Holthouse Family

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Holthouse Immigration

The map below shows the location in Germany where the Holthouse's immigrated from to the U.S. in 1838.

The map below shows where the Holthouse family settled in the U.S. after immigrating from Germany in 1838.

The following was a typed history complete with family trees that I obtained from Nelle Jean Holthouse Smith who had obtained it from her Mother, Nelle Williams Holthouse.  It appears to have been written by either a son or daughter of Anthony and Whilemina Holthouse.

The History of Bernard and Wilhemina Holthouse, Hanover, Germany


They came to America in 1840 and settled in Ohio, then moved to Indiana, Adams County.  They had four children, Peter, Catherine, Anthony and John.  Decatur was only a small county town with a few houses in the woods and a settlement of many Indians in the camp.


It did not take long when the white people started to move in and the Government gave an extra tract of land for the Indians to live.  Among these settlers came John von Schoen’s family of emigrants from Bavaria Germany.  They also had four children, Catherine, Lena, Mary and Margaret..


The only market place for Decatur was Fort Wayne, Indiana twenty-one miles distant. It took four days to make the trip to and fro. In 1852 a plank road was built and opened commerce to a great extent in getting enterprises to Decatur. Before this, pumpkins were the main food diversion, pumpkin butter, molasses, preserves and many other eatables too numerous to mention, all made from a common pumpkin which took the place of fruit.


Also, wild game such as turkey, deer and hogs were in abundance.  These notes about Adams Co. were taken from a book written by Mrs. Martha Lynch, the Mother of Bert Lynch, Decatur, Indiana.)


Not many years after, Decatur became a flourishing town, a region of thrift and prosperity, all enjoying and living a happy and Christian life with God's help in their work and .homes.  About the year of 1858 Anthony Holthouse, a young man, started a small shoe shop, as they called it, " A. Holthouse Old Stand."


He studied and learned about the shoe business, encouraged to advance, and soon succeeded in his pursuit. He then invented a shoe that had features possessed by no other make, that during the Paris Exposition "The Eighth Wonder” brought honor to him.  He still sold this make of shoe until he sold his shoe store.

Several years later he married Margaret Schoen, daughter of John von Schoen known as John Schoen who also came from Germany.  Mary Schoen, his daughter kept house for her father until her death, then after school hours Eleanor and Agnes Holthouse kept house for their Grand-Father until arrangements were made to move him to Anthony Holthouse’ home and his wife Margaret took care of her father until his death December 1897.  


Anthony Holthouse was in the shoe business for many years and with his sons, worked hard and was very prosperous. His daughter Mary (Mayme) married Bert Lynch and soon after moved to Jonesboro, Ark. where he was in the timber business and started a Hickory Mill at Bono, Dryden and Jonesboro, Arkansas.


In 1899 Anthony Holthouse visited his daughter Mayme and Bert Lynch.  The Southern climate made him think that he would like to live in the South.  When he came back home, the first thing he wanted to find out was if his family would be willing to move South? The answer was, "If you go the whole family will go with you. After their approval it did not take long when Roman Holthouse offered to take over the shoe store and helped to make arrangements to move.  The home stead was sold and latter on used for the Sisters home that taught in the St. Mary's Catholic School.


After landing in Jonesboro, Ark. the family had to live in a small house the only one they could rent until Mr. W. Nash's new home was finished and he was able to rent his old home which was large enough for all and close to the Catholic School and Church.  Anthony Holthouse joined Bert Lynch in the timber business, and then came Fred Falks and Clem Holthouse and families from Decatur, Ind. to join them.


About the year 1902 the property on Church and Matthews was bought and a two story home was built.  After moving into the new home all enjoyed the place with a happy Christian life until Dec.31, 1907 when death suddenly claimed the father of the family.  After all the children had their own homes mother sold the home stead to Mr. W.H. Jelks.  Mother then made her home with Fred and  Mynnie Puryear until her death, Sept. 11, 1919 –RIP

The following was taken from the book “A Holthouse Family History”, published by Angela M. Quinn and Lori A. Brubaker in 1994.

