The family Höfer – origins and history

(A slightly edited Google translation of the original text by Dr. Hans Müther: Descendents of Henneke Howerdes, Bauer, Scharrel, born before 1487, especially his descendant Hermann Höfer, blacksmith, Gestorf, born in Frielingen, baptised 2.6.1672 Horst. (Introduction))

The former Principality of Calenberg in the Hannover area is the homeland of our Höfer. In the west it is bounded by the middle Weser, in the east by the middle and lower Leine. In the north, it extends from heathland, the meadows and moors of the northern German lowlands to the foothills of the German low mountain range in the south.

The Höfer homeland thus has three different landscapes: the Geestland in the north, then the Lössgürtel and the Bergland. The north of the country is typical for its meadows and pastures, meager rye and potato fields, between heathland and pine forests on sandy soils, and its gloomy moors. Small villages are scattered in this landscape as highland villages, often hidden in their oaks. South, today bounded to the north by the Berlin-Cologne motorway, the zone of the fertile loess belt opens up with its wheat fields and beet crops, an open landscape with crowded richer villages, often surmounted by forest-crowned hills. The third landscape zone forms the highlands: Deister, Ith, Süntel and the Weserbergland with multiple forest cover. Leine and the Weser and their tributaries with their valleys and floodplains dominate the picture of the landscape they are traversed, with water mills in historical times often on the smallest gullies.

Before the consolidation of the Principality of Calenberg in this area, it had been the site of territorial redevelopments of dynastic and national origin. Here the counts and lords of Everstein, Hallermunt, Homburg, Roden, Schauenburg, Schwalenberg, and Wölpe wrestled with each other, but above all with the Welfs, who finally fell to the latter.

The beginnings of the bailiwick Calenberg are dated to 1399-1406. Due to changes and area increase 1433-l550 grew out of it the large convict Calenberg and finally before 1585 land and principality Calenberg. This is the home of our Höfer in historical times, their married and offspring. Only by married younger generations (Hupe and relatives) grew this home area over the Weser out west and north, in the former counties Pyrmont and Schaumburg. According to today’s district organization, the following districts are to be designated as the home of our Höfer and their relatives until the middle of the last century: Neustadt a.Rbge., Hanover, Springe and Hameln-Pyrmont. Our oldest Höfer documented in the Geest und Endmoränen landscape northeast of the Steinhuder Meer and east of the lower Leinelaufs, between bogs and heath. There lies the Basser Gohe of the official Neustadt a.Rbge., A still isolated, quiet, sparsely populated Urland, without through traffic, industry and tourism. On the high eastern shore of the leash, which flows here in wide Aue, rises the old church in Basse. Here are the towns of Basse, Averhoy, Metel, Scharrel, Scharnhorst and Suttorf are still preserved today. This parish is today the last remnant of the Lower Saxon Gohgrafschaft and medieval bailiwick Basse, which is part of the former Amt Neustadt a. Rbge. formed from Frielingen and Bordenau in the south to Averhoy in the north, from Otternhagen and Scharrel in the east to Empede in the west. Basse is first documented in 980 and is the seat of a Gohgericht 1314 in a deed of the Braunschweig-Lüneburg princes. In 1599, Neuhaus, Mecklenhorst and Poggenhagen also belonged to the Basser Gohe. Here in the Basser Gohe, the monastery of Corwey had once spread Christianity in tenacious missionary activity. The church in Basse was founded around 1100 by the wealthy Earl of Wölpe, whose county at that time also the Basser Gohe belonged, in close connection to the then on the opposite side of the lake resulting monastery Mariensee. In this the Basser church was incorporated 1304-24, after the county Wölpe had fallen with the Basser parish in 1302 to the Dukes of Lüneburg, 1428 to another line of the Braunschweig-Lüneburgischen princely house. 1542 was the Reformation by the Duchess Elizabeth.
The Basser Gohe with the places Basse, Averhoy, Suttorf, Metel, Scharrel, Scharnhorst, Otternhagen, Bordenau, Empede and Frielingen was cultivated around 1600 by 43 Ackerleuten (farmers), 49 Halbspännern, 34 Großkötnern, 55 and 51 Kleinkötnern and 21 Brinksitzern.

