History Oldenburg province

Oldenburger Münsterland (aka Niederstift Münster or Südoldenburg)

The name of this region can instantly create confusion as to its geographic location. Is it a part of the Münsterland or a part of the old Grand Duchy of Oldenburg? Its borders are best described along present diocesan lines which include the Deaconates of Cloppenburg (founded 1628), Vechta (1628), Löningen (Cloppenburg until 1954), Friesoyte (Cloppenburg until 1927) and Damme (Vechta until 1927). It becomes clear then that Cloppenburg and Vechta were the basic „religious“ territories which make up this region. The dioceses of Hildesheim and Osnabrück surround the region.
Until the post WWII era, when refugees from the east came to settle here, this was a veritable diaspora of Catholicism in northern Germany. It all goes back a long way.

Since religion has set the borders and cultural background, it is also religion which for the most part makes up its history. All this goes back to the powerful Count-Bishops who ruled both Münster and Osnabrück as both lay and spiritual fiefs. In 1532 Franz von Waldeck started to change his domains to the Lutheran faith. The Cathedral Chapters of both cities resisted the loss of their powerbase but the Hochstift Osnabrück to which the area belonged began to wane and Protestantism had arrived. When the Count Electors of Cologne and Bishops of Münster and a few other places started to attempt to bring the church back to Catholicism, they found little enthusiasm to go back. The priests had by now married their concubines and the concept of inheriting and passing the goods of the church on to the family had made strong inroads. The bishops did not like this idea at all but did not quite know what to do with the wives of the priests. Basically there were only three unmarried and Catholic priests in the area of discussion. Other promised to change to keep their jobs but as soon as the administrators left they resumed their old ways. In order to facilitate some local control the Count-Bishop of Osnabrück split up his diocese into 13 diaconates. By this time the area had come under the civil control of the Count-Bishops of Münster.

It just so happened that a vigorous re-catholization campaign had created a nominal catholic population which thus became frozen with the Treaty of Münster and Osnabrück of 1648 (Treaty of Westphalia) which advised via ‚cuius regio eius religio‘ to the status of 1624 as the permanent religious faith of an area. Actually it took until 1682 when the last bunch of recalcitrant priests was fired to complete the Roman Catholic reconversion of the Oldenburger Münsterland.

The Münster Count-Bishop Christoph Bernard von Galen started to make waves about getting the spiritual side of his territory to match the civil administration part of his principality in the mid 1660s. In 1667 he was able to purchase the Ämter Vechta, Cloppenburg, Meppen and Bevergern from Osnabrück. Pope Clemens IX approved the deal the next year. Thus ended a 100 year battle for religious-civil control of the Hochstift Osnabrück which from now on became known as the Niederstift Münster.
Not much changed until the advent of the French Revolution. The general rearrangement of the balance of power in Germany came to the larger and powerful states as Prussia started to make its influence known.
Prussia had already occupied the city of Münster in 1802. The Reichsdeputationhauptschluß of 1803 in Regensburg sealed the fate of the religious principalities in Germany. The eastern part of the Fürstentum Münster, the Niederstift, was given to the Duke of Oldenburg and the western part, the Amt Meppen, to the Duke of Arensberg. The people rejoiced that they did not wind us as a part of Prussia. The last Count-Bishop of Münster, Max Franz, had died in 1801 and the suspense as to his successor was now over. The area has stayed in the Münster Diocese to this day even though it is not physically connected to it and is surrounded by other dioceses.

Source: www.genealogy.net written by Fred Rump


Did the southerners „feel“ like Oldenburger’s or did such politics even affect them?

ol-mapIn the early days there was relatively little contact. As the railroads and streets or highways were built the folks down south actually got to see some of those heathen northerners. 🙂

The walls were quite high and did not really fall until the post WWII period.

