My Great-grandfather, the Journeyman

Geselle, Journeyman in Cologne

The story is, as I was told, that my great-grandfather was a Journeyman in Leather ware, also called “Gerber” guild in the late 1800’s. He walked (Waltz) in his “Kluft” from North of Trier, and stopped at Master- shoemakers to learn his trade. He arrived and settled in Franconia, the town of Dettelbach, and opened his own shoe store.

The Journeyman years (Wanderjahre) are a time of travel for several years after completing an apprenticeship as a craftsman. The guild has died in the 1920’s, but made a comeback after the 1980’s. The journeyman is required to wear a uniform, named  “Kluft “.

Journeyman or Geselle, Wanderjahre
Photo by Wikimedia “Journeyman”

The “Geselle” demeanor should be friendly in public, and this will help them find shelter for the night and hitch a ride to the next destination. As a Geselle you are required to be unmarried, childless and debt-free—so you cannot run away from debt and social obligations.

In modern times the brotherhoods often require a clearance by the police. They carry a Journey book (Wanderbuch) to record their stay and time on the Walz, and a small fixed amount of money. The Geselle is not supposed to squander money nor to store up any riches during the journey, it is only meant for getting experience.

Journeyman Rules (Wikimedia)

The Middle Ages

The Journey years or Wanderjahre in the Middle ages was taken by painters, mason-architects and goldsmiths, and was highly important for the developing the artistic style around Europe

The tradition dates back to medieval times, the brotherhood (Schächte) is still alive in German speaking countries. They travel mainly by foot and take rides for three years and one day, this is the minimum period of journeyman or woman.

“Wanderbuch” or Journey book Wanderbuch of the Furriers Journeyman Albert Strauß, 1816 (Wikimedia)

Today’s Craft

These days the crafts include roofing, metalworking, woodcarving, carpentry, even millinery and musical instrument making/organ building

Journeyman meeting in Bad Kissingen (per Wikimedia)

The journeyman brotherhoods had established a standard to ensure that wandering journeymen are not mistaken for tramps and vagabonds.

I have been living half of my life in Germany, then US, and traveling since then. My passion is cooking, painting and glass mosaic art. I try to re-create recipes I grew up with, or I tasted while traveling in Europe. Disclosure: As an Amazon Affiliate I earn a small commission if you click through and make qualifying purchases with no additional cost to you.

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