Friday, 19 August 2011

Moin! Please meet the ancestors but don't mention the War

Germans were the masters of the Sugar Trade and most of the warehouses in Greenock were built by Germans. Naturally these German engineers and bosses brought over there own workers. At the time Germany was a very backwards rural country with little work, much like Ireland. Plus Germany and Britain had a very strong relationship. Most of the ethnic Germans in Greenock came from around Hanover. At one time the House of Hanover and Britain had the same King and the King's German Legion had fought for Britain in the Napoleonic War, the Hessians had fought for Britain in the American War. Even in WW1 there were ethnic Germans known as the Kaiser's Own fighting for Britain.

Immigration from Germany went from about 1850ish up to 1880ish. By 1900 there were over 800 ethnic Germans in Greenock.

By WW1 this figure was dramatically reduced with most immigrants going back to Germany or onto the US. (We still have distant cousins among the "Fancy Dutch" in Pennsylvania due to this today.)

My Great, Great, Grandfather Bernhardt Dietrich Ahlfeld was born in 1845 near Bremen, Germany his father Hermann Ahlfeld (Born 1815) was a farmer but when he died his mother re-married and Bernhardt and his brother Carl Hienrich Ahlfeld (Born 1850) both ran away and came over to Greenock to work in the Sugar Trade.

Strangely, German-Britons have always been an integral part of British culture, we are the people of Handel and Holbein. We have given you Tolkien, Betjiman and the entire House of Hanover, Saxe-Coburg Gotha and Battenburg. Yet, most German Britons today either don't know their own family history, don't care or are trying to forget it, and who can really blame them...

Ahlefeldt family
This old aristocratic family are recorded as far back as the Middle Ages in the North Germany. In 1543 Bartholomäus von Ahlefeldt, permitted the Mennonites to settle in Wüstenfelde located between Hamburg and Lübeck.

1710 = Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather Carsten Ahlfeld lived as a farm worker in Altenesch near Lemwerder

1744 = Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather Johann Ernst Ahlfeld (Carsten's Son) farm worker, is born in Altenesch 1744, April 17 married Anne Cathine Drees (born 1737, Sept. 30 in Hude, died in Hiddigwarden 1820, Dec. 21, buried in Berne Dec. 26). They lived in Hiddigwarden and had 8 children.

1747 = The German chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf used alcohol to extract sugar from beets. The interest in Sugar refinery, consumption and importing grows in Europe but especially in Prussia.

1765 = 1st large refinery built in Greenock by German Mark Kuhll at the bottom of Sugarhouse Lane.

1775 = Thousands of German Hessians fight for Britain in the American Revolutionary War.

1781 = Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather Johan Hinrich Ahlfeld (Johann Ernst's 6th child)is born in Hiddigwarden 1781, June 24, Married in Berne 1806, March 7, Gesche Margarethe von Hatten (born in Harmenhausen, parish Berne, 1786, Sept. 23

1801 = Sugar Refining continues to grow in Germany and under the patronage of Frederick III of Prussia, the world's first beet sugar factory opens at Cunern in Silesia.

1803 = Seeking to strike at the British, Napoleon occupies the Hanoverian Electorate over which Britain's dynasty still reigns. One consequence of this French aggression is the steady and increased movement of Hanoverians to Britain. Plus, another Cholera outbreak in Prussia. In this year the King's German Legion is created to fight in the Napoleonic War.

1815 = Great, Great, Great Grandfather Hermann Ahlfeld (Heuerman) born in Abbehausen near Nordenham in 1815. Married to Anna Margaritha Feldman born Neunkirchen 1814.

1833 = German Lear Wrede's opens the Cappielow Refinery in Greenock.

1845 = Great, Great, Grandfather Bernhardt Dietrich Ahlfeld born Bremen Germany.

1852 = Carsten (Carl Heinrich) Ahlfeld (Bernhardt's brother) born 1852 in Lemwerder/Altensch near Oldenburg.

1853 = British German Legion is created to fight in Crimean War

1860 = Hermann dies, his wife remarries a man called Franz Augustus Reisenhausen. Her sons Bernardt and Carl-Carsten do not like their new stepfather, both live for a short time with an Uncle in Bremehaven before running away to sea

1862 = Bernhardt arrives in Greenock with his brother Carl Henrich Ahlfeld from Bremen to work in the sugar warehouse along with a few dozen other German farm workers from around the north western part of Germany (Hanover Plains).

1866 = Bernhardt marries Sarah Anderson in Greenock Mid Kirk, Carl Henrich goes to Pennsylvania.

1875 = Great Grandfather Hermann Ahlfeld born Anne Street, Greenock.

1881 = Bernhardt's stepson John Anderson Ahlfeld begins working in the Sugar Warehouse.

1891 = German Priest Father Ludger Kuhler comes to St. Mary's Parish in Greenock.

1897 = German Priest Peter Hilgers from Cologne arrives at St. Ninian's Parish Gourock. (Ahlfeld family belong to this Parish today)

1901 = Bernhardt dies. Census shows approximately 1000 ethnic Germans living in Greenock.

1912 = World War One begins resulting in the rapid decline of ethnic Germans from Greenock back to Germany or onto America on a massive scale.

1913 = Grandfather Robey Ahlfeld born Gourock

1921 = Tate and Lyle formed from a merger between Abraham Lyle of Greenock who had expanded into the east end of London and Henry Tate, who had set up a sugar refinery in Liverpool

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