A method to reconstruct families in Recke – Westphalen

by Max Schulte – version 1c

Recke is a small village about 25 kilometers west of Osnabruck. Since I have a lot of ancestors from Recke and neighbouring villages like Mettingen and Ibbenbueren, I have put some effort in tracing my Recke-roots. Unfortunately, this is not an easy job, due to several circumstances. After studying the protestant church-records for the period 1685-1742 I concluded that it was nearly impossible to trace a single family in a jungle of interrelationships. Unless it was family coming from elsewhere and carrying an alien name. Since my ancestors were mostly endemic, their web of relations need much more treatment. Some of the reasons that make entangling the puzzle so tedious are:

Not to mention the state of the records, the handwriting of the clergy, the ambiguous way of noting and minor details the like.

One approach to study this situation is gathering as much data as possible from as many sources as possible Since these sources are geographically wide spread, this might mean a lifetime to visit all the archives , searching, gathering, interpreting, entering the data found. A monks work and to much for my lifetime.

Second best method is to try to get the most out of the data that is easy to get. In this case copies of the microfiches for the protestant church of Recke for the period 1685-1769, which can be bought at the Central Bureau of Genealogy in The Hague. Additionally sources where lists of Recke-people in neighbouring parishes like Mettingen en Ibbenburen (still working on this one) and Hopsten. To get as most as possible out of this data I have developped a simple but time-consuming 4-step method which I will describe here in short. Since I am a computer-programmer by profession I developped my own program in my favourite database-tool Magic. I used a character-based version for Dos, because I go for content and not for window-dressing. The program was easy to optimize for the different needs I discovered in the proces. The dream is to transfer all data into my ancestree-database, once interpretation is done and beyond the stage of speculation. The method uses the following steps:

  1. the text as read on the microfiche is transferred into the program and labelled by a unique-number and also the position in the source is marked. Where I cannot read the source, I put dots and if I wonder if I read correct I put a question mark to it. For the rest I try to transfer the handwritten data as correct as possible into my program, without any intermediate interpretations.
  2. The approximately 10000 resulting entries are scanned and the persons mentioned are distilled into a new database, splitting surnames and first names and assigning roles in the proces. Roles can be father, son, parent, alias, late, owner, place of origin, etc.
  3. The third step is an attempt to establish a uniform spelling for the names found. Care should be taken for reasons mentioned before. Is Haermeyer the same as Haremeyer? And is Hare the same as Haremeyer? Is Velt the same is Veltkamp or Veltman or Velthake. The same for firstnames. Catarina, Catharina, Trine and Trynke are transformed to Tryne. Aelke will be the same as Aleyd, and Elisabeth gets Elske, but is Elsaben the same as Elizabet? I found a girl by the name of Elsaben Elisabeth.
  4. Now the system is ready for outputting data in the form of lists that can be generated for several input-citeria, like Surname, Firstname, Period and Role. This list is used for input in my ancestree-program called Charon. Here I use the concept of a Meta-Father called Start to collect all loose ends under one starting point.

While performing the 4th step, sometimes patterns emerge that might give a clue to the reconstruction of a family. I will give an examples of how this method helps gaining to understand the family-relations. The following entries are extracted from a list generated after filtering on Blankemeyer and Gerd for the period 1685-1699.



18 Febr Gerdt Blanckemeyer en Enneke Grove won Twenhuysen



7 dito. Blanckemeyers soon Gerdt. Testes Herman Blanckemeyer



3 dito. Gerdt Blanckemeyer



16 7br Gerdt Blanckemeyers soon Jorgen. Gevadderden Zenske Grove. Gerdruyt Blanckemeyers.



.. Jan Gerdt Blanckemeyer sone van Herbert Blanckemr, Eygen an de Koninck, en Greetke van Olphen, jd van Hindr van Olphen, beyde van Recke, Sy Vry.



Gerdt Blanckemeyer ende Greetke van Olphen



Gerdt Blanckemeyers .oon Lucas. Testes Hendrick Eilert. Aelke? Van Olphen



Blanckemeyers kindt Gerd



eodem die. Gerdt Blanckemeyers sone Gerdt. Testes Jorgen Hemisch. Aelheit Blanckemeyers



7 July Gerdt Blanckemeyers soone Herbert. Testes Gert Leuwe Aalheit achter den Kamp



eodem die Gerdt Blanckemeyers dochter Enneke Testes Jan Grove Enneke Conermans



8 Marty Gert Blanckemeyers dochter Maria. Testi. Herm Blanckemeyer Maria van Olphen

b = birth/baptism, m = marriage, d = death/burial, a = marriage announcement

The serie continues but this is a fine point to stop. Obviously there are 2 Gerd Blankemeyers conceiving children and a third one dies in 1693. What made me wonder about this sequence is the appearance of a testes by the name of Jorgen Hemisch. Hemisch is not a common name in Recke. It’s a name from nearby Ibbenburen. In fact variants of Hemesch appear only 3 times in this period in the Recke records:



Gerdt Hemasch? Ende Enneke Blanckemeyers wonende tot Twenhuysen



eodem die. Gerdt Blanckemeyers sone Gerdt. Testes Jorgen Hemisch. Aelheit Blanckemeyers



2 Decbr Gert Blanckemeyers dochter Maria Lisabet Testes Jan Grove Maria Heemsche.

The maltreatment of the name Hemesch or Hemes indicates the unfamiliarity of the priest (?) or whoever did the writing of the church-records. Interpretation of these lines leaves two possibilities. Either the Hemisch-people appeared as testes at the Blankemeyer-baptisms as distant relatives or they were close relatives and Gerd Hemesch took over the Blankemeyer-farm including the name, after the decease of the first Gerd Blankemeyer in january 1693. A close look at the rest of the testes in a so-called testes-analysis reveals this is probably the correct interpretation. At some entries an attempt was made to distinguish both Gerd Blankemeyers, as in:



Leuwen Lyftuchters kind namelyck Gert Herberts dochter Grete Elisabeth. Testes Gert Wilcke Aelke Leuwen.



