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Familienchronik Niessen

VIEWS: 23 PAGES: 13

									             Familienchronik Niessen

        Chronicle of the Niessen Family

                         Paul Niessen
Translated, Annotated, and with an Introduction by Jim Niessen
                                       Chronicle of the Niessen Family

       Written by Paul Niessen, Cologne, Germany, ca. 1938; excerpts translated, illustrated and annotated with
       an historical introduction by Jim Niessen, 1985, transcribed in 1976 from the original bound manuscript in
       the possession of Edgar Niessen, presently residing in Eckernförde, West Germany. Note: illustrations are
       missing from the online version.

[Historical Introduction: The Niessens came from the Rhineland (Rheinland), the lowland
between the lower Rhine and the Belgian/Dutch borders. The area was conquered from local
Germanic tribes by Julius Caesar in 58-51 BC, and remained under Roman rule until Roman
legions were withdrawn in the early fifth century AD. Several towns were actually founded by
the Romans, like Cologne (Köln) and Neuss near Düsseldorf; Roman roads are many, and the
original Christianization of the area dates from this period, as well. The Archbishopric of
Cologne was founded by Charlemagne in the late eighth century, and the Archbishop founded a
Benedictine Monastery on the present site of the Niessens' former home town, Mönchengladbach
(Mönche = monks) in 976. A market developed there, and in 1364-66 it received the privileges
of a city from the ruler of the immediately surrounding area, the Margrave of Jülich. There was
heavy fighting and devastation in the area in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries due to its
situation on the borderland between the rival Holy Roman Empire (of which Jülich was a
constituent principality), the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium), and France. In 1794 the Rhineland
became one of the first conquests (liberated territories) of Revolutionary France. German
nationalism was as yet weakly developed, and considerable evidence, including some in this
Chronicle, indicates that common people were not unhappy to exchange the conventional
despotism of their local princes for Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, the slogan of the
Revolution. French rule also greatly stimulated the development of the local textile industry,
since Napoleon's Continental System excluded British textiles and created a demand for alternate
supplies. After the withdrawal of Napoleon in 1813, the Rhineland became a Prussian province,
so that local proponents of the Revolution of 1848 had to deal with the Prussian army. Yet the
Rhineland was one of the most radical regions of Germany, as it had by now many cities, a large
middle and working class, and the most radical newspaper of its day, the Rheinische Zeitung
(Rhenish News), edited by Karl Marx—who indeed drew some of the inspiration for his ideas
from the conditions in factories such as those of Mönchengladbach. In 1870-1 the "blood and
iron" of Bismarck created the German Empire. The following period is known by historians as
the Gründerzeit (founding age) for its industrial boom but also for its militarism and for
Bismarck's cynical method of rule by singling out Reichsfeinde (enemies of the Empire)—
Catholics, Socialists and Frenchmen—for special abuse.

Mönchengladbach had a population of 8560 in 1804, little more in the 1830s when Hermann
Niessen settled there, 53,662 when his son, Franz, emigrated to America in about 1895, and
roughly 200,000 today.          One-third of German textile production is produced in
Mönchengladbach, and many of the workers, including many in the Carl Niessen plant there, are
Turkish, Yugoslav and North African Arab guest workers. The town is probably best known by
Germans today for its professional soccer team, Borussia-Mönchengladbach. It is situated in
North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen), the most densely populated and heavily
industrialized province of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The narrator of the Chronicle was the son of the brother of Franz Niessen, and hence all

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                                     Chronicle of the Niessen Family
references in the text to father, grandfather, etc. must be understood in this light.]

The author: Paul Niessen, March 5, 1876 - July 15, 1945. March 3, 1901 consecrated a priest:
1901-1908 Vicar in Malmedy. 1908 Director of the parish school [Pfarr-Rektor] in Köln-
Zollstock; 1913 pastor; 1941 spiritual councillor; Feb. 15, 1944 Honorary Canon of the Köln
[Cologne] Cathedral.

