Wietmarschen is a small village in the county of Bentheim, Germany. It is here that, around 1620, we find the first forebears of our branch of the Budde family. The Budde family that still lives here (2022) stopped farming here but they still live on the original land (see below). The early history of our family is closely linked the monastery ‘Sünte Marienrode’. It was only after the foundation of this monastery – established to take the improvement of the bog land at hand – that the village of Wietmarschen, at the border of the impregnable Bourtanger Moor, started to develop. The Bourtanger Moor is a remnant of the melting ice of the last Ice Age and remained an impenetrable barrier between warring parties for many centuries.
It is possible that the Buddes came from nearby Emsburen when the Abbess started the development of a new part of the moor. A branch of the Budde family is also still living here on their original land for at least the last three centuries. However, the history trail dies here as this family didn’t live there before 1560, so they must have come from somewhere else, most likely close by.
The political and economic power of the monastery ensured that the Reformation did not get a hold in this town and its inhabitants and until today the township still has a very tightly knit Catholic community.
The secular power in the area belonged to the Counts of Bentheim, which in turn were vassals of the Kings of Hanover. The Prince-Bishop of Munster held the ecclesiastical power of the region, however he regularly also tested his secular powers.
During the crusades large estates were donated to the church. Throughout the ages these estates grew larger and larger, became powerful and were fundamental in the rise of the bishop-monarchies. Despite the powers of the Prince-Bishops, the church properties in Wietmarschen (and beyond) remained in the hands of Sünte Marienrode.
Sünte Marienrode – a powerful monastery
Sünte Marienrode was built in 1152 by the Crusader Knight Hugo von Buren from the county of Gelria (now Gelderland – the Netherlands). At this time the Netherlands and Germany were both part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Burgundian Abbot Bernard von Clairvaux – founder of the Order of the Cistercians – inspired Hugo Von Buren. Hugo also built a monastery in Weerselo (1142), some 35 kms from Wietmarschen, until that time Weerselo only had a chapel that belonged to the church of Ootmarsum, – another city important in the history of the Budde family as we will see later. For the first 100 years both laymen and laywomen formed the core of these two religious communities.
Countess Gertrude of Bentheim granted Hugo the land on which the monastery could be built. As an anecdote; thirty years later another family member Otto van Buren burnt down Ootmarsum. After this the present town was rebuilt , the current church dates from that period. The name Oud (old) Ootmarsum reminds of the early position of this community.
When the monastery received the land at Wietmarschen from the countess they at the same time received the rights to levy the tithes and were exempt from government taxes. Monasteries were not only bastions of religion – they also held strong political and economic powers. Especially remarkable for this time is that the abbess of the Monastery (a woman!!), also was the secular commander and had ecclesiastical – and secular-jurisdiction powers.
The monasteries institutionalised old traditions dating back to the Germanic times of the farming communities (naoberschops). Age-old traditions were Christianised. However, several of these traditions are still very much alive in the region. The annual Easter bonfires and the use of the midwinter-horns might well date back to Germanic times.
Godmothers at Stift Marienrode
In Joanna’s Budde’s time (see below), after the Reformation, the monastery was changed into a ‘stift’ for ladies of high nobility (1675). This created significant new wealth for the monastery. These ladies started a tradition of godmothers for the local children. In the book Sünte Marienrode – Wietmarschen by Christa Brinkers one of the god children mentioned is a Helena (Laintke) a name that keeps on coming up in the Wietmarschen Budde family tree until this very day.
Earthly wealth through serfdom
Over the years the monastery received donations and grew bigger and richer. Farms and other properties such as mills, breweries, bake houses, etc were all added to the monastery and the ‘ownership’ extended to the actual people living there (serfdom). In communities not ruled by monasteries, the counts or landowners formed feudal systems along similar lines.
Often these feudal rights were hereditary and rulers could live hundreds of kilometres away from their subjects. These rulers didn’t have any obligations towards their subjects. The properties of Sünte Marienrode extended far into what is now the Netherlands (Ootmarsum, Coevorden, Groningen, Weerselo). Ownership was maintained over these properties long after official country borders were drawn.
Some communities – such as Ootmarsum – had commons (marken) which they could for example use for their sheep and cattle, to collect wood and to cut peat. Counts and dukes appointed officials (drosts – English reeves) to manage these commons. The often greedy reeves ended up ruling over land used by a powerless majority and he extorted money and services from these people. He also has juridical powers so there was little recourse for the people. These officials, started to act as landowners and established a feudal hierarchy of homesteads (Hofstatten). Under hereditary law these homesteads were subdivided into smaller properties. They remained as legal entities under the original homestead. In other words the smaller farmers were made subordinate to the homesteads. In the end this system was not all that much different from serfdom.
