[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Küster

Jack Milner wjmilner at shaw.ca
Sun Feb 24 09:13:42 PST 2013

Michael Altwasser was my grandfather and the following information I 
compiled about him helps to validate what Jerry has written about the 
meaning of "Kuster".

Documents found in the Rowno Archives by B. Voltermann, W. Köllner, F. 
Winkel and G. König, "KB Tutschin, Geburten_Taufen", (Births_Baptisms 
retroactively issued) were translated into German and show "Küster 
Altwasser" and "Küster M. Altwasser", in Antonowka, baptizing Emil Kiel 
on November 12, 1898; Mathilde Bathke on December 27, 1899; Olga Bathke 
on September 22, 1901 and Emilie Schendel on March 15, 1905.

The "KB Tutschin, Geburten_Taufen" documents help to confirm that 
Michael lived in this village of Antonowka between November 1898 and his 
departure in the summer of 1907.

Visit: *wolhynien.de* 
<http://wiki.wolhynien.net/index.php?title=ALTWASSER,_Michael>   a 
VolynWiki site for /KB Tutschin/ information re: Michael Altwasser

Typically, the school teacher also served as the community's salaried 
lay preacher for the colonies of German settlers. They settled in 
colonies to enable them to have a house of worship and a school for 
their children. There were no grants from the Russian government toward 
the building of a school nor provisions made for the maintaining the 
buildings or paying the teachers' salaries. This was left to the 
settlers. Very few children went on to high school or university.

Michael was the lay preacher and teacher in Antonowka who was appointed 
to lead Sunday church services and perform church duties in the absence 
of the ordained pastor, E. Althausen. He did not have the authority to 
marry couples, but could perform baptisms and funerals, teach the 
catechism and prepare the children for confirmation.

Yours truly,

Jack Milner




On 2/24/2013 7:02 AM, Jerry Frank wrote:
> All the pure definitions so far are correct BUT the function of the Küster, especially when referred to as "Küster Lehrer" in Russia at least (and I think also in Russian Poland to a lesser extent) was different.  There he acted more in the role of lay minister.  He performed baptisms, conducted funerals, and led the church services complete with sermon (most often read from a book).  He kept the local church books and would usually be the school teacher as well.  He would not serve communion nor conduct marriages.  In Volhynia he appears to have been more commonly known as a Kantor.  These would not be functions filled by what typical English people would understand as a sexton.
> My dad was for a time the "caretaker" of the church in Rosenfeld but his role was more that of a sexton, a term unheard of in the local German community.  He cleaned the church regularly, arrived early on Sundays to stoke the furnace with coal, rang the bell as a call to worship and during the Lord's Prayer, dug graves when required, etc.  But he was never a Kantor.
> I am speaking in Lutheran context here.  I don't know if Baptists had an equivalent position.
> Jerry
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Richard Benert" <benovich at live.com>
> To: ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org
> Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2013 9:30:51 PM
> Subject: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Küster
> My dictionaries tell me that “Küster” can be defined either as “sexton” or “sacristan.”  Can anyone tell me which of these two would best fit the Küster in the German villages in Russia?
> Dick Benert
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