This is taken from my family history "Geschichte die Familie Wulfmann" and is included
because there are questions related to why our forefathers emigrated to the USA and in
particular to Illinois which Bernice Reinhardt has not addressed. This is not surprising since
what she undertook was truly Herculean. The exodus of so many Germans to the USA was
remarkable and the immediate impact on both countries was immense and for the USA
continues to be to this day. The Hoffmanns were some of the earlier émigrés in the great
move which was strongly advocated by a German judge, Gottfried Duden. By 1848 there
was the added impetus of a failed revolution, economic collapse and a potato famine which
matched that of Ireland which was taking place during the same period. "Geschichte die
Familie Wulfmann" translates "History of the Wulfmann Family" but this could as well be
written as ""Geschichte die Familie Holfmann"
"Ich bin der Herr, dein Gott, der ich dich aus, Ägyptland, aus dem Diensthause gefürht
2 Moshe 20.2 , die Bible, M. Luther
"Sh'ma Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad"
Dueteronomy 6.4, Jewish New Testament
"Fais de Jehovah tes délices Et il te donnera ce que ton coeur désire"
Minden is the name of two towns in Germany. Preusz Minden or Minden-Preusz is a Prussian town in the then province of Westfalia on the Weser River. (There is some confusion however since after North Prairie, Illinois was renamed, it became Preusz Minden and finally New Minden.) It ranks as one of the oldest cities in Germany. The town grew out of a fishing village located at a ford of the Weser. A battle was fought at Minden-Preusz in which the French were defeated by an army of Anglo-Hannoverian troops in 1759 ('Seven Years War'). Since land to the west of Minden was occupied by the French, the real possibility exists that at one time our ancestors were subjects of the French. During the 10th Century a trading settlement came into being and in the 15th it became a member of the Hanse. After the 'Thirty Years War' Minden fell to Brandenburg. There still was a British Army base there in 1993.
Minden - Hannover or Münden is located in the then province of Hildesheim within the then Province of Göttingen at the confluence of the Fulda and Werra Rivers. (intersection of secondary highways 3 and 80 SSW of Göttingen ~ 18 miles) Minden-Preusz is located ~ 30 miles due east of Osnabrück and ~ 36 miles west of Hannover. Wimmer lies between Minden-Preusz and Osnabrück and is sufficiently close that on most old maps it appears that it was part of the Bischofsitz Osnabrück prior to becoming part of Hannover. (this is born out by a statement on the web site for Wimmer)(See discussion above). The continual confusion caused by descendants of those from the area of Westfalia near Minden and Osnabrück arises from the fact that the two bishoprics were separated by only a few kilometers. Both the "Grosser Historiches Welt Atlas" vol. 1,2 & 3, Joseph Engel ed., Bayerischer Schulbuck-Verlag, Munich 1970 and "Westermanns Atlas Zur Weltgeschicte", H-E. Steir, et al., George Westermann Verlag, Berlin, 1956, present maps dating from around 1648 which support this. There is not enough detail to say whether Wimmer was once a part of the Bischofsitz Minden or lay in the area separating the two bishoprics. One map I have encountered has the two sharing a common boundary, but this may simply reflect the nearnesss of the two, the scale of the map and not contiguity. To further complicate matters, Wimmer lies in what in 1937 was known as Osnabrückerland. It is clear that by 1800, Wimmer was no longer a part of the adminsitrative district of Osnabrück. According to a German atlas from 1961, Wimmer has an Evangelical Church and about 20 buildings. The more recent topographic map shows it to be a sizable village and it may now be larger than Wittlage. In OGOH it is said to have been a large town in 1848. That may have been so, but that forces the question, why did Cristoph Heinrich Wulfmann have his schooling at Lintorf, a town about 2 kilometers from Wimmer? Most probably one can shed considerable light on the family by checking the old church records, assuming they survived World War II. Wimmer lies on the edge of the Groszes Moor. The Hunte flows north through the moor and then through the Dümmer See. The Wimmerbach flows north along the eastern edge of Wimmer. The Grosz Diekflosz also flow near Wimmer and the Mittleland Kanal passes less than a 0.5 mile north. It appears from the 1961 atlas that Wittlage was then the administrative center for Wimmer. There is a potential source of additional confusion; 1.4 miles E 40o N of Minden lies a small town called Wittloge. There is also a Wittlage near Lübbecke. The Wittlage we are concerned with lies 3.5 kilometers ESE from Wimmer and is found on the Bielefeld Topographische Karte (scale 1:500, 000). Wimmer, Wittlage and Lintorf are all found on the Preuszlisch Oldendorf 1:25,000 Topographische Karte. The relative distances are 2 km. due South from Wimmer to Lintorf and the center of Wimmer lies 750 meters from the Mittleland Kanal. To confuse matters, there are two towns called Lintorf, one in Niedersachsen and the other in Nordrhein/Westfalen. The Lintorf of interest lies in Niedersachsen but only by 1 kilometer. The full modern description is Lintorf; Gemeinde Bad Essen; Landkreis Osnabrück, Niedersachsen, Deutschland. Lintorf was founded in 1227. The construction of the church St. Johannes der Taufer began 1499 in the baroque style. The first Lutheran pastor there was Henrick Flörke (1628). The Reformation came to the Bad Essen - Barkhausen - Rabber - Lintorf area during the period 1625 - 1650. To increase the confusion, the Catholic church at Lintorf-NW is named St. Johannes der Taufer. It was built after the second World War.
