Biography of Johann Andreas Pomnitz, 1777 - 1875... The Traveler...

The Traveler
(Johann Andreas Pomnitz, 1777 - 1875)
The Pomnitz Family Name

Going beyond the factual historic dates of the family tree, Pomnitz, only at one point can a rounded picture be presented of the family.  Namely, about the personality and fate of the Johann Andrea Pomnitz (1777 - 1875) through his biography, including almost a full century of happenings.  With a touching simplicity, he reports about his colorful and vibrant study and travel years as an apprentice as well as giving an account of his long life, which had not been spared hardships either.  He had written it for his children and had thereby given them proof of his pious heart and the suprisingly high education he had acquired which at the same time is a testimony of the patriarchal and close-knit community of its time and of Christian brotherly love.  In that respect, his life description is also interesting from a cultural and historical point of view, as much as these kind of biographies of country-craftsmen are a rare sight.

The original handwriting of the mid-last century show skillful writing techniques, as the photocopied first page of his notes prove.  They rather show an urban intellectual than a country craftsman.  The contents show us a real thuringian who is concerned about the narrow-mindedness of a country which loves the walls of gardens so much.  At the same time, he discloses himself as the informative, open-minded center German, still belonging to the era of Goethe around whose center everything evolved, which still shows traits of education.

The 28 page writing is loosely bound in a book cover of its time with notes to the opera, "Lucretia Borgia", which had been given to Marianne Pomnitz as a present from her Grandfather being the oldest Grandchild.  Today, it is still carefully kept in the possession of the Pomnitz family.

An extract was published in "The Calendar for the Eckartsberg district' in 1928.   The following is the extract:

"At my place it will soon be evening and in order to retain the memory of your father, beloved children, I will devote the following lines to you, which in short gives you an account of my life."  (And now the old man reports of his misery, when his father just died at the confirmation of his son.)  "With his death all my prospering hopes were also gone into the grave."  However, he finds a master in Wiehe who keeps him like his own son, despite the fact that he can not pay the premium fees (a fee to be paid as an apprentice).

(Then a report follows of his seven travel years (from 1793 to 1801) which I state here in a shortened form:)

[...]  "In the year 1793, at the beginning of August, I said farewell to my mother, brothers, sisters and relatives, in order to move out into the big wide world, a decision which I had made out of my own free will.  I did not leave my home light-heartedly but with the faithful leader:  "As God leads me, thus I will lead my path," as I pursued my way, always retaining the following biblical words in my heart, namely: "Atheism will turn against you, pietism will retain you." - The first day industrious corn-cutters were around me, I wandered until Apolda and the following day to Weimar where I found employment.  The New Year of 1794 I followed my way to Jena and also found work there.  However, I felt sad, for I could only tell so little of my excursions.

I will not leave unmentioned that I had my first boots made here, according to modern thinking this must sound strange.  However, in former times it was considered to be special if someone of my social standing could present himself with that kind of footwear.

Whiten holidays arrived and I turned via Gera to Leipzig, up to Potsdam and Berlin.   In good spirits the travel was continued with Potsdam, when at the Day of Ascension an accident happened.  We turned away from the usual way and chose a field-path.   Here I slipped with my right foot on a rail track and broke my right foot to the grate shock of my travelling companions.  Only with their kind assistance was I enabled to reach Potsdam.  There, a lot of pedestrians were passing one another and all eyes were turned towards me.  I, on the other hand was not able to satisfy my curiosity at watching everybody, for the pain I endured.  I found some comfort through the pity of some gentleman - who was naturally unknown to me - who threw half a florin into my hat, thereby animating others to do the same.  Thereby I received two florins and fourteen cents.  My loyal fellow travelers thus started a similar collection, whereby I received another florin.

