I would like to pass on a brief theoretical extract of a written heritage of Johann Heinrich Christoph Kobbe. He emigrated to Sullivan County, Pennsylvania with three sons  and is the founder of the American branch of the Kobbe family from Abbensen Kobbe branch in Germany —today an imposing tree with many branches. Ed Kobbe great-great grand-grandson.

A generation before Johann Heinrich Friedrich Carl Kobbe and Johann Heinrich Christoph Kobbe and Anne Marie Conradine Henriette Kopmann,came into USA ,  there were numerous changes in the government and churches of their nation of Hannover ( Hanover in English). To view their situation in perspective, we must review the changes preceding and subsequent to their time in Hannover . In government, there had been a long personal union between Great Britain and the Duchy of Hannover (123-years) that began in 1714. In that year the English throne was inherited by Georg Ludwig, a resident and Elector of the Hannover area, who became King George I of England . From that time forward, the King of England was also the ruler of Hannover .

In the early 1800s, the Duchy of Hannover , as well as surrounding German states, was occupied briefly by Napoleon's army, starting in 1803. However, on October 25, 1813 victorious Hannoverian troops marched into its capital again. In 1814/15, following Napoleon's defeat, the Duchy of Hannover was elevated to a kingdom by the Vienna Congress. At that time, its economy was almost purely agricultural. Nonetheless, Hannover ranked among the large German kingdoms, along with Austria , Prussia , and Bavaria . In 1815 the German Federation, a loose alliance of Germanic states, was founded with Prussia , immediately east of Hannover , being the largest German state.

In 1837, an important change occurred when Queen Victoria inherited the rule of England . Because male succession was preferred in Hannover , she could not also become  queen of the Kingdom of Hannover . Therefore her uncle, Duke Ernst August of Cumberland , inherited the throne of Hannover in 1837, ending the 123-year joint rulership of Hannover and Great Britain . King Ernst August immediately dissolved the constitution of the kingdom. The citizens were alarmed! King Ernst August became very friendly to the nearby strong nation of Prussia. He entered alliances with Prussia and took on Prussian traditions in the Hannover army. Hannover citizens were very unhappy with that. Ernst August had even married the sister of the wife of Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III.  All this greatly upset the citizens of Hannover , who did not feel kindly toward the war-like Prussians and their church-meddling King.


All this was cause for increased concern and emigration to America by citizens of Hannover. Accordingly, Johann Heinrich Christoph Kobbe and Anne Marie Conradine Henriette Kopmann and their three children and neighbors came to America in 1864. Subsequently, the initially reactionary politics of King Ernst August were gradually reshaped by liberal laws passed in the later course of his government. In the year 1848, the Kingdom of Hannover received under King Ernst August the most liberal constitution of its history.  Ernst August ruled Hannover until 1851. His son continued as a ruler friendly to Prussia.

In 1866 disagreements between Prussia and Austria came to war. Prussia saw her chance to take over the guidance of the German Federation nations and to rearrange the territorial possessions in her favor: The Prussian-Austrian war developed further into a Prussian-German war when Prussia declared war on the neutral states of the German Federation - among these the Kingdom of Hannover. Despite an initial victory, the Hannoverian leaders realized they could not achieve victory against the oncoming Prussian troops and capitulated. On 3 July 1866 Prussia struck down the Austrian troops at Königgrätz, and the fate of the German Federation was sealed. Prussia annexed as provinces the Federation countries of Hannover, Schleswig-Holstein, Hessen-Kassel, Nassau, and a part of Hessen-Darmstadt, as well as the so-far Free-city Frankfurt/Main. The Prussian Emperor Bismarck, together with the remaining independent states in northern Germany (Duchies Brunswick & Oldenburg , the Free-cities Hamburg , Bremen & Lübeck), founded a North German Federation and created alliances with the southern states of Germany .

For a period of 80 years, the former Kingdom of Hannover was a Prussian province and rose within the kingdom of Prussia . In 1871 the current German nation (initially an Empire) was created, with Prussia as the largest member.  After WW II, the German states were reorganized. The Hannover area became part of the newly established state of Niedersachsen ( Lower Saxony ), as it is today. Today, there is no Hannover (only the former capital city with that name) or Prussia.