                                  Niessen [picture of coat of arms]

This Niessen coat of arms was taken from the "Neuer Siebmacher." [a heraldic reference work]
It is the coat of arms of a Rhenish family "Niessen," and among other places it has been observed
in a village on the Mosel and in Trier. Whether our family has used it, cannot be proven. I
propose that we adopt it as family coat of arms. [This coat of arms is on the factory wall and
trucks of the "Carl Niessen Textilveredlung" (=C.N. Textile Finishing) company in
Mönchengladbach today.]


THE NIESSEN TRIBE
The name Niessen [NB: variously written Nuesfen, Nuessen, or Nuesen in the manuscript] (or
Nysen, Neysen, etc.) is very frequent in the Rhineland, especially on the lower Rhine. For
instance, the Cologne address book for 1938 lists 186 Niessens. Of course, they are not all from
the same family. The name comes from Dionysius (French Denis; in Malmedy this was
pronounced Deniss). St. Dionysius, the first Bishop of Paris, lived in the 3rd century. He was a
popular saint among the Lower Franks. In the Archdiocese of Cologne (including Aachen) there
are 14 churches consecrated to him (including one in Dovern near Erkelenz)—A few traits of the
Niessens can be mentioned. They are large (a relative in Borschemich once told me that his
grandfather used to say that the Niessens always had been as tall as trees), light blond hair, and
blue eyes. Among their mental traits: intelligence, strong persistence (almost obstinacy), thus
tenacious retention of that which is considered right and good (every one of the descendants is
Catholic), loyalty, a sense of justice, and finally a great joy in and love of nature: flowers, birds,
horses, etc. The predilection for the last of these is supposedly due to the fact that Hungarian
blood flows in our veins. This is what Dean [i.e. chief of the district clergy] Gisbertz, whose
mother was a Niessen, told me many years ago. We have found no trace of any Hungarian
blood in the family tree.


GENERATION 1.

The earliest [ascertainable] ancestor of our tribe was called "Neiss"=Dionysius, without family
name. He was a Halfen or Halbwinner on a large estate in Houverath, Kleingladbach parish.
(Tenant, who rendered half of his harvest for the use of the land; Latin "villieus"). We can set
the date of the birth of Neiss at about 1610. He was married to Sophia. They have no family
names in the baptismal certificates of their children. From a remark in the Lagenbuch [land

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                                    Chronicle of the Niessen Family
register] of the district of Wassenberg from 1669 we learn that her name was Dederichs ("Theo
Dederichs and his son-in-law Neiss pledge to [the latter's] son Wilhelm house and land for 3
Albus, 1 Heller"—State Archives, Dusseldorf. Lagenbuch of the District of Wassenberg for
1669.) "Neiss Halffen" is also to be found in a list of hereditary oaths of allegiance, in this case
the fealty which all male subjects had to swear on the succession of a new prince of the Duchy of
Jülich-Kleveberg. "Neiss Halfen from the parish of Kleingladbach" swore this oath of fealty to
Duke Heinrich Wilhelm of Jülich on November 29, 1666. The protocol was taken by the
commissioners of the Duke: Heinrich Wilhelm Baron von und zu Lerodt and Christian von Ghor.
 (State Archives, Dusseldorf. Jülich-Berg, Papers II 2383)

Documents show the following children of "Neiss":

1)     Stephan (on June 5, 1661 had a child, baptized "Johann". The wife was Elisabeth.
       Godparents: Rudolf Mahr and Eva "raedtemeckers").

2)     Wilhelm (married Maria Hillen, April 24, 1667. Witnesses: Goswig Schoers and Arnold
       Hillen).

3)     Anna (together with Arnold Hillen, she was the godmother of Theodor, son of Wilhelm
       Niessen and Maria on August 18, 1668).

4)     Matthias (was godfather, with "Cath. Theodou" Schroers uxor [Mrs.], of Theodor [a
       second of this name], son of Wilhelm N. and Maria, August 25, 1669.

5)     Heinrich (he had a son, Johann, baptized on August 25, 1686. The wife was Iven Jansen.
       Godparents were Christian N. and Ivingen Gotzen.

