A Visit to Germany

German Flag

Account of a trip to Bersenbrück and Ankum, Germany, ancestral land of the Voglewedes

by Michael Egan

(This material was originally published at http://home.fuse.net/egan)

Michael Egan
Michael Egan in Germany (2000)

In the mid-1970s, a cousin of ours on the Voglewede side, Bill Borns, traveled to Germany to visit the land where the Voglewedes came from.  He gave an account of that trip which I used as a guide.  Most intriguing from his account was a description of "Vogelwedde" a farm and house about 2 miles from Bersenbrück.   He described an inscription on the farmhouse - translated, it says:

The work by us, the blessings from God; this house built in the year of our Lord, 1920.  Theodor zu Höne and wife Rosa, born Vogelwedde

Bersenbrück Germany

Before the trip I was not aware of any living Voglewede relatives in Germany like we have on the Terveer side.   So, I found a German on-line white pages, and keyed in any Vogelweddes in Bersenbrück, and received five hits.  I wrote all five but only received one response, from an Otto zu Hoene of Bersenbrück.   I recognized the name from Bill Bornsí account, and knew I had some kind of a connection.

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.

Vogelwedde Road

Vogelwedde Farm

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:

Johan Hermann Vogelwedde geb Wöstmann und Maria Elisabeth Vogelwedde geb.  Kreke. M. Andreas Lünver und Berend von Felde, May 27, 1816.

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:

Johan Hermann Vogelwedde born Wöstmann and Maria Elisabeth Vogelwedde born Kreke (married couple).  M. Andreas Lünver and Berend von Felde (carpenters), May 27, 1816 (date of inscription or completion of house).

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.

Entrance Road
Entrance Road


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.

Bench in the Thicket


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.

Bakery House
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.

St. Vincent Church
St. Vincent Church, Bersenbrück, Germany


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.

Lammerman Farm

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).

Lammerman Door
Lammerman Door


Lammerman Door
Lammerman Door


This beautiful farmhouse has the following inscription:

Johan Herman Vogelwehde gennandt Lammerman Anna Maria Lammermans
Den 1 Dec
Anno 1756


Johan Herman Vogelwehde called Lammerman, Anna Maria Lammermans, married couple.  1 Dec, 1756

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.  

Klaus Lammerman
Klaus Lammerman and Otto zu Hoene


Maria Lammerman
Maria Lammerman


Inside this farmhouse the original fireplace with cooking pot filled with flowers still exists.

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?!


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