The name Niemann is a North German form of Neumann, from Middle Low
German: nie +man. Neumann is a German name for a newcomer to a place,
from Middle High German niuwe,
'new" + Middle High German man
, German Mann
'man.' (Dictionary of American Family Names)
Niemann Farm in Grambergen, Germany.
The half-timbered building on the right was built by Johann Frederick
and his wife Katharine Laumann in 1859.
names are carved in the wooden lintel over the large double doors.
(Photos courtesy of Anke Waldmann)
Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Niemann and his wife,
Katharina Marie Margarethe Elizabeth Laumann
with their younger children.
Second from left in the back is Anna Maria Louisa Niemann.
This is probably their passport photo. The family came to the United States from Grambergen, Germany in 1872.
Land Ownership in Germany
One important custom in Germany is that in certain areas, including
where our Niewoehner and Niemann ancestors are from, surnames went with
the farm. That is why you sometimes see a man taking the name of
his wife. Even if she died, he kept her name because he kept the
farm. The farm would normally belong to him until the marriage of
his oldest son. This custom is particularly noticeable in the
Vollerben were full heirs. Their farms are said to be the “first
farms” and they may be very old, around 1000 years. It was
the highest status a farm could have. Next was Halberbe or half
heirs. Colonus (male)/Colona (female) is a title in Latin and was
the usual term for someone who owned a farm with the status of Vollerbe
The Mark was land owned in common by all the people and they were all
allowed to use it. Of course, the Vollerben had the right to feed
more pigs and cows in the Mark than the Halberbe. The Mark was
often forest used as a meadow, and land that wasn’t good for
arable land. It might be moor or stony land.
The problem began when the heirs had more children than farms. So the
owners started to establish the Kotten. They got permission from
the landlord to separate some land from their farm for a son or brother
– that was called the Erbkotten. Or they got permission
from the Mark community to cultivate some land in the Mark – that
became the Markkotten. Eventually there were more children than
farms, because the Kotter had children as well. So the next
status was the Heurleute or tenants. They got a small house and a
bit of land from the farmer and they had to work on the farm. And
of course, the work for the farmer always came first. They were
usually quite poor and had another trade to make some money.
Beneath the Heurleute were day-labourers, farm-hands and
farm-less. Heurleute often chose to emigrate, as did the siblings
of the heir.
In the past, they didn’t use street names in small towns like
Grambergen. Every farm got a number. For example, the
Niemann farm was 13 and 13a indicated the main house or building.
13b would indicate a Kotten.
(Information from Anke Waldmann)
For many years, I didn't even attempt research in Germany. I
didn't speak the language, I didn't know the history, and the geography
was very confusing to me. That was before I was fortunate enough
to become acquainted with Anke Waldmann. Anke and I discovered we
are distant relatives. She has been very helpful to me in my
research and I have been able to find some information here for
her. I am happy to say that we have become friends as
well. If you would like to read more about the connection between
our families, please see the the article that Anke wrote about Germany American Family Research.
Anke has done a great deal of research, both on the Waldmann
family and other families living in Grambergen
Anke with Finn, her Big Munsterlander dog.