The system of serfdom
In most parts of Europe serfdom was abolished between 1300 and 1600. In the German lands the Reformation was a key driver behind the liberation of serfs. Farmers started to lease land and operated their farms independently from the big land owners. However, these tenant farmers were in general terms economically no better off than their feudal counterparts, they had to pay for the property that was now in their name, however few had the money to pay and it took often decades before they received their freedom.
Wietmarschen, belonging the the catholic monastery saw the system of serfdom continuing till well into the 19th century, only then could the Budde family here buy their freedom and own their property.
The feudal system did provide some protection in economic downturns (eg foregoing of tithes) and could enable them, when managed properly to profit from their combined economic powers. On the other hand the remote properties often simply did not pay their tithes in the knowledge that it would be very hard for the remote ruler to come and collect them.
In many situations the position of a serf can be compared to that of a slave, it actually grew out of this system from the Roman Empire. The Catholic Church rapidly incorporated the system of serfdom into their organisation. Through an elaborate system of ‘rents and taxes’ it was nearly impossible for these serfs to obtain freedom. They not only paid taxes based on their income (harvest, animals, etc). They also paid death and marriage taxes, furthermore a range of other services were required by the monastery throughout the year.
It has been estimated that on average a serf in Germany had a vocabulary of not more than 600 words and that in his whole life he would not see more than a thousand people.
Serfdom in Wietmarschen
The Budde farm formed part of the newly started peat-colony in the Ostermoor. The farm is mentioned in the various taxation documents so they clearly formed a part of the property of the monastery, they had few rights, many duties and very limited freedom.
The Budde families who lived in Wietmarschen during the 17th and 18th centuries were serfs. The land they worked and lived on, were not their land. They were not allowed to leave the village and had to ask permission for marriages, etc.
Untill 1808 (!) Fees also needed to be paid to the Monastery when the farmer died, when the widow remarried and when a son took over the farm. Furthermore, they had to provide the Monastery with horses for plowing or transport, they had to cut wood, cut peat and assist the Count of Bentheim with the hunt. Often these fees are registered as ‘unforeseen circumstances’ as one did not know if and when these services were needed. These dues were often monetised so they could be paid. This meant whether these services were needed or not you still had to pay these fees.
The first known abbesses of Sünte Marienrode came from the noble family of Twickel in the Netherlands. They had large landholdings in Twente (and beyond). On of their properties was in Lage (photo above) very close to both Wietmarschen and Ootmarsum. The first two abbesses were: Anna von Twickel zu Borgbeuningen und Venhaus (1658–1679) and Margaretha Sibylla von Twickel zu Havixbeck (1679–1710)
The Monastery in Wietmarschen didn’t loose its feudal rights until after the French occupation at the end of the 18th century (1795), but it took decades before the remnants of feudalism were truly abandoned. Key dates in this process of democratisation of this part of Europe include, as we will see later, 1848, 1866 and 1871.
Clashes with secular powers
As indicated above, the land as well a range of privileges was donated to the monastery by the political powers of the day, the counts of Bentheim. There were few differences between the secular and the religious until, in 1544, the count converted to the Reformation. First he tried to persuade the monastery to convert to the new religion, but when that failed the county started in 1573 a process to force the monastery to pay taxes. This ended a 400-year-long close relationship between Sünte Marienrode and the counts of Bentheim. The monastery now needed a new patron and for that purpose they turned to the Diocese of Munster. Mainly because of this newly acquired protection they were able to stall dozens of legal processes, in 1754, they finally, after 181 years, signed a tax treaty with the new secular power, the Kingdom of Hanover.
The animosity between the Monastery and the Counts is also clearly noticeable in the peat-wars (see below).
Serfdom finally coming to an end
After the French Revolutions the ruling monarchs in Europe got nervous as they didn’t want to see a spread of the revolution and were shocked by the execution of the French King and hundreds of the French nobility. Over the following years a range of European coalitions was formed who declared war against France.
The German lands were a hopscotch of some 1,000 independent territories. Most of them accepted the Holy Roman Emperor in Vienna as their overlord. Prussia was the main exception. Territories important for our story such as the County of Bentheim, the Price-Bishopric of Munster and the Kingdom of Hanover were part of the Empire.
In 1795 the French went on the attack and rapidly secured a range of victories including the Dutch Republic, the Austrian (southern) Netherlands and the west bank of the Rhine of the Rhine. The French campaign was based on the plan that the soldiers had to live off the land and had to be fed and accommodated for by the people in the conquered lands. In Wietmarschen French soldiers were billeted at the Budde farm.
