Jo Ann Wheeler Burbank

An original drawing of Oberweissbach created by Jo Ann Wheeler Burbank (1905-2000) for the story of Friedrich Froebel and the first kindergarten.

An artist in the Froebel Gallery, Jo Ann had been a teacher in the Modern School in Stelton, New Jersey (organized 1911), that was based on the philosophy of Spanish educator Francisco Ferrer and Friedrich Froebel.

Her paintings are in many collections in Norway, France and the USA, including the author’s. Jo Ann’s correspondence and memoirs are at Rutgers University, Womens’ History Sources.

Kraeuter und Gott/ God and Herbs: 15 August: Mariä Himmelfahrt (Assumption of Mary)

15 August: Mariä Himmelfahrt/ the Assumption of Mary

On Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran liturgical Calendars.

Luther was very fond of this day on which he loved to preach. He once exclaimed, “Who could doubt that the Lord would take His mother to Heaven to be with Him?”
Bundle of Seven Herbs (representing the Seven Wounds of Mary) are taken to church and blessed. They are later hung in the house or attic against storms, illness, etc. Oberweissbach in Thuringia, home of Friedrich Froebel, is well known for his Herbal cultivation and extracts, teas, herbal medicines. Bad Blankenburg, where the First Kindergarten was established, is a center for Lavender cultivation. Froebel was fond of using Marian herbal references in his songs and writing.

Legenden erzählen, dass die Jünger das Grab der Maria öffneten und darin nicht mehr Marias Leichnam, sondern nur noch Blüten und Kräuter fanden…. sieben verschiedene Kräutern – die Zahl symbolisiert die sieben Sakramente oder die sieben Schmerzen Mariens – werden Sträusse gebunden und zur feierlichen Kräuterweihe gebracht. Die Sträusse werden dann auf dem Dachboden aufgehängt und sollen gegen Krankheiten, Unheil, Gewitter und Blitzschlag helfen, oft werden zerriebene Blätter davon kranken Tieren ins Futter gemischt.

Heidecksburg Castle, Rudolstadt

The Princely House  von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and the family of Friedrich Froebel were closely intertwined for centuries.

Friedrich Froebel’s grandfather, Johannes, was the fuerstlicher Foerster (forester to the Prince).

Friedrich’s father, Rev. Johann Jakob Froebel, was the pastor of the largest village church in the principality and had overseen its construction in the Late Baroque style. The earlier church had been burned in the Thirty Year’s War, while the new church (still standing today) boasts the largest pulpit in Europe (holding 13 men in clear Biblical reference).

Friedrich himself was visited in Yverdon, Switzerland by the heir apparent to the princely throne, Prince Friedrich Guenther, upon the express wish of his mother, the Princess Regent, Karoline von Hessen-Homburg, who insisted her son write to her with a detailed account of all news concerning Friedrich.

This Princess of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt granted a large sum of money for Froebel’s educational endeavors, never asking for repayment.
The Froebel family, originating in Franconia (Franken), moved into the Principality in the 15th century when it inherited/acquired large agricultural estates in Gross Hettstedt and vicinity.

The relative closeness of the two families may have predated the Froebels’ entrance to the principality, dating from their earlier residence in Franken.

Friedrich’s half brother, Carl (Carolus) Poppo Froebel, later became the Printer to the Princely House and a respected author in his own right.

Here a photo taken by the author of part of the Sleigh collection of the Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt in the Heidecksburg Castle, the princely residence in Rudolstadt, Thuringia, Germany.

Chancellor Merkel


Upon receiving of copy of The First Kindergarten and correspondence regarding the Froebel Decade.

English translation:

Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel has asked me to thank you heartily for your friendly correspondence of February 10, 2014 as well as for your book, The First Kindergarten.

With great interest we followed you in your book along the trail of the first kindergarten in Thuringia in the year 1837.

As (lamentably) often in life, one is aware of the invention, but not necessarily of the inventor. Hence, the Province of Thuringia and the City of Bad Blankenburg with the Froebel Decade are making an important contribution to appropriately and worthily maintain the memory of your ancestor, Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel.

The Federal Chancellor was very pleased with your token of solidarity. She would like to take the opportunity of this correspondence to wish you all the best for the future.

With friendly regards,

Thomas Ruecker