After visiting Dielingen on our Friday morning (May 25, 2012) tour through Theler land we said goodbye to Westphalia and crossed the border to Lower Saxony. We drove through the farm community of Meyerhofen and soon arrived in Hunteburg to see the third and last church where our ancestors worshiped.
Present-day Hunteburg has a population of about 4,000 and includes Meyerhofen and a couple of other smaller communities. Hunteburg itself is now a part of the municipality of Bohmte (a town about eight kilometers to the south) in the district of Osnabrück.
Christian Theler moved away from Hedemer Buchholz to Meyerhofen during the time when France took control of northwest Germany. Most of the people of Westphalia during the 18th and 19th centuries were Protestant. Before Napoleon Hunteburg belonged to the bishopric of Osnabrück where rules of religion differed from Westphalia. In the southern and western parts of Germany most of the people were Catholic but Osnabrück was about half Catholic and half Protestant. The rulers of the bishopric alternated between the Bishop of Osnabrück and his Protestant counterpart. And some towns were allowed to have a Protestant church while others had only a Catholic. The Protestants of Hunteburg were told that they could worship at the Catholic Church but they never did. Instead some frequented the Protestant church in Venne to the south while others including our Thelers preferred to attend service in Dielingen.
Napoleon met his Waterloo in 1814 and the next year the Congress of Vienna formed to divvy up those parts of Europe that used to belong to France. Westphalia was given to Prussia but Hunteburg and Osnabrück became part of the Kingdom of Hanover and the rules that people lived with for years began to change. It took a while for the old rules of land ownership and inheritance to change but the rules of the bishopric regarding places of worship changed right away and the Protestants of Hunteburg were allowed to have their own church. St Matthew’s was built in 1815 and the congregation held their first service within a year even though it took two full years to complete the construction. And so our Thelers stopped going to Dielingen and had their children baptized in Hunteburg.
The church was designed in a simple hall format and it looks a lot like the existing Catholic church.
The Theler family members who made their way to Cincinnati, Ohio in the 1830s and 1840s have traced their ancestry back to this Christan Theler and I had hoped to be able to uncover some evidence during my trip to Germany to connect my family to the Ohio branch. What led me to Hunteburg originally was my great grandfather Johann Friedrich Theler’s statement on his marriage certificate that he was baptized in Hunteburg in 1822 and the researcher for the Theler Family Report of 1971 wrote that Christian and his family were the only Thelers who worshiped at Hunteburg during that time. Christian had a child baptized in Hunteburg in 1821 and another 18 months later in 1823. There is no record to be found of any Theler baptized in 1822. So it is possible that there was another child born to Christian and his wife Ann Marie that year but it is highly unlikely. Perhaps my Friedrich had the wrong year for his birth. But there are no records for anyone named Theler in Hunteburg between the years 1825 and 1865.
A few months before our trip last year I discovered a Christian Tegeler, wife Ann Marie and three children including a boy named Friedrich who boarded a ship in Bremen and landed in Baltimore in 1838. I have been studying this family since our trip to see if they could possibly be mine but the information I have been able to dig up seems to point to another Christian Theler who lived in Levern, a village that is now part of the town of Stemwede (along with Dielingen) and is just a few miles north of Hedemer Buchholz. The huge LDS database on Familysearch.org contains just about every baptism and marriage record for churches in Westphalia including Alswede and Dielingen and I have uncovered hundreds of records for Theler and its surname variations. There are very few records, however, for Osnabrück and Hunteburg and other areas that once were in the Kingdom of Hanover. Maybe some day they will appear.
And so I will continue my search. I didn’t find much in regards to my personal genealogy during our three days in Osnabrück but I’m still glad we went there and visited some churches and met some people and took some photos. And I learned a lot about German history!
My next two postings will contain photos of Osnabrück’s two great churches, one Lutheran and one Catholic