While most of my known ancestors were craftsmen and merchants in the towns, or Lutheran ministers, the earliest members of the Friedrichs family, in the 18th century, were Farmers. The kind of farmers they were, should be explained. There were hardly any independent small farms on Rügen since the Thirty Years War. Most agricultural units on Rügen, in fact all I know of, were large “land estates”. In German such an estate is called a “Gut’ In the following I shall use the German term. Such a Gut might cover 500 to 1,000 acres or more. Its owner, mostly a nobleman, had the farm work done by quite a number of employees, most of them serfs (up to 1807). Such an owner, called a Gutsbesitzer”, might lease such a Gut to a tenant, or to several tenants if he owned several “Güter”. Since the English term “tenant” has connotations that do not apply, I prefer to use the German terms “Gütspächter”. Such a Pächter, if he was efficient, was rather well off. A Gutsbesitzer or Pächter would sometimes sublease his cow and milk business to a subtenant, who was called a “Hollander” since this system of subletting had come from Holland. (If the cow and milk business was not subleased, the employee who handled it was called a “Schweizer” since, presumably, this system came from Switzerland).
The first definitely known ancestor with the name Friedrichs, Joachim Christoph (32)* was a “Holländer”.
He worked from 1744 on at a place called Gruridsdorf, which was a part of a pair of Güter, Mulitz and Klein Carow.*
* “Klein” refers to the area of the mansion: “Gross” refers to the area in which the farm workers live.
In 1762 or a little later, Joachim Christoph became the Pächter of these Güter. Of the wife of Joachim Christoph, probably named Regina Sophia Vorköper one knows not much more than that she bore quite a number of children. Only four of them grew to adulthood.
This information is taken from the church register in the village of Samtens near Grundsdorf. An interesting item in these records is that after every funeral service a fee had to be paid for ringing the bell. The amount that Joachim Christoph Friedrichs had to pay was based on the fact that he was a free man, not a serf. For that reason he was actually called “Herr Friedrichs”.
Only one son and one daughter of Joachim Christoph had children. The daughter, Eleonora Regina Friedrichs married to Johann Martin Dalmer, had a sequence of rather prominent descendants, but there is no personal relationship to them. The son was Adolph Heinrich Friedrichs (16), my ancestor.
After the death of Joachim Christoph, (1787), his oldest son, Carl, became Pächter of Mulitz and Klein Carow. Adolph Heinrich became Pachter of a different Gut, Silvits, owned by the Count of Putbus, the leading nobleman on Rügen. Eventually, two probably smaller Güter were joined with Silvitz: Dalkwitz and Dolgemost.*
*Place names ending with itz, in, ow, and bus are Slavonic. “Dolgemost” is the Slavonic expression for ‘Long Bridge”.
Adolph Heinrich married Johanna Christine Arnd (17). The pair had eight children. All of them are listed in Adolph Heinrich’s will (1811), which is a beautiful document displaying his seal and those of relatives and friends. I still own this document. (For a copy see Appendix 1) (Martin now has this document,-MNF)
The children were a Carl, Adolph, Heinrich, Moritz, Julius, Wilhelmine, and the twins Charlotte and Ludwig. The last one was my greatgrandfather. Before describing his life I want to say something about his father, Adolf Heinrich, the other children, and his mother, Johanna Christine.
Adolph Heinrich was described as a friendly person, who however, worried on occasion. When the twins were born and he was “wringing his hands over the cradle”, his father in law, Hinrich Arnd (34), called him a coward “Don’t you believe that what God has given, He can support?”.
When the oldest of Adolph Heinrich’s children, Carl, had reached the proper age, he was installed a Pächter on a Gut, “Streu”, but he drank and ruined it. Eventually, his brother Moritz: took over. The next, Adolph, committed suicide.*
* The minister entered the following statement on the church register “ Morebo, quam dicunt melancholiam, commotus, incubiculo cranium et cerebrum plumbo ita percusset etc.”
Heinrich became Pächter of another Gut. Julius took over Silvitz after his father’s death, 1828. Wilhelmine died young. Charlotte had many descendents, about whom I have quite some information but there is no personal relationship with them.
There is a peculiar story about Heinrich and Julius. It is said that both had fallen in love with Emma, the beautiful daughter of a minister’s widow and that this widow had insisted that one of the brothers had to marry her first, before the other could marry her daughter.
What actually happened is that Lina (Caroline), the widow, suggested to Heinrich that he marry her, which he did (1839). Heinrich died six years later, a month before his son, also called Heinrich, was born. The next year (1846), Julius married the beautiful Emma; but she died three years later at the birth of her daughter, also called Emma; who was christened at the funeral of her mother. Julius died five years later (1854). Thus Lina was left to raise her son Heinrich and her granddaughter Emma.
The younger Heinrich was evidently the cousin, as well as the uncle, of the younger Emma, but only four years older. The story goes that sometimes little Emma came howling to her grandmother’ my uncle beat me.
This “little Emma” was married in 1866, when she was only 17 years old; she brought a dowry of 80,000 Thaler into the marriage. This huge amount shows that her father, Julius, must have been extremely efficient. Some members of the family felt that a part of this amount came from the inheritance of Adolf Heinrich and that they should have been included in it. They even suspected that young Emma’s uncle, who had arranged the marriage, may have profited in someway.
There were several sons and one daughter from this marriage. The sons vanished somehow. The daughter was married, without children, to a retired colonel, who was in charge of the resort town of Binz on one of the shores of Rügen. I met this couple once at the Gut of one of my uncles.
The younger Heinrich also became a Gutspächter like his father; but he did not do well; his son, also Heinrich, but called Henny, grew up under difficult circumstances and was not very successful; but he had a very efficient wife, Meta. We met two of Henny’ s and Meta’ s three children at a family gathering in 1975, they made a very good impression.
The fourth son of Adolph Heinrich, Moritz, who had taken over the Gut Streu, was a very efficient farmer. He married the daughter of a wealthy Gutsbesitzer, Friederike von Kathen, known in the family as Tanta Fritze. She kept a detailed diary about the Friedrichs family, which I have used extensively. She was also very stingy, as my father told me. He was sometimes invited for dinner at her house, but always had to go to a restaurant after those meals.
At one Christmas eve Friederike surprised her son Ernst with a great number of little rolls of paper dangling from the branches of the Christmas-tree. It turned out that every roll was a 1,000 mark bill. That gift made it possible for Ernst to buy a Gut, Patzig. Thus he became a “Gutsbesitzer”, in fact a Rittergutsbesitzer. (A ”Rittergut” is a Gut that once was owned by a nobleman).
Ernst was also a very efficient farmer, in fact so much that he was able to buy two additional rather large Güter for his two sons, Willy and Walter, both of whom were also enthusiastic farmers.
My parents had originally not much contact with these relatives. But, in the midst of the First World War, 1916, when I was almost starved, my mother took the initiative to ask Willy and Leise (Luise) his wife, whether I could spend an entire summer (including a month or two of school time) on their Gut. This was the first of many wonderful times I enjoyed there.
After the second World War Willy and Walter lost their Guter and the families had to flee to West Germany, where we on occasion met Tante Leise and quite a number of descendents of Willy and Walter.