grandchildren of Franz Otto. Several of them helped my mother when we were children.
In recent years I had the pleasure of meeting some of these relatives again, including two I had not known before. One of them is Anita Hoffmann in Stralsund in East Germany, whose husband had provided me with interesting information about the early Stenger family.
The husband of Albertine (Bertha) Stenger (13), Carl Friedrich Entel (12), was a minister in a village near the city of Görlitz. This village was somewhat large, so it had an ordinary pastor and head pastor. Carl Friedrich eventually reached that position.
I have in my possession a sermon and a great number of letters he had written between 1850 and 1870 to his brother-in-law, Franz Otto. From these letters it becomes clear that Carl Friedrich was very much a conservative, while his brother-in-law, who was 21 years younger, displayed some liberal ideas.
Carl Friedrich and Bertha Entel had four sons and one daughter. The youngest of the four brothers was Hugo Entel. He had a government position as a “Rechnungsrat.” He lived in Strassburg in Alsace, at that time part of Germany. Hugo died near the end of the First World War. His two children, a daughter and a son, moved out of Alsace in 1918 since they wanted to retain their German citizenship. After a few years they tried to locate us in Düsseldorf; but we had already left that city (1922). Fifty years later a grandson of Hugo Entel accidentally met a member of the Stenger family, who knew of our family; he then wrote to us. We have become good friends with the two grandsons of Hugo Entel, Jürgen Entel, and Helmut Langer.
The oldest son, Max, of Carl Friedrich and Bertha Entel, went to a university to study theology. Apparently, he became more interested in the philosophy of Spinoza than in Lutheran theology. After some years he developed schizophrenic tendencies. He was taken to an institution and died there soon.
The next son, Rudolph, also went to a university, but could not finish his studies. He went home where he was mostly rather sick. Later on he stayed for some time at the home of his uncle, Franz Otto, who could use him in one way or another, since he was a candidate of theology. My mother knew him well. She told me that he was extremely shy, withdrawn, and polite, as all the Entels were. He could not get out of bed when he should and had other similar inhibitions. My mother also told me that, when they were travelling by train, say between Trebnitz and Breslau, Rudolph would get out at every second stop and wash his hands under a pump, drying them with a red handkerchief. Eventually, his hands were also quite red. For some time he stayed with his youngest brother Hugo in Strassburg, but finally he was sent to an institution.
The third son of Carl Friedrich and Bertha, my grandfather, Otto Entel (6), was tolerably good in school (his best fields were writing and history); but his father could not afford to send this third son of his to a university. So Otto became an agricultural inspector. My mother told me that he was not at all suitable for such a job; she thought he should have become an elementary school teacher. I doubt that. I think he should have had a job like that of his younger brother. Just like his brothers, he was very polite, but shy and withdrawn. When he was 31 years old he married Marie Schneider, 26 years old. She was a very active, enterprising, outgoing, and happy person; but she died of tuberculosis less than four years later. Their daughter, Elisabeth, my mother, was less than three years old at that time.
After the death of his wife, my mother's father gave up his job and took the position of customs official. I have in my poss-ession an official report about his work as customs official, which is very positive, but he gave this job up after 2½ years. Otto then moved around restlessly and he withdrew more and more into himself. Eventually, 1881, he was taken to an institution. His Uncle Franz Otto delivered him to this asylum. Otto's daughter, my mother, accompanied them. When her father had gone in and the door was closed, my mother received a deep shock, which she never overcame. Her great uncle took her to his house in Trebnitz. She stayed there till her marriage. An inheritance, which had come to my mother from her mother's mother, enabled her to pay for the support of her father. (As I understand, Otto's younger brother Hugo also contributed.)
My mother's father's case would perhaps now be classified as a mild schizophrenia. In later years my mother visited her father whenever possible. She told me that the doctors said he would not be able to live independently. She would have liked to have him at our home. But, that would have been possible only if my father's situation were definitely settled. That was the case about 1913. But then my mother's father died in that year.
If any of Otto Entel's descendants had inherited some of his afflictions, I would be the one. Perhaps my inclination to withdraw into a world of abstractions, my pondering quite some-time before acting, and also my hesitation to approach people I do not know, might have come from there. On the other hand, I have definitely inherited some counter-balancing abilities from my father; for example the ability to give lectures before large audiences without inhibition.