Count Friedrich Karl of Bentheim died, without male heirs, in Paris on February 17th 1803. Before his death he had given the County for a period of 30 years as collateral to the King of Hanover, who in turn paid his debts and gave him an annual payment. After his death hit title passed on to his successor Count Ludwig from Bentheim-Steinfurt.
In 1804 conservative groups tried to restore the good old count-ship and wanted to ‘liberate’ the county of Bentheim from the Hanoverian kingdom. These conservatives thought that people would want to return to the protected period before these turbulent times, back to the security of the benign feudal ruler-ship of the count. Count Ludwig signed a treaty with France and bought the county back for 800,000 franks. Napoleon also granted the Monastery Sünte Marienrode to the count of Bentheim
On the 15th of August the Count was received in state in neighbouring Nordhorn. However, this was very short-lived as during the next wave of the Revolution in 1806 the French officially dethroned Count Ludwig.
When Napoleon came to the throne he stabilised the French internal situation and set out on campaigns against the enemies of France (combined in various coalitions). He started off very successfully and in 1806 16 German states (including the ones mentioned above) signed the Treaty of the Confederation of the Rhine (états confédérés du Rhinelande) and as such became tribute states to France.The following month the members of the confederation formally seceded from the Holy Roman Empire.
On September 19th 1811 the County of Bentheim was finally incorporated into the Lippe Department. The Monastery Sünte Marienrode had successfully held on to its secular powers for five more years but now also they saw Napoleon taking their privileges away.
Slowly but surely medieval privileges were replaced by more democratic rights and obligations. City councils were established, guilds were dissolved and the freedom of profession, trade and competition were introduced. Compulsory education arrived, linked to an extensive plan to build schools. And for the first time since Roman times large-scale road building projects were undertaken.
Throughout Europe there was remarkably little resistance against the French occupation. This was also the case in Nordhorn. As we will see later our great great-great-grandfather had in the meantime moved from Wietmarschen to Nordhorn. Changes were reasonably well accepted as the local supporters involved in the social reforms were not too pro-French. The changes of course involved enormous social, cultural and economic upheaval. The middle classes of the population in general embraced the reforms and used them to improve their own level of personal freedom and living standards.
On the other side there was, particularly among the farmers, resistance against these changes. Especially in Wietmarschen do we see this happening. Why, they argued, should we replace age-old ways of life, unchanged for hundreds of years, with new ways which nobody knows will work. Also the fact that farmers now suddenly could decide their own future was not easy. For centuries they had been used to doing exactly what their rulers told them to do; they were poor but had sufficient food and shelter to survive and, as mentioned before, were protected against severe economic downturns. During a 1,000 year period they didn’t have to make any major decisions. These were all made for them by the feudal rulers. It would therefore take decades after the French Revolution before the feudal system was totally dismantled.
After Napoleon’s defeat, Hanover regained its powers. A 7-year war followed between Hanover and Bentheim. However, in the end the Count did not get back his County. During this prolonged period of political confusion life went on as usual at the Monastery.
It was not until 1831 that the Kingdom of Hanover passed a law setting out a regime that would see the pay-off the serfdom. Those farmers who had the money could pay off their serf dues immediately. However, most of them decided to wait, hoping for further changes that would see them acquiring their freedom without having to pay anything. However, this never eventuated and slowly they started to pay off their serf dues. They were among the last serfs in Western Europe. The last farmer in the Bentheim-county (not in Wietmarschen) paid off his dues in 1870.
The ‘Urbar’ and the’ Wesselboek’
The family data of serfs and the properties belonging to the Monastery Sünte Marienrode in Wietmarschen are recorded in the ‘Urbar’ (from about 1430-1580). This was written by an administrative person employed by the Abbess.
An urbarium ( German: Urbar) is a register of fief ownership and includes the rights and benefits that the fief holder has over his serfs and peasants.
An important part of this document is the ‘Wesselboek’, a book where they recorded ‘changes’ (Wessel) of serfs. The purpose of writing such things down was to keep track of their properties … and people (chattel) were a part of this, too.
An example of this is as follows. A son or daughter of a farmer belonging to the Monastery Sünte Marienrode, wants to become the new farmer on this farm for example after the death of his/her father. Before this happens the Monastery must agree with this. Approval was also required if a person wanted to marry someone on a farm that belongs to the Monastery. If the person came from a property that belonged to another landowner, then both landowners had to agree. If that was the case the two landowners than ‘exchanged’ (verwesselten) two persons: ‘I give you one of mine, you have to give me one of yours’. And all of these transactions were written down in the ‘Wesselboek’. Sometimes a free person (someone who had formally paid for a ‘Freibrief’ to become free from the landowner) married a farmer who was not free. If so, he or she then became unfree. But there were rules – that his/her first son or daughter was free.