6)     Engelbert (Baptismal certificate: "28.Mai 1658 bapt. est Engelbertus, filius Dionysii,
       villici in Hoverath et Sophiae uxoris. Susceperunt: Pet. Wilh. Kremers et Gertrudis
       Conradi Schenen uxor" [=On May 28, 1658 was baptized Engelbert, son of Dionysius,
       Halffe in Houverath, and his wife Sophia. Godparents: Peter Wilhelm Kremers and Mrs.
       Gertrud Conrad Schenen.]

7)     Christian (Baptismal certificate: "9. Apr. 1667 bapt. est Christianus, fil. Dionysii
       Halffmanns in Hoverath et Sophiae uxoris. Susceperunt: Tilmann Corsten et Anna
       Essers) [=On April 9, 1667 was baptized Christian, son of Dionysius, Halffe in
       Houverath, and his wife Sophia. Godparents: Tilmann Corsten and Anna Essers.]

All children bore the name "Neysen."




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                                  Chronicle of the Niessen Family
GENERATION 2.

Engelbert married on October 10, 1689 Angelika Cremers (Kremerss) Witnesses were Peter
Kremers and Johannes Schosser (who was the sacristan). The marriage produced the following
children:

1)     Catharina (born in Houverath October 19, 1690. Godparents: Christian N. and Kath.
       Bertrams).

2)     Dionysius (born November 7, 1692. As the eldest son he received the name of the
       grandfather. Godparents: Mich. Neysen and Mechtild Cremers).

3)     Tilmann (born in Golkrath. Apparently the family settled there. There are still many
       Niessens in Golkrath today. (Baptized in Klein Gladbach [the parish seat; G. was
       apparently a new village] October 16, 1693. Godparents: Reiner N. and Kath. Gotzen.
       Tilmann died early.)

4)     Tilmann (born in Golkrath May 17, 1695. Godparents: Joh. Theisen, substituted for by
       Tilmann Holzbecker, and Noelgen Tewess from Hechehoven).

5)     Peter (born April 10, 1697 in Golkrath. Godparents: Reiner Poters and Mechtild
       Gerhartss).

6)     Catharina (born March 7, 1699. Godparents: Dionys Knepper and Elis. Janssen).

7)     Matthias (born March 16, 1701 in Golkrath. Godparents: Gottfried Neysen and Kath.
       Kleinen).


GENERATION 3.

Matthias married Gertrud Seyben, the daughter of David Seyben and Marg. Krahen, born
October 28, 1701 in Borschemich near Erkelenz, Keyenberg parish. The following children of
the couple were found:

1)     Tilmann, born ca. 1725-30 in Borschemich.
2)     David, died August 21, 1795 at the age of 60.
3)     Anna Cath., died Sept. 28, 1781, about 33 years old.
4)     Agnes Brigitta, died 1789.
5)     Konrad, died unmarried Sept. 8, 1795, 48 years old.

From 1730 on Mathias Niessen (or "Mattheiss Nyssen") is listed in the Send [annual court
session to judge church transgressions of parishioners] records of Keyenberg, for instance in
1737, 1739, 1740. The session took place in Keyenberg on Passion Sunday ("Sinodus

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                                  Chronicle of the Niessen Family
parochialis in Dom. pass. 1730" or "Annotativ nominium Parochianorum in Dom. pass. 1740" or
"nomina eorum qui ex filiali Borschemich tenentur ad sindoum laicalem in Keyenberg pro anno
1735." [=names of those from the daughter parish of Borschemich attending the Send in
Keyenberg in 1735.] In 1773 the sons Tilmann and David N. also appeared at the Send.
Matthias apparently married into the village of Borschemich before 1730.


GENERATION 4.

