John Dietrich Bredbeck’s Germany

Posted on: September 25th, 2006

In trying to create the map that showed where the Bredbeck’s came from, I also wrote down a few facts about the area as it was when John Dietrich Bredbeck and his siblings were alive

During John Dietrich’s life in Hanover and Bremen there was no single country of Germany. Instead there were a group of separate Kingdoms and Independent Cities which were united under the title of the German Federation (or Confederation of German States). The German Federation lasted from 1815-1866.

The area that became the Kindgom of Hanover under the German Federation was once known as the Principality of Calenberg (it was also known as Hanover after 1636). The Principality of Calenberg was in existence from 1432-1803 and was a subdivision of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. The Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and the Archbishopric of Bremen were both parts of the Lower Saxon Circle, a division of the Holy Roman Empire. When the French gained control of the area most of Hanover became a part of Westphalia (not the area north of Bremen I don’t think), but after the defeat of Napoleon it was made an independent Kingdom (including the area north of Bremen) and remained that way until 1866. The area where Osterholz is, which was a part of Bremen until 1803, was a part of the Kingdom of Hanover by 1817. That means that if indeed our John Dietrich Bredbeck and his siblings were born in Meyenburg, Osterholz, it was in the Kingdom of Hanover. Hanover was ruled by the English Kings: Georg III, Georg IV, and Wilhelm. When Queen Victoria took the throne in England the shared rule ended, because there was a law in Hanover that only the male line was eligible for the throne. So in 1837, King Ernst August became the King of Hanover.

King Ernst August ruled until 1851 and was very unpopular. In the mid-1840s the number of people emigrating from Hanover to the US rose dramatically and peaked during the French Revolution in 1848 when liberals were also inspired to revolt against the practices of censorship and control that Ernst August was using in Hanover. King Ernst August supported the aristocracy and Hanover is mostly agricultural which meant that there were a lot of disatisfied farmers struggling to make ends meet. As I understand it, there was a lot of reform needed in the farm system in the early 1800s because many of the laws were left over from a feudal system, and as change started to take place it sometimes made things worse instead of better. (If someone wants to correct me here…go ahead…I was confused by everything I read on the subject). It also seems that all these growing pains were accompanied by several years of bad harvests…which only made things worse for the farmers and may have contributed to emigration.

In John Dietrich’s time, Bremen was known as The Free City of Bremen and was a member of the Confederation of German States. Bremen purchased land for Bremerhaven from Hannover in 1827. It is now a state as well as a city.


Pre-1558: The Archbishopric of Bremen is an ecclesiastical state in the Holy Roman Empire. It includes the area north of the city between the Weser and the Elbe. It is part of the Lower Saxon Circle.

The rest of what will become Hanover is known as the Principality of Calenburg and is part of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg which was also a part of the Lower Saxon Circle.

1558: Archbishopric of Bremen (including Meyenburg) is secularized. Still a state in the Empire.
1618-1648: 30 Years War between German Protestants and The Holy Roman Empire. Other countries in Europe take sides (not necessarily along religious lines) and the principalities within Germany sometimes switch sides during the war.
1648: Bremen is ceded to Sweden. Changed to a Duchy. Still considered part of the Empire?
1692: Principality of Calenburg becomes The Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, also known informally as: The Electorate of Hanover.
1715 :
(or 1719?)
Bremen is given to (The Electorate of) Hanover.
1803: French occupation of (The Electorate of) Hanover begins. Lasts about 10 years.
1804: French Empire proclaimed.
1805: Prussia obtains Hanover (Treaty of Schönbrunn).
1807: Hanover becomes part of Kingdom of Westphalia. Does not include area north of Bremen? See map.
1810: Bremen is incorporated into the French Empire.
1814-1815: Prussia cedes territory to Hanover. Congress of Vienna establishes the German Confederation. Hanover is elevated to Kingdom.
1814-1866: The German Confederation.
1885: Osterholz is established by Prussia.


Britannica Online: The Encyclopedia’s website. This entry is about Napoleon and the French Empire.