1979 History of AdamsCo., IN


According to an article by Lawrence Beckmeyer (1979 History of AdamsCo., IN, pp.264-65, ) the first German Catholic settlers in Decatur, and Washington Twp. included: "Henry Dierkes, Henry Minter, Joseph Smith, Bernard Holthouse, George Fettick, John Mueller, George Spuller, Anthony Kohne, John Closs and Henry Will." They were joined by several more families by 1850, including Bosses, Brakes, Tonnelliers, Tettmanns, Colchins, Meibers, and Vogelwedes.


The story of the Holthouse family is central to the story of these early settlers. Bernard Holthouse was one of seven children who emigrated to the United States from the village of Bersenbruck, in the District of Osnabruck in the modern state of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Germany.


Three of his sisters and their families soon joined him in Decatur, including Marianne Tettmann, Margaret Bosse, and Mary Catherine Vogelwede. By 1865 these four families had produced 24 offspring, the majority remaining in the Adams County area, and raising their famiies.


These children, and grandchildren, and descendents have been active in the social, cultural and political life of Decatur; holding public office, developing business, participating in fraternal and social organizations, and even providing local entertainment (the Bosse Opera House, etc.).


The story of the Holthouse family is also the story of Bersenbruck, and those who emigrated from the lowlands of northwestern Germany to the rich farmland of northeastern Indiana and northwestern Ohio.


The wife of Bernard Holthouse was Johanna Catharine Mescher, also of BersenbrUck, and one of four sisters who settled in this area. She was joined by her twin sister, Mary Elizabeth Fullenkamp; and their sisters Maria Catherina Gertrude Hagedorn, and Anna Margaretha Knapke.


Others who emigrated from Bersenbruck, or its neighboring villages and settled in the Adams County area include: Brakes, Meibers, Dierkes, Boekes, Lienesches, Meyers, Hackmans, Klaphakes, and Kohnes.


While researching the Holthouse story, the co-authors were sometimes perplexed by two questions: Why did people leave Bersenbruck in large numbers between 1830 and 1860?; and Why did these emigrants settle , Adams Co. and Mercer Co.? The answer lies in the story of Bersenbruck itself, described briefly below.


Bersenbruck is located about 15 miles north of the city of Osnabruck. It is a lowland area, similar to the Netherlands, with windmills, canals, and dikes designed to keep the land from being washed away by the North Sea. It lies north of the Mittelland Canal, which provides drainage for much of Niedersachsen State. The land saved from the sea is rich farmland, and has been in cultivation for centuries.


Osnebrikk was at the center of the Archbishopric Principality of Osnabruck, an elector state of the Holy Roman Empire. It was ruled by the Archbishop at Osnabruck, and was feudal in nature, with Churches and Monastic Orders controlling most of land. It became partially secularized and placed under the control of Hannover in 1648, at the end of the Thirty Years War.


In 1803 Hannover was taken over by Prussia, which was then defeated i n 1806 by the French Army, under the command of Napolean. Bersenbruck was included as part of the French Empire until 1815, when it, and all of the former principality of OsnabrUck was returned to Hannover. A copy of the marriage record of the grandfather of Decatur settler Gerhard Meyer is in the possession of the co-authors (courtesy of Joseph Miller). It is from Ankum church, three miles from Bersenbruck, and the document is legalized under the Code Napolean (the Law of the French Empire).


Thus, during a period of less than two hundred years, Bersenbruck was invaded, traded and otherwise saw changes in the rulership no less than five times. Bernard Holthouse's father, Johan Bernd Holthaus, was born in the Archbishopric Principality of Osnabruck.


Bernard was born in the French Empire, and his younger sisters were born in Hannover. The final irony is that when, in 1836, Bernard emigrated from Bersenbruck, he left the sovereignty of King George V, who also happened to be the King of Great Britain.


Northern Germany was largely Protestant, and the only sizable Catholic population was in the Osnabruck area. The Catholic populace lost some stability when the Archbishopric Principality was dissolved, and placed under rule of a Protestant king.


