A Family History of Henry George Grabenhorst


The records for Henry George Grabenhorst's ancestors can be found in the Lutheran church books in the Braunschweig (Brunswick) area of northwestern Germany. The records date back to 1520 and Henry George's ancestor, Martin Gravenhorst. There are no earlier records as church books were not introduced until after the Protestant Reformation in 1517. Martin and his descendents lived in the village of Lauingen until around 1620 when Martin's grandson, Hans Gravenhorst, moved to the village of Uehrde. Hans married in Uehrde and his descendents lived there until around 1740 when Henry George's grandfather, Johann Jacob Gravenhorst, moved nearby to the village of Watzum. Johann Jacob married Anna Sophia Barbara Borchers and assumed ownership of the Watzum farm, Ackerhof Ass Nr. 44, from her father, Ludolph Borchers. Most of Johann Jacob's descendents remained in the general area of Watzum and Uehrde for the next few generations including Henry George's father, Hans Heinrich. As a young man Henry George moved a few miles away to Klein Vahlberg where he married and had children. He and his wife and children immigrated to America in 1850.

In the church records the surname was spelled Gravenhorst until the generation of Henry George's father, Hans Heinrich, when it changed to Grabenhorst. Hans Heinrich was born a Gravenhorst in 1752 and married as a Grabenhorst in 1785. The spelling change occurred in all the family records  of Watzum and Uehrde during that time. From then on the family name was spelled Grabenhorst. Spelling changes like this were not unusual. Most of the population were illiterate before the 1800's and records were kept by the clergy of each church. The clergy who wrote the records spelled the names as they heard them and different clergy might use different spellings for the same person or family.

In looking through the ancestor family trees presented in this section, one often finds children in a family with the same first name. For instance Johann Jorden Gravenhorst had four sons with the first name of Johann and two daughters with the first name of Anna. Both Johann and Anna are names commonly found in the ancestor families documented here. Other common names include Hans, Andreas, Dorothea and Maria. When Braunschweig children were baptized they were given two or more names with the first name usually being that of a saint. For common usage they went by their second names but when an official record was involved they would use their full names.

The information in this section came from the Lutheran church books in the various village parishes. These books are  handwritten in the old German gothic script and difficult to decipher. I am deeply indebted to the German researchers who took on the painstaking task of researching those old books and then generously sharing the information. A deep thanks to Walter Lehman, Ruth Ohlhoff, Joachim Gravenhorst and Frank Grabenhorst. Without their help this section would not be possible.

Generation 1
Heinrich Georg Grabenhorst

Generation 2
Hans Heinrich Gravenhorst and Dorothea Sabine Heinemann

Generation 3
Johann Jacob Gravenhorst and Anna Sophia Barbara Borchers

Generation 4
Andreas Gravenhorst and Anna Marie Kniehan

Generation 5
Andreas Gravenhorst and Dorothea Langeluddeke

Generation 6
Hans Gravenhorst and Maria ?

Generation 7
Jorden Gravenhorst and Catharina Drenckemann

Generation 8
Martin Gravenhorst and ? Stammutter Lauingen Hof I ?


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For questions or comments contact:

Stephany Smith