 From Wense We Came via  Vollbüttel,Germany


By way of Castle Gardens to America

Johann Heinrich Christoph Kobbe his story in 1897

1828-1897                                                 photo 1851                                        Three sons circa 1900

 Hugo Corners  in year of 1897, Sullivan County , Pennsylvania. Original Kobbe Homestead circa 1970

Johann Heinrich Christoph Kobbe 

Seem to me, as I look back on from Wense our family came I see that there has been remarkable progress upon the state of affairs of the Kobbe households here in Sullivan County Pa , America since that day in 1864. . Even now as I read the latest news from the homeland, the decision was the right one for us. Hence now, I remember so clearly those days back in the homeland.  So that I will give to you as best I know how. 

My brother, Friedrich, eldest son of Johann Heinrich Friedrich Conrad of Wense was born in the year 1823 on April 7 in Vollbüttel. I was born three years later on August 26,1828 in Vollbüttel , Hanover , Germany . I was born fifth child and second son of Johann Heinrich Friedrich Conrad Kobbe in Wense baptized in Leiferde 31 Aug. My godparents were Christoph Kammin from Leiferde; Johann Heinrich Christian Gaus from Vollbüttel and Mrs. Sophie Böske in Vollbüttel. My three older sisters were Johanne Dorothee Christine Kobbe born 1817, Ilse Christine Dorothee Kobbe born 1820 and Ilse Dorothee Elizabeth Kobbe born 1825. I was the youngest child in the family.

My cohort, companion, and comrade cousin Johann Heinrich Christian Conrad Kobbe was born three days earlier in Vollbüttel son of Uncle Johann Heinrich Kobbe who was first in our family to move to Vollbüttel from Wense in 1817. At that time Vollbüttel had 24 houses or fire places and 253 inhabitants. In 1814 Vollbüttel had a large fire nearly destroying the village, altogether 41 buildings burned within one hour completely down. In 1847 a similar disaster occurred, when due to a thunderbolt the entire west side of the village was destroyed by fire.  Ilse D o r o t h e e Wrede Kobbe wife of Johann Heinrich Christian Conrad Kobbe was godparent to my third child Wilhelm Christian Kobbe. This cousin Johann Heinrich Christian Conrad Kobbe died in his mid twenties not long after second son was born one of the most sorrowful days of my life. They were married May 2, 1851 in the spring before we were married in November and they had two boys Hans Heinrich Christian, born, 8 Mar 1852,and died in Vollbüttel 31 Aug 1852 of dysentery only 5 months  23 days old, buried in Leiferde 3 Sep 1852. Their second son Johann Heinrich Christian Kobbe, born 4 Aug 1853 . He was 11 years old when we came to America and remained with the Wrede family on their farm.

Johann Heinrich Christian Kobbe later became a Kotsasse (farmer) and Gastwirt (inn-keeper) in Vollbüttel and was married in Leiferde 25 Jan 1878 to Ilse Dorothee Karoline Luise Behrens, daughter of Johann Heinrich Behrens, Ortsvorsteher (village mayor) in Vollbüttel, and of his wife Catharina Dorothea Cordes.


  I remember Father  telling about how our grandmother Catrina Ilse came to live with uncle Heinrich in Vollbüttel after grandpa Henning  F r i e d r i c h died in Wense in 1817 of tuberculosis. She died of tuberculosis a year later in 1818 in Vollbüttel. They used to converse a lot of how they came from Abbensen to Duttenstedt trying to make a existence.   My uncle Heinrich had moved to Vollbüttel after he was Knecht (farm hand) in Wense in 1804, Ackermann (farmer) in Didderse in 1816/17, then since Michaelmas 1817 Kotsasse (farmer) and Krüger (inn-keeper) in Vollbüttel, My mother died of tuberculosis when I was 12 years old. Frederick was 17, my oldest sister Johanne Dorothee Christine Kobbe was 23 and she died of tuberculosis as well as her husband Christian Heinrich Knupper in there late thirties. Ilse Christine Dorothee Kobbe was 20, Ilse Dorothee Elizabeth Kobbe was 15, .Father died 1864? the year we left Germany .  For these years growing up in Vollbüttel I shall account for later.