From 1625 the suffering of the Thirty Years’ War began here. 1630 48 farms lay in the parish, of which 20 Meierhöfe and 28 Kötnerstellen were already desolate, were no longer cultivated in their arable land, because there were no more people!

Exploitation, plunder, rape under brute force, plague (1627), murder and homicide, hunger and poverty, uncultivated fields, cattle-free pastures, they gave at that time the image of this landscape, a picture of desolation and despair of the remaining inhabitants who lived in bogs and hid in forests!

In a deed of 9.5.1512, the elders of the Basse church bought the von Campe farms in Scharrel, Basse and Metel for an annual fee of 40 guilders. Statius v. Campe and his son made this sale in Scharrel from his court, which at that time Henneke Howerdes (Höfer son) built. Since this Henneke Hower is referred to here as Höfer son, we also know that Hennekes father before him was based in Scharrel, probably also had farmed the designated farm. The latter must have been born around 1460 at the latest and married before 1487, because his son Henneke must have been at least 25 years old and married since he farmed the farm on 9.5.1512. Hennekes son had 3 sons: Hermann, * 1545 Scharrel, who married in Scharnhorst, Degener, * 1555 Scharrel, the Höfer in Scharrel continued, and Eggert, * 1560 Scharrel, who married in Metel. Degener Höfer, Halbspänner, as his father’s heir, Scharrel, had 3 sons: Heinrich, * around 1590 Scharrel, who followed him in Scharrel, Andreas, * around 1595 Scharrel, Grosskötner (by marrying into the Meyer-Stelle) Frielingen, and Hermann * Around 1596 Scharrel, Kleinkötner, Frielingen (apparently also by marriage!). The named Heinrich Höfer, Scharrel, is the grandfather of Lüdecke Höfer, 1689 Kleinkötner, Scharrel, ≈ 1666 Scharrel, who appears in the marriage contract of Harm Höfer before his second marriage later as a witness in Gestorf.
The Grosskötnerstelle of Andreas Höfer in Frielingen was in the 30 Years War soon desolate. He died after 1636 and before 1659. His son Cord (= Kurt) Höfer, * April 1628 Frielingen 1659 is referred to as Kleinkötner, Frielingen. He worked with Hase Grosskötnerei, married on 26.1.1664 in Horst (parish Horst / Frielingen) Ilsabeth Hase and rebuilt the desert Grosskötnerstelle again. But this 1688, 1689 and even 1696 was described as desolate again. Already in 1681 he is a cowherd, in 1686 he is called a beggar with a lame son not known by name. In 1689 he is out of the country, not even listed in the head tax register, only his wife as a pet with children. Cord Höfer is 19.1.1700 Frielingen / Horst. After all, he and his wife had a very heavy fate to bear, and yet he probably conceived a number of children in the times of his reconstruction, among them Hermann Höfer, * May 1672 Frielingen, the ancestor of Höfer-Gestorf: Harm Höfer.
par This Harm Höfer learned the blacksmith’s craft, was in 1689, like his father out of the country, probably on the move. He marries (in his first marriage) on 28.9.l700 in Gestorf in the blacksmiths and Vollkötnerstelle 28 by marrying the blacksmith masters widow Catharina Isemann, b. Nail, who is 3 years older than him and has to care for her children’s 1st marriage. Just over 26 years he was married to Catharina Isemann / Nagel. Höfer children did not survive this marriage but died prematurely. Catharina died at the age of 57 on 2.12.1726. In Gestorf With regard to smithy and Vollkötnerei Harm Höfer soon had to look for a second wife and married already on 3.6.1727 to Gestorf in his second marriage to him opposite 29 years younger Anna Elisabeth Bode, thus the ancestral mother of Höfer- Gestorf was, a widespread family between Leine and Weser, in the dissipated, fertile Lower Saxony mountain foothills, egg
Historical and geographical location 149
Today, the Höfer-Gestorf line of business is still associated with blacksmithing and also some ancillary lines, although the pull to the cities of Hannover, Hildesheim, Springe has grown steadily.
The Höfer-Gestorf were characterized by their wealth of children. However, as usual, many children of young age died. From Harm Höfer’s marriage to Elisabeth Bode went out 5 children, from the marriage of the son and successor Friedrich Wilhelm Höfer with Angel Marie Riecher’s 7 children, from the marriage of his son and successor Johann Heinrich Christoph Höfer with Rosine Dorothea Eleonore Wissel 8 children. According to Schnath, Georg: Historical Atlas of Lower Saxony [Sch29], the population of the Principality of Calenberg has increased from 30 persons / sq. Km. In 1689 to 174 persons / 1 sq. Km in 1925, ie almost sixfold. ,
According to the folklorist, the Calenberger comes from the Cheruskisch-Saxon folklore, until 1800 without foreign blood supply, since only from then on the outflow of foreign urban elements in the suburbs and rural area slowly began.

