Interesting Wiederhold Ancestors

Going through the books and collecting all kind of references for the genealogy has revealed some interesting aspects of the broader family history. Many Wiederholds were landowners, and as such eligible to become citizens and vote, so that there are substantial records. Many were also officials, i.e. bureaucrats, could write, leading to more early records.

Places

The earliest ancestors I could link to, then using the name Wedderold, lived at the border of Hessen and Westfalen. They all trace back in the male line to a single ancestor, Volland, who was a judge in Marsberg, Westfalen starting in 1229. Some matrilineal lines can be traced futher back. Most known Wedderolds owned land, had civic roles, and served the local nobility. After the reformation, spread by the availabilty of printing after 1450, and the ensuing thirty-years war (1618-1648) many moved further south in Hessen, becoming protestant or further east, to the Eichsfeld region of Thüringen, in an area that remained to catholic. Later some entered the book-making business in Frankfurt an Main. When prosperity returned there was a baby boom, greatly increasing the population of Germany. By the early 1800’s many craftsmen, as weavers, were impacted by the mechanization of cloth-making. Many Wiederholds emigrated, mainly to the U.S., but also to South America.

Today, the greatest fraction of Wiederholds live in central Hessen, Germany, but they are also found all over the world. Major families have emigrated and settled in the American midwest. Another concentration is in found southern Chile.

Moving Around

Farmers are closely bound to their land, and moved rarely. Younger sons would not receive an inheritance of land, and unless they found a well-off daughter or widow, were unable to settle and raise a family. Others, if family circumstances allowed, might be sent off to local seminaries or universities to become pastors or teachers, or became mercenaries, soldiers of fortune.

The original inhabitants of the area, the Chatten, after a 9th century battle, were already described by the Romans ferocious fighters. Hessian soldiers appear in many stories. A military academy was established around 1609 in Hessen by the duke Johann VII. von Nassau-Siegen. Where family finances allowed, their younger sons could be well trained there and become officers. Hessian soldiers fought in many wars on many sides [Christian Kodritzki: Seitenwechsel, Eigenverlag, Offenbach, Hessen, Germany, 2007].

To provide context I created a timeline of major events that affected Wiederholds and their neighbors.

After two general stories of early Wiederholds, I list some well-known Wiederholds. It includes several mercenary officers who did well; many others died young in battles, as fighting the invasion of the Turks in southern Europe. As soldiers they went to remote places – in those days that could mean just to one of the other many states that later combined to form Germany or actually far away. Some joined the trading companies and went to Indies. If they did not became famous those Wiederholds and their children are hard to track.

Interesting ancestors

Gio has copied or summarized some stories about interesting ancestors, using information from books and Internet resources as Wikipedia. Alfred Wiederhold describes some in the summary of his work (English translation by Dottie Wiederhold). My stories are likely to be corrected and updated as more information becomes available. The story about Hendrich Julius Wiederhold was contributed by George Molenkamp. More stories are welcome.

Insights gained

Working on the genealogy provides many insights into the past. Many marriages in the past were arranged in order to retain or increase land ownership. Intermarriages among cousins to various degrees, aunts and uncles are common. Since many men left to become soldiers, there are quite a number of unwed mothers, their children would take on the mother's family names, if even the father was known. There was no privacy in village life, and the pastors were well-informed about local happenings. If the father decided to marry the mother subsequently they may have had to pay a Kirchenbusse, a penalty fee to the church. Violating local norms can motivate a move.

Rules imposed by the church authorities appear to change over time. That becomes most obvious from copies of church records I have obtained. Most are from catholic churches in the Eichsfeld region, transcribed be genealogists that family there. When the pastor of a church changed, the completeness of entries and the spellings of names may change as well. When people moved out of or into the parish the records will be incomplete. I try to match names among those parishes, but since given names were reused I can never be completly certain. Notes about the assumptions I made are with the individual entries.

In a few cases political disagreements led to emigration. Two Wiederhold cases are documented.


Enjoy!

back to Wiederhold Family front page. This file updated 20 March 2019.