Family and Friends -- Father, Johann Georg Kulmus -- Biography

Johann Georg Kulmus (Breslau 1680-Danzig 6 November 1731) was Luise Kulmus's father. His father had been Adam Kulmus, a baker in Breslau, and his mother Maria Flegel. We must imagine this as a wealthy baker family, for Kulmus studied in Leipzig and Halle. He graduated in medicine at Leyden in 1702, where he may have heard lectures by Hermann Boerhaave (1668-1738), who soon became the leading professor of medicine in Europe. At that time Boerhaave was only a lecturer, although he also gave private lectures. He was a keen observer and believed in experimental science. He reintroduced bedside instruction of students and taught them the value of postmortems. He is considered a "materialist" in medicine and was later opposed by Kulmus's professor in Halle, Ernst Georg Stahl (1660-1734), who became famous in his own right. As a devout pietist Stahl believed the soul animated the functions of the body and is considered an "animist". In 1703 Kulmus published his dissertation in Breslau, Oneirologia sive tractatus de somniis, dedicated to his former teacher at the university of Halle, Ernst Georg Stahl.

In 1704 Kulmus arrived in Danzig as a practicing physician and married the daughter of the Schöppen (lay lawyer) Valentin Ernst Tessin, the well-educated and musically gifted Regina Konkordia on May 12 of that year. Three children were born in this marriage: 1) Johanna Konkordia Kulmus (1707-1772); 2) Johann Ernst Kulmus (1709-1769); 3) Regina Elisabeth Kulmus (1710-1711). Their mother, Regina Konkordia Kulmus, died of the plague in 1710.

Johann Georg Kulmus married again on 12 April 1712. Katharina Dorothea Schwenk was the well-educated daughter of Nathanael Schwenk, a wealthy merchant from an Augsburg patrician family. Three children were also born in this marriage: 1) Luise Adelgunde Victorie Kulmus (1713-1762); 2) Renate Dorothea Kulmus (1715-1718); and 3) Charlotte Elisabeth Kulmus (1717-1718).

In Danzig Kulmus was Royal Court Physician for August II King of Poland, Elector of Saxony. He seems to have possessed a temperamental nature derived from firm principles. At the time of the plague of 1709 he was active on behalf of the citizens of Danzig, and answered inquiries from a colleague about these experiences in several letters. Written in the spirit of advancing effective treatments for the plague, they not only give evidence of Kulmus's attempt to use empirical evidence in his treatments, but also of his efforts to apply the remedies of his teacher Ernst Georg Stahl. When the correspondence was published without Kulmus's knowledge in 1711, the City Council of Danzig took great exception. They had tried to minimize the negative economic effects of the plague on Danzig and accused Kulmus of advertising its continuance. Kulmus tried to defend himself, saying that as Royal Court Physician he was not bound by restrictions placed on citizens by the Council. This turned the charge into a power struggle and ended with Kulmus having to pay a fine to the city. In addition, Kulmus had tried to make his own medicines. Perhaps they were the prescriptions he learned from Stahl that are given in his letter. These would have been unknown in Danzig and controversial. Whatever the truth of that, local apothecaries took umbrage at Kulmus usurping their privilege and complained to city officials. Kulmus was charged for this as well.

Of possible interest for the general background of Luise Kulmus is her father's correspondent regarding the plague. Christian Hölmann (1677-1744) was a Silesian doctor, whom he had most likely known in Breslau. Hölmann had studied at the Magdalena Gymnasium there until 1699. After he graduated in medicine at the university in Wittenberg, he became a doctor first in Breslau and then (by preference) in the village of Rosenberg in Silesia. Hölmann was probably a member of the Deutsche Gesellschaft in Wittenberg, and among his friends were other writers well known in Hamburg circles: Michael Richey, Christoph Gottehr Burghart, Barthold Feind and Ephraim Gerhard. In 1704/5 Hölmann edited two volumes of Neukirch's collection of poetry. He himself wrote gallant poetry which appeared in these and other volumes.

Kulmus was a member of the Imperial Leopoldine Academy of Scientists. He died of consumption in 1731. Luise Kulmus wrote at least one occasional poem for him.

[Einiger Medicorum Schreiben / von der . . . grassireten Pest . . . Ed. Johann Kanold. Breslau, 1711]
[Walther Killy. Literatur Lexikon. Autoren und Werke deutscher Sprache. Bertelsmann. Vol. 4. 1989]
[Christian Gottlieb Jöcher. Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexicon. Bd. 2 rpt: Hildesheim: Olms, 1966. 2182f.]
[Christian Krollmann Altpreußische Biographie. Marburg/Lahn: N.G. Elwert Verlag, 1974. S 374]