There is a recorded change involving the Knights Budde in Hange. This branch of the Budde family is recorded elsewhere and is not related to the branch of our Budde family. However, it is interesting to see that this noble family interacted in Wietmarschen where – be it a bit later – our branch of the family lived.
The following exchange was recorded in 1531 on pages 67b and 219a of the Urbar des Klosters Wietmarschen, entitled:
Wolters Huis to Biden – 1531
To Biden by dem Schultenhove iß ein Kotte, genant to Woltershuiß, de Frauwe, genant Hille, geboren van des Schulten Hoff to Biden, uns egen, hadde dre Kinder, einen Sone, Hinrich, eine Dochter, wont to Linge, is vrigelaten – Grete. Noch eine Dochter, Swenne, van unß verwesselt an Budden ten Hange, wy hebben aver geine Widderwessel kregen.
This translates as follows: At Biene at the burgomaster farm there is a cottage, called at Wolters house, the wife, born at the burgomaster farm at Biene, is our guarantor, she has three children, a son, Hinrich, a daughter who lives in Lingen, was released out of serfdom. Yet another daughter, Swenne, we exchanged her to Budde at Hange, we have not yet got another exchanged back to us.
It indicates that Swenn Woltershuiß from Biene (a few kilometres north of Lingen), was exchanged with Knights Budde from Hange.
The Budde family in Wietmarschen is not listed in a comprehensive overview of all the properties that belonged to the monastery. A confirmation that at that time the Budde family was not yet living in Wietmarschen and must have come from somewhere else.
Until the beginning of the 20th century, fuel as in medieval times came mainly from the moors in the form of peat. Especially in areas without woods such as Holland and north-Germany there was a significant trade in this product. At the same time these mostly inaccessible areas were great frontiers for farming colonists.
Wietmarschen is situated on the border of one of the largest moors in north Europe and it was an obvious area to play an important role in this industry. According to local historic sources, the peat areas were an ideal place to grow buckwheat. This is not very suitable for bread baking but was used to make porridge and pancakes. As buckwheat was cheaper as cereals, demand for the produce grew when cereal prices were high, but of course demand collapsed when there was a surplus of cereals.
Buckwheat is an undemanding produce and grows well in poor soils. The peat moors were good enough for that. The peat surface was burnt off and roughly cut open and the seeds were sown directly into the top layer. This was not without risk. Late night frosts killed many crops and the peat-moor fires often got out of hand and created enormous pollution. There are records out these times indicating that this sometimes reached the cities on the Dutch coast, 150 kilometres to the east.
Directly following the period of the Eighty Year War in the Netherlands 1568 – 1648 (part this was the Thirty Year War in Germany – 1618-1648) there were significant new developments:
- The now independent Republic of the Seven Provinces (Netherlands) was full of energetic and economic activity – the start of the Golden Age of Holland, creating demand for lots of products, including peat.
- No longer hampered by war the sea trade picked up again, bringing in among other produce cereals from around the Baltic Sea.
- The price of cereals consequently dropped and buckwheat was no longer in great demand.
- New land had to be reclaimed to satisfy demand for one of the latest additions to the food chain, the potato.
It is in this period that the Monastery in Wietmarschen started a push to reclaim more land in the Bourtanger moor. The moor itself, however, belonged to the Counts of Bentheim. They had bought these lands in 1380 from a person named Hermann Golenkamp. The result was ongoing property and management disputes between the two local powers.
The first parts that were reclaimed were situated immediately north of the town. This area was known as ‘Ostermoor’. Among the early pioneers here was the Budde family. Together with another 11 settlers they are mentioned as the pioneers of the ‘Ostermoor’. The Budde farm that is still situated on this same spot dates from these years. It is during this colonisation period (early 1600s) that we come across the first-known ancestor of our family Eilert Budde.
The peat wars
Not long after the Buddes established their farm in Ostermoor, other peat colonies were established, under the leadership of the Dutch physician and church minister Piccard. Ernstdorf (Alte-Piccardie) was established in 1663, Georgsdorf (Neu Piccardie) in 1724 and Adorf in 1795. This immediately caused friction between new and old settlers.
