I try to learn as much as possible about Germany and German culture because I have so many ancestors who came from there. I am doing my best to understand the common people and their place in history.
A lot of this revolves around the German language and specific words. So seeing this description on a genealogy mailing list for Pomerania immediately got my attention.
The word? Instmann. Instmann, writes Alan Moll of Atwater, Minnesota, is a German word for a type of rural agricultural worker.
“An Instmann was a rural worker. Usually he had a long-termed contract with the landowner or farmer and was therefor[e] regarded (socially) as a bit above a farmhand or day-labourer.”
Another fella, Jim Pioch, thinks the English equivalent is best described as a tenant farmer.
My great-great grandfather was described as a robotnik, a Polish and Slovak word for worker, and an Arbeiter, the German word for worker. Some have claimed that at the time he lived, the word Arbeiter meant day laborer.