Life in Bersenbruck was still very feudel in nature during the early nineteenth century. Much of the land was still held by a few people, or the church, (including the monastary at Bersenbruck, built in the thirteenth century) and many residents did not own the land that they worked. Additionally, the inheritance laws did not allow family lands to be divided, so that only one child (usually the oldest son, see note below*) inherited the farm. Other children were left landless. The combination of these two factors created a population of - Heuermanner", landless men who worked the lands of others, or looked for employment far from the village.


Many of the men in Bersenbruck traveled the thirty miles to Holland to work in the flax and linen weaving industry,and many families soon depended on jobs in Holland as their main income.


In about 1830 the linen industry soured. Luke Knapke writes: Starting about 1830, handwoven linen could no longer compete with machine woven linen and cotton. At about this time, Holland no longer required large numbers of migrant workers. The poor were reduced to desperate conditions. As Liwwat said, We were starving."


Furthermore, under the feudal system children were locked in the class into which they were born. All of this contributed to the emigration of large numbers of these humble people..." (Liwwa Bake, p.7).


Many families in the Bersenbruck area were left with few options, and many began to look toward the United States as a place to begin again. A large portion of these chose northeastern Indiana and northwest Ohio, due to the factors described below.


The Treaty of Greenville (1795) opened up land in the Northwest Territory, southeast of a line from Fort Recovery, Ohio. The land north of this line remained in Indian control until about 1830, when it was opened for settlement. Land was offered by the U.S. government for $1.25 per acre.


According to Luke Knapke, Franz Joseph Stallo, a native of the Damme in Oldenburg (about eight miles from Bersenbruck) arrived in Cincinnati in 1831 or 1832, and collected a group of settlers to go north to this new territory. They settled Stallostown, which soon was renamed Minster, in Auglaize County, Ohio.


Stallo wrote to many of his former family and neighbors in the Neuenkirchen area, and encouraged them to emigrate to this newly opened territory (p.10). It can be assumed that the Holthouses, and other Bersenbruck area families heard of these settlements, and available land, either while still in Germany or when they arrived in Cincinnati.


Land in Adams County also became available as Treaty lands were given up by the Indians. However, in Northern Indiana, Jean Baptiste de Richardville, chief of the Fort Wayne area Miami tribe, determined that individual families of Miami and other tribes should receive Lands (Treaty of St. Mary's , Ohio -1818). Parts of Adams County were purchased from the Wyandot Tribe in 1818, while a large portion of St. Mary's Twp. was purchased from the Rivarre Family in 1833 by the Ewing Brothers of Fort Wayne.


The Ewings were able to purchase 1,285.63 acres for $1.87 per acre. They then divided this into lots for sale. Similar land deals were struck throughout Northeast Indiana until the remaining Native Americans were forced to leave the area. The Ewing Brothers of Fort Wayne were again involved, serving as Indian Agents and amassing a great fortune as they led the Miami and other tribes to Oklahoma. (1979 HIstory of Adams County, pp.45 -54, also several books on the Ewings are available in many libraries).


Bernard Holthouse, and other early settlers from the BersenbrUck area found land similar to their own native soil in Adams and Mercer/Auglaize County. ( Mercer was part of Auglaize County originally, and was later divided.) The land was deeply forested, flat and sometimes on the swampy-side, not very different from the lowland areas of Northern Germany and Holland. Drainage efforts in the Wabash and Maumee Valleys were not completely successful until the beginning of the twentieth century.


In Adams County, the Holthouse Creek drained much of Kirkland and Washington townships, making land farmable. It was petitioned and maintained by Peter Holthouse.


Thus, the availablity of land, settlement of other "Plattdeutsk" from the Bersenbruck area, and similarities in the geography made Adams and Mercer counties an attractive destination for the emigrants from BersenbrUck.


For the Catholic settlers there was also the additional factor of a growing Diocese, based first at Bardstown, KY, then Cincinnati, and eventually into the structure of today. A mission was established to Decatur from St. Augustine (FW Cathedral) as early as 1838.