One must remember that rulers were simply imposed on people for as long as they knew. It was how things were. The Oldenburg state tried hard to accommodate but also fought tooth and nail with the RC Church to have a separate catholic diocese where they would be in control. Münster fought back with equal vigor already having lost temporal power and not wishing to cede the spiritual side also.

The Vechta setup was an accomodation of both sides where local clerics could be appointed to head the Church somewhat free of Münster interferance or overlordship. Yet, this battle continued with each nomination of the head of the ‚bischöfliches Offizialat‘ in Vechta. Much of this difficulty was about money.

The RC Church funded much and with the secularization of its property there came a lapse as to who would pay for what with what resources. Since the state took income, it now also had to fund things it wasn’t used to do. It was not until the Convention of Oliva (Danzig) provided for the responsibility of the secular state to fund religious institutions that some sense was made of the mess.

Many of the difficulties came in a period of state-church conflict and were encouraged by the Kulturkampf which attempted to take ancient habits from the Church and hand these over to the state.
That all this cost money was not so nice for the secularists of the time. Still, it survives to this day in Germany where the Church depends on the sate for funding.

All this was particularly difficult because Oldenburg had always considered the Protestant church as its partner and basically could call the shots as to what that church was to do. With the Roman Catholic Church, they had to talk to Rome. That went against their nationalistic instincts and pride of being supreme ruler. After all, how many legions did the pope have? Somehow the Catholic Church came to be subservient to the ruling state/protestant partnership and equal rights before the law had yet to be determined or agreed upon.

By the early 1870s things started to improve with the ordination of locals Theodore Niehaus (Barßel) and his successor Anton Stukenborg (Stukenborg near Vechta).

As to the question of how the Southerners felt – I think they accepted Oldenburg quite well as long as they could live their lives in peace and without undue und unjust rulings from above. Actually in their every day life little changed. They still paid taxes and still went to church just as they always had.

Source: eMail at June 6. 1999 to email-list oldenburg-l@genealogy.net from
Fred Rump
26 Warren St. Beverly, NJ 08010 or
4788 Corian Court, Naples, FL 34114

(Please send comments to FredRump@earthlink.net)

The „Ohio Münsterland“ is this:

an area in west-central Ohio settled from 1832 on by emigrants from northwest Germany, of these up to 60% are from Oldenburger Münsterland. (about 2000 emigrants came from there) The other emigrants are mostly from the Westphalen Münsterland and from Osnabrücker Hannover. There is also a representative group from Baden, Bavaria, and Alsatia, and few other places.

Specifically, the „Ohio Münsterland“ comprises the followingfour townships and villages:

1) Minster (originally Stallostown, then Münster) (in Plattdüütsk it was pronounced Mönster) in Jackson Township, Auglaize County. Minster was founded by the „Oldenburger Pilgervater“ Franz Joseph Stallo of Damme in 1832.
2) Fort Loramie (originally Berlin) (in Plattdüütsk – Ba’leen) in McLean Township, Shelby County.
3) Maria Stein (originally Sankt Johann then Saint John) (in Plattdüütsk – Sünte Jann) in Marion Township, Mercer County. There are a number of smaller villages in this township).
4) Saint Henry (originally Sankt Heinrich) (in Plattdüütsk – (Sünte Hinirch) in Granville Township in Mercer County. St. Henry was founded in 1837 by Bernard Heinrich Römer and his brothers from Damme.

Father David Hoying
1509 Cranberry Road
Saint Henry, Ohio 45883-9750
Tel: 419-925-4776
e-mail: stfranc@bright.net (St. Francis)

Additional Information:

This is an area about 150km north of Cincinnati. The towns he mentioned are all on the Ohio map and are very close to each other. One other near by town is New Bremen. As he states in his message the towns changed their names. This occurred during World War I when many anti-Germen groups made an effort to eliminate references to Germany. We have several streets in our area which changed names during that period.

Lou Marx, Cincinnati, Ohio
e-mail: marx@cinbelt.com