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The Journey & the Journeyman Book

The first page has a stamp from Vienna, the next says Carl Straube apprenticed in Silesia, and on page 3, the "Royal Prussian States" declare he has three years (or until 1841) to travel "Inland [within Prussia] and to the German [Customs] Union states, namely to Bavaria, Saxony, Württenberg, Hannover and Imperial Saxon states." And off went my second great-grandfather on his journey to become a butcher.

Wanderbücher .... Wanderpässe .... Wandern.... I've long thought it so marvelous that the German word Wandern is related to the English word "wander" with its delightful connotations of exploration. While the German word usually means ‘strolling, hiking’, it also has the sense of roving without a fixed residence- exactly that the journeyman apprentice does.

How fascinating to learn about Journeymen through my second great-grandfather Carl (or sometimes Karl or Charles) Straube, a Prussian butcher. He immigrated to the United States in the 1850s. We suspect he came in through New Orleans before winding his way up the Mississippi and eventually ending up in Ohio. His journeying in Europe was a required part of his trade. Like so many other trades, Carl had to leave his home for two plus years to train with other master butchers - and law and custom forbade him from seeing home until he was done.

We have Carl's Wanderpässe - literally his passport, inside his leather Wanderbücher, kind of like a fat wallet for holding his Journeyman pass along with curious other tidbits of paper (such as a New Year's "Ticket of Happiness"). Instead of today's passport photo, this passport has a description, including:

Height - only five feet, four inches .... Blond hair, blue eyes...mouth and teeth were "complete"...and this seventeen year old's beard was "beginning." And right below is his signature!

It's so interesting to see his progression from town to town across the region, including down to Munich and other towns in Bavaria, with master butchers verifying that Carl worked for them for months at a time.

Translation Journeyman Pass - Wanderpass

Today people perfecting their trade still go on their journeys, especially in Germany and some of its neighbors. It's not an easy apprenticeship. Curious how today's journeys look? Here's a great article from The New York Times and one from Buzzfeed.

Wishing you lots of exploration and happy travels for 2019!

Carl Straube in later years

Carl Straube - in the years after his training


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