From 1806 to 1815 many bloody battles were fought against the French. All of Germany was inundated by the French who had penetrated into Russia . There God came to our help and said, "Up to here and not farther." Then God beat this evil enemy with great coldness and hunger, and the rest of the enemy saw themselves forced to retreat. And so the German people, with renewed strength and God's help and assistance, drove this great emperor Napoleon, with all of his power, out of Germany and to Paris in France .

Our Prussian king at the same time was Friedrich Wilhelm Rex, 3rd King of Prussia , who had to live through all of these times of need and battle. In 1840 he left this earthly life and went into his eternal home. In his place his son, the Crown Prince, started the government of the King and he is now 4th King of Prussia . He is also called Friedrich Wilhelm.

So in these years of war Friedrich and I were born. Our father was a farmer who had to suffer many losses through this war. The entire village where my father lived was burned down by the French in 1812, so my parents and all the inhabitants of the village were burnt out. After the war my father rebuilt but sold the farm and built again a house and farm in Vollbüttel, Knecht (in and so I learned to be a farmer like my father.

Although conditions in the German states were not as bad as in Ireland, crop failures, inheritance laws, see insert , high rents, high prices, and the effects of the industrial revolution led to widespread poverty and suffering. Relatives and friends who emigrated first would write back and encourage others to follow. This led to "chain migrations" and group settlements. Fairly well-to-do farmers who saw a bleak future, poor ones with no future, paupers whom the authorities often paid to leave, revolutionaries after 1848, and many artisans, professionals, and some adventurers made up the spectrum of the 1840s thru 1860s.

 I married November 28, 1851 in Lamme, Denstorf parish, Brunswick , Germany a Brinksitzer (small farmer) and master shoemakers daughter, Anne Marie Conradine Henriette Kopmann, from Volkenrode, Braunschweig, Germany . She was the daughter of the Johann Heinrich Christolph Kopmann, from Klein Himstedt, Hanover located between. She was born on the April 02, 1830 , in Volkenrode, Braunschweig , Germany . I had worked for her father as a shoemaker apprentice as he was a master shoemaker and I became a shoemaker as well and held the vision of my own farm.

In the year 1852, the 24th of April, Johann Christolph Heinrich Kobbe our first son was born to us in Vollbüttel. His godparents were Friedrich Ebeling, Carl Fricke, and Caroline Kopmann, all from Lamme. He was later to be called in America John Henry Jr. He married Mary Loretta Baumgartner and raised his family of four boys and two girls in Sullivan County Pa and spoke of finding more farm land to farm it  photo credits add


I would not be surprised if he went west to the new opportunities of land from here.  

In July 1854, in Vollbüttel, a second son was born to us who in holy baptism received the name Frederick Christopher Kobbe. Fred married Christinia Kaiser in Sullivan County and has one boy and three girls and another grandchild due soon.






photo credit add

In 1857, Wilhelm, our third son was born on 7th of February, in evening at 11 o'clock , who in the Evangelical Church in holy baptism received the name Wilhelm Christian Kobbe. This was in, Leiferde 22 February 1857 . His godparents are the Hoferbe/future farmer Heinrich Pahlmann; the Dienstknecht/farm hand Hans Heinrich Thiess; the widow of the Kotsasse/farmer Kobbe, and Dorothea Wrede Kobbe, all in Vollbüttel. Chris as he was called has seven children here in Sullivan County the latest born last week March 25 a girl they named Henrietta Edna after my wife Conradine. Conradine say, “I would not doubt if there were a couple more”.  