Das Dorf in der Neuzeit – A German language site which is the summary, I believe, of a series of lectures by K.H. Schneider about the history of Hanover. I was reading the Google translation…and it was difficult to understand…the information regarding emigration from Hanover is accompanied by a chart.

German Culture – An English language website, maintained by Tatyana Gordeeva, with lots of information about Germany, including history.

Historical Atlas of the World. Hammond, Maplewood, NJ, 1990; p.H26-27, 30-31.

Königreich Hannover – A website dedicated to Hanover by Dr. Lutz König, Uelzen. Contains an English version.

Progenealogists – A website put together by a group of professional genealogists which includes articles on history.

WHKMLA – KMLA is a school in South Korea and this webpage is authored by one of the teachers there, Alexander Ganse. It is FULL of historical maps and links to the maps that he doesn’t have on the website. It is a very informative site.

Wikipedia – This is a great website in English and in German. There is a link to the German equivalent below…which has entirely different information. The public is free to contribute and change articles so there are many authors for each entry. I searched: Hanover, Bremen, Osterholz, Osterholz-Scharmbeck, Kingdom of Westphalia, Germany, and clicked on links from all of them.

Wikipedia – This is the German Wikipedia site. It too is contributed to by multiple authors. When I clicked on this link it wouldn’t work, but if you click on “go to main page” and then search for “Osterholz” one of the choices will say “Osterholz-Scharmbeck.”

John Dietrich Bredbeck

b. 2 Mar 1817 Meyenburg, Kingdom of Hanover (near modern day Bremen, GERMANY)

d. 26 Sep 1903 Danbury, Ottawa Co., OH

m. 16 Mar 1844 New York, NY

Maria Susanna Dowding (daughter of George and Maria Guppy Dowding)

b. 19 Jul 1823/4 London, ENGLAND

d. 11 Aug 1897 Danbury, Ottawa Co., OH

Named Children:

Johann Georg Heinrick (1845 – 1857)

Elizabeth “Lizzie (1846 – 1925) m. Christian Piehl

Charles “Chad” Carl (1849 – 1916) m. Catherine Bredehoft

John Frederick (1851 – 1893) m. Elizabeth Schneider

Herman(n) Bernard (1854 – 1931) m. Sophia Bredehoft

George Heinrick (1857 – 1935) m. Wilhelmina “Minnie” Winters

William (1859 – 1939) m. Anna May Ferguson

Maria Susanna (1861 – 1938) m. August Edward Meyers

Amanda Johanne Sara (1866 – 1940) m. Edward Dennis Curran

Bredbeck Related Links

Posted on: September 25th, 2006

Bredbeck Online Forums and Resources:

  • – Bredbeck message board.
  • – Same message board content as the Ancestry board.
  • Rootsweb Mailing List – Subscribe to the Bredbeck mailing list.
  • – Bredbeck message board.

German Genealogy Sites:

  • Deutsche Auswanderer-Datenbank – A research project conducted by the Historisches Museum in Bremerhaven. Dedicated to pulling together all the German Emigration lists from 1820 to the present. Explains why people were leaving Bremen in the 1800s.
  • – The self-described “German Genealogy Internet Portal”.

German Geography and History Sites:

  • Königreich Hannover – A website dedicated to Hanover by Dr. Lutz König, Uelzen. Contains an English version.
  • Wikipedia – This is a great website in English and in German. There is a link to the German equivalent below…which has entirely different information. The public is free to contribute and change articles so there are many authors for each entry.
  • Wikipedia – This is the German Wikipedia site. It too is contributed to by multiple authors. When I clicked on this link it wouldn’t work, but if you click on “go to main page” and then search for “Osterholz” one of the choices will say “Osterholz-Scharmbeck.”
  • Citymap – This website provides a detailed city map of Osterholz-Scharmbeck and clearly shows Bredbeck (zoom out 3 times and then hit north once). The main website ( provides maps and travel information for the whole country of Germany in German.
  • – This map is a little difficult to read, but it was where I originally found Bredbeck while working on the map. It seems to the only map that finds Bredbeck in a search.
  • Stadplandienst – a German language online atlas. Great views of Meyenburg, Lesum, and Osterholz, but you can’t find the smaller places using the search feature.

