All the Leucht’s living in Plauen Germany in the early 1900s

When I visited Germany last year, I was able to explore my grandfather’s home town of Plauen. But I wasn’t completely certain of his old street address while I was there exploring . Even though I even had access to an old 1900s Plauen address book.

The reason for my uncertainty was because my grandfather was a minor and his name didn’t show up in the address book. And also because his father, Otto, had a pretty common name back then which showed up several times in the address book!

It took me a while and it was kind of tedious work, but I was able to pull all the Leucht’s from all the Plauen address books from 1903 till 1936 and map out all the households into a relatively simple spreadsheet.

Here is where I found all the old Plauen address books. They have been scanned and loaded into a German library website. Awesome work, German library website folks!!!

Here is the link to the spreadsheet that I created:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1HwCxxsztr4dIgrO6Mj9_70-jbNg46D5v

The spreadsheet is kind-of sort-of alphabetical by first name. Although when multiple Leucht’s end up living in the same household, the alphabetical order breaks down in favor of keeping households together.

I tried my best to group or section off people that were related or were roommates at some point. The light blue and the light green colors are there to show how I grouped folks together.

Let’s start by looking at Albert. In 1903, Albert lived at Pestalozzistr 22 and his trade or occupation was listed as “hdlgsgeh” which is an abbreviation, so Google Translate had trouble translating it for me.

And then between 1904 and 1914, Albert was living at Wettinstr 86 and his occupation was listed as accountant. Then Albert moved away from Plauen sometime after 1914.

Both of these Albert spreadsheet rows are colored light blue because they are showing the same person. At least in theory. There is, however, a chance that these are two different Alberts. But until we get more information, let’s just assume they are the same Albert.

Now let’s look at a more complex living situation. Jump down to Ernst’s row. In 1903, Ernst was a clerk living at Krausenstr 5. Now look in the next row. In 1904, Ernst moved in with Louis the material merchant at Wettinstr 8. Even though Louis and Earnst are not alphabetically adjacent, they lived together so I put them next to each other and color coded them in order to more easily visualize their household relationship.

Looking forward in time, Paul (another hdlgsgeh just like Albert) lives with them for a couple years. And then another Louis shows up. This second Louis is very likely the first Louis’s son! Louis junior sells potatoes for his dad, because by now the address books say that Louis senior is now a potato merchant! Some years later, Karl and Kurt both show up in the address book too as working for Louis senior. Possibly two more sons! Then as time moves forward, these sons each move out on their own. Although it looks like they continue to work for their dad. Also, they live only 2 and 3 doors away from their dad. That’s kinda sweet.

See how it tells a story of this family! Pretty cool, huh?!? Until I put this data into a spreadsheet like this, these relationships and this entire living history were both really difficult to see!

Now jump down to Gustof the weaver! Did that guy like to move around or what?!?!?

Now let’s get to the whole point of this entire exercise. My grandfather and his family’s address!!!

There were 4 separate Otto’s living in Plauen in the years that my grandfather would have been growing up in Plauen. One was listed as an embroiderer. One was listed as a “recipient of agent”, whatever that means. One was listed as a citizen, or no occupation, which could mean retired or just not working at that time. And the 4th was listed as an agent and also listed as a dairy merchant.

By mapping out all the names that entered and exited each household I was able to figure out which of these 4 households was actually my grandfather’s. It was the 4th Otto who was listed as an agent and a dairy merchant, living at Pausaer StraBe 106!

The first reason I know this is his household is that my grandfather’s mother’s name, Ida, showed up in the address book as a dairy merchant during 3 of those years. There aren’t a whole lot of women’s names showing up in these address books at this point in history. I suppose they had to be working in order to be listed. So my great grandmother must have taken up a career for a few years to help out the household. This was about the same timeframe that my grandfather left for America. I wonder if that timing is meaningful.

The second reason I know this is my grandfather’s household is that my grandfather wrote in his journal, titled My Journey To America, that his family moved to Plauen around 1900. Well, the 4th Otto didn’t actually show up in the Plauen address book till 1904, so grandpa was a few years off in his 1900 estimation. But he wrote that forward to his journal later in life so we will have to give him a pass on knowing whether he was 4 years old or 8 years old when his family actually moved to Plauen.

The third reason I know this is my grandfather’s household is that my grandfather also wrote in his journal that his dad was an insurance salesman. And one of the occupations listed in the address book for the 4th Otto was “agent”.

The fourth reason I know this is my grandfather’s household is that my dad told me that grandpa’s parents, Otto and Ida, came to America in 1926. And the 4th Otto just happens to disappear from the Plauen address books at that same time.

Any one of those reasons, or even any two of them might be arguable as coincidence. But when you take into account all four of these pieces of evidence, I think there’s a pretty high likelihood that this is the right household. Now we just need to get to the bottom of this whole dairy merchant thing. That’s news to us!

Please email me using the link at the bottom of the website or leave a blog comment below if you see anything wrong with my spreadsheet or anything wrong with my logic or if you have any more information that might be useful. Or let me know if this spreadsheet I created actually helped you track down your own Leucht ancestors in Plauen! Also, please help me with the translations that I was unable to accomplish and help me fill in the unknowns, like several of the occupations.

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

Restoration of a vintage 8mm film projector

A few months ago, my wife and I found this beautiful old 8mm film projector at an antique flea market on Florida’s Gulf Coast. And it was very reasonably priced too. We thought it would look great displayed in our living room, and we were right!

This vintage projector reminds me of my grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, who came to America when he was 18 years old from Germany. Grandpa Leucht was very artistic and creative. As an adult, he got really into making home movies with his family and with his friends. So my family has quite a bit of old 8mm film from my grandpa.