Part of the above information is taken from "Library of Universal Knowledge" (LUK) published by Chambers in 1880 and "The Times Atlas of World History". Like Osnabrück, Minden-Preusz was a Bishopric but during the period 1648-1707 the area became a part of Prussia, hence the name Minden-Preusz. I have found no evidence that Minden was ever part of the Bishopric of Osnabrück. We shall drop the Preusz unless it is part of a quotation. There appear to be no relevant connections to Münden but if we refer to it in the future we shall employ the modern name, Münden. During the period 1811-13, the portion of the territory of Minden west of the Weser River and the City of Minden fell to the French and thus both our Hoffmann and Wulfmann ancestors were at that time ruled by the French. Minden is currently in the State (Land) of Nordrhein-Westfalen. As a consequence of the proximity to Osnabrück, references turn up having our ancestors coming from Osnabrück. They also are called Prussians, Hannoverians and Westphalians (or Westfalians). The Porta Westfalica is on the southern edge of Minden. Osnabrück is now located in the State (Land) of Niedrsachsen. With the exception of Jacob Pister (2), all my German ancestors came to N. America in the period 1830-1848. The timings 1832 and 1848 are suggestive of politics playing a role for Hoffmanns and Wulfmanns, since there were failed revolts in 1830 and 1848. The reasons behind the emigrations appear to be primarily economic ones coupled with religion. However, Duden. suggested at the time, that the reasons for emigration, from what became Germany, were a combination of poverty, repressive government and over population coupled with some bad harvest years. By 1813, the war of liberation had ended with the French leaving the area and many of the small city states amalgamated into larger bodies and in a weak state economically. These states, if not actually becoming part of Prussia, clearly were under Prussian hegemony. The era of Bismarck and a totally domineering Prussia did not begin until 1862 and ended in 1890. Bismarckian Prussia can have only played a part in the emigration of Jacob Pister. What is often overlooked or ignored is the fact that the potato famines of Ireland were wide spread and equally important in Germany and this was coupled by a depression and an associated inflation as a consequence of the cotton industry destroying the linen industry of Germany. That industry was very important in the area from which our ancestors emigrated.
