Thursday, December 01, 2005

Views of the Old Country: Thuringen, home of the Wenkel Family

Dorothea Maria Hupe was the daughter of Johann Friedrich Hupe, a medical officer in Ebeleben. On August 9, 1795, she married Johann Friedrich Wenkel and they had at least ten children there, including our ancestor, Johann "Conrad" Christoph Wenkel.

Ebeleben is in the Kyffhäuserkreis (Kyffhäuser region) of Thuringen, Germany, in the Hainleite hills, south of the Harz Mountains*.

Pictures of Ebeleben
History of Ebeleben (German) and German Wikipedia article on Ebeleben with map.
Kyffhäuser District tourism page (English).

Move to Amt Lohra/Großwenden

In about 1819, the Wenkel family moved 15 miles north to Amt Lohra, in the neighboring district of Nordhausen. Both Johann Friedrich and his son Conrad were brick makers there.

In 1822, Conrad Wenkel married Henriette Bierwirth, in the neighboring town of Großwenden. Henriette was the daughter of Friedrich Bierwirth, one time mayor of Großwenden, and farm owner. Our ancestor Wilhelm Conrad Wenkel was born in Amt Lohra in 1832.

Both Amt Lohra and Großwenden were part of the lands ruled by the Duke of Lohra (Grafen von Lare (Lohra)) in the 11th and 12th century. His castle, Burg Lohra, can be visited today. The towns of Großwenden was so-named because it was "wendische" (Slavic) settlement in the Middle Ages (Groß means "large").

• About Grosslohra (including the former villages of Amt Lohra, Grosswenden, Kleinwenden, Friedrichslohra, Münichslohra and Burg Lohra) from the Nordhausen district official web site (German, with pictures).

• German Wikipedia article on Großlohra, with map.

Leaving Thuringia

In 1846, the Wenkel family sailed to America on the Ship Iris.

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