Sunday, September 18, 2011

Auguste Was Orphaned, Raised by Relatives

Auguste Werner [Pohl], wife of Gottfried Altman  

She was my father’s great grandmother.

Auguste Werner [Pohl] 1822-1886

Auguste was born to German-Polish parents and orphaned at an early age.  Because she was raised by relatives of her mother named Pohl, her name is sometimes seen as Auguste Werner Pohl or simply Auguste Pohl. In America, the name Auguste was usually spelled Augusta to preserve the German pronunciation. Although she lived much of her adult life in Iowa, German was always spoken in her home, and she never learned to speak fluent English.

In the German LDS IGI records, I found:

   Augustine Pauline Werner

   Christening 27 Oct 1822

   Sankt Nikolai, Prenzlau, Brandenburg, Preussen

   Father: Adolf WERNER

The date is close, as is the location.  

This LDS record is an "extracted birth and/or christening record for St. Nikolai, Prenzlau, Brandenburg County, Preussen, usually arranged chronologically by the birth/christening date."    [Note: My grandfather Louis DeLong gave us Auguste's birth date as 5 November 1822. Could the October date be the date of birth and 5 November be the date of christening?  Observation: Auguste Werner Altman named a daughter Pauline.]

Iowa census gave Auguste’s birthplace as Prussia. Originally I had recorded her birthplace as Posen, Poland; I later learned that at the time of her birth Posen was in Prussia, but soon became part of Poland, now Poznan, Poland. It was about 100 miles NE of Bunzlau, which was the birthplace of the man who became her husband, Johann Gottfried Altmann. They married in the town of Breslau which became Wroclaw in Poland.

Auguste was a small, fragile woman, dark-haired, shy, and with no formal education. In contrast, her blond husband stood 6’2” and was quite out-going, university educated, and had been an officer in an elite Cavalry unit.

Auguste and Gottfried in America

Before leaving Germany, Auguste and Gottfried had two children according to the Passenger List of the sailing ship Rudolph upon which they made their journey from Hamburg to New York, arriving at Castle Gardens on June 23, 1856. The ship’s passenger list showed two sons-- August, age 5 and Wilhelm, age 6 months, also recording that the infant Wilhelm had died during the voyage, on May 29, 1859. Since the older son August never appears in Iowa census, one concludes that he must also have died in childhood. In the 1860 census, there is a daughter, age 3, named Elizabeth which the family believes to have been Pauline’s middle name; Pauline appears at age 12 in the 1870 census along with another female child, an infant of 8/12, named Augt. C., for whom no other references are ever found. Pauline’s children seemed to have been unaware of any of these siblings except for knowing that Willie had died at sea.

Auguste’s foster sister had married a man named Rachaw, and they lived at Franklin, Iowa.  When daughter Pauline was old enough, she went to Franklin to attend an academy operated by the German Lutheran Church. The Rachaw family lived near, but Pauline boarded at the school. Later, the Rachaws moved to Nebraska.

Raised an orphan herself, it isn’t surprising that Auguste was willing to take in a young lad of about 12 or 13 when his mother died. This was Robert Delang, coming into the family at nearly the same age as Pauline. Robert was born 30 Jul 1857 in Lee County, Iowa. Pauline was born 24 Oct 1857 on the other side of the Skunk River, in Henry County, Iowa. They married on 5 March 1879.   As my Aunt Ruth pondered, “Was it romance, or did the parents suggest, encourage and arrange the marriage of the two?” All seven of their children were born in the house where both had lived since it was built by Gottfried and young Robert in 1872.

In Iowa, in support of a proper German pronunciation and matching spelling, records show an increasing habit of using the names Gottfried and Augusta Altman, dropping the extra n in the surname. Augusta lived long enough to see three of her grandchildren—Laura, Ernest and Henriette. Augusta died 18 Mar 1886, and Henriette died the following September, followed in 1887 by the death of a grandchild named after her—Mildred Augusta.  Augusta Altman and her two baby grandchildren Henriette and Mildred were buried first in the Badley Cemetery beside the Skunk River, a site now inside Geode State Park.  When the river began washing the cemetery so that coffins were exposed, the family moved the three coffins to Lowell Cemetery, where they are now, beside other family members.

I have a fork, a teaspoon, and a sugar spoon which belonged to Auguste, brought here from Germany. The fork has a wooden handle. I also have their set of glass salt and pepper shakers which I often use with my holiday family table settings -- the salt shaker is clear glass; the pepper is royal blue glass. 

--genieBev (genealogy Beverly)
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