I belong to a group on facebook that is made up of people interested in family history in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen). I joined because Grandpa Gustav Berneburg was born in that region, in Hannover, and I mentioned the other day that someone is helping me look for records there. But since Goettingen, where Max Langer's death notice came from, is also in Lower Saxony, I was so excited with that news that I posted something about it to the group and included a link to the story on this blog.
I was startled, to say the least, when a very short while later a group member (a very, very nice and knowledgeable man) came back with a full translation of that very-difficult-to-read document. Brace yourself, because the news is a little shocking. Here is his translation (I've reorganized the words in English a little bit):
"Göttingen, January 31 1896. To the Registrar signed below was sent by the Board of the District-Lunatic Asylum in Göttingen the following written report:
"Maximilian Joseph Langer, labourer, 55 years 6 months 8 days old; Catholic religion; residing in Geestemünde, Lehrer Chaussee Nr. 92 (42?); born in Oberglogau in the province of Silesia on the 21st July 1840; married to Wilhelmine, nee Schulze, of Geestemünde, son of the Oberglogau couple (deceased), master weaver Anton Langer and Barbara, nee Kura; died in the District-Lunatic Asylum in Göttingen at the twenty-ninth January of the year 1896 at two o´clock past midday. The Registrar Borhut"
Wow. I was really taken aback by this and have been thinking about it all day. My cousin and I were only recently talking about family secrets and how important it seemed to the older generation to keep them -- someone who drank a bit too much, a baby born a little too early -- but someone dying in a lunatic asylum is a very big secret, isn't it? I never heard a hint of such a thing.
Of course, I'm trying to imagine why he was there, but that's not what's really bothering me -- it's imagining someone I'm related to living in that kind of facility in the late 1800's. My very brief research today told me that for psychiatry, it was a time of "enlightenment"; in the modern facilities, the chains were removed from patients, the bars from windows, and so on. I believe this . . . hospital . . . was affiliated with a university, so I'm hoping that it was a modern facility following the new philosophies. But still . . .
The man who gifted us with the translation suggests that this might be the building itself:
Landeskrankenhaus (County hospital)
The mystery still remains, why there? The document gives his address as Bremerhaven, which was 180 miles away from Goettingen -- wasn't there a facility near home he could have gone to? They were far from wealthy people; surely they couldn't have paid for expensive treatment. I wonder if we'll ever know.
On a brighter note, I did a quick search for Anton Langer and found these two possibilities, both of which are in the right time frame 23 years or so before Max was born:
Well. Big news. I'll keep you posted on developments.