Cousins – Auguste: I’m Still Standing!

On February 24, 1824 the first granddaughter of Johann Friedrich Stange and his wife Maria is born in the small village of Vahrnow in the Prignitz in Brandenburg. Her parents are Auguste Stange, their oldest daughter, and her husband Heinrich Wandmacher. Both of them had grown up together, Heinrich Wandmacher’s father being the holländer in Plattenburg and Johann Friedrich Stange being the holländer in the neighboring village of Kletzke. Auguste and Heinrich had been married a year earlier in Wilsnack. Auguste had been brought up to be a loyal hollanders’ wife and it was clear that she not only would be a wife and mother, but also be in charge of the dairy business, processing the milk to cheese and yogurt, which Heinrich would then sell on the market. But it does not seem to have been a happy marriage.

One year later the family moves to Schilde, north of Wittenberge, where the next child is born, this time it is a boy.  But this little baby, that will be named Johann Friedrich Heinrich, will die only 14 days later. The next years it is moving around again, in 1829 they live in Dargardt, where their third and last child Juliane Friederike Caroline is born. But in 1833, when Auguste Stange Wandmacher is a godmother of her nephew August Leiffheidt, the church book states: “separated”; in 1838, at her daughter Auguste’s conformation, she is divorced, with her former husband living close by.

According to the articles 668-718 of the Prussian Civil Code from 1794, divorce is possible if one of the following reasons applies:  1) adultery 2) abandonment of the family 3) refusal of performing the conjugal duties 4) inability of performing the conjugal duties 5) rage and insanity 6) seeking after the spouses life 7) felonies 8) bad breeding 9) withholding of alimentation 10) change of religion 11) unsurmountable aversion.  What had happened? Of course we do not know, but when the second daughter Juliane Wandmacher gets married in 1852, the civil record states, that her father is officially declared missing; in 1855 another record states that he is deceased.

Obviously little Auguste and her sister Juliane grow up with to single mom. Mother Auguste does not move back home to her parents as one might think, but seems to be able to make a living by herself. How? We do not know, but she does seem to have enough money to make a living and even lends a large sum to her brother Friedrich (which he will not repay!). In 1843, the younger daughter Juliane is confirmed and becomes a seamstress. In 1852 she marries Johann Friedrich Frahm in Düsseldorf in the Rhineland where he does his military service.

Although already 28 years old in 1852, Auguste still lives with her mother in Bernheide, north of Wittenberge. One year later, on October 25, 1853 she will give birth to an illegitimate daughter, Anna Pauline Caroline Wandmacher, father unknown.


One and a half years later, on January 19, 1855, Auguste leaves her mother’s household taking little Anna with her to get married in Wittenberge, to the worker Wilhelm Peter Mertens. On November the same year their first daughter Marie Auguste Dorothea is born, six years later her next child is born, Minna, who dies only three months later, on New Year’s Eve. The family lives an average life in the prospering industrial town of Wittenberge, watching their two girls Anna and Marie grow up. Everything seems to be the way it should, but Auguste surely isn’t aware of that there is trouble ahead….

On September 24, 1873, Anna is 19 years old, she gives birth to an illegitimate son, Wilhelm Ferdinand Carl Wandmacher. It seems as if she leaves the baby to grow up with her mother in Wittenberge, years later, when Wilhelm gets married in 1898, the church record states regarding Anna “place of residence unknown”, in 1902 she is supposed to live in Berlin. In 1880 Auguste’s husband dies and in 1886 her daughter Marie also gives birth to an illegitimate child, a little girl that dies only three days later with out being baptized and without a name. It is a hard time for Auguste, she has to struggle to get through day by day! Not only does she have to earn money to provide for the family, she also needs to hold the family together. And it surely isn’t easy to live this kind of life, but she does stand fast, despite what happens!

But it seems to have been worth the fight, her grandson Wilhelm seems to do well, he first becomes a shipper and later becomes a fish-merchant. But Auguste will not get to know that, she dies on March 2, 1893, 69 years of age.

Postscript: Wilhelm marries twice, his first child dies at the age of 9 days, the second one only becomes 4 months and 13 days old, the third one is stillborn. He remarries and has one more daughter, Berta Minna Wandmacher, born in 1903. On April 25, 1925, Auguste Wandmacher Mertens’ great-granddaughter marries the locksmith Alfred Neumann in Wittenberge. Her children might still be living.

Picture of Wittenberge: ©Niteshift

Coming soon:

Cousins – Otto: God Bless his Soul!

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One Response to Cousins – Auguste: I’m Still Standing!

  1. Bonnie Towle says:

    A very interesting story! I am seeking my own German family story right now. My father came over in 1930 or 1931 with his parents. His mother (my grandmother), I just found out was born in 1903, almost two years before her parents (my GGPs) married. Of course, she never told me this, and I don’t know if my father even knew.

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