February 23, 2017

Heinrich Tietje's Story from Kerstin

When Herman Hinrich Johann Tietje (born 7 Mar 1835) and his wife, Catharina Maria Schwiebert (born 20 Oct 1840), decided to immigrate to America with their family, two of their older children chose to remain behind as they were already married with children and had jobs in Germany.  

 Dietrich, the father of Wilhelm (Dutch Bill, husband to Kate Spoering) and Dietrich's brother, Heinrich, stayed in Germany where they raised their families.  Heinrich, the younger brother of the two, was Kerstin, my German correspondent's, great-great grandfather.

Marie and Heinrich Tietje are sitting in front.  They would have been Wilhelm, "Dutch Bill" Tietje's aunt and uncle. ( Bill was married to Kate Spoering.)  In the back on the far left is Ida, their daughter, and her husband Dietrich Luhrssen and their child, Margarethe.  The others are grandchildren and spouses.

Here Kerstin writes the story of Heinrich Tietje from Bendingbostel:

“Heinrich Tietje, my great-great grandfather of my mother’s family line, was born 22 June 1862 in Verdenermoor in Germany.  This is a very small village and today a protected area in Lower Saxony in the north-western Germany.  The Verdener Moor belongs to the parish of Kirchlinteln in the district Verden.  It is surrounded by the Linteln Geest, also called Verden Heath, which is dominated by woods, hills, heath and small villages.  Today many people decide to build new homes there or to buy old cottages in the region because of its picturesque landscape and its location close to the cities of Bremen and Hannover.

Heinrich was the second son of Hermann Hinrich Johann Tietje and Catharina Maria Schwiebert.  He and his older brother Dietrich decided not to immigrate with their parents, brothers, and sisters in 1888 and stayed at Germany.  That was because they had jobs and were married and their first children were born.  Heinrich’s wife was Marie Therkorn and they married in 1882.  She was born maybe in Rotenberg and had lost her parents very early when she was a child.  So she grew up on a strange family and told often about her very poor childhood.  Sometimes she had no shoes to walk with.  There are some photos when she was getting old and she nearly got to 100 years old, living in Bendingbostel and was very alert.

After their marriage, Heinrich and Marie often moved and my mother remembers villages like Jeddingen and Cordingen where they lived before they moved to Bendingbostel.  Heinrich got the job as a stationmaster in Bendingbostel and they first lived in the house of the rail station with their children.  He had to fulfill a lot of different tasks as a stationmaster, for example to leave the barriers down for trains at specified times and to look after tracks and signals.  I think it was a very responsible job and one had to be very reliable.  My great-grandmother Emma often told about the nice garden around the stationhouse.  They had a big swing there, also a big baking oven outside where they baked their own bread.  Heinrich had five children: Ida, Emma, Heinrich, Karl and Gustav.  The three boys were all born in Bendingbostel.

The station at Bendingbostel

In 1905, he built a house with a garden and a small outbuilding in Bendingbostel “An der Bahn Nr. 30” and lived there first with his wife and daughter Emma and her husband, Hinrich Hoops.  Emma’s three children were born in that house.  After Emma moved away to Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg, the other daughter Ida and her husband Dietrich lived together with them.

In the small outbuilding they had some goats, pigs and a small smokebox and Heinrich owned some beehives.  In the garden, they had some fruit trees and a lot of vegetables.  During the Second World War, when my mother was a small child, they were so hungry and often visited Heinrich and Marie in Bendingbostel because there were so many good things to eat there and it was safer than the city in Hamburg.
The house in Bendingbostel

On Sundays, Heinrich and Marie liked to go by coach to church in Visselhoevede.  There Dietrich, Heinrich’s brother and father of William (Dutch Bill), was living and they met there and went to church together.  They were all very religious and praying before meals was a duty.  For example, “Come, Jesus, be our guest and bless the things you gave us.”  “We thank you, God, for food and drink.”  In German language, it sounds better because it rhymes.

And everyone I knew – my great aunts, my mother and others – talked about Heinrich’s indescribable strictness.  Especially while they were eating, nobody was to talk a word and one hand had to be under the table.  Once my mother, three years old, was on a visit and did some mischief.  He took her and locked her up into the dark cellar for a long time.  She never forgot that feeling of fright there in the dark and coldness, and her grandma found her later, totally exhausted.

Emma’s children, Hertha (1906), Hilda (1907) and Arthur (1909), were born in Bendingbostel in Heinrich’s house.  Aunt Hertha told about her one year in the small school in Bendingbostel, where a few children of different ages sat in the same room, the small ones in front and the older pupils in the back.  When she was seven years old, she moved with her parents, sister and brother to Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg.  Her whole life, she was longing for that wonderful life in the country when she was a child.  She often told how wonderful it had been for the children and theat they spent all holidays in Bendingbostel with Heinrich and Marie.  The new life in the city with apartment buildings was a great change for the children from the country.
Heinrich with his beehives

Heinrich, his brother Dietrich, and many people found jobs at the railroad because in 1873, there was the beginning of a new age for the railroad in the area of “Luneburger Heath.”  A new railroad line was built and a lot of small villages like Bendingbostel and Visselhoevede were bound on the rail network.  The “Uelzener Railroad Line” was 97,4 km long and connected from West Bremen-Langwedel-Uelzen-Berlin to the East.  First, it had been one track.  This track was also called America Line because it connected the east to towns like Bremen, Bremerhaven and Wilhelmshaven where thousands of immigrants went to leave their country and to get by ship to America.  During the Second World War, it was of great use for the army, therefore it was often attacked and demolished.  During the lifetime of my great-great grandfather, it was a good time for the railroad and very many people used this railroad line.  Today there are many stations empty and a lot of tracks are moved away.  Some stations are still operating and mostly used by tourists.
Maria Tietje at 95 in 1959

I remember as a small child that my parents, sister,  Aunt Hertha, Uncle Arthur and his wife and my great-grandmother Emma made a day tour to Bendingbostel..  They wanted to look after the house because Marie and Ida had died and the house had to be sold.  I remember a cobblestoned road in front of the house.  The house was of red-brown clinker and there was a big front yard.  I never forgot the smell of different flowers in the garden.  The garden was overgrown, but you could find some flowerbeds with dahlia and behind the garden, I saw some railroad tracks.  We picked a lot of apples and other fruits.  It as summer 1966, I guess, and I’ll never forget that warm, sunny day adorned with flowers, which had been the day to say farewell to Bendingbostel and a part of the family history.  In following years, we came back to visit the family graves, but the house was sold and I never walked through Heinrich and Marie’s garden again.  I’ve a photo from their gravestone in Bendingbostel.  Heinrich died on 22 Sept 1937."

Here rests in God the stationmaster in retirement
Heinrich Tietje
22 June 1862 - 22 Sept 1937
Maria Tietje
born Therkorn
26 April 1864 - 7 April 1964
Far away from our eyes,
But near to our heart

 (This post originally appeared on my former blog, A Face to the Sun, on September 21, 2011.)

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