The Waldmann family

Probst   Hofmann   Jähnig

I found the oldest proof of my family in a dokument at the archives of Lower Saxony in Osnabrück in a register of all houses in the "Amt" Iburg (comparable to a county). It mentioned a farm Woltman in Grambergen.

The church registers of Schledehausen go back as far as 1623. The oldest entry for Waldmann is from the year 1624. On June, 24th died Mrs. Waldmann senior. Her daughter in law (married to Hermann Waldmann) died in September 1624. There are four other burial entrys for Waldmann during the next five years. These deaths are the results of an epidemic of pestilence and the Thirthy Years War (1618-1648).

In 1626 the second wife of Hermann Waldmann died. Her burial entry says:
"May 2. obiyt pia devota et admodum honesta matrona Anna de Waldtmannsche" which means Anna, the devout, humble and honorable wife of the Waldmann, died on May the 2nd.

As far back as we can trace our ancestors, some of their buildings still exist. For example, the baking house, which is the oldest building that still exists. It was build by Gisbert Waldmann and his wife Anna Maria Amalia Domhoff in 1741. They built a little farm house for tenants in 1743, too. It was sold 1968 in a bad condition. The new owner restored it very lovingly.

Even some documents in our own archives are as old. The oldest one is a contract of purchase for a piece of forest from the year 1754.
There is another document which is maybe older. Unfortunately, there is no date on it, although it mentions Caspar Adam Waldmann (the father of Gisbert). It is a list of land owned by the Waldmann.

The better known parts of our family history begin in the year 1799. At that time the Waldmanns were in bondage of the Count of Münster-Langelage. Ludwig Count of Münster-Langelage sold the farm with the inhabitants at the same time to the Meyer zu Schledehausen and to the Waldmanns in January 1799. This double sale was followed by legal proceedings which went on for nearly six years. It is not possible to figure out from the documents to whom the Count sold the farm first. The Waldmanns lost the proceedings but they won freedom because they arranged a contract with the Meyer to Schledehausen. Since November the 2nd 1804 the Waldmanns were free from bondage and got the farm in hereditary lease.

The initiator of the legal conflict, Ludewig Waldmann, died right at the beginning of the proceedings. An inventory was made, because the "Sterbfall" and the "Auffahrt" had to be fixed. (The "Sterbfall" was the inheritage of the squire and consisted of half of the farmers mobil belongings. The "Auffahrt" had to be paid, when a new farmer came to the farm, which happened when the widow remarried in 1799). The inventory specified the land that belonged to the Waldmann farm in 1799:
arable land
17,76 ha
43,87 acres
4,75 ha
11,73 acres
9,12 ha
22,53 acres
31,63 ha
78,13 acres

The way both sides tried to make their adversary seem to be untrustworthy is very interesting and amusing. Adam Averbeck, the new husband from the widow Catharina Waldmann was said to have an "inadmissible relationship" to his oldest stepdaughter, Margarethe. There was no proof for it although he was found asleep sitting on her bed one morning (she had not been in the room). The Count was sentensed to apologize to Margarethe in public. 
The witnesses gave evidence that the Count of Münster-Langelage sold another farm twice. One of the buyers was Meyer zu Schledehausen, too. Unfortunately, the documents do not tell how that case ended.

The lawyers tried to make the witnesses seem untrustworthy, too. Henrich Huckeriede, who was married to a sister of Catharina Waldmann, was accused of persuading the Waldmanns to begin the proceedings. The Count and the Meyer zu Schledehausen insisted that without him, the Waldmanns would not have started it. He was reported to have said, that he would pay for all the cost of the proceedings if the Waldmanns would not win.
Another witness was Johann C. Rahenkamp, a neighbor of my family (his descendants emigrated to the States in the 1850th). He had been charged for embezzlement of donations for the church. He never was condemned but it ruined his trustworthyness as a witness because the rumour never ceased.

As I said before, our ancestors got the farm in hereditary lease in 1804. Fifteen years later, they bought the farm for 3200 "Reichstaler" in gold. A little later, Victor Meyer zu Schledehausen changed his farm for the estate Bruchmühlen that previously belonged to the castle of Schelenburg.

The heir of the Waldmann farm, Victor Waldmann, married three days after the contract of purchase was made. His wife Marie Elisabeth Brinkmann died two month later. In 1820 Victor married the niece of his stepfather, Maria Elisabeth Averbeck. Their first son Adam was born 1823 and followed by two daughters.

A heavy blow that struck my family is mentioned on a beam of our farm house

"Das vorige Haus wurde im Jahre 1832 neu erbauet und am 17. August 1833 ein Raub der Flammen. Witt. Johann Adam Waldmann, geb. Averbeck. Sag, hast du mich beschauet, bin ich nicht gut gebauet, durch Gottes Hülfe, wohlthätiger Menschen Beistand und MFW Prior". 