Languages Two forms of German were common at that time in addition to the various local dialects, Hochdeutsch and Plattdeutsch. Schneider notes that German communities became noted for their heated discussions. Language was a primary distinction. The High Germans were primarily from South Germany and were considered to possess marked amiability and emotional temper of mind and were thought to be sanguine to a fault. The Low Germans were primarily from the North and were characterized by self-reliance, even judgment, indomitable will (Westfälische Dickschädel') and endurance. High German was spoken in Swabia, Bavaria, Austria, Franconia and Saxony whereas Low German, which was little used in literature, was comprehended by the Friesian, Flemish, Dutch and the Plattdeutsch. The south German was said to carry his heart on his tongue and the North German his tongue in his brain. The educated German spoke and read Hoch Deutsch but also retained the dialect from his home district. Kamphoefner tells of a visitor to the Marthasville Missouri area during the depression entering a store and finding everyone, including the
children conducting their business in Plattdeutsch. My father used to tell a story on himself related to taking German in college. He failed to prepare one day and slipped into a translation based upon Swabische. The professor said, "Herr Wulfman, du bist ein Swabe". Although he had learned Hoch Deutsch at home and in school, the residents of the Manchester Michigan area were originally from Swabia and spoke the Swabische dialect. His playmates did likewise. He first told me the story when I told about trying to translate a sentence written in French and thought I spotted a cognate with a German word I knew. I was way off and everyone burst into laughter. The same thing occurs with the Germanic dialects. As a child, I can well remember stories being told (in English) at parties with the punch lines in Plattdeutsch or in Swabisch. Unfortunately, I could not understand, which may have been the object. However, my brother likes to tell the story of Hugh Stone saying he was going to use artificial insemination for his cattle. Being always curious when I heard new words and expressions, I apparently asked "what is artificial insemination?" Hugh's reply was "its a magazine". That was adequate for a 10 year old, but my more sophisticated 14 year old brother knew the wool had been pulled over my eyes. Typically, the transplanted Germans learned English and wanted their children to learn it as well. However, it was quite possible for them to survive in their communities without English. Elizabeth Hoffman Wulfmann lived to be 102 but never learned English, yet she used to haul castor beans to St. Louis for sale there. At the turn of the century approximately 50% of all residents of St. Louis County claimed German as their mother tongue. Such a situation of course made emigration to the area very attractive to other German speaking people. The fraction of German immigrants in Pennsylvania reached ~30% by 1790 and was a concern to Ben Franklin who feared rather than becoming Anglicized, Pennsylvania was becoming Germanized. The numbers for Maryland were 10%, New Jersey 8% and New York 10%, at the time immediately preceding the birth of the Republican Party. The continued use of the German language by the Evangelical Church was intentional. The admitted object was to retain German culture and slow Americanization. This is not surprising when one considers the amount of violence on the American Frontier and the existence of slavery, two things at odds with Evangelical German Protestantism. The massacre of 90 Christian Indians by American soldiers at Gnadenhutten Ohio in 1782 (which occurred on the grounds of the Moravian Mission) is just one example well known to the German community. In addition, the large number of Germans in Missouri, a slave state were daily witnesses of this degrading practice. Very few Germans were slave holders. Many had lived near slave-like existence in the old country and they were obviously empathetic with the slaves.
RELIGIOUS CONSIDERATIONS Schneider, in "The German Church on the American Frontier" states "The economic depression in Germany coincided with years of plenty in America: the politically oppressed were inspired by the prospect of American democracy; the gloom of ecclesiastical tyranny was brightened by the promise of religious freedom in the New World." There were obvious problems regarding the practice of religion. Protestantism within, what would become Germany, contained some deeply held schisms and there was
and still is state interference in church affairs. There was a pressure on the people to belong to the Evangelical Church rather than the Lutheran. The United Evangelical Church was formed in 1817 by the union of portions of the Lutheran and Reformed Churches. The pressure to merge came primarily from King Friederich Wilhelm III of Prussia. In 1830, the tercentenary of the Augsburg Confession, he issued a common book of worship with the hope of facilitating union. The celebration in Berlin included a communion service but the new rite used the expression "Unser Vater' rather than "Vater Uns". That was unacceptable to the strict Lutherans. The Lord's Supper was to be celebrated by strictly adhering to the scriptural words of the institution. (Unfortunately, much argument still occurs regarding what the 'scriptural words of the institution' actually mean) However, there was considerable progress made by the rationalists and many of the clergy were indifferent to the imposition of the organization by the state. In 1834 the King ordered that a common liturgy to be used in all congregations. Strict Lutherans left the organization. 