Descendants of the 3 eldest sons of Gerhard Dierksmeier and Anna Maria Luenningmeier meet in August 2000 in the Brochterbeck,
In August 2000, my family and I returned to the land of our
ancestors, and become reacquainted with our German cousins. One hundred
fifty years after Carl Heinrich Dierksmeyer
immigrated to US, the descendants of Carl, and his eldest 2 brothers met in
Brochterbeck is a small village with a population of about 2500. Recently it was joined with neighboring smaller villages of Lehen and Tecklenberg to now make up moderate government of Tecklenberg. Horstmersch is a just outside the Brochterbeck village and is primarily farmland. Tecklenberg (and its subsidiaries) are about 10 km outside of Ibbenburen. While we were staying in Brochterbeck, it was celebrating its 850-year anniversary. The town had big plans for the celebration, but unfortunately, we were only able to see the beginnings as our plane was leaving shortly after the start.
Brochterbeck has 2 churches, both an Evangelical and Catholic church. The majority of the homes were built post WW II. Alfred Dierksmeier recalls that much of the village was burned when the American tanks rolled in shortly before the war ended. There still remain some subtle reminders of the war throughout the area. He showed us a memorial gravesite in Ibbenburen, which marked the graves of many German soldiers who died while hiding in the woods. Also later, we saw another cemetery where bullet holes can still be seen in many of the headstones and statues upon the graves. As a young man, Alfred himself spent only a few months in the service. His father was able to convince the military leaders that his young son was needed at home to help on the farm.
Each home is gaily decorated with flowerbeds both around the homes, as well as hanging from each window. Even the Catholic cemetery feels like you’re entering a garden as each gravesite is covered with planted flowers and shaded trees. (Cemetery graves are only kept for 30 years after which they are replaced by new family graves. It’s not clear what happens to the old headstones or the previously interred bodies).
Descendants of the eldest son whom we met included:
Descendants of the 2nd son whom we met included:
Josef Dierksmeier – the current head
of the family – lives on the farm, which Carl Heinrich, my ancestor was born on
in 1821. Josef is a very young looking man of 52 with a ruddy
complexion. He speaks only a dialect of German, known as
Platte-German. However, between sign language and Alfred acting as
translator, we faired quite well in communicating. Josef works the family
farm by himself. Josef was well aware of the fact he had American
relatives, as was many of the Dierksmeier clan.
However, apparently after our ancestor immigrated to US he did not stay in
contact with the family back home. Josef welcomed his American cousins
with exuberance, exchanging photos, and testaments to further our joint
research. He recalls he was thrilled when he heard about our interest in
the family back in
He has a good size farm consisting of 20 hectares of land, plus an additional 10 hectares, which he rents out. The farm consists of many fields of corn plus livestock. His farm fascinated the children with the 90 cows and 36 pigs. Josef, with great pride, gave us a tour of the farm talking about how his cows are milked twice a day, and collecting the milk in huge vat, which is trucked away every 2 days. Katie and Karl were fascinated with Josef’s horse each taking turns feeding the horse. Josef explained that the original house was burnt down in 1901 and all of his records were destroyed. His neighboring cousin, currently owned by Alfred Dierksmeier-Shroer (500 meters away), gave the family copies of some of the older records, which Josef currently has. The only building standing was the utility house, which dates back to the early 1800’s. Josef has recently moved and expanded this utility home to the opposite side of the main house, using the original wood beams.
Josef also gave me some copies of photos of his father and 3 of his uncles who past away in WW I and WW II. Included were also some further documents, which I have not yet translated, related to the eldest brother’s family. Everyone was sad to see the 3-hour visit end.
We saw Josef again the next day as he escorted us to his sister’s
home (Agnes Markfort) in the neighboring town of
On the last full day, we spent the morning with another branch of the eldest son, Manfred Dierksmeier and his sister Giesela and husband, Joseph Windoffer. Manfred, who has spent the last 25 years abroad speaks many languages, including excellent English. His sister and husband only spoke German. He mentioned that the descendants of one branch of the eldest son, known as the Dierksmeier-Shroer are quite close and continue to have a family reunion every 2 years.
Manfred and Giesela’s father, Heinrich was the
eldest of Martin Dierksmeier-Shroer’s children.
Heinrich moved to Meppen
Their eldest daughter, Giesela lives in Ibbenburen with her husband Joseph Windoffer. Joseph served in the war at the young age of 16 and became a POW of Russia. He now is a beekeeper where he collects honey other bi-products for natural skin cremes. After our visit, Joseph showed us one of his bee hives and explained how the bees clean themselves before entering the hive and create a natural anti-biotic which is used in medicines today.