As early as 1664 a defense wall was thrown up between the two communities. In 1709 this led to the ‘goosewar’ between Wietmarschen on one side and Veldhausen and Neuenhaus (colonists in Piccardie) on the other side. Geese from the two communities were confiscated by those from Wietmarschen as they were believed to have crossed the border between the two communities. In a ‘counter-attack’ six cows from Wietmarschen were taken by the new colonists.
The legal adviser of the Count of Bentheim joined the two communities and accused the Monastery of starting the problems by allowing new colonists to establish themselves in the same area called ‘Fuchten’. This made life more difficult for the original Ostermoor-colonists, who now had to share the same land.
The quarrels between the Monastery and the County continued and flared up again in 1748 and 1763 and were not resolved until another full century later! Squatters were settling in the more remote parts of the moor, and competing for the same land, without the permission of the count or the monastery.
The Buddes in Wietmarschen
The first recorded Budde in Wietmarschen is Eilerus Budde (born approx. 1623 – died 10 March 1693). His name is mentioned in ‘status animarum’ from 1663, together with that of his wife Hilda (born approx. 1626). They married in 1649. Their children are also listed in that status animarus: Hermann (born 1649) Johanna (born 1653) and Angela (born 1659). The spelling of the names is not yet constant in this period we come accross Budde, Budden, Buddekung, Buddeke. His Christian name Eilart, Eilard, Eilerus, Eijlart. The name comes originally from north Germany and has been recorded since the 14th century.
Hermann dies on 3rd January 1685, aged approx. 35 years. Angela marries on 21st April 1689, Reiner Otten Jansen (born around 1649 in Wietmarschen). She dies on 25 April 1729.
Another recorded Budde in Wietmarschen is Gerhard Petrus (Peter) Budde born around 1625.
I have traced the origins of our branch of the Budde family back to Joanna Helena Budde. She was no longer in the household of Eilert in 1663, but working on another farm or in another household. She married Konrad Wöste (Woeste)– in the Catholic church of Wietmarschen on 27th October 1677. Her sister Angela Budde is also a witness at the baptism of Joanna’s son, Bernhard.
It looks like Joanna moved back to the Budde farm in Wietmarschen. It was common practice in the region around Wietmarschen – and in Westphalia as a whole, as well as in Twente – that the male or female who married and moved to another farm took the name of the farm. So the landowners (in this case the Stift Wietmarschen) didn’t have the ‘inconvenience’ of having to change the name of the property after each marriage. As in the case of Joanna Budde, when she married Konrad Wöste the Budde farm stayed the Budde farm. This tradition was only outlawed in 1828.
Konrad father Bernhard Wöste is mentioned in 1653 as a ‘colon’ in Nordlohne, baptised in Schepsdorf around 1620. ‘Colon’ is the title of a slightly better positioned serf and is often classified as half-free. Nordlohne is only a few kilometres west of Wietmarschen. Johanna and Konrad had six children. When their son Bernhard (born 1678) married Catharina Röckers in 1708, her godparents are recorded as Wigbolt Röckers and Anna Wöste – Konrad’s sister.
Another interesting detail is that when Konrad married, a Wicbold Kupers was mentioned as a witness. When Anna married a Bernhard Kupers was a witness. The Kuper’s family could have had a certain link with the Wöste family. The other witness at Anna’s wedding was her father Bernhard Woeste. He is mentioned in 1653 as a ‘colon’ in Nordlohne, baptised in Schepsdorf around 1620.
Lohne fell within the area controlled by the monastery in Wietmarschen; it formed the eastern border.
Catharina Budde (Röckers ) dies on the 24th August 1720. A year later, Bernardus remarries with Gesina Hangbers. The monastery records show that on the 25th October 1721 Bernd pays for himself and for his 2nd wife Geese Hanckbers the appropriate dues. In a Wietmarschen document of 1663 Herman Hangbers (born 1600) and his wife Angela (born 1607) are mentioned as well. As we will see further on, their son Gerhard left Wietmarschen and married in Nordhorn with Maria Wolterinck.
One of their children was Helena (Hille) she was baptised on 12th April 1682. One of the two witnesses was Engelle Budden. Could she have been Angela the sister of Johanna?
All baptisms, marriages and burials of the Buddes in Wietmarschen took place in the St Johannes Apostle church. Originally a timber church, it was built in 1152, according to oral tradition, next to the old oak tree that stood here when the monastery was founded. The stone church was built in 1210. The oak tree finally went down in a storm in 1830. The archives of the church, from which most data on the Buddes have been researched, are currently in the Diocese archives in Osnabrück.
