English text translation: Eva Blickhan.
LE DOMAINE DU CHASSEUR WANZEL/ THE WANZEL HUNTER ESTATE: a presentation.
1771 was the year in which Sire Wanzel – a game keeper at the service of the Landgrave Louis IX of Hesse-Darmstadt, Lord of the Lands – completed the construction of his abode on one of the most
beautiful sites in the village of Obersteinbach.
His dwelling-house and outbuildings are described as including “a farm-house with story housing, a barn and stables” among others. Sir Wantzel choose the best oaks for the timberwork and studwork and beautiful sandstone to clothe the frontage. Stairs, Balustrades and flooring, as well as windows and inside doors in the different rooms vouch for the succession of multiple generations and ways of life across the centuries and have borne witness to numerous innovations, while retaining a unique historical authenticity. The spacious estate also encompasses one hectare of fields, gardens, orchards and forests.
The presence of the small adjacent building, an old hogsty, of the bred oven, the stables and the barn, attest of the owner’s will to build a farmhouse that would function in complete autonomy.
A hunter and scultetus (mayor) in the service of Landgrave (Count) Louis IX of Hesse Darmstadt.
Christian Theophil Wanzel was born on the 16th of February 1748 in Gommernsheim (Palatinate).
As his name Theophil suggests – which corresponds to Amadeus or Gottlieb, signifying “He who loves God”- he was born into a family of Lutherian Pastors and was predestined to the same profession. Yet it was his older brother who studied Theology in Tübingen and became a Pastor, and his sister who, in turn, became a pastor’s wife.
Christian Theophil is believed to have studied in one of the then reputable gymnasiums, and it probably is in that context that he heard of the Landgrave’s seeking for personal to keep his forests.
To become an official hunter under the Landgrave’s orders, one had to undergo a three-year training period alongside a seasoned hunter. The qualities required to succeed in that training were numerous and as follows: one aspiring hunter needed to be god-fearing (without superstition), to have no vice (neither drinking, nor gambling, nor cursing) to be in a good physical condition (being able to show for good stamina in races on foot, knowing how to swim, and being a good cavalier), to be able to provide assistance to injured people or animals, to have an acute knowledge of plants, to have an affinity with dogs as well as with vultures in order to train them.
One also needed to have keen eyesight and hearing and to master the art of handling hunting knives, rifles and hunting horns.
Reading and writing (also Latin) were other requirements and allowed for the official to know the contracts defining the limits of the territory with the adjacent lordships. Knowing the basic concepts of astronomy enabled the hunter to move around at night, finding his way thanks to the stars, and having good knowledge of calculus and geometry allowed for the official to graduate to the position of “hunter-administrator”.
Theophil Wanzel must have found a good master, since in a handwritten letter signed by his hand in 1768, he already bears the famous title of "hunter in the service of Landgrave Ludwig IX of Hesse-Darmstadt".
(English text translation: Eva Blickhan.)