*NOTE*- In the Bersenbruck area, a daughter was allowed to inherit the family lands if there was no male heir. Also, landless men had great difficulty marrying because of the land-laws. If a landless man found a potential bride who had inherited the family land, he could then marry her. However, land and inheritance laws both ordained that the farm would retain the original name, and all children of the marriage would take the name attached to the land.


Thus, when the landless Johannes Bernd Sandbrink married Maria Catherine Stolle, he became known as Bernd Sandbrink modo Stolle. His daughter Anna Maria Catharina Henrietta was given the last name of Stolle, which she kept until marrying Johan Bernd Hollthuss/Holthaus. Other examples include Johan Herm zu Hoene who took the Mescher name.

The following is a newspaper clipping  which was obtained from Nelle Jean Holthouse who obtained it from her Mother, Nelle Williams Holthouse, my grandmother.  I assume it's from a Decatur IN newspaper.
You can view and read the copy of the clipping best by clicking on the title "The Old Settlers" to open a new window with a copy of the clipping.
Or you can just read the typed version of the clipping which appears directly below the title.

The Old Settlers

Ancestral Home of Holthouse, Bersenbrueck, Described


The county of Bersenbruck, district of Osnabruck, province of Hannover (English spelling- Hanover) or Lower Saxony (Nie­dersachscn) lies in the extreme northwest of Germany, the district bordering on the Netherlands, lying just south of the Ba1­tic Sea, East Frisian Islands, and Bremen, the port of Olden­burg. The county seat, Bersen­bruck, had a population of 3, 476 in 1933.


Bersenbruck is one of eight counties in the Catholic district of Osnabruck, the only Catholic area in the province, which is 80 per cent Protestant. Osna­bruck is one of six rural dist­ricts, Bersenbruck one of 47 counties, in Hannover.


Hannover was probably set­tled by West Germanic folk as early at 500 or 600 B.C. Since the time of the Roman Empire, all of Hannover was occupied by the Low Saxons, whose dia­lect, Low Saxon, has many va­rieties. During the fifth cen­tury the Frisians, speaking a language now halfway between English and Low Saxon, pushed eastward from their homeland in the northern Netherlands to occupy the northwestern portion of Hannover.


They survive on the East Frisian Islands, and evidence of their earlier occu­pation of the mainland is found in the folkways and folklore of northeast Hannover. Standard German is spoken in most cities of the area, The Province of Hannover is largely Lutheran (2,785,000 in 1933), although as mentioned, there is a large Catho­lic bloc (486,000) in the south­western portion, which includes Osnabruck. The total Jewish Population is small, 12,611, in comparison with other states of Germany.


The early history of the Province of Hannover and the state of Brunswick are merged, for both once formed constituent parts of the ancient Duchy of Saxony.  The descendants of the kings of the Saxons, who had struggled in vain against Charlemagne, were later elevated to the status of dukes.  One of the Saxon rulers became Emperor Otto I of the Holy Roman Empire. 


The Saxon holdings were then invested with another Low Saxon noble who had extensive holding in the southern parts of modern Hannover.  Dynastic inter­changes brought the lands in Hannover under the rule of the Guel (Welf), Heinrich of Ba­varia, whose son was invested with the Duchy of Saxony in the early twelfth century.


As indicated above, his son, Henry the Lion (Heinrich der Lowe) fell upon evil days, for he was outlawed in 1180 and deprived of the duchies of Bavaria and Saxony.  The latter was divided and its name transferred to the Margravilate of Meissen, which was later to evolve into the modern Kingdom and re­publican state of Saxony.


The descendents of Henry the Lion retained family estates in the Luneburg and  Brimswocl areas.   During the later Mid­dle Ages, the holdings of the family slowly increased.  In 1235, they received the Duchy of Brunswick.  Otto, leader of the family in this day, managed to add the cities of Hannover Gottingen, and the earldom of Stade.  His sons divided the inheritance in 1267, one becoming the ancestor of the ducal house of Braunschweig – Wolfenbuttel (Modern Brunswick), the other, was destined to evolve into modern Hannover.