Tilmann, his eldest son, who was probably born in Borschemich, married about 1759 Kath.
Schiffers (born Nov. 30, 1734 in Immerath) The children of this marriage were:

1)     Catharine Gertrud, born March 1, 1760 in B. (Godparents: Franz Gottfried Schiffers,
       scabinus [=honorary judge] from Immerath and Cath. Niessen from Golkrath, for her:
       Sophie N. from Keyenberg. Cath. Gertrud married Feb. 23, 1782 Adolf Kamp from
       Düsseldorf.

2)     Matthias (named after the grandfather) born March 29, 1763 in E., died December 22,
       1840 in B. (Godparents: David N. from B. and Gertrud Mullers from Immerath), married
       Feb. 8, 1797 in Otzenrath with Anna Kath. Schneiders, born April 2, 1767 in Spenrath.

3)     Johann Lambert, born Oct. 13, 1766, died Dec. 29, 1838. (Godparents: Christian
       Schillings from Immerath and Sibylla Schiefers from Jackerath, married Nov. 27, 1818
       with Maria Ida Kath. Heilgers.

4)     Maria Sophia Margarethe, born Jan. 5, 1770 in B., died Aug. 13, 1770 in B. (Godparents:
       Adam Sieben, church curator [Kirchmeister] in Keyenberg, and Magdalene Bosch,
       substituted for by Anna Maria Claessen, B.)

5)     Johann Theodor, born Sept. 7, 1771 in B., died Aug. 17, 1819 (Godparents: Theodor
       Fischer and Cäzilie Niessen from Immerath; married June 25, 1799 with Gertrud Esser);
       he was the godfather of grandfather [Hermann] Niessen.

6)     Franz Gottfried, born Feb. 26, 1775 in B. He was a pensioner [i.e. lived off an annuity].
       Died 1856 in B. (Godparents: Joh. Gottfried Fischer and Christine Gertrud Schmitz from
       B.) It is said of him that 3 French soldiers sought to recruit him. When they became
       importunate, he beat them so that they fled.)

7)     Maria Magdalena, born May 13, 1776 in B., died Oct. 28, 1837. (Godparents: Christian
       Schiffer and Mechtild Kupper from Immerath, substituted for by Agnes N. from B.,
       married July 28, 1801 with Joseph Heinrich Chuack.) Lambert (no. 3) was childless and
       Franz Gottfried (no. 6) remained unmarried. Both were wealthy heirs and therefore
       heavily courted. However, they bequeathed almost everything to the Gisbertz family,
       and the Niessens received a laughably small sum. For this reason, there was for a long

                                                6
                                   Chronicle of the Niessen Family
       time no friendship between the two families. Johann Theodor, no. 5, who on June 25,
       1799 married Gertrud Esser from Bornheim "with dispensation", was already the father
       of a child: Marie Kath. Josefa N. This daughter married on Dec. 2, 1829 (Dec. 3 in the
       church) in Venrath to Johann Peter Gisbertz, born Dec. 9, 1799 in Venrath. The eldest
       child of this marriage was Lambert Theodor, born June 22, 1830 in Borschemich, died
       June 22, 1911 as Dean [church district chief] of Werden.


GENERATION 5.

Matthias, born March 29, 1763 in Borschemich. He married Anna Katharina Schneiders, born
April 2, 1767 in Spenrath; in documents M. was often called, erroneously, Mathieu=Mathäus.
Children of this marriage were:

1)     Johann Tilmann, born May 24, 1799 in Borschemich, our grandfather. (Godparents:
       Johann Theodor Niessen and Kath. Adolps [uncle and grandmother]). In the marriage
       registry he is listed as Jean Theodor, but he was called Hermann. "Hermann" now
       became the traditional name in our family (2 sons, two grandsons, one granddaughter,
       one great grandson, etc.)

2)     Peter Anton, born July 2, 1800 in B.

3)     Peter Anton, born Oct. 14, 1801, died May 4, 1864 in Anrath. He was a master
       shoemaker and married Elisabeth Bendt, born Oct. 10, 1809 in Anrath. Various children,
       grandchildren: Chaplain Hans Niessen descends from him.

4)     Anna Magdalena, born March 24, 1803 in B., died Feb. 10, 1826 in an accident.