Hermann Bredbeck

Posted on: September 25th, 2006

Hermann Bredbeck

There was a Hermann Bredbeck, age 42, in Platjenwerbe: Military List of 1691

This is a list of men (age 16 and older) available for military service during 1691 / 1693, in the towns near Lesum (now part of Bremen). Although the list is from 1691, the author states that it seems to have been made earlier, as some of the people are younger than they should be according to other records.

Bredbeck House

Posted on: September 25th, 2006

The Tagungshaus Bredbeck is a convention center at the edge the Devil-bog, not far from Bremen, GERMANY and the North sea in the Osterholz district. It is an old Manor house (15th century) that used to be a water mill (?), was then a private summer house, then a sanitarium, and finally a Convention Center. Among other things it is used by the Hanover Youth Symphony Orchestra for summer retreats. It is primarily a youth educational center.

I’ve tried to email them about the history of the house, but haven’t gotten a response. If anyone knows German and wants to try, let me know what you find out.

Visit the Bredbeck House website. It’s in German.

(If you can’t read German, search for the page using Lycos and choose translate.)

Obituary of John Dietrich Bredbeck

Posted on: September 25th, 2006

“An old pioneer passes away at the ripe old age of 86 years, six months and twenty-four days.

John D. Bredbeck, one of the honored and respected citizens of Danbury township, Ottawa county, was the only surviving member of the family of Gerd and Martha Bredbeck of Hanover, Germany. Mr. Bredbeck was born in Hanover, March 21, 1817 and was there reared and educated. His father being engaged in agricultural pursuits. His boyhood days were spent upon the farm and after leaving school clerked for about three years in a drug store in the city of Bremen.

In 1839, Mr. Bredbeck took passage on a vessel bound for the United States, which landed him safely in New York City, after a nine weeks voyage. He then spent a year on Long Island, as a gardner and in the fall of 1840, returned to New York City, where he worked in a brewery for six years. On the expiration of that time he came to Ohio, and since 1846 has been one of the leading agriculturalists of Danbury township, where by his upright, honest life has won the esteem and friendship of the community among whom he lived.

In New York City, March 16th, 1844, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Bredbeck and Maria Susanna Dowding, a daughter of George and Maria (Guffy) Dowding, natives of London, England, who located in New York City about 1832. Mrs. Bredbeck was born in London, July 19th, 1823. Twelve children came to bless this union, nine sons and three daughters, as follows, (three dieing in infancy): George Henry, the eldest, died at the age of 13; Elizabeth, now the wife of Christian Piehl, of Danbury; Charles, of Oak Harbor, O., John F., who was a leading merchant of Sandusky, died March 4, 1893; Herman B., of Port Clinton; George H., of the firm of Bredbeck & Son, of Oak Harbor; William, who lives on the old homestead; Susanna, the wife of Aug. E. Meyer, also of Danbury; Amanda S., now Mrs. E.D. Curran, of Otis, Ind.

For over, fifty years Mr. and Mrs. Bredbeck had traveled life’s journey together sharing with each other its joys and sorrows, its adversities and prosperities, and in 1894 celebrated the anniversary of their golden wedding.

Mrs. Bredbeck departed this life on August 11th, 1897.

One of the pleasant events of this union was the birthday anniversary of Elizabeth, Charles, and John F. falling on the same day, August 16, 1846, 1849, and 1851.

From 1855 until 1891, inclusive, Mr. Bredbeck efficiently filled the office of County Commissioner; was Township Trustee twelve years and for six years Township Treasurer; and also served in serveral other public positions.

In his political faith he was a strong adherent of the principles of the Democratic party, and religiously he belonged to the Lutheran Church, and a true Chrisitan, ever ready to do a favor or a kindness — and in his long and useful life, it can well be said, that his was a beautiful life well spent.

He leaves to mourn his loss four sons, three daughters, (all married). twenty-nine grandchildren, four great grandchildren and many other relatives and friends.

The funeral was held from the German Lutheran Church, Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 2 p.m. Rev. Dornbier of Sandusky, officiating, and the remains were laid to rest in the cemetery adjoining the church.”

Taken from the New Democrat, Port Clinton, OH, 2 Oct 1903.