A Family History of Henry George Grabenhorst
Ackerhöf Ass Nr 44 and the Grabenhorst Family
Johann Jacob Gravenhorst married Anna Sophia Barbara Borchers on 19 Oct 1741 in Watzum. Her father was the Ackermann Ludolf Borchers. Her mother was Catharina Prüßen. Ludolf Borchers was called Ackermann because he owned the farm Ackerhöf Ass Nr 44..
The Ackerhöf Ass Nr 44 belonged to the Brunswick classification of farms called Ackerhöfe. These were the large farms of around 100 acres. Medium sized farms were Halbspänner. Small farms were called Kothsassen. During this period the farms were not actually owned by the farmers themselves but by the Lord of the Estate who was a member of the nobility. Instead of being owned outright the farms were leased by the farmers. These leases were renegotiated every nine years but in essence the farms belonged to the farmers and they could be passed on by inheritance.
Johann Jacob was born in Uehrde where his family owned a large farm. After his father died, his older brother, Hans Andreas Gravenhorst, inherited the farm. Johann Jacob moved to Watzum where he married Anna Sophia Barbara. The Ackerhöf Ass Nr 44 was then transferred from Ludolf Borchers to Johann Jacob Gravenhorst and Johann Jacob became Ackermann.
Johann Jacob was not very successful in the management of the Ackerhöf Ass Nr 44. He became deeply in debt and eventually the farm was bankrupt. In December 1772, the Lord of the Estate who was also the Lord of the Court, Anton Burchard Friedrich Heinrich von Weferling, ordered that the Ackerhöf Ass Nr 44 be temporarily divided and leased to other farmers in Watzum for a period of nine years. The goal of this action was the economic recovery of the farm with the intent to return it to the next generation of the Gravenhorst family.
In 1774 Johann Jacob died but the Ackerhöf Ass Nr 44 remained in his name because it was still under judicial administration because of the debts and could not be passed on to an heir. During this period of judicial administration, two of Johann Jacob’s sons, Johann Ludolf (Ludwig) and Johann Heinrich enlisted to serve with Major General von Riedesel's Infantry Regiment of the Brunswick Troops in America.
After the judicial administration ended, Johann Ludolf was called back from America in 1782 to take over the Ackerhöf Ass Nr 44 as the older son and heir. From the start this inheritance was a major financial burden. He not only had to settle the inheritance claims of his brothers and sisters but he still had to deal with existing debt and, at the same time, buy new equipment, horses and agricultural supplies. In the end he had no choice but to take out additional economic loans
In February of 1784 Johann Ludolf, now Ludwig, entered into a marriage contract with Maria Hedwig Schliephake. Ludwig and Maria had nine children including their older son, Heinrich Andreas, and their older daughter, Maria Elizabeth. In 1808 their daughter Maria Elizabeth married Halbspänner Heinrich Hennig Eppers. This was during a period of great unrest in Watzum and the surrounding area due to the Napoleonic War. From 1806 to 1813, Brunswick was under French rule. The inhabitants suffered the hardships of occupation including conscription and tax levies to finance the war. Facing increasing debt,
Ludwig transferred the Ackerhöf Ass Nr 44, not to his oldest son as was the custom, but to his oldest daughter and her husband. Heinrich Hennig Eppers. Henry Eppers was the owner of a medium sized farm and the combining of the two farms was an attempt to gain some economic stability..
Unfortunately, two years later, in May 1810, Maria Elizabeth died childless at age 21. In 1813 Heinrich Hennig Eppers married again and in that way the Ackerhöf Ass Nr 44 passed from the Grabenhorst family to the Eppers family.
Map of Watzum 1763
Ackerhöf Ass Nr 44
A special thanks to the German researcher and author of the Watzumer Chronik, Walter Lehman, for his help with the information on this page.
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