From kötters to landowners
The Budde farm is mentioned in several documents relating to rent and other payments to the monastery. The farm is situated three kilometres north of the village and this was in those days a remote spot. Close to the moor, the land was very wet and the sandy roads were not well maintained and were often impassable.
In the history of Wietmarschen the Budde family is recorded as kötters (crofters). These were smaller than the homesteads or the Vollerbe, of which there were only a few. The monastery owned them all. Within this feudal system there were some important differences:
Feudal hierarchy in the country
- Vollerbe (total heir) – they were allowed to have 4 heuerleute (tenants)
- Halberbe (heir of half the land)
- Viertelerbe (quarter of the land) also called kötter (most common title for Buddes in Wietmarschen)
- Colon was the term for a farmer who had the right to let one of his children become the new farmer and he ‘owned’ farmland. (In later years Johan Heinrich Budde [1879 – 1915] was titled ‘Colon’ in an official document.)
- A ‘Heuermann’ (Heuerleute) had no farmland but only a little house and perhaps a garden on the land of a Colon.
- A ‘Brinksitzer’ was allowed to have a house and some land (not his own) at the border of the village (the ‘Brink’).
The Buddes in the history of Wietmarschen
The fact that the farm was situated outside the daily hustle and bustle of the township will have played a role in the fact that the Buddes were not all that involved in ‘city life’. Furthermore their economic situation was such that they wouldn’t have had much time to spare to do anything else other than looking after their livelihood. Despite this there are still several records that maintain names of the Budde family.
The first one dates back to the 1653 when Eilert together with 35 other farmers signs a letter of protest in relation to the corn tax (see below: Schatzungsregister). He signs this letter as: “Buddeken Eilert”, the others signed with the sign of their farm, so we don’t know what the Budde sign was.
The next record dates back to the middle of the 18th century. The management of the properties of the monastery was done by a secretary; he executed the decisions made by the monastery, he was responsible for the legal affairs and in charge of police. The secretary around 1700 was Johan Cötting. He was rich and powerful and was in 1740 accused by the Abbess of corruption. She wanted to quickly dismiss the man but a court order prevented her from doing so. It is in this context that I have come across the first Budde family in the historic civil documents of Wietmarschen. On Sunday 27 October 1743 a number of citizens demonstrated against Cötting, by scoffing and nagging him in front of his house. They hoped that this would make him move out of Wietmarschen. The result however was that soldiers from (Protestant) Bentheim were dispatched on the request of Cötting. They camped at the local cemetery from where they patrolled the village.
Slowly democracy crept into the local society. In 1746 representatives from the farmers were informed about the financial affairs through a so-called council bill. In 1755 Jan Buden was one of the representatives and in 1760 another Budde is listed in these records. In a legal document of 22 April 1790 Bernd Budde is summoned as a representative of the farmers to be present to establish an act of partnership (say) between the local authorities and the community in order to end the disturbances. It is only after the French occupation (1795) that these representatives received the right to vote against council bills.
Another mention of the Budde family in the local history dates from 24 August 1795. During the Napoleonic wars the allied forces of England and Hanover, consisting of 600 soldiers and 200 horses, were billeted in Wietmarschen. The Buddes were compensated for their services and received an amount of 30 gulden for this.
This is the area where Lord Wellington (at this time still Arthur Wellesly, Viscount of Talavera and Wellington) at the age of 25/26 got his baptism of fire. The Brits battled their way through the Netherlands, where the camped in the severe winter of 1794/95, they suffered large casualties and wer pushed out of the Netherlands (Seven Provinces) through Oldenzaal to Emden on the Dollard, the capital of Ost Friesland, part of the Kingdom of Hanover. On the way attacked by the French under the command of Pichergue, they lost 30 men and 32 got wounded. It ended in a disastrous battle for Wellington, he later reflected on this “At least I learned what not to do, and that is always a valuable lesson” It is during these battles that also the Buddes living in the region were badly effected by the war.
Buying on the tick
Another interesting source of history was presented to me by Clemens Honnigfort, he is also the author of Wietmarschen – Kloster, Stift und Dorf which has been a major source of information on the history of Wietmarschen. I have summarised his information as follows.
The farmers in Wietmarschen shopped according to custom, or for credit reasons, always with the same shopkeeper, they seldom switched between. Their purchases were usually put down for them and were payed after they had sold some of their farming produce. In the records of the three major shops in town, Genegel, Schmitz and Osseforth. Hermann Budde is listed with Johan Heindrich Schmitz, he had the nickname ‘Schluter” (Locker) as he lived in the old gatekeepers tower of the monastery (burnt down in 1927). “Schluter” brewed beer, and made vinegar and also operated a shop and a bakery.
