Mill owners in Elbing

Elbing address books from 1898 and 1900 list the Wohlgemuth residences and business

The collection of West Prussian address books linked in the last post includes a substantial number of directories from the city of Elbing, 39 years of them between 1820 and 1942. We know that our Wohlgemuth family lived there in the late 1890s. Isaac was listed as a mill owner living in Elbing on his 1898 marriage record. Our grandmother, Elly Wohlgemuth Ringel, was born in Elbing in July 1900. 

There are directories available on the site for the years 1890, 1892, 1894, 1898, 1900, 1902, and later years. The Wohlgemuth listings you see above are in the 1900 directory, and a very similar listing appears in 1898. They are not in any of the earlier or later books. 

Let's take a close look at the listings. Underneath the surname heading, each listing begins with an occupation, followed by a first name and street address.

The listing for Mühlenbesitzer (mill owner) is two of our Wohlgemuth brothers, Heinrich and Isaac. They both live on the major Elbing avenue Außerdem (Outer) Mühlendamm at numbers 8/9 and 5a. 

Two lines down is the Rentiere Friedericke Wohlgemuth, living at up the street at Auß Mühlendamm 59c. The occupation tells us she is a female retiree living off her investments. 

At the bottom of the listing is the family business listing for L. Wohlgemuth & Co., milling and flour. The address is the same Aus. Mühlendamm 8/9 where Isaac resides. The initial L must be for Leopold, their late father's name. 

Friederike's other two grown children, Rosa and Julius, are not listed but one or both may live with the listed family members.

It is interesting that Isaac and Heinrich are listed as the mill operators. Contrast that with the spediteur business Isaac would later open in Danzig together with brother Julius,  while Heinrich went into a different business.

These address book listings amplify what we knew about our family's years in Danzig. Thanks for the tip from Rodney Down Under. 

The Wohlgemuth mill was on a branch of the Hommel River

I had expected to find the Wohlgemuth's mill building near to the Elbing River that flows north-sourth on the west side of the city. Instead the address books placed them inland to the east of the center city. 

I looked for a period street map that might let me identify the location of Mühlendamm 8/9. The image above is from 1911 and gave just enough clues to point to the answer. 

On the map, the street going down on a diagonal from the upper right is Outer Mühlendamm. Just past the intersection of Hohe Zinn Str., it changes to Inner Mühlendamm. Right around there on the map you see a small section of river, Die Hommel. The main part of Die Hommel nearby to the south. The small channel that runs by Mühlendamm must have connected to the main river in an underground culvert, and perhaps flowed at the other end under the city into the Elbing River. 

Near as I could tell, our Wohlgemuth's mill must have been right at Mühlendamm where the Hommel comes to an apparent dead end. 

In the next post, I will quote a 1924 article about the Hommel, by then known by its Polish name Kumiela. 

Writings on the Hommel River detail how hydro power ran Elbing's flour mills

Here is a great page on the Elblag, My City site all about the Kumiel River, previously called the Hommel. These excerpts from historical writings about the Kumiel presented on the page give a pretty good picture of the location of the Elbing mills on a diverted section of the river.   

Co-director Grundmann, 1924 

The lower pond is separated from the Kumiela gorge, which is here called Pulvergrund, by a large dam. From here, the water of Kumiela is led through a canal at the upper edge of the ravine to four mills located in the city. This canal flows in large pipes underground along the Äußerer Mühlendamm.In the city, it splits into several branches and once supplied the moats of the city and the castle, as well as 67 open and 38 closed wells of the Old and New Town, to finally flow into the Elbląg River in several places. 

Prof. Baseler, 1925 

Closer to the city the channel from Kumiela drives the mills on Äußerer Mühlendamm and its water was led through the city through underground channels during the times of the Order.

Emil Kreuger, 1930

 Part of the water follows a canal that stretches north of Grund, then turns south and runs along Äußerer Mühlendamm, where it feeds the Scheeder-, Notsack-, Ober- and Untermühle mills.Below the Notsackmühle, the channel consists of large pipes lying underground. It is then divided into several channels that lead the water from Kumiela to Elbląg. Previously, they supplied the moats of the city and the castle, as well as many open and closed wells, from which the Elbląg inhabitants covered part of the water demand. 

So our family flour mill was one of four mills situated on Äuserdem Mühlendamm on a channel of water diverted from the original course of the Hommel. 



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