Thursday, September 15, 2005

Friedrich Bernitt, sailmaker in Neustadt

Neustadt in Ostholstein (East Holstein), Germany is a port city on the Ostsee (Lübecker Bucht) and the home of our Bernitt ancestors. According to family stories, Friedrich Bernitt worked there as a sail maker (Segelmacher) "in a large building or loft".

Sailmaking was an important occupation in an era when ships were driven by the power of the wind, rather than a motor. A sail making business (Segelmacherei) often used a loft to work on the sails, beacause they were so large. The shape of the sail would be made on the floor, and the sail cloth laid out, cut, and sewn to specification.

Again acording to family stories, the Bernitts lived on a small farm. They may have lived outside the city of Neustadt, causing Friedrich to "commute" to his sail loft, which would have necessarily been near the harbor.

We don't really know any more about the Bernitt family when they lived in Holstein. I am hoping more information about their life there can be found.

• Learn about sailmakers and their tools from HMS Richmond living history site (about English methods, but it is likely that similar methods were used in Holstein).

• Photo of sailmaker's building with loft at Mystic seaport. (photos from Schifffahrtsmuseum in Brake/Unterweser)

Official Neustadt in Holstein site (in German), photo gallery (click on "Fotogalerie") and Harbor Webcams.

• Some articles about sailmaking from the Maritime History Virtual Archives.

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At 5:16 AM, Blogger fareastsails said...

Thanks for sharing this wonderful story of a great sailmaker.


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