5)     Anna Catharina, born Aug. 6, 1804 in B., married Johann Michael Hahl. Descendants
       live in B.

6)     Anna Gertrud, born Jan. 20, 1806 in B., married Oct. 18, 1836 Johann Jakob Dederichs in
       B. There are descendants living in B.

7)     Adam Napoleon, born March 28, 1808 in B., died May 9, 1808 in B.

8)     Karl Napoleon, born April 5, 1809. Our father and his cousin are probably named Karl
       after him. Our father once had to pick up his uncle to take him to the Kirmes [parish fair]
       in [Mönchen-] Gladbach. The late Kirmes is in August. The road was long, and it was
       very hot. On the way they stopped at an inn. The uncle ordered a small glass of beer.
       Our father then ordered a large glass. The uncle stared at him, shocked, and said not
       another word the rest of the way. Arriving in Gladbach, he said to our grandfather:
       "Manes, pass ob dä Jung op, dat wöt ene Sueper." (Hermann, keep an eye on the boy, he
       will become a drinker. [plattdeutsch dialect]

                                                 7
                                     Chronicle of the Niessen Family

Nearly all Niessens were peasants.


CATHOLIC PRIESTS

Four members of the family were Catholic priests:

1)     Lambert Theodor Gisbertz, born June 22, 1830 in Borschemich (his mother was a
       Niessen), died June 22, 1911 as Dean of Werden.

2)     Johann Adam Niessen, born Feb. 22, 1873 in Mönchengladbach, died Oct. 7, 1898 [sic]
       as Dean of Aldenhoven.

3)     Johann Paul Niessen, born Aug. 5, 1876 in Mönchengladbach, now pastor in Köln-
       Zollstock, St. Pius.

4)     Hans Niessen, born June 13, 1910 in Mönchengladbach-Neuwerk, now Chaplain in
       Würm, District of Geilenkirchen. He is an industrious researcher in family history, and I
       am grateful to him for much information. The oldest documents can be found in the
       church books of Borschemich and Keyenberg. NB: Side lines of the family tree were
       generally not researched. This would go too far afield. The complete family must be
       very large.


THE VENNEN TRIBE
Our Grandmother, Barbara Niessen, neé Vennen, came from the village and parish of
Korschenbroich, which belonged to the small sovereign territory [rechtsunmittelbaren
Herrschaft] of Millendonk. The church books do not go very far back and are incomplete, so
that the completion of a large family tree is not possible. A further difficulty arises through the
frequent use of the same name in the Vennen family.

The name Vennen probably comes from water or swamp, like many names in this wet area. The
oldest mention of the name Vennen is from the year 1546. Court was held at the Hochgedingen,
which took place four times a year around 1500, and later, in the 18th century. Roads, fences,
watercourses, in general everything of public significance, were examined. In a protocol for the
day after a holy day [Sakramentstag] in 1546, we read: "In Neeosbrocih (near Korschenbroci)
the commons [Freden] and fences were examined. . . Johann Vennen (and others) have the right
to a hole" (for a well) (from Dr. Bremer, "Millendonk" p. 414). In 1647 a certain Theis Vennen
was the dues collector of the Monastery of Neuwerk. In 1668 Theis and Maria Vennen donated
an annuity of 4 Gulden, 8 Albus for the poor (ibid., p. 429, 440). Until 1700 the territories
collected the communal taxes directly. The sovereign, Countess von Berlepsch, took this right
over and entrusted it to her officials. After 1714 the commune again determined its tax officials,

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                                   Chronicle of the Niessen Family
among them a certain Derich Vennen. The officials had to suffer imprisonment and various
ordeals. For instance, the surgeon H. Leurs testified, with two witnesses, that on orders of
Countess von Berlepsch the tax collector Dirk Vennen was beaten on the back until he was black
and blue. Only in 1729 did the commune receive its right back by a ruling of the Imperial Court
in Wetzlar (p. 191, 414). On Sept. 4, 1716 Adam Vennen leased the moor farm ["Heider- or
Heierhof] from the heir Heinsberg for 12 years for an annual 27 Ml of oats, 50 lbs. of butter, 200
eggs, 1 calf, 1 pig or 4 Reichstalers [large silver coins], 10 Reichstalers church money, and 3
Reichstalers at New Years (p. 71). In ca. 1750 Vennen was required to regularly deliver hay and
 ice from Neeosbroich to Millendonk (p. 179).

