Niewoehner - Background Information from Germany

The name Niewoehner was spelled as Niewöhner in Germany.  It is a North German name; a nickname for a new neighbor or settler, from the Low German nie or new plus wöhner or dweller, settler.  (Dictionary of American Family Names).

As a child, I thought that I must certainly be related to all of the Niewoehners in the world, since it was such an unusual name.  Since then, I have discovered that there are three different Niewoehner families in the United States.  My family comes from Mönkehöfen and Niederholsten.  Another family came from Oldendorf and the third from Bielefeld.  Since these villages are with a few miles of each other, east of Osnabrück, I still suspect we are related, although I do not yet have any proof. 

The earliest informtion I have on the Niewöhner family comes from Heimatforscher of Osnabrück, written by Heinrich and Adolf Westerfeld in 1934.  It states that the  Freiherr von Hammerstein of Gesmold split up the Vollerbe Rothert of Niederholsten during the last decades of the 17th century. It was split into four farms.  In 1720, these farms were called  Rohtert, Rohters Niewöhner, Rohters Melcher and Rohters Ludecke, which was called Lucke in 1934.  This was the beginning of the Niewöhner farm in Niederholsten and is probably my family, although more research is needed.

The following information is about my Niewoehner family.


George Frederick Niewoehner and
Laura Wilhelmina Margareta Kilcher

George & Laura Niewoehner


Friedrich Johann Niewoehner and Anna Maria Louisa Niemann

Friedrich & Louisa Niewoehner
Frederick and Louisa Niewoehner with their three oldest children.

Fred Niewoehner family

Frederick and Louisa Niemann Niewoehner and family

Friedrich Johann Niewoehner was born February 8, 1855 in Pieper Cottage #17, Mönkehöfen, Germany, the son of Johann Friedrich Niewoehner and Katharina Engel Bergheger.  At the age of 17, he left Germany and boarded the ship Leipzig in Bremen to come to the United States.  Leaving on February 27, 1872, he arrived in New York on April 6, 1872. 

The family history  stated that Friedrich was sponsored by the Wefel family of Wisconsin, working for them on their farm for $5.00 per month.  Although it was known that he was in Grant Co., there were several Wefels living there at the time.  Recent research indicates that it was most likely Adam Heinrich Wefel who was his sponsor.  

Adam Heinrich Bergheger, brother to Friedrich’s mother, Katharina Engel Bergheger had married Anna Maria Engel Niemann in 1843.  Unfortunately, Adam Heinrich died quite young, leaving his wife and one son, Herman Heinrich Bergheger.   Anna Maria married again in 1846 to Adam Heinrich Wefel.  While living in Germany, they became the parents of five children, but eventually left Germany and came to Grant Co., Wisconsin.  Since Anna Maria was Friedrich’s aunt, it seems very likely that her husband sponsored her nephew.

Anna Maria Louisa Niemann, known as Louisa, was born February 19, 1857 in Grambergen and baptized in Schledehausen, Germany.  She was the daughter of Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Niemann and Katharina Marie Margarethe Elizabeth Laumann.  Louisa left Germany on June 27, 1872 with her parents and younger siblings, the older brothers having come earlier.  They settled near Fennimore, Wisconsin.

Friedrich and Louisa were married at St. Paul’s, Liberty Ridge, near Fennimore on July 13, 1879.  They came to Iowa after their marriage, riding in a lumber wagon.  They became the parents of 12 children.  Friedrich died October 4, 1930 and Louisa on May 20, 1959, at the age of 102.  They are buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery, Richfield, Iowa.

Note:  Anna Maria Engel Niemann Bergheger Wefel, aunt to Friedrich, was a sister to Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Niemann, Louisa’s father.  Anna Maria’s son Herman Heinrich Bergheger was a prominent businessman in Stitzer, Wisconsin, and owner of H. Bergheger & Co., a general store.  In later life, he and his cousin, Friedrich Johann Niewoehner, looked so much alike, they might have been mistaken for brothers.


Johann Friedrich Niewöhner and Katharina Engel Bergheger

Johann Friedrich Niewöhner was born March 30, 1817 in Niederholsten, parish of Westeroldendorf. 

Katharina Engel Bergheger was born December 25, 1819 in Mönkehöfen, Germany.  She was the daughter of Hermann Heinrich Bergheger and Anna Marie Korfhage, Markkotter in Mönkehöfen,  Markkotter means that Hermann Heinrich Berghegger owned a small farm or Kotten, which had been established in the Mark, which was land that was used by all member of the community. 

Johann Friedrich and Katharina Engel were married  April 22, 1841 in Arenshorst and lived in Piepers Kotten, Mönkehöfen No. 17.    They were the parents of seven children.  They came to the U.S. in 1882 and settled in Iowa.  Johann died July 18, 1894 and Katharina died January 9, 1912.  They are both buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Richfield, Iowa.


Jost Heinrich Niewöhner and Catharina Marie Pieper

Jost Heinrich Niewöhner and Catharina Marie Pieper  were tenants in Niederholsten, a town near Grambergen, Germany.  Little is known about them at this time, except that they were the parents of Johann Friedrich Niewoehner.


German Customs

Potatoes belong to a real German meal.  If you find a German who prefers rice or noodles, it’s usually because they don’t like to peel potatoes!  Germans like to prepare their potatoes in many different ways.

Potatoes only arrived in Germany in the 18th century, however.  Friedrich II, the Great, (1712-1786) needed to feed his soldiers and wanted to end the famines.  However, Friedrich had to have soldiers guard the field of potatoes, or they would have been destroyed by the people.  There is a saying in Germany,  “Was der Bauer nicht kennt, frisst er nicht” (a farmer don’t eat what he don’t know). 

St. Nicholas is patron saint of the pupils.  He was bishop of Myra (Turkey) and did many kind things for people.  His feast day is December 6th.  To celebrate his day, children set out their shoes outside the door or on a window-sill, together with some gifts for is celebrated in Germany.
(Information from Anke Waldmann)



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