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Category Archives: Family Life

Will the real Heinrich please stand up?

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Anyone who has dabbled in genealogy knows that naming conventions in the early 19th century were rather complicated. Multiple first names were the norm, favorite names were often bestowed upon several children in the same family, and the likelihood that a child went by the first of their many names was actually quite slim. Take “Heinrich” in Onkel Hayn’s family for example – it was given three times, to Johann Heinrich, Heinrich Wilhelm, and Georg Heinrich Hermann. So which one actually went by the name of Heinrich? Not Heinrich Wilhelm but his older brother Johann Heinrich. Heinrich Wilhelm was of course the author of the memoirs and went by the name of Wilhelm, and his younger brother, the one with the three middle names, was Hermann (logically, as his other two names were already taken by his older brothers!)  The confusion continues with all the other siblings – for example, Caspar Carl August Hayn was Carl, but Caroline Dorothea Elisabetha was Caroline (well, in the family she was known as Lina, in fact all the women seemed to go by nicknames). But the prize goes to Onkel Hayn’s  father’s sisters Elisabeth Susanna and Susanna Maria, both of whom went by the name Susanna. Luckily they came up with a solution  –  the former was known as “Sannchen” and the latter “Suschen.” I wonder if there was any cat-fighting before they worked that one out?

Life at the Gruene Linde in 1830

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In one of my earlier posts I listed the nearly 20 people who lived in the Gruene Linde in the decade before Onkel Hayn was born. Even though he did not experience those times, his siblings did, and apparently described it in enough detail that he was able to give us this amusing account of what conditions were like:

“….several rooms on the first floor had to be given up for office space so you can probably now get an idea of how crowded the household members lived. Rent control and governmental housing offices were still achievements for the future.  So sometimes it got rather lively and noisy in the limbs and branches of the Linde. First the three spinster great aunts rankled among themselves, and then when a sharp reprimand from great-grandmother made them quiet down, they would transfer the outpouring of their overflowing emotions onto the apprentices, with whom spinsters always find fault and continually seek reasons to scold.  Those who have been an apprentice, also know that there is mischief lurking in this interesting class of people. Anything is fair game for giving vent to their teasing nature, and what could provide richer material for practical jokes as a whole cloverleaf of spinsters.”

The “Patchwork Family” of the 19th century

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patchworkDoing this project, it occurred to me that what we consider a modern phenomenon, the “patchwork family”, is actually not very new, the reasons for the re-organization simply different than they were 150 years ago. At that time, with women dying in childbirth and their husbands re-marrying, and with the difficulties that unmarried women had in making a living for themselves, it wasn’t unusual for several families to live under one roof. A rather extreme example is the house where Onkel Hayn was born and raised, the “Grüne Linde”. According to information he was given by his older siblings it was home to the following people in the 1830s:

J. H. Hofmann, Jr (Onkel Hayn’s grandfather)

His (second) wife, Julianna Krempel
His mother-in-law from his first marriage, Anna Catharina Hiltebrand
His unmarried sister “Jungfer Hofmann”
His first wife’s unmarried sister “Jungfer Lieschen Hiltebrand”
His second wife’s unmarried sister “Jungfer Krempel”
His two unmarried daughters Dorothea and Elise
His son Fritz
His married daughter Anna Catharina (Onkel Hayn’s mother)
Anna Catharina’s husband Johann Georg Hayn
Their six children (with more on the way)
Several live-in apprentices and employees

How I would love to have seen a reality show based on this brood!

See also “Life at the Grüne Linde