In grain sales in Korschenbroich in 1781 a certain Peter Vennen is cited as a buyer (p. 293). The
earliest Vennen in the family tree is the peasant Adam Vennen, born ca. 1690, married to
Barbara Gyles or Geiles. Sons were Johann Peter, born 1726, and Johann, born 1729.
(Godparents: Peter Heinrich Geiles and Maria Genter). Johann was a day laborer. On Jan. 2,
1762 he married Anna Welters and died in Korschenbroich on April 19, 1798. Anna Welters
died Jan. 15, 1801. Their children were: Adam, born 1762, Cacilie, born 1767, Margarete Sib.,
born 1771, Maria Christine, born 1775. Adam was born March 25, 1762 in Korschenbroich and
married there Anna Gertrud Rütters (also Ritter or Ritters), born Feb. 21, 1769 in Buttgen; she
died Feb. 11, 1836 in Korschenbroich. Adam Vennen and Barbara Rütters are our great
grandparents. From them is descended Barbara Vennen, our grandmother. Her mother, Anna
Gertrud Rütters, descended from Konrad Matthias Rütters, born April 16, 1736 in
Korschenbroich, who married Sibylla Plucks, born Sept. 2, 1734 as the daughter of Vitus Plucks
and Christina Leven. The parents of Konrad Matthias [Rütters] were Matthias Rütters and
Gertrud Heuren or Eva Schmitten (he was married twice). Matthias had a brother Reiner, who
married Cath. Knalappen. (Children: Gertrud, born Dec. 11, 1729, and Maria Christina, born
Aug. 2, 1731). Besides Konrad, he had 2 other sons: Reiner, married Dec. 25, 1777 to Gertrud
Hellenbroich and Quirin, married in 1782 to Gertrud Bolten. It appears that our grandmother,
Barbara Vennen, had no brothers or sisters, at least I have not heard of any. The name, Vennen,
is still known today in Korschenbroich.

A few notes on Rütters (or Ritters)
The name means "Those living on the Rüten or Rüst." (Ditches, in which the flax was laid
underwater.) In 1576 a Ritters in Millendonk was obligated to carry out heavy services and
transport. Rütters paid an annual 1 Reichstaler (Dr. Bremer p. 178). In 1576 Vinzenz Ritters
and others had a court case against Dietrich II of Millendonk (p. 187). A Ritters is mentioned in
1624. In 1780 Quirin Ritters was a court assessor. In 1800 a Joseph Rütters, weaver by
profession, is mentioned. In 1861-64 Anton Rütters was the Master of the St. Sebastian
Brotherhood (p. 496).




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                                   Chronicle of the Niessen Family
GENERATION 6.