This projector is a a Univex model PC-10. There is no manufacture date on the unit. Most online references say that these were manufactured in the 1930s, but I found one site that claims manufacture in 1947. My grandpa was 51 years old in 1947, so he could have actually owned a projector like this one.

The power cord was rubber and in very good shape, so I assume it had been replaced since the original cords were fabric covered. The motor worked fine and the lamp could not be tested since the bulb was burned out. I ordered a replacement bulb (BWY) online and it worked perfectly!

Surprisingly, this projector came with the original price tag from the manufacturer, Universal Camera Corporation! Universal Camera Corporation was founded in 1932 in New York. It manufactured still cameras, film, movie cameras, and binoculars until 1952, when the company declared bankruptcy. If we assume 37 bucks was the 1947 price, that would make the 2019 price close to $420.

This projector is actually pretty simple to understand. The sprocket at the top pulls the film off the reel and the sprocket at the bottom feeds the film into the temporary take-up reel. In between those 2 sprockets, the film is fed into a spring loaded gate which guides the film past the lens and the projector light. The film gets fed past the lens using a finger like gear that flips the film quickly to the next frame and then pauses while a rotating window opens up to let the projector light through.

It’s really cool that the lens is only held in place by spring friction. This allows you to twist the lens ever so slightly while pulling it away from the film or towards the film to change focus. This design also allows the lens to be removed easily for cleaning.

The internal gears were basically locked up due to aging and thickening of the original grease. But a single cover revealed the gear box and so I took apart each gear and cleaned and oiled them thoroughly.

Once the gears were all cleaned and oiled with a light machine oil, the projector worked perfectly! The two belts that run between the motor and the gearbox and take-up reel were made from flexible steel springs, so they were still in perfect shape. Had they been rubber or some other material, they wouldn’t have lasted 70+ years.

A complete instruction booklet came with this projector, although the pages were all separated from each other. My favorite old-timey phrase from this instruction booklet is “Read carefully the simple instructions which follow and you will add immeasurably to your pleasure.” Love it!

Another cool item that came with this projector was an old order form from 1946 that was used to order 8mm and 16mm films. That probably dates this projector to 1946. The film distributor was Castle Films, and the form just says to fill it out and mail the form to your local dealer. I’m assuming that local camera dealers probably kept the most popular reels in stock and ordered the rest as needed. Apparently Castle Films was pretty popular back in the day. My favorite old-timey phrase on this order form is “Remittance Enclosed Herewith”. Awesome!

These film reels were all black and white except for a small selection of color cartoons.

These Castle Films reels cost $1.75 for a 50 foot headline reel and $5.50 for a 180 foot complete reel. That’s more than 22 bucks and 71 bucks in 2019 money! Castle Films are still popular today and you can buy them on eBay for reasonable prices. Although depending on storage, the condition may be far from ideal. Film that was stored in a hot attic for 50 years will be brittle and will completely fall apart on you.

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

Turn an old antique hand saw into wall decor!

A few years ago I bought an old rusty vintage hand saw at a local garage sale for 50 cents. I figured I would do something cool with it someday. What I decided to do was to make a welcome sign for our house. Using craft paint, I painted “the Leucht’s (est. 1998)” across the rusty blade. Right now it’s hanging in the garage, but we’re thinking about a couple other possible locations for it.

Before painting, I needed to sketch it out and figure out the size of the letters that would look good. So I started with chalk, which is easy to erase and try again until the proportions were just right.

The next step was to create a pattern or template, because painting letters freehand is not for the faint of heart. So I got on my computer and tried a few different fonts to find ones that I thought looked pretty good. It took a few cycles of trial and error before I got printouts that were close to the correct dimensions.

Once the templates were ready, I used chalk again to transfer the outlines of the letters onto the blade. I just chalked up the back side of the template pretty good and then used a pencil to outline each letter which transferred a thin chalk outline onto the saw blade. Then I just painted between the lines. Easier said than done, I know. It takes a pretty steady hand and a lot of patience.

These old antique saws almost always contain stamped metal medallions or label screws that identify the manufacturer. These medallions can also sometimes be used to determine the age of the saw. Here is a close up photo of the medallion on my saw.

It says “H Disston & Sons, Philada” which is Henry Disston and Sons, a highly regarded handsaw manufacturer in Philadelphia. A quick Internet search revealed that this particular medallion design was used between 1896 and 1917! This saw is over a hundred years old! That’s pretty cool!

Here are a few links that I found helpful or interesting:

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

Christmas Presents: Do you know these people? Are they your relatives?

The people in this video are opening Christmas presents probably in the 1940s or 1950s! Do you know these people? Are they your relatives?

We bought this old 8mm film at an antique flea market in Central Florida recently. I thought it would be fun to publish the video online just to see if anyone noticed their relatives in there. Feel free to share this video!

Click the Email Us link at the bottom of this website or add a comment below and tell me if you think you may know who this old 8mm film belongs to!

Thanks!
Kurt

Watch some of Kurt’s NASA speaking events

In recent years, I’ve been able to do a bit of public speaking for NASA.  Several of my talks or speaking events have been recorded and published online.  They are all different lengths.  They are all about different topics.  And they are all meant for different audience types and audience ages.

The list below should help organize the chaos and help you find the talk or presentation that’s right for you!

If you’re interested in having me come speak to your club or organization or event, there are a couple ways that we can start a dialog.  You can either message me on my LinkedIn account, or you can email me directly from this website.

Thanks for your interest!  Please comment below if you found this information helpful!

Here is a simple and shareable address for this page:  https://tinyurl.com/KurtsTalks

Kurt







Thanks for visiting,
Kurt & Sam Leucht
Titusville, FL
http://www.leucht.com/
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