by Michael Egan
(This material was originally published at http://home.fuse.net/egan)
Michael Egan in Germany (2000)
Important things Otto zu Hoene wrote to me before I left for my trip:
* The inscription you mentioned of 1920 is not from the Vogelwedde farm but of my fatherís (Theodor zu Höne) who married Rosa Vogelwedde
* I am not related to said Vogelwedde (you) by blood, but my mother was born on the Vogelwedde farm. According to Osnabrück law at those times any person who married in or inherited a farm had to take the name of the farm.
Therefore, people could have common last names but not be related - simply because they took the name of the farm - including men. This complicates family history. However, since Otto zu Hoeneís parents came from the same farm as our Voglewede ancestors, Otto has extensive history of our Vogelweddes.
A significant day in the history of the Vogelwedde Farm was September 9, 1973. From 1816 until that day a beautiful farmhouse was there with this inscription:
Gesegnet sind die in diesen Hause wohnen und sie werden dich preisin in alle Ewigkeit. Dies haus in all seiner Eitelkeit dient hier nur eine Kurze Weile. Deshalb bitte denk an jenes Haus das ewig ist, weil du in diesen Hause wohnst.
Translated by Otto zu Hoene:
Blessed are those that live in this house and they will praise you in all eternity. This house in all itís vanity serves here only a short while. Therefore please think of that house that is eternal because you live in this house. (Bible verse)
Johan Hermann Vogelwedde born Wöstmann and Maria Elisabeth Vogelwedde born Kreke are the parents of Johann Gerhard Heinrich Vogelwedde, who left Germany and settled in Decatur, Indiana.
This Vogelwedde farmhouse, built in 1816 when America only had itís fourth president (James Madison), built 20 years before Decatur, Indiana was founded, built 30 years before the Voglewedes left for America, built 45 years before the Civil War and Lincolnís presidency - was burned to the ground on September 9, 1973 by children playing with matches.
There are two entrances to the farm, each marked by a street sign Vogelwedde. A single lane leads through a thicket of woods, marked by a chestnut tree at the entrance. The lane appears to have trees specifically planted in a row. A bench sits in the thicket. After the woods there is a clearing, where there is an abandoned house (built after the fire) and farmhouses and sheds, with fields beyond. The steeple of St. Vincent church in Bersenbrück is visible from the fields.
Shed with Church Steeple in Background
What is left of the Vogelwedde farm consists of many acres of farmland and a few buildings. Most were built after our Vogelwedde relatives were on the farm, but one remaining building still stands that would have been present at the time the Vogelwedde ancestors would have been there in the early 1800s. This smaller house would have been the bakery house.
Otto zu Hoene has a picture of the Vogelwedde farmhouse before it burned, as well as a newspaper article about the fire. The farm has a sense of history - but also a feeling of what could have been - if only the farmhouse was still there.
Stained Glass Window
St. Vincent church has a World War I and II memorial that according to Bill Borns, contains the names of many Decatur families (it was locked when I visited). A stained glass window commemorates the 900th anniversary of St. Vincent, from 1231 to 1931.
Despite the loss of the farmhouse at Vogelwedde, perhaps just as significant of a farmhouse still exists on another nearby farm in Ankum. Based on Otto zu Hoeneís knowledge of the Vogleweddes, he has identified Vogelwedde ancestors (actually Wöstmann) earlier than ones previously known. With his help, I was able to find a farmhouse that Otto identifies as the grandfather of Johan Hermann Vogelwedde born Wöstmann (of the prior Vogelwedde farm).
This beautiful farmhouse has the following inscription:
Although some further research is needed on exactly what the connections are, it remains that Otto zu Hoene has identified the relation of our Vogelweddes with Lammerman through local vital records. Further, descendants of Johan Herman Vogelwehde called Lammerman and Anna Maria Lammermans still live in the house - Klaus Lammerman, farmer ( shown with Otto zu Hoene) and his mother Maria Elisabeth Lammerman.
Further checking would be needed, but these are apparently the first German Vogelwedde relatives weíve found. If so, itís probably the most significant genealogical find Iíve had yet, since it involves finding an ancestral home, still inhabited by relatives - and built before America had ANY presidents...or was even a country!
My visit to the ancestral homeland was highlighted by a rainbow on my drive back to Emsburen - which seems to be a sign that appears on most all of my adventures. Or maybe it just rains a lot when I vacation?!