The old house was build in 1832 and burned down on August, 17th 1833. Widower Johann Adam Waldmann, nee Averbeck. Say, did you look at me? Am I not build well? With the help of the Lord, of beneficent people and M.F.W. Prior (the master carpenter).

(If your are interested in the contruction of a farm house in our area then have a look on this page.)

A family legend says that the original house burned down, too. It is said to have been arson. The incendiary was said to have been Victor Waldmann himself for his stepfather and his wife were ruling over the farm. The second fire was caused by a lightning. Was this the punishment for either of them?

The second son Christoph was born 1842. This must have been a shock for his brother Adam since it was the law on our farm that the youngest son inherited the farm. So the little baby became the heir.

Victor Waldmann died five years later by an accident. He shoot himself into the abdomen. Again an inventory of the farm was made for the children were all under age (expecially the heir). According to this inventory the farm covered around 42 ha (103,74 acres). Some pieces of forest must be added to this. Their sizes are not mentioned.
The number and the size of the trees in the forest is described in the inventory. There are only a few big trees. No wonder after building two houses fifteen years earlier.

The widow married Johann Adam Tiemann, who was only two years older than his oldest stepson, Adam. He changed his surname to Waldmann, as was custom. The unmarried son Adam stayed on the farm, too so that there were two Adam Waldmann on the farm.

Adam (nee Tiemann) bought the farm of his neighbor Rahenkamp in 1852 and added it to the Waldmann farm. The Rahenkamps farm was enclosed by the Waldmann farm and had the size of 17 ha (42 acres). The Rahenkamps emigrated to the United States.

Christoph Waldmann, the heir of the farm, requested legal majority at the Royal Prussian Ministry of Justice in 1865. The request was refused in February 1866. The reasons were:
1. he would not be able to sell land without a special permission anyway and
2. it seemed to be unwise to allow him to akt without consulting his older brother Adam.
We do not know the reason for Christophs request but he emigrated to the United States in 1866. So maybe, he wanted to sell the farm for having a better start at his new homeplace.

The emigration changed everything for Adam. Now, he was the owner of the farm as long as his brother did not come back which he never did. This was the time for him to start a family. He married Marie Elisabeth Knackwefel and got three children.

Christoph travelled through the States for a while and settled 1870 in Stitzer, Grant County, Wisconsin. He build a farm and married Marie Elisabeth Hartmann from Haltern near Belm in Germany. The area he settled in looks much like his birthplace. His farm lay in a valley between hills covered with oak trees. Christoph's farm was sold later but descendants of him still live in Stitzer.

The next stroke of fate happened in Germany. An epidemy of thyphoid fever broke out in Grambergen in 1884. Adams wife and his oldest son died. Adam leased the farm and moved to his sister (married Brockbutt) in Ellerbeck. His other children were placed at siblings of their mother.

Adam died in 1887. His children, Marie and Heinrich, stayed with their relatives. Marie married Heinrich Adam Gerhard Averbeck in 1891. She died 1898 through an accident. A cow that she was leading bolted and dragged her to death. She left two sons, one suffering of epilepsy, the other got ill, too and died under mysterious circumstances in Wunstorf in 1939.

Heinrich Waldmann joined the army when he came of age. There he got to know the brother of his later wife - that's what family legends say. The fact is, that the only brother of his later wife died before Heinrich Waldmann went to the army. So it's obvious, that there's something wrong with this story.
He married Hermine Meyer zu Hage in 1901 and settled on his farm in Grambergen. In his opinion, the farm was brought to the brink of ruin after being let out for 17 years. Only the buildings remained and they were in very bad condition. The money he inherited was not even enough to pay the dowry of his sister. He had to make a new start and he was lucky that his wife had some money.
So the farm came alife again. The building were restored and the farmland recovered. Even today you can see some of Heinrich and Hermines doings in our house. Their only daughter Elisabeth was born in 1903.

Heinrich joined the army again during World War I. In the 1920th he was the major of Grambergen. His hobby was hunting and he was tenant of the hunting-ground of Grambergen.

Elisabeth Waldmann married Friedrich Probst from Darum in 1937. Their first son was born in 1938. Friedrich Probst requested to take the surname of his wife right after the marriage. When he joined the army at February, 17th 1941 this request was still not decided. Five month later the second son was born.
Hermine Waldmann, nee Meyer zu Hage died in 1943.

1945 Friedrich became prisoner of war in France. He worked in the kitchen of the camp. He wrote several letters to Elisabeth. On April 26th, 1946 he asked his wife to send some food, for it had become hard to get by. He complained about the slow mail delivering and sends greetings to Grandpa, his brother Wilhelm (who was helping on the farm) and his lovely boys. The next day he was killed while felling trees.

Elisabeth died ten years later. The boys were adopted by their grandfather Heinrich Waldmann. That is why the name Waldmann still exists inspite of the request of Friedrich Probst that never was decided. Heinrich Waldmann died 1965.

The younger of the two married and has three daughters. So the family history will go on.