'Old Lutheran' pastors were jailed for rebelling against the King's edict. To obtain release from prison these rebellious pastors often had to agree to emigrate. They took along many of their parishioners. Large groups set out for Wisconsin and Missouri. The timing of the Hoffmann exploration of the New World coincides with this period and, the Hoffman(n)s did help establish the old style Lutheran Church at New Minden. By 1845, the King, Friederich Wilhelm III had reduced the pressure and an Independent Lutheran Church existed. At this point there were essentially four Protestant churches, the Independent Lutherans, the Old Lutherans, the Reformed Church and the Evangelical Church with the last three somewhat banded together. However there were internal differences. One party regarded the union as only regarding church government. Another built its dogmas common to the Reformed and Lutheran Churches. Still another rejected the authority of both of these and claimed the right of challenging Biblical authenticity. The Reformed Church was of Calvinist background whereas the Evangelical Church was of a more complex extraction. The Lutheran theology came primarily from the works of Luther and Melanchthon. The German Reformed Church's theology was derived from Calvin, Zwingli, Ursinus and Olevianus. They used the 1563 Heidelberg Catechism as opposed to Luther's Kleiner Katechismus. A third group, the Pietists (see more extensive discussion below) followed the theologies of P. J. Spener, N. L. Zinzendorf and A. H. Francke. The Evangelical Church embraced the three groups but the American Lutheran Church, the United Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (der Deutschen Evangelisch Lutherischen Synode von Missouri) all split off of the German Lutheran Church whereas the Evangelische Kirchenverein des Westens was an extension of the Evangelical Church of German. This group was the forerunner of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (merger with the Congregational Church in 1957 created the United Church of Christ). Things have not changed much over the past 150 years. Interestingly, Martin Luther had set out the guidelines for challenging Biblical authenticity. He stated "that the Word of God does not need to be forced in any way by either men or angels. Rather its plainest meanings are to be preserved; unless the context manifestly compels one to do otherwise, the words are not to be understood apart from their proper and literal sense, lest occasion be given our adversaries to evade Scripture as a whole." ("Martin Luther", by John Dillenberger, Anchor, Garden City NY, 1961. p. 266). Whether these stresses within the German churches lead to emigration of non-theologians is debatable. "The History of the Evangelical and Reformed Churches"
(HERC) states that there was a severe shortage of pastors in N. America at that time and whatever pastor came to be accepted in a community determined what denomination would be present. When one moved into a community, it is not improbable that one joined those who were of the same confession as one had in Germany and those who came from the same region. There are still German-American communities in Illinois and Missouri where a single denomination is clearly dominant (There are at present (1996) no fewer than 85 communicants of St. John's Lutheran Church at New Minden Illinois who, like us, are descendants of one of the churches founders, Johann Friederich Wilhelm Hoffmann . It is the only church in town.). The information presented in "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past" indicates there was considerable theological friction between the rationalists and the strict constructionist Old Lutherans over the approach to scripture. The feelings between the followers of the two sets of confessions were evidently very strong in the new country as well. Pastor Ernst F. Heusemann and his predecessor, Pastor C. F. W. Scholz are extensively quoted in "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past" and there is a very adequate description of the religious friction's. The HERC states that the Old Lutherans or Saxon Lutherans became the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Scholz claimed the Evangelical Church used a bastardized Luther's Catechism but HERC states that the Evangelical Church had published the Luther's Kleiner Katechismus so that there would not be theological error. Scholz's comments seem to have been more appropriate to the Reformed Church. Sadly, the lack of toleration of alternate views of God and the Scriptures has never been far from the Christianity practiced since the death and resurrection of our Lord. The only thing that seems to have changed is that burnings at the stake have disappeared and much of Christendom has become overly tolerant of things that all believers would not have condoned even 50 years ago. We now burn each other with our tongues and in print. The Evangelical Church primarily followed the theology of Luther whereas the Reformed Church followed after much of Calvinism. To further complicate matters, there was a movement known as the Pietist Movement. It is clear from HERC and Schneider that Pietism played a role in the early German American churches. The Library of Universal Knowledge (LUK) entry for Pietists is of interest. "Pietists, a designation given since the 17th c. to a religious party in Germany, which, without forming a separate sect, is distinguished not only by certain peculiarities of religious opinion, but also by the manner in which these are manifested. The peculiar character of their religion is very generally denoted Pietism, which is frequently employed with reference to the same tendencies of opinion, feeling and conduct, where so ever and when so ever exhibited. Pietism may be regarded as consisting in an exaltation of the importance of religious feeling, and of the practical part of religion with a corresponding deprecation of doctrinal differences, and a contempt for outward ecclesiastical arrangements; and has been more or less strongly developed from time to time in all sections of the church, a tendency towards it always existing in a large class of earnestly religious minds. --- The reformers, adopting the Augustinian doctrines, rejected this mode of seeking deliverance (asceticism, spirituality and purity) from indwelling sin, and proclaimed the efficacy of faith in the sacrifice of Christ. But the controversies which arose amongst them, and increased among their successors, gradually gave a too exclusive doctrinal and polemical character to the sermons and writings of both of the Lutheran and Calvinistic divines, particularly in Germany, and
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