During my lifetime I had to fight through severe trials. I worked day and night and walked in many places,

Photo credits add

spent many a sleepless night, and the money I earned there was scarcely enough to feed my family. At the same time I saw thousands emigrate to different parts of the world, to America and Australia . When thinking about it more closely, I realized that all of these emigrations were nothing more than the fault of the poverty that progressed with gigantic steps. And so within us, too, raised the thought to emigrate also! So by 1856 brother Friederich and the family had began the plans to go. He would go first and I would follow later when the boys were a little older. . Frederick and the others were the advance scout of our family, in a way, a reconnaissance patrol. We could rely on what they would report, and that would determine what the whole family would do.

  In 1856 Friedrich left Germany in the hope of realizing  our dream for our own farm. He departed Germany April 29,1856 leaving behind 3 sisters and my self and wife with two sons 4 and two years old with third on the way. He arrived NYC on Jun 17 1856 .

It was my desire to bring my children, while they were still with me and not in different places, to a place where they could find work and bread, as long as they would work hard and be frugal, where each of them could prepare for a happy and calm future. In Germany the poor man compared to the rich man is like a despised creature, or like a scarcely noticed creeping worm, which must slither and creep along in the dust in order not to be stepped on to death. So it is that the poor man must adjust himself and bend himself under the rich, who nevertheless scarcely seem to notice him! The poor man slaves for the rich one, but once the poor man has completed his day's work, what did he earn for his sour sweat? Only 7 1/2 to 10 silver groschen--which is 20 cents in American money--and on that the poor man is supposed to live with his family, pay his rent and pay his royal taxes. If he doesn't pay punctually, officials of the law take all that he owns away from him, so that gentlemen who already have enough will get what is theirs. If one appears before a court of law, or an official, or a police officer, he must always appear in a bent position and with a bare head. What will become of the poor children? How many of them have to beg for their daily bread in front of people's doors? Parents who are still able to send their children to school have to pay the school, up until the children are 14 years old, money for books, clothing, food and drink. And after school is over, what is one to do with the children? They have learned professions where they are treated like dogs, to suffer hunger and thirst, and if they survive the difficult and miserable years of apprenticeship, what do they have? Then they become journeymen and they go to beg their bread in strange places before the doors of other people. And even if they get work, what do they earn as journeymen? The highest income per week is 1 Thaler--62 cents in American money. Or are the children to go into service and work for an entire year for nothing more than 6, 12 or 16 Thaler?

Speaking particularly of the boys Johann, Friederich, Wilhelm, and Frederick Knupper (my sister boy) once they reach their 20th year, and are healthy, they must become soldiers and serve for 3 years. Now suffering starts, for during exercises and maneuvers they must endure hunger, thirst, and cold. To keep them alive, every 5 days they receive one black loaf of bread, and every 10 days they receive 25 silver groschen. After 3 years of service a soldier is released from his regiment, and up to his 32nd year he is among the first to be called to the Landwehr [like the National Guard]. Annually, 2 Sundays he must go for sharpshooting. For 2 and 3 Sundays he must go for meetings of his regiment. Every 2 years he must go for 14 days to 4 weeks for exercises and maneuvers. Then from his 32nd year on up to his 40th, he is with the 2nd regiment or 2nd level of troops. Even after his 40th year he continues to be a member of the Landsturm [like the civil defense].

During times of war, the Landwehr are the first troops to go to battle with the regiments that have just been drafted. The 2nd level of troops and the Landsturm must man the battlements. And so one is a soldier as long as one lives, and a tortured creature.

I was tired of this life, and therefore I too decided to leave Germany with my wife to join those there for a better life in another part of the world, namely America . By 1856, several people from our neighborhood had already gone to America , but we knew next to nothing about their reasons for emigrating. As far back as 1840 one of the Abbensen Kobbes, Konemann, Friedrich, and wife Dorothea Kobbe, children Sophie, Catharina, and Heinrich from Stederdorf , Hanover had left. After several years, we heard she was living in Texas , and doing well. He had become a master tailor and had his own shop.

