Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fredericks of Brandenburg

I don't know yet if Johann Georg Lubach was an ancestor of mine, but in investigating that possibility I've found that he led what looks to have been quite an interesting life and from what I've learned so far I don't think I'd object to having him as an ancestor. I'm not sure how he'd feel about me as a descendant.

He was born in 1672 in the town of Moeckern near Leipzig in Saxony and was apparently raised as an orphan. His status as an orphan didn't prevent him from attending the University of Halle. Completing his studies in 1697 at the age of 25, he took a job on campus straight out of college, supervising orphans and teaching at a school for them that officially opened its doors the following year in 1698. He worked there for about fifteen years, then in 1714 he moved from Halle in what is now Saxony Anhalt to Brandenburg where he settled in a town east of Berlin called Wriezen and took a job as a Kantor. He stayed there for about eight years before moving to Garlitz/Rathenow, west of Berlin, where he worked organizing churches and schools until he retired. John George Lubach eventually died in 1752, at the age of 80, in a town called Goerlitz on the Neisse in Upper Lusatia, not far from Dresden.

I don't know his wife's name or how many children he had, but it looks as if one son, Godofroy, born in 1713, had a chance to teach for awhile at the orphan school in Halle in 1736. Godofroy seems to have been a Cantor by trade. He might well have even been personally acquainted with Johann Sebastian Bach, someone who also worked as a Cantor in and near Leipzig in that era. Bach was also raised as an orphan and was about a dozen years younger than Godofroy's father.

Godofroy appears to have had two sons, Daniel, born 1741, and Gottfried, born 1744. Their father seems to have died before they attended the orphan school at Halle. They were both listed as orphans from the village of Gartz on the Oder, a little north of Schwedt, and their father's profession was listed as Cantor. They were in Halle between 1756 and 1763. One of them must have had a son at some point because another Lubach, Gotthilf, was enrolled at Halle in 1797. I don't have a birthdate or a home village for Gotthilf, but I would guess he was born around 1780 or a little after.

My ancestor, Wilhelm Lubach, was born around 1827 and he emigrated from a village in Brandenburg called Wrechow in 1856 with his wife and two small sons. Wrechow is just across the Oder about ten or twelve miles from Wriezen. A number of orphans from both villages were enrolled at the orphan school in Halle during the 18th century, so it would appear likely that the Pietists who ran the school at Halle had established churches in both villages.

One of the most interesting things about Johann Georg Lubach is that he lived to be eighty years old. Prussia was ruled by the Great Elector, Friederich Wilhelm, from 1640 up until 1688 when the orphan, Johann Georg Lubach, was sixteen years old. He died in 1752, twelve years into the reign of Frederick the Great. Between 1688 and 1740, two other Fredericks ruled Prussia, Frederick I and his son, Frederick William I, each of them for about twenty-five years.

This eighty year stretch in European history was the period in which Prussia went from being an obscure dukedom on the Baltic Sea to an empire that extended from France all the way to Russia. The orphan school in Halle where Johann Georg Lubach taught was supported by all four of these Fredericks and the students the school produced were nothing less than instrumental in making Prussia an empire.