According to the folklorist, the Calenberger comes from the Cheruskisch-Saxon folklore, until 1800 without foreign blood supply, since only from then on the outflow of foreign urban elements in the suburbs and rural area slowly began. The essence type of the calenderer is determined by sobriety and realism. Appreciation of possession, especially of peasant property, profit-making, the ability to calculate and exploit man coolly determine (according to Brüning) largely the action. Self-esteem and contempt of the stranger do not preclude a willingness to take on practical novelties as well as modern business acumen. But there is a strong attachment to the tradition, also in the political attitude (tenacious clinging to the Guelph dynasty), persistence in the family, in holding old friendships and hesitant concessions to strangers, in community life strong community of the village association. From the point of view of the dialect, this area belongs to the southeastern Lower Saxon Low German, which is retreating here as everywhere. Even today, the old social structure is alive and well within the peasant population. In the Middle Ages and into the modern times a distinction was made in Voll and half Meier (80-100 M. or 30-70 M. farmland), Gross and Kleinkötner, Brinksitzer, arrival, Abund Beibauer. The Meier represented the oldest settler layer, the Kötner the medieval Nachsiedlergruppe and the last three groups the youngest settlers after 1600, which usually only had yard and garden space. Thanks to the inheritance law and the legal determination of the peasant property, especially the Meierlandes until 1833, the old farm sizes have remained well into the recent time. Even after the replacement and release of peasant property in 1833, only insignificant shifts have occurred. Offspring not considered farmyard offspring passed into rural craft, such as Harm Höfer and many of his descendants, and other more urban occupations. It is to be stated about religion and faith of these Höfer that they were Catholic faith until the Reformation in 1541/42, then according to the will of the rulers here ev.-luth. Beliefs were and still are today.

The typical village form of this area is the heap village. In addition to the churches, the original buildings consist of the courtyards, whose main houses are Niedersachsenhäuser in two-, three- and four-stand construction, one-storey in the north, in the south also in modified by inserting a double-siding double-storey. In the south, however, there are also cross-sections of the houses to the Central German type. But here too, as everywhere else, the old is replaced by something new, often alien and disfiguring.

In the surveyed inventories of art and historical monuments listed foundations, dedications and legacies could not be determined for the Höfer, however, is stored on the forge plot of Hermann Höfer, Gestorf, Neustadtstrasse 15, the gate and gable beams of the broken off a few years ago Niedersachsenhaus Höfer, who the Names of the former builder Johann Heinrich Christoph Höfer and Rosine Dorothea Eleonore Wissel – 1811 – carries.

The surname Höfer (Hower, Hover, Höver, Höfer and Hofer) is in original different spellings in documents and church records for the same families, only shortly before 1700 fixed Höfer. This family name is represented throughout the former German Reich territory. Connections to other Höfer could not be determined. According to the Ethymological Dictionary of the German surnames, Starke-Verlag, Marburg / Lahn 1957, “Höfer” means “who is from a court”, often distinct from “Hofer” = Central German: “hovaere” = “owner of a court”, but here the umlaut can be arbitrary. The family name could also be adopted here as the name of origin of Höver at Bevensen / Krs. Uelzen or von Höver near Hannover.
According to the relevant literature, there are a number of Höfer-families coat of arms, but there are no family relationships to determine between those entitled there and the Höfer discussed here. If our Höfer used a coat of arms, then of settlements in Gestorf of a blacksmith craft coat of arms.