The Grandparents Niessen

Grandfather, named Hermann N., was born May 2, 1799 in Borschemich. In the birth certificate
he bears the name "Jean Theodor." In the baptistry book of Borschemich stands: "1799
Borschemich 24. Mai bapt est Joannes, Tilmannus, fil. leg. Matiae Niessen et Annae, Cath.
Schneiders. Patrini Theodor Niessen ex Borschemich et Cath. Adolphs ex Spenrath." He was
supposed to be named Tillmann, but the godfather wanted the child to be baptized Theodor. The
father ended the argument by deciding: neither of the names will be used; the child shall be
called Hermann. Our grandfather, of whom no portrait exists, was a large man. He was a youth
during the Napoleonic era, and continued to revere Napoleon for the rest of his life. Our father
once related that the parlor of his parents' home had a crucifix on one wall and a portrait of
Napoleon opposite it. Grandfather learned the dyeing trade, and founded a dyeing works with a
man by the name of Pilgram in M. Glad.-Eicken, on the lower Krefelderstrasse ("Am
Drieschpfage"). Grandmother would tell us that Grandfather was a very clever and excellent
man, who worked with great diligence in his dyeing works. He married, on May 1, 1831,
Barbara Vennen from Trietenbroich near Korschenbroich. Pilgram, who kept the books, lived
high off the hog with his family. As As proof of his extravagance grandmother told us that they
had fresh rolls every day and traveled to the Kirmes by express coach. Grandfather believed
himself cheated and foresaw the ruin of the business; therefore he separated his business from
Pilgram's, and while the latter soon went bankrupt, grandfather's business flourished. In 1848
the "valiant" Gladbachers mustered in order to storm the armory in Neuss, and when grandfather
didn't join up, he was forced to provide horse and coach for the transport of supplies. The
"glorious" expedition soon ended miserably: when a Dusseldorf Uhlan [lancer] was sighted near
Korschenbroich, they all sought to save themselves by flight. Once, grandfather was also King
in the St. Vitus Brotherhood [a local fraternal organization founded in 1476]. It was his special
joy to see his eldest son, Johann, become priest and chaplain in Cologne. He died in M. Glad. on
June 14, 1866 at the age of 67, endowed with the Last Rites.

Grandmother Niessen, neé Barbara Vennen, was born Aug. 22, 1809 in Trietenbroich near
Korschenbroich (she herself always insisted that he town was called "Triftenbroich". She was
apprenticed as a seamstress. When grandfather married her, his friends told him: "So nämmst du
dech ävver e Niehflitschke." (So you're taking a sewing bird for yourself." [plattdeutsch (low
German) dialect] She had learned to read in school, but not to write. I knew her as an old
"babushka." She was clever and good-natured, and could also laugh heartily and tell jokes. She
especially enjoyed playing dominoes with us children. She spent her last days in the home of
her eldest son, Johann, for whom her eldest daughter, Luise, served as housekeeper. Endowed
with the Last Rites, she died at the age of 83 in the Rectory at Aldenhoven Feb. 26, 1893.




                                                 10
                                 Chronicle of the Niessen Family
GENERATION 7.

1)   Our father, Karl Johann Niessen, was born on Sept. 17, 1836 in M. Gladbach, as the son
     of Hermann Niessen and Barbara Vennen. He learned the dyeing trade. Since he had a
     great predilection for the military, he attempted at the age of 18 to become a soldier, but
     was not accepted because he did not have his father's permission. Later he was a
     volunteer in Infantry Regiment No. 17. After he had been accepted, to his
     disappointment he was transferred to Wesel. For the rest of his life he recalled his time in
     the service with enthusiasm. His unit mobilized in 1866, but the war was over before his
     Regiment could see action. On Oct. 1, 1867 he married Sofia Genenger, whom he had
     first seen in his home as the friend of his sister, Lisette. he bought the Pilgram
     inheritance, and directed his dyeing plant together with his brother, Franz, who lived in
     the Niessen house next door and had taken the Niessen dyeing plan over. [sic] He was
     already the father of 2 children when he had to go to war in 1870. He was in the militia
     (Second Sergeant) [Vizefeldwebel] and as such he did not take part in the fighting. The
     militia was used for garrison duty. When he was away from home in the war, his brother,
     Franz, left and separated his business from his (Franz had received an exemption because
     of the business), took the customers with him, and when father returned from the field, he
     found an abandoned factory with ruined equipment. He had to make tremendous efforts
     to get back on his feet, while his brother had excellent business. Then, worst of all, came
     the so-called Kulturkampf [the anti-Catholic campaign of Bismarck's National Liberal
     government in the 1870s]. A commission came around to sign up the Catholics to vote
     Liberal. Since father showed them the door, he was placed on the so-called black list
     [Proskriptionsliste]. the list is available in published form. The object was to
     economically ruin all of those on the list. Since the customers were almost exclusively
     large companies whose owners were Liberal and Protestant, father almost went out of
     business. Then he received outside help, and for years he worked as a subcontractor for a
     large company (Heinzelmann) in Mülheim, and had enough to do. I can still remember
     well how the huge balls of wool arrived in our yard, which later went back after having
     been dyed. When the Kulturkampf was over, the old customers gradually came back. . .

