The Paechter family in Tiegenhof

A department store fire in Tiegenhof

It seems the Pächter family was more prominent that I imagined. Here is an excerpt from a retrospective about old Tiegenhof by Otto Stobbe that was originally published in the historical magazine Unser Danzig in 1963, and was reposted to a Danzig discussion forum in 2012. 

On the right side, already on the market square, was the Pächter'sche department store, Isaak Pächter, after his brother and co-owner Meier Pächter had died. It was a large half-timbered building with yellow bricks. A few years later, in the fall of 1898, the terrible fire began here, which then left half of Bahnhofstrasse in ruins. It was on a Wednesday evening, and exactly two (or three?) Weeks before it had already burned there, but was extinguished in good time, even with the help of bottled beer, because water was not quickly enough to hand. And after this big fire it should burn regularly every other Wednesday for months. Apparently there was an arsonist who was never caught. On the other hand, an anti-Semitic wave now arose: it was claimed that Pächter might have set fire to the house himself. It was so absurd that the judges in Tiegenhof didn't think of doing anything. But then the district court in Elbing, which took up the matter, issued an arrest warrant, but Pächter had to be released after a few weeks. Tiegenhof spoiled him and he didn't rebuild, but moved away. Otherwise I did not remember anti-Semitism in Tiegenhof.

This is exciting because it definitiely places the Pächter family in Tiegenhof, and it gives them a reason to be leaving town in 1898. However, the Isaak Pächter who owned the store was not the ancestor of Heinz Pächter who became the historian. Also, Isaak's wife was Friederike Meyer, and so her married name was Friederike Pächter, but it is not yet clear how our Friederike Wohlgemuth, geb. Pächter is related.

But now we know much more about the presence of the Pächter family in Tiegenhof, and how a supposed rare anti-Semitic action drove them out. 

We are related to the Australian Peter Nash

Several posts back, I mentioned that Rodney wrote to introduce me to an Australian contact. Now I can tell you that he is Peter Nash, the author of Escape From Berlin, which describes the ordeal his family endured in their flight from Nazi persecution. 

Born Peter Nachemstein in Berlin in 1935, Nash was a young child during his family's desperate flight to Shanghai, where he spent his boyhood years, before his family was able to settle in Australia after the war. He deeply researched his family history before writing the memoir that was published in 2017. So far, I have read just the Kindle sample, but with the news below I will now buy it and read it in full.

Peter Nash is our third cousin. Actually it is third cousin once removed because he is a generation older. He emailed yesterday before I figured out the puzzle. It sounds like he is still vigorous and active in his mid-80s. 

If you recall from the previous item, Peter's Kleemann family from Danzig included his great-grandmother, Rosa Kleemann, geb. Paechter. I had run across her myself doing my indexing work for the JewishGen Danzig volunteer project. The leader of that project, Australian Rodney Eisfelder, knew that I also had a Paechter family line but he was pretty blasé about it when I first mentioned the coincidence. Paechter is not an uncommon name, and Rodney is a particularly unflappable genealogist. He doesn't get excited easily.

(The word 'Pächter' means 'tenant' in German, and it is used to describe certain vacation rentals, something like tenant cottages.)

You'll also remember that Rodney had recently reviewed the 1910 death record of my 2G grandmother, Friederike Paechter, where her birthplace was shown as Tiegenhof. What Rodney later noticed about Peter's great-grandmother's Danzig residency registration is that it listed a prior residence in Tiegenhof. 

Even skeptical Rodney raised an eyebrow about that. Two Paechter women from Tiegenhof, one born in 1838, the other in 1850. 

The leap-of-faith possibility was there for all to see. But could I find a paper trail that would show without doubt that Friederike and Rosa were sisters. I got thrown off track by a mistaken family tree on Geni, but now I have a near-perfect proof that I will lay out in the next post.

Julius Paechter is the missing link

I discovered the vivid article about the arson at the Paechter store on the Geni web site attached to an elaborate family tree. According to the Geni records, Isaak Paechter, the storeowner in the article, was married to a Friederike Paechter, or all names. Their two children were Rosa and Kurt Julius, and the family later relocated to Berlin. 

This sent me down a rabbit hole of leads that went nowhere. Yesterday I asked myself why did I know Friederike was from Tiegenhof. The death record had that information, but I had only just found that. I've known about Tiegenhof for years. 

It was right there in this blog. Here is my article from August 23, 2018. Leopold Wohlgemuth marriage in 1863.  

The image and extracted information is from the metrical book of marriages of the Jewish community of Preussich Stargard, where our Wohlgemuth family originated. Among other data, it names the wife as Friederike Pächter from Tiegenhof, the daughter of Julius. 

That is when I learned about Tiegenhof, and it is also when I did not properly take note of the father's name. I did not capture that tidbit into my master family tree.  

When I went back yesterday, I saw that I had overlooked the information about Julius. I began to theorize that maybe Julius was another brother of Isaak and Meier Pächter with the department store. 

I searched for him in all my usual places without much luck. Ancestry had lots of Julius Paechters but not the right one. Then I ran a search in Ancestry for anyone named Paechter, and tried to narrow it by Tiegenhof or Nowy Dwor Gdanski, which is the modern name of the town. Those filters didn't help for some reason, even though I noticed there were a small sprinkling of results showing a location of Tiegenhof. I realized I could do a word search on that term on each of the many pages of Paechter search results, and thus find a needle in a haystack. 

I found one Tiegenhof record on the first page, another on the third and on page 6 was this beautiful listing. 

Germany, Select Marriages, 1558-1929


Record information

Name Rosalie Paechter

Spouse Jacob Kleemann

Father Julius Paechter

Birth 1850

Marriage 7 Dec 1874 Tiegenhof, Westpreußen, Preußen, Germany

There was the familiar Danzig couple, Rosa Paechter and Jacob Kleemann. It showed they were married in Tiegenhof, and it showed the bride's father was Julius Paechter.

Q.E.D. Friederike and Rosa(lie) were both the daughters of Julius Paechter of Tiegenhof. I soon figured out that their mother was named Rachel. 

And that we are indeed third cousins once removed from Peter Nash. That's him in the photo as a youthful refugee in Shanghai.

Julius Paechter is in the 1858 Tiegenhof address book

Rodney Down Under came through again. After I showed him the marriage record for Rosalie Paechter and Jacob Kleemann, showing her father as Julius, Rodney took a look himself in one of his go-to resources, a collection of address books for Danzig and selected other towns in West Prussia. Listings of Tiegenhof are available for the year of 1858, and only that year. On the second page of Tiegenhof addresses was the listing you see above for Julius Paechter. 

So that gives us more evidence of Julius Paechter's presence in Tiegenhof a few years before the marriage of his first daughter. But where are his two brothers or perhaps cousins who are the store owners? That remains a mystery as they are not in the 1858 address book. 

It is certainly helpful to know more about Julius. However, Rodney's lead led me to a more important discovery I'll write about next. 


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