Riding the coattails of fame

There aren’t many Wynekens you can really call “famous”.

Actually, to tell the complete truth — there aren’t any.

Some might be kind of well known in certain circles, or at a certain time and place in history. For example there are:

  • FCD Wyneken (1810-1876), who has a fair amount of renown amongst Missouri Synod Lutherans
  • Alexander Wyneken (1848-1939), a journalist and newspaper publisher in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad)
  • Gustav Wyneken (1875-1964), an influential educator in his time, whose name might still be known amongst some German educators
The German Wikipedia lists these three as well as a few others.

Otherwise we Wynekens tend to approach fame by hanging on to the coattails of someone else. For example:

  • The mother-in-law of the famous mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauß, was a Wyneken.
  • My Wyneken grandfather’s Wyneken grandfather married the first cousin twice removed of the famous German poet Friedrich Schiller, who, among other things, wrote the poem “Ode to Joy” that is sung in the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. (That’s a very, very long coattail to Schiller. And an even longer one to Beethoven!!)

The reason I mention all this is that I just recently ran into another Wyneken with a coattail relationship to fame. The “famous” person in question is Matthias Claudius (1740-1815), a German poet and journalist (pictured above). I must admit that I had never heard of him before, but I am certainly familiar with one of his poems because it is a popular children’s song in Germany, “Der Mond ist aufgegangen” (“The moon has risen”). You can find the German lyrics and an English translation in the Internet.

The Wyneken in question was Mathilde Wyneken (1843-1886), who married Adolph Ernst Nicolaus Claudius (1834-1893), one of Matthias Claudius’ grandsons.

As this is, I admit, not particularly impressive, let me just paraphrase the old adage: Some are born to fame, some have fame thrust upon them, and some merely ride the coattails of the famous.

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