Forgotten tales

stories of my family

Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Groß Aspe or Großenaspe?

Johan Holtorf, who renamed himself John Holdorf when he migrated to Australia in the middle of the nineteenth century, was born in 1828 in Bimöhlen, Holstein, in northern Germany. At the time of his birth, however, Holstein was under the control of Denmark. His oldest sister Anna, the first born of the family, was born in Bramstedt in 1817. Between Anna and Johan there were three other siblings, Claus (1820), Hans (1822) and Wilhelmina (1825). According to notes from my father’s files each of these three was born in Groß Aspe. I searched for Groß Aspe on Google maps and found a town with that name some 100km from Bramstedt west across the Elbe, as I mentioned in my the last blog. Why, I wondered, would Claus and Margarethe have moved there? Or more specifically, did they move there? The other day as I was poring over the map of Holstein I noticed that just a few kilometres away from Bimöhlen is another town with the very similar name of Großenaspe, and it occurred to me that this might be the place to which the Holtorf family moved after Anna was born and not the distant Groß Aspe, given its proximity to Bramstedt. För many of the years between 1817 and 1828 the Holtorf family lived in Großenaspe, bit before Johann’s birth they moved to Bimöhlen. The sixth child in the family, Andreas, was born in 1832, presumably also in Bimöhlen. Their mother Margarethe, died in 1835. Claus, their father, remarried in 1837, in Bramstedt, to Elsabe Lentfer, with whom he had four more children, though only two of them survived into adulthood. Claus, it would seem, was born in Bramstedt, though his father was born in Bimöhlen. Margarethe was born in Wiemersdorf. Going back through the generations prior to Claus, his father Detlef (Dirk Holtorf) was born in Bimöhlen in 1764, his grandfather Dirk Holtorp, was born in 1723 and his great grandfather Dirk Holtorp, was born in Kampen in 1688. I found Kampen too on Google maps, a tiny spot some 10km south of Bramstedt. For hundreds of years then the Holtorf’s had lived in and around Bramstedt. But in the middle of the nineteenth century they began to depart. Johann went to Australia, Andreas to America. The two sisters appear to have ended up in England, but of the two brothers who remained in Germany only one, Hans, had any children. Of Elsabe’s four children, two died in childhood, one died before he was thirty, apparently childless and one migrated to Sydney. So of Claus Holtorf’s ten children, only Hans remained to have children in Germany. Johann went to Australia and became the father of the Holdorf, later Holford, clan. Claus Holtorf’s last son, Jakob Holtorf, also migrated to Sydney, but what became of him and his ancestors is unknown to me. So in Australia now there are possibly Holfords, Holdorfs (since at least one of Johan’s sons kept the Holdorf name) and Holtorfs, all ancestors of Claus Holtorf of Bramstedt in Holstein, northern Germany.

The red pin marks Groß Aspe

The red pin marks Groß Aspe


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