Schmitz could be related to the family of his mother-in-law Catharina Anna Margaretha Budde nee Schmitt ( b.1805 +1836).
On December 26th 1832, Herman Budde paid his bills but still owed Schmitz at that time, two guilders and 18 stuivers (pennies). On April 15th he buys rusks and asked to put another 6 stuivers down for that. The same was bought on 21 June and 7 stuivers were added. On May 2nd 1836 he buys a fruit loafs (crinte wege) for 18 stuivers. The total amount owed had now risen to 2 guilders and 49 stuivers, as one guilder is 20 stuivers, this is the same as 4 guilders and 9 stuivers. This debt isn’t paid until March 19th 1848, after that payment he still owes Schmitz 1 guilder and 5 stuivers.
Budde listed in the Schatzungregister
There’s a tax register (Schatzungsregister) where all farmers who belonged to the Stift Wietmarschen were listed with the amount of tax they had to deliver every year to the Stift. Known as the corn or wheat tax, this was reviewed every 6 years (Garbenjahr – Garbe = sheaf ). Originally this form of taxing had been established by Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne to provide money for the clergy (tithes). Every fourth wheat sheaf went to the monastery. Farmers were not allowed to harvest the sheafs before they were counted in the field by representatives of the monastery. If this representative did not show up, they were still not allowed to bring the harvest in. This of course created often a lot of anxiety as these activities rely heavily on the unpredictable weather. At regular intervals we come across farmer-revolts against this rule. The corn tax in Wietmarschen also applied to other produce. Apart from this tax, kötters such as the Buddes had to work for the landowners. One day during harvest time with the sickle (only one person was needed) and one day, with two persons, with the scythe. Children were recruited and had to do shopping, pick berries and were ordered to do other light tasks. I haven’t come across information that indicated that Budde kids were involved in this. Apparently it were only the Volerben that had to provide child labour, it is unclear why this was only limited to them.
Next is an overview of listings of the Buddes in the Schatzungsregister:
- In 1795 a field inspection took place among the farms belonging to the monastery. They noted that in the previous eleven years no reclamation of new peat grounds had taken place at the Budde farm.
- The register of 1802 includes for Budde: two free and four taxable persons, two fireplaces, 3 horses, 8 cows, 2 pigs , 5 sheep, no bees and 3 geese. In its ranking list of 1829, 45 farmers were listed, Budde was no. 33.
- In 1829 the annual corn tax noted: no rye, 5 Scheffels (old content-based measurement) of barley and 5 Scheffels of oats.
- In 1845 and 1849 they had to pay 2 gooses, four hens and 2 guilders. On top of that they had to pay 2 florints and 5 steuber for ‘unforeseen circumstances’ (such as sudden death or any other circumstances that could result in the dues not being paid).
Finally free in 1854
While legislation had been passed in 1830 that would see the end of serfdom, serfs had to pay for it over a period of 25 years. Most probably it was Johan Heinrich Budde who on 27 September 1854 finally bought the family free. Like many others in Wietmarschen he had been hoping that their serf dues would be forgiven. However, the Monastery insisted it would pursue these dues. Most remaining serfs in Wietmarschen, including the Budde family decided in 1854 that enough was enough and paid their dues. After this they were classified as landowners.
The Buddes had to pay: 1 Malter (= 8 Scheffels) and 1 Scheffel of barley (ca 79 kg), 1 Malter and 1 Scheffel of oats (ca 41 kg), and 5 Florins and 7 Stuber for ‘prestanda’ (for services, regulations, burdens and fees that have been in existence since time immemorial). In all this amounted to 118 Reichstaler, 11 Goldgroschen, 9 duit, 134 florijn and 10 Stuber. (The reason for this mixture of German and Dutch money is the fact the count of Bentheim didn’t like to receive only German money for these payments. This system slowly started to change after the unification of Germany in 1871 when the Mark was introduced, divided into 100 Pfennig).
Weights and Measurement
In the 1800s the Mudde used in Wietmarschen was compared to the weights and measurement used in Cologne. From this it has been calculated that a Malter of rye would be 159 kilogram in current measures and a Malter of oats 65.4 kilogram. The complex system was ‘simplified’ in 1856 and all measurements contained the same names but represented different volumes/weights.
When in 1887 the Wietmarscher Marke (common) was divided into private land, 49 farmers received a part of it. The Buddes are ranked as number 27 and received 28 hectares. The total farm was valued at 8699,61 Mark. By this time the farm had passed hands to Bernhard Heinrich Veddern (Budde).