Manfred’s sister Imgard
married a gentleman from
Manfred mentioned that Carl Clemens – son of Gerhard Dierksmeier and Anna Wellmeier moved to Muenster. They had a son named Josef, who then had a son named Ernst. Manfred is still in contact with this branch.
The last branch of the eldest son we visited was Barbara Kitten and her parents. Our stay with the Kitten family was brief as we planned to drive to Muenster later in the afternoon. The Kitten’s also have a large farm located in Ibbenburen. Barbara has 2 brothers and a sister. I first connected with Barbara via e-mail shortly after the first article was written in the IVZ. Although her family has had numerous visits from her father’s family – Kitten, we were the first from her mother’s side to visit.
Alfred Dierksmeier, the eldest son of Josef,
Johann Heinrich’s grandson acted as host and principle
translator throughout the duration of our visit to Tecklenberg.
Alfred was very gracious with his time and acted as tour guide telling us tid-bits of information not only about the family but also
about the history of the area and the
Alfred recalls a story his father and aunt shared with their children
regarding his and my great-grandfathers. He tells that the brothers Johann
Heinrich – known as Rix (Alfred’s
ancestor) and Carl Heinrich (my ancestor) had been amusing and entertaining
young men who sometimes would have a drop too much to drink. They both
decided to try their luck in
Apparently he also wore a strange looking hat, and was often teased about his hat by his neighbors. He was told that you have to buy a new hat, because your hat is without a deck. He would answer with a short sentence ‘Schaut das nicht gar lustig aus, wenn die Haare oben kommen raus?’. Basic translation for this was that ‘Isn’t it funny to see when the hair comes out above?’
Once Rix married into the Borchelt family – the family took on the surname Borchelt. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that Alfred’s father changed the name back to Dierksmeier. As a result, Alfred himself was known as Alfred Borchelt, then later as Alfred Dirksmeyer and finally as Alfred Dierksmeier. This could be also why I had not found any information on this line up until now, as I was only looking under various spellings of Dirksmeier and didn’t take into consideration that the men would change their surname. (A similar situation occurred with Martin Dierksmeier marrying into the Shroer family. They took on the name Dierksmeier-Shroer or Shroer-Dierksmeier
Today Alfred’s younger brother, Norbett lives on the Borchelt farm with one of his daughters and her family (husband with 1 year old triplets). We stopped by to visit, but most of the family was out. Norbett’s son-in-law showed us around the place. It has been converted into JB Electronics, Plumbing and Heating store. His son-in-law also does contracting. Their backyard was beautifully landscaped with a small fountain in the corner running into a man-made stream. The family pet, a dog that plays soccer, then entertained us. He was quite skilled at dribbling the ball around the yard and kept the children quite amused.
Alfred is very involved in the church and works with
We made a short visit to another brother in Brochterbeck, Ludgar and his wife Adelheid.
Katie and I met one other brother, Josef, who lives in Muenster with his
wife Rita. Both Josef and Rita speak English very well. Rita previously
Alfred mentioned 2 other siblings, his brother Hubert. Hubert married Dietlinde Lotze and have 4 children. Hubert is a teacher of philosophy, religion and math. Alfred has one sister, Maria, who joined the nuns – Thuiner Ordensschwester Magdalis.
August 2001 - Alfred and some of his family came to visit
April 2002 - Claus Dierksmeier accepted a position of Associate Proffessor at
January 2003 - I was contacted by a descendant of Gerhard Dierksmeier and Anna Maria Luenningmeier youngest daughter who married Georg Kluck. Bettina Kluck had recently become interested in her family history and still lives in Brochterbeck. Bettina has filled me in on the some of the descendants of Anne Maria Dierksmeyer and George Kluck as well as some of the descendants on her older sister Anna Maria Theresia Dierkesmeyer and her husband Carl Heinrich Korsmeier.
May 2006 Hi Ginny,I hope you and your family are doing well. Today I'm writing you not because of long passed relatives – as usual – but for linving ones for a change.
My brother Markus will spend 8 weeks in
this summer. He'll be at EF International Language School of English to improve his English skills. And because he's near Boston
you he would like to meet you. If you want to meet him too I'm passing your E-Mail address on to him, so he can contact you and you can make further arrangements. Markus
is 23 years old and will complete his first year at the
Universityof Applied Sciencein this summer, where he is studying aerospace technology. He also has a homepage, Aachen
which you can check out if you want to know more about him. On his homepage you can choose between English and German. Markus will be in
from July 15th Boston
– September 9th, 2006. I'm looking forward to hear from you! Yours Bettina