     "Gladbacher Buckskin" was a popular new product of wool and cotton. [Caption to an
     illustration that is not presented online.]

2)   Franz Born Dec. 2, baptized Dec. 3, 1840 in M[üchen]Gladbach. (Godparents: Johann
     Pilgrams and Agathe Gennen). He was apprenticed as a dyer. Married Feb. 19, 1868 in
     Willich Philippine Tillmann (born June 26, 1847 in Willich, died in Philadelphia Feb. 19,
     1934). On his behavior toward our father see above.

     In the so-called Kulturkampf, he promised to vote Liberal, had much to do and became
     rich. He was able to maintain elegant luxury horses and coaches, and built a large house
     in the Franzstrasse, which was named after him [more likely after the last Holy Roman
     Emperor, Franz II (1792-1804)] (today Schillerstrasse. The house was demolished
     1937/38.) When he branched out into the weaving business, things soon went downhill.

                                               11
                                  Chronicle of the Niessen Family
       To save himself, he bought a large hotel in Aachen. He couldn't stay afloat, and went
       bankrupt. His brothers and sisters, as well as his mother, had long before broken off all
       contact with him. Then he emigrated in the '90s to America and had his whole family
       follow after him. Then nothing was heard for a long time. About the year 1922 an
       American commission was in Germany to supervise the American food-for-children
       program. It was also in Neuss, where brother Eugen, a city doctor, served as its guide.
       The leader of the commission recognized the family similarity between Eugen and cousin
       Leo in America. Through this gentleman, I learned Leo's address, and eventually
       received precise information on the Niessens in America. Uncle Franz had at first been a
       dyemaster in Patterson. Soon they moved to Philadelphia, where all found positions.
       The eldest daughter, Berta, married a German and moved back to Viersen. Leo went into
       the flower business, taking on his brother, Arthur, as sales manager. Brothers Hugo and
       Franz also worked with the firm. There were 50 other employees. Eight autos brought
       the flowers to the customers. The business was housed in a huge 9-story building; the
       basement and ground floor were used for the flowers. The other floors were rented to
       other firms. In 1927 Leo and Arthur sold the business and retired from public life. The
       building remains their property. They have a large fortune. Emil is owner of a large
       chemical plant. He's doing fine too. Mother [Tillmann] Niessen travelled three times for
       several months to Germany. Her sons paid for her voyage. She died at the age of 86 on
       Feb. 19, [1934] in Philadelphia.

The ground floor of the former hotel now houses a MacDonald's restaurant. [Caption to an
illustration missing from the online version.]




                                                12
                                  Chronicle of the Niessen Family

                                   Neiss / Neysen / Niessen

1)   Neiss            ca. 1610—                         Sophia Dederichs
                      Houverath
2)   Engelbert        1658—                    1689     Angelika Cremers
     (1st of 7)       Houverath
3)   Matthias         1701—                    1730     Gertrud Seyber              1701
     (7th of 7)       Golkrath                           Borschemich
4)   Tilmann          1725/30—                 1759     Katharina Schiffers
     (1st of 5)       Borschemich                        Immerath
5)   Matthias         1763—1840                1797     Anna Katharina Schneiders   1767—
     (2nd of 7)       Borschemich                        Spenrath
6)   Johann Tilmann   1799—1866                1831     Barbara Vennen              1809-93
       (Herman)       Borschemich
     (1st of 7)
7)   Franz Johann     1840—                    1868     Philippine Tillmann         1847-1934
     (2nd of — )      Mönchengladbach                    Willich
8)   Emil             1876—                             Theresa Helen Serwazi       1877-1943
     (6th of 11)      Mönchengladbach                    Manniunck, Pa.




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