My oldest brother, Friederich had written from Barbour’s Mills, Plunkett’s Creek Township, Lycoming County, PA. about the land he and his business partner had acquired for our family in America and had already had acquired some land for farming in Sullivan County . He had been in USA 8 years now. Frederick and the others were the advance scout of our family, in a way, a reconnaissance patrol. We could rely on what they would report, and that would determine what the whole family would do. Many a times we had waited for and read aloud the letters he had sent. Our business partner Gustiva Deus would write for him as he spoke as he did not have the opportunity to go to school here in Vollbüttel to learn read and write. We anxiously waited for the first reports to arrive. In August they came, and were favorable. They convinced me. I had definitely decided to go in spite of much advice and many warnings against emigration, and the horror stories about America that were brought to our house every day. On top of this negative advice, my wife began to have strong doubts. Luckily for us, I was stubborn. I stood firm.


In our village, that was all we knew about America . We thought we could trust what Friedrich had reported. Everything had gone well for him. So very slowly and gradually, we began to think of emigrating ourselves. The knowledge that he had succeeded influenced us strongly. Whenever we asked what America looked like and what the living conditions were like, we got sometimes amusing comments. One reply was,

So, you are thinking of going to America .

I would not have thought you would finally do that.  

Pack your trunks and do not look back.


We knew very well what we had, namely eight Morgen of good land, located by the river, and good enough to get by on.

There were three village social classes at that time.

The first class consisted of wealthy farmers (German=Bauer) (ca 2-5 %). They possessed the big farms. Generally, smaller parts of their farm were owned by them and larger parts were obtained by fief (German= Lehen, Schupflehen, Erblehen) from a landlord or the church or a monastery. Also, these farmers occupied the important village positions, like Vogt (=Governor), village judge, etc.

The common farmers (ca 60-80 %) made up the second class. They possessed land, also obtained by fief. These farmers worked hard, and usually were able to have a modest standard of living for themselves and their families. Sometimes called Cottagers (the family has a heritable lease on a house and garden, but makes its living entirely or almost entirely by a rural trade or craft, by working on a noble estate, or by working for Bauer, or some combination of the above).

The third class consisted of the day laborers (German= Tageloehner, in Southern Germany also called Seldner) (ca 20-40 %). They worked for the other farmers for day wages. They were very, very poor and had many children, many of which died immediately after their birth.

Most of the farmers had a sideline profession that was usually handed down from father to son.

Upper class: an occupation that brought in the most money: innkeeper.

Middle class: smith, cartwright, cooper, tailor, shoemaker, etc.

Lower class: weaver, ropemaker, tanner etc.


 Nevertheless I was not satisfied, for life went on in an endless cycle of manure wagon, spinning wheel, pumpernickel, sour milk and boiled potatoes. What's more, there were nine children in the family, five of them boys. If we stayed, they might be drafted in the next war, and be shot to death for the King and the Fatherland. Father had been a soldier himself and he did not want that fate for his sons. So the thought of leaving remained in my head. I knew enough about America to know that no one would be forced to become a soldier. However, it was a long way from these thoughts to making a definite decision. I knew Frederick thought the same way till later when Abraham Lincoln gave him his draft papers in 1864 when we were trying to join him that year in Pennsylvania . . "The nation is at this time in a state of Revolution, North, South, East, and West," wrote the Washington Times during the often violent protests that occurred after Abraham Lincoln issued the March 3, 1863 , Enrollment Act of Conscription. Although demonstrations took place in many Northern cities, the riots that broke out in New York City were both the most violent and the most publicized. Eventually, Lincoln deployed combat troops from the Federal Army of the Potomac to restore order; they remained encamped around the New York City for several weeks. In the end, the draft raised only about 150,000 troops throughout the North, about three-quarters of them substitutes, amounting to just one-fifth of the total Union force. Once called, a draftee had the opportunity to either pay a commutation fee of $300 to be exempt from a particular battle, or to hire a replacement that would exempt him from the entire war.

At last, the kids shouted “Hooray, we are going to America !" We had no idea what lay ahead of us on the long journey. In the spring of 1864 we found a buyer who paid us 1600 Thaller for our house and land inVollbüttel but left us the crop. We began our trip to America in April 1864 The last things we sold were family dog and cat the kitty brought 24 Groschen or 48 cents.