The port guardian on duty received us with apparent pity.  After the appropriate officer had approved our papers and had especially asked about my well-being, he cut my boots from the top to the bottom in which the swelling by then had increased enormously.   At his expense he had me carried into a hostel and had also looked for medical help so that they took care of me.  He even visited me the next day, whereby he left me another florin for further care.  At the beginning I thought that I would receive support from the fraternity.  However, to my dismay I soon found out that the same (fraternity) gave their money for the sick only to the charity in Berlin.   Nevertheless, I did not lack the needed care and was able to convince myself miraculously, that even nowadays there are still many Samaritans in this world.

After the duration of eight weeks, I was staggering to the regiment's doctor who diagnosed that a bone splinter which had not healed up had to be removed.  Suffering great pain, I underwent the operation.  God's benevolence guarded me in my sufferings, for the master carefully took care of me and granted me a free supper every day.

During that time (1795), I wanted to take the opportunity to visit the castle Sanssouci, situated near Potsdam which in German means "free of sorrows".   One was not actually allowed to enter because the royal family (Friedrich Willhelm the Second (+1797), the crown prince of the family) was expected.  Upon request, I was thus granted admission by the gardeners with the advice that I followed, for I kept myself hidden behind a statue made of marble.  Soon the royalty arrived with around 18 people, among them many children.  Three of the bigger boys tried to amuse themselves by catching butterflies and discovered me in my hiding place.

Immediately they ran back to their parents, came back after a couple of minutes, and after they had asked me about this and that, put three florins into my hand, remarking that the gardeners should show me around after the royalty had left.  The royal gardeners showed me everything worth seeing; and my curiosity was satisfied to its utmost degree.  The castle Sanssouci, built by the Great Emperor Friedrich the Second and which had become his residence after strenuous years of fighting, is only one story high but has a long front and enchants more through its simple beauty than through pomp.

With constant faith in God I had recovered in as far that I could continue my journey.   The cost for my cure amounted to 14 florins, of which 4 florins were paid by the fraternity; with regards to the other 10 florins I had to use my own modest means.

After I had let my cut up boots made into a pair of shoes, I left Potsdam which I shall never forget and traveled to Berlin that does not stand behind any other place in Europe with regards to its beauty of streets and buildings.  Since I did not find any work I got to Prenzlau at the Uker where I found work, working for master Fahrenwald.  At the beginning he did not seem to like me very much for he did not trust me because of my poor clothing.  Only when I told him truthfully about my experiences and did not leave out that I had pawned my clothes in Potsdam he showed his liking for me in that he bought back my clothes for me.  I almost stayed a full year at his house and was able to count many happy days there, for all members of the family liked me dearly.  From here I continued my journey to Pommern and worked in Stettin for half a year.

Disregarding the beautiful work place, I wandered with two other colleagues to the island of Rügen.  However, none of us found work.  It so happened that the fare to Rostock was cheap, thus I took on employment in this Mecklenburg-Schweringian port city for 18 weeks.  Then I turned to Hannover where I found plenty of work for 2 years together with 2 to 3 companions, namely from 1796 and 1797.  After that time period elapsed, I found pleasure in continuing my journey again.  Turning north, I arrived in the Danish city of Altona in 1798, not half an hour away from Hamburg.  After 8 weeks of work I visited the famous trade city Hamburg.  I stayed a year and a half at this place and came (in) 1800 to Lübeck.

After I got to know the famous port cities my desire to travel led me back to Berlin.   In the slesian capital Breslau I worked for about a quarter year and went, after I had visited the beautiful Dresden - it was in the year 1801 - but had not found any work there, to the city of Leipzig which was only 13 mile away.  Here I stayed until late autumn for I had come close to my beloved home.  I suffered homesickness which caused me to end my wandering years, and to go home to my beloved ones whom I had not seen for over seven years.  With open arms I was welcomed home, for my mother had long waited for me in order to support her.  I was rich in experiences but had returned poor regarding money matters.  Hence the pleas of a mother go deep into the heart of a grateful son.  I now decided to stay at home and open my own workshop."  [...]

(On the last page his grandson had added:)  "He died at the age of 99.  He was almost totally blind."

Translation from the Pomnitz and Senf Family Tree (Page:  100 - 102) Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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Last Update:  Monday, January 21, 2013