22 Gert Herberts sone Gert. Testes Gert Olphen. Maria Eilerts

From this line we learn that the other Gerd Blanckemeyer lived in the Lyftucht at the Leuwe or Leewe-farm. This probably meant that he and his family lived in a seperate part of the farmhouse or even in a separate building. Sometimes more families were living in such a Lyftocht or Lyftucht. The word indicates that they wore supported by the farm for food and housing, but I don't know if this was still the case at that time in that place under this administration and circumstances. Compared to records from Ibbenbueren in the same period, we are lucky here to find the name Gerd Herberts connected to the Leuwen Lyftucht. In Ibbenbueren the same entry would probably read 'Leuwen Lyftuchters kint Grete Elisabeth', without any clue as to who was living there at the moment.

From all this I have drawn a few conclusions:

In the example described it is not obvious to recognize a possible name-change. Sometimes it is more easy to see. Then the pattern would take the following shape (example):



Wilhelm Meiman marries Maria Oostman



after the marriage-date Wilhelm Meiman disappears from the records



after the marriage-date Wilhelm Oostman shows up as a father



before the marriage-date there was no sign of a Wilhelm Oostman

In cases like this. I assume a name-change was made. If there is an entry in the marriage-proclamation register it would probably read that both bride ang groom are not free people but subjects to a landlord, who also happens to be the owner of the farm. In the example the farm on which the girl was living, probably named Oosthof or just Oostmans. Sometimes the man is free but surrenders to the conditions of the landlord in exchange for the right to be colon to the farm. In cases of a suspected name-change I enter a remark in the original entry to ease future interpretations of the record. If I'm not completely sure, I add a question-mark to the supposed name-change.

The Wilhelm or Wilm Oostman or Ostmann is mentioned as a father in 10 baptism-entries. His eldest child is a girl baptised Maria Aalheit in 1694. I suppose that she is the same Maria Oostman, daughter to the late Wilhelm Oostman, who marries Steffen Holcke/Hollick/Holleke from Cappelen in 1727. From that date a Steffen Oostman appears in the records as the father of a new Oostman-line. So again the Oostman-farm-heritage had passed along the female line. I don't know what the general policy was in inheriting the farm. I don't think it was always the eldest son or daughter. Neither was it necessarily a son. Maria Oostman had at least one living brother in 1727, a 26-year old Wilhelm Oostman. Her father had passed away in 1721, so the farm was probably in need of a new colon and maybe the boys in the family had not proven to be acceptable candidates to the owner of the farm, the king of Prussia.

Though the method does provide me with better insight in family-relations in Recke, the job to reconstruct families remains a tedious one. Actually a step 5 should be added to the proces in which a testes-analysis is done and the relation of testes to the parents of a child is sought. To facilitate this process I have implemented a family-switch-option in my Charon-program which allows me a quick look to see if a testes at a baptism can be traced is a family-member to one of the parents. Especially after 1730 the options are so multifold that such a step might be very helpful. Often one decides to reconstruct a related family first before being able to finish the family under hand. And while constructing the related family, the same problem arises with another related family and so on, making you go around in circles. Wondering if you ever get out of it without studying additional sources. Especially the need for a map, showing farms, schoppen, kotten, fieldnames etc is felt, to yield better topographic and demographic insight.

If any one reading this article has any info concerning Recke-people from before 1800, please let me know.

For questions, additions and remarks please don't hesitate to contact me by one of the following communication means.

Max Schulte mschulte@knoware.nl


  1. Copies of the protestant microfiches for Recke 1685-1742, containing entries for birth, marriage, death and church-membership (done).
  2. As 1 for Recke 1693-1734 containing entries for marriage-announcements (done).
  3. As 1 for Recke 1742-1769 (tbd – writing is in discouraging condition)
  4. As 1 for Mettingen 1679-1777, containing references to Recke (done)
  5. A list send to me by A.G.J.Schröder with marriages in Hopsten 1657-1746 of which one of the partners is possibly coming from Recke (done).

Further reading:

  1. G. Wildenbeest – De Winterswijkse Scholten: opkomst, bloei en neergang – VU Uitgeverij Amsterdam, 1985 (in Dutch).
  2. Mr.P.G.Aalbers – Het einde van de horigheid in Twente en Oost-Gelderland 1795-1850 – Walburg Pers Zutphen 1979 – ISBN 90-6011-413-2 (in Dutch).
  3. Mr.F.P.M.Slijkerman en K.J.Slijkerman – De nakomelingen van Jan Gersen Slijckeman uit Mettingen – Uitgeverij Slijkerman Da Costa te Alkmaar 1985 (contains short history of the County Lingen where Recke was part of at that period – in Dutch)
  4. Recke 1189-1989 Beiträge zur Geschichte – Published by the Gemeide Recke – ISBN 3-921290-38-4 (in German).
  5. Hermine von Hagen – Bilderbogen der Westfälischen Bauerngeschichte – Landwirtschaftsverlag GmbH Münster-Hiltrup 1987

Version history:





spread via soc.genealogy.germany

used for publishing in International Internet Genealogical Society



minor textual changes

spread via german-kingdoms-l@rootsweb.com



few remarks added




use of tables

formatted as HTML-document



Alfabetical thanx:

Klaus Bub meyer, Hamburg

A.G.J.Schröder, Rotterdam