So on the 23rd of February, 1864 , we traveled the 110 miles from Vollbüttel to Bremen . Our last residence was as a farmer, in Vollbüttel.

Leaving was painful. I left there my two sisters, Ilse Christine Dorothee Kobbe Katenhusen, and Ilse Dorothee Elizabeth Kobbe Meyer. One sister, Johanne Dorothee Christine Kobbe Knupper had died in 1857 as well as her husband Christian Heinrich Knupper, three years earlier. Their only child Fred  was orphaned at age 6 years old, .Their son Fred Knupper was raised by our family Ilse Christine Dorothee Kobbe Katenhusen my sister and our family. My nephew Fred Knupper left  Germany in 1866 and reunited to our family in Sullivan County Pa USA at age 15. Nine years later he was to marry Mary Anna Josephine Gleockler and they had three children. My brother who we are indebted for so much he did in making it easier for all of us was married to Josephine seven years ago after Fred died, as he was his godparent. I spoke to Fred last week. He had just returned with Carrie from Justice Bedford trying to get his pension from these Civil war increased .He has never spoke against the war but I know it has taken an effect on his health. He has his good days and bad but has continued with true grit with ever thing that

Photos credit Ruth Bright and Brenda Moore

come to pass with him. I think now Lincoln was right to fight it to the end. The first black we ever saw was in New York when we came into harbor. Never thought it was right this slavery here in America . 

   On the 26th of February, 1864 , we traveled by railway from Vollbüttel to Bremen , 110 miles. In Bremen we stayed at the inn called Three Lions. Then on the 1st of March we traveled from Bremen to Bremerhaven , 7 German miles distance, where we boarded the 3-mast sail ship called Bremen . In France a revolution had broken out, but in Germany everything was calm.

On the 5th of March, 1864 , we left German soil. We were 634 emigrants. With God's help, and under the leadership of Captain Myers of the Bremen Ilkj , we sailed into the North Sea .

The steamship BREMEN I was built by Caird & Co, Greenock, Scotland (ship #58), for Norddeutscher Lloyd--the first of 5 passenger steamships of this name owned by the line--at a cost of 1,281,000 gold marks, and launched on 1 February 1858. 2,674 tons; 97,53 x 11,89 meters/320 x 39 feet (length x breadth); clipper bow, 1 funnel, 3 masts (barkentine rigged); iron construction, screw propulsion, service speed 11 knots; accommodation for 160 passengers in 1st class, 110 in 2nd, and 401 in steerage; crew of between 102 and 118; freight capacity 1,000 tons; coal capacity 850 tons, burned at the rate of 2.2-2.5 kilos per horsepower hour. 19 June 1858, maiden voyage, Bremen-New York, carrying 115 passengers and 150 tons of freight; upon arrival at New York (4 July), she made a demonstration cruise to Sandy Hook, with invited guests that included Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 14 January 1860 , reached Southampton under sail with a broken shaft; out of service undergoing repairs at Southampton for 6 months. 8 July 1860 , resumed Bremen - New York service. 1864, a Krupp steel shaft installed, and boiler pre-heating. 5 November 1873 , last voyage, Bremen - Southampton - New York . June 1874, along with the steamship NEW YORK, sold to E. Bates & Co., Liverpool, for 19,000 pounds; both vessels converted to sail. 16 October 1882 , ran ashore on the Farallon Islands , 27 miles outside the Golden Gate , directly under the light house, in a dense fog. The cargo of coal and whiskey was insured, the ship was not. Small craft waited for the whiskey cargo to float up; in 1929, a T. H. P. Whitelaw proposed raising the whiskey, but was prevented from doing so by the U.S. government. [Edwin Drechsel, Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen, 1857-1970; History, Fleet, Ship Mails, vol. 1

It was about 75 German miles to the English Channel . We had a good wind and at 8 o'clock in the morning we saw the towers and the chalk cliffs of England . The waves towered like high mountains before us, and deep abysses opened between them. During this time my wife, my oldest son John Henry and several others on the ship became seasick, while my other children and I stayed healthy. ...to be continued