The good citizens of Wietmarschen
The personal history of the Buddes in Wietmarschen is of course interwoven with that of the other good citizens of this rural community. Going through the baptism and marriage records of the St Johannes Apostle church several names are mentioned in relation to the Budde family. Over the centuries they cover a very large number of the total population. By 1600 the township and surroundings counted around 500/600 inhabitants. If we only look at the spouses families we come across: Ossefort, Gelinck, Tor Haar (Haarman), van de Becke, Honberge, Freesen, Schurman, Hangbers, Röckers, Dreier and Gravel.
Many of these names are also listed in the family tree of the Buddes as several women from these families are mentioned as wives or as witnesses at baptisms and weddings.
Ossefort relates to one of the four original homesteads which were named around 1200 after the four directions of the wind; Northoff, Westhoff, Osthoff (Ossefort) and Sudhoff. A document from 1442 mentions tor Becke (van de Becke) as one of the eleven homesteads that at that time were part of the monastery. They had donated their farm in 1518 to the monastery and moved in that same year into the monastery, which provided them with board and residence. Gravel (Gravelman) moved in 1541 into the monastery but left it again shortly after. In 1442 tor Haar (ter Haar) is mentioned. This property shows up on old maps as being situated at the Ostermoor, not far from where later on the Buddes built their farm.
Eight years later kötter Röckers appears in the records. Hageborn (Hangbers) is listed in the Urbar in 1532 and so the lists and appearances of the names come and go.
The anecdotes mentioned in relation to these families paint a picture of the life in this small rural village in the county of Bentheim, with lots of links to Ootmarsum, Weerselo, and many other towns and villages in the border region.
The continuation of the Wietmarschen branch
While our branch follows xx how moved from Wietmarschen to Nordhorn. We share the same ancestors Eilerus (Eilart) Budde (1623), his daughter Johann Helena (1653-1693) and their son Bernhardus (1678 – 1738).
Bernhardus marries Catherina Rockers (1678 – 1720). From this branch the existing Budde’s in Wietmarschen descend. After her death Bernhardus marries Gesina Hangbers (1696 – 1770) and from one of their sons our branch our family descends.
This the continuation of the Wietmarschen branch:
- Johan Konrad (1713 – 1783) son of Bernhard and Catherina.
- His son: Johan Bernhard Heinrich Budde (1749 – 1794)
- His daughter: Catherina Anna Margaretha Budde (1782 – 1839) marries to Johann Hermann Poling (but takes the name Budde).
- Their son Johan Ludwig moves to the USA and that’s where Don Feldmann fits in, with who I have had contact. They visited us in Sydney (see pic below).
- Another son, Johan Heinrich (1808 – 1861) takes over the farm
- His son Hermann Bernhard Budde born in 1846 is the last known member of the Budde family. He had two sisters and one brother who all 3 died at a young age. We don’t know much more about Herman Bernhard but apparently he didn’t take over the farm.
- The farm went to Bernhard Heinrich Veddern who marries Anna Gertrud Dreier. He also takes the name Budde.
- Their son is Johan Heinrich (1879 – 1915) and via their son Jozef we arrive at the present time with Herman and Helena and their children.
I we look at Hermann and Anni’s son Manfred than he is my 7th cousin one removed.
The next bit of the puzzle is to see if we can find out what and/or if there is a relationship between Veddern and Budde?
The old Budde farm
The current Budde family of Wietmarschen lives in a house on the old farm on the Buddendiek (previously called Grotenfehl and Kirchweg). The old parts of the current farm date back to approximately 1870. Before this time the original farm was situated some 200 metres further away on a mound. The land is no longer farmed.
The Bourtanger Moor, consisting of large peat grounds, starts only a few kilometres further north. Chronicles of Wietmarschen talk about large-scale flooding. While the situation has vastly improved over the 20thcentury, flooding is still very much part of the landscape.
In the winter of 1997/1998 the water again came very close to the Budde farm. In 1994 I for the first time visited Wietmarschen and met Hermann and Anni Budde who at that lived at this family homestead with their four children: Manfred, Silvia, Erika en Karin. Four years later we organised a family reunion between the Buddes from Twente and Oss and those from Wietmarschen. During that event Geert ten Tusscher, husband of Monique Budde found a potsherd from the old farm. Hermann told us that during ploughing they have come across many of these potsherds.
It would appear that 350 years of farming the agriculture history of the Buddes is nearing its end. Hermann has reduced these activities to a bare minimum and it doesn’t look like any of his children is going to continue the farm.
The last time we visited Hemann und Annie was 2016, together with my mum Anny Budde.