The Braunschweig-Luenburg inheritance took many strange turns, with ramifications which were important not only for Germany but also for England and America.  There were many divisions of lands until the seventeenth century, when the Duchy of Luneburg came under the rule of Duke Ernst August.  He married Sophia, daughter of the Elector Friederich V of the Palatinate, son-in-law of King James I of England. 


Duke Ernst was made an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire in 1692.  After his death in 1698, his son George Wilhelm, who was the second elector of Hannover, became George I of England (1714).  From this time until the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837,


The history of Hanover is merging with that of the reigning family of Great Britain.


The period between 1715 and 1813 was one of considerable aggrandizement for this land whose rulers were now styled Electors of Hannover.  During this periods, the holdings of the Electors consisted of the principality of Calenburg center­ing about the city of Hannover, the earldom of Hoya (1543), the earldom of Diepholz (1585), the principality of Luneburg consist­ing of old family estates, the territory of Hadeln (I686), and floe milling district of Clausthal in the Hartz area. The duchies of Bremen and Verden,  both formerly ecclesiastical states, secularized in 1618 and later ac­quired by Sweden, were acquired by Sweden, were added to Hannover by the Peace of Stock­holm (1720),

The next substantial increase came in 1803, when Hannover took over the Principality of Osnabruck, and archbishopric which had been partly secula­rized and placed partly under Hanoverian control in 1618.


Hannover took the side of the Allies against the French during the Revolutionary period until its neutralization in 1795. Prus­sia, jealous of the growing power of Hannover and its advantage as an English outpost on the con­tinent, occupied the Electorate for a few months in 1801 at the instigation of the French. The state was again defeated by the Prussians in 1803. After Na­poleon's defeat of Prussia in 1806, southern Hannover was made a part of the Kingdom of Westphalia, while northwestern Hannover and Osnabruck, and was added to the French empIre.


The victory of, the allies brought the restoration of Hannover.  At Vienna (1815), Hannover received East Friesland, the secularized bishopric of Hildesheim, and the city of Gos­lar in return for the surrender of most of the Duchy of Saxeduenburg to Prussia.


The Electorate of Hannover was then also elevated to the status of a kingdom.  Thus, John  Bernard Holthouse, whose father had been born in the archbishopric principality of Osnabrue was born in the French Empire but lived most of his life under King George III, the “Stuffy old drone from the German Hive” who was the frequently insane King of England when the United States received its independence.   Bernard, as John Bernard was usually known, left the year before George III died, and came to America.


In Imperial times, the Catholics of the southwestern part of Hannover, naturally, voted for the Center party. In Republican days, running counter to the Hanonoverian majority for the Social Democrats, the Catholic party took top position.  With the rise of National Socialism in 1930 the province began to drift toward that party, and by 1932 every one of its administrative districts except Catholic Osnabruck went over strongly to the Hitler column.  Osnabruck supported Hindenburg.  In the following elections, o only Osnabruck consistently opposed Hitler by supporting the Catholic party strongly in every election.


The sober, outwardly unemotional Low Saxon peasants form a distinct cultural bloc. The peasants of the river and coastal marshlands dwell in a village of the Marschhufendorf type.  The houses of these villages in northwestern Hannover are of the East Frisian type reflecting the early occupation of the Frisians, gruff, stolid, slow moving lot whose rationalistic turn of mind has produced some of Germany' leading intellectuals. The Low Saxon farmers of the east are not as well off economically as their brothers of the marshlands.  They dwell in the typical Lower Saxon house -- long rectangular  structures housing a barn and living quarters. They occupy the center of the farm west of the Woser River.


Osnabruck, with its coal and iron deposits, form the center of a small iron and steel industry.  It is also the center for tex­tile, celluloid, and paper manufacturing.  The famous Weser- Elbe and Ems-Weser or Mittelland canal, which is some ten miles south of the town of Bersenbruck, connect the cities of Osnabruck, Hannover and Hildesheim with both western and eastern Germany.  The city of Osnabruck has evolved from an old highway arterial point.  It is famous for its Gothic and Renaissance architecture.