The Engellenner family history

The surname "Engellenner" is quite rare. In Germany, it is mainly distributed in northern Germany, namely in Hamburg and in the region between the cities Schleswig and Flensburg, in the northernmost part of Germany. This region is a peninsula and located between the fjord "Schlei" that connects Schleswig to the Baltic Sea and the Flensburg fjord is called "Angeln", or Anglia in English. Then, you will find the name in California, USA and in the region of New York city, USA. Also, it can be found in Australia and also in Brasil (but the latter one is probably just historic, I don't know of any recent living people carrying that name in Brasil). The Engellenner people away from Anglia are all emigrants originally coming from Anglia and actually, also the people in Hamburg (and a few other places in Germany) have their origin in Anglia.

The Engellenner in USA came there at least at three different times, twice to California and once to New York. I will report how this came to happen further below. Also, if there are any members of the Engellenner family out there, in Germany or abroad, who want to contribute to this family history, or who want to comment on what I have written, then please contact me at

The topic that I am currently most interested in is the fate of my great-grandfather Wilhelm Ernst Eduard Engellenner (later he called himself Ernest Engellenner), born 7 June 1868 in Schleswig, emigrated to New York in 1891, married there and had children, went back to Germany (city of Kiel) in 1902, and died there in 1911. His wife and children then went to England (and probably to Ireland, where his wife Sarah came from), leaving Germany with a ship from Hamburg the 23 December 1911 and during the 1920ies to 1930ies they went back to the US, now with their own young families. A year before Ernest died, in 1910, my grandfather was born, but not by Sarah, but as an illegal child of Ernest and his cousin Friederike Karoline Christine Engellenner (they had the same grandparents). There are many questions connected to this and I am not even sure whether Sarah knew this. So, it would be enormously interesting to hear what the New York Engellenner people know about him. I do not even have a picture of him and before I started researching him a few years ago, I only knew his name and the name of his cousin, my great-grandmother.

What does the name Engellenner mean?

You may think that the name has something to do with "English", at least the name "Engellenner" can be interpreted as "Englishman". However, this is not the case. The name is probably (there is no absolut proof yet) based on the fact that the peninsula as the place of origin of the family is called „Angeln“. Actually, the name of this peninsula found its way into the term „anglo-saxon“ because the people from Anglia found their way to Britain together with the Saxons (in the viking and pre-viking time). Here, Anglia is used as a broader geographical term, not only including the peninsula between Schleswig and Flensburg, but also regions north and south from there.

Now, when you pronounce the name using older pronunciation and especially using local dialects, an „Angel-laenner“ or „Engel-lenner“ is a person from the "land of Anglia“ („lenner“ meaning „land“ since the German plural of land is „Laender“ or in the local dialect „Lenner“/„Laenner“/„Länner"). So, the most probable explanation of the name has the meaning „one who lives or comes from the land of Anglia“.

1. The oldest ancestors (first generation)

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The oldest Engellenner ancestor found so far is my 4 x great-grandfather (great-great-great-great-grandfather). This is his story. On the 10th March 1770 a boy was born in the city of Schleswig. He was called Johann Friedrich Engellenner (also called Hans Jürgen). When he had grown up, he married a woman from the town called Rabenkirchen (located in Anglia), named Johanna Dorothea Gulbrands (sometimes also called Guldberdsen), born 9 January 1769. He worked as an eskadron-quartermaster in Schleswig around 1800 and lives in the quarter "Friedrichsberg". After 1811, the family went to Tønder (German: Tondern), a town in south Denmark and at that point, they have seven children:
  • Wilhelmine Henriette, born 1790/1791 (died between 1803 and 1854)
  • Maximilian August, born 1792/1793 (presumably in Eckernförde)
  • Georg Friedrich, born 1796/1797 or 1792/1793 (died betwenn 1840 and 1854)
  • Augusta Friederica, born 1801/1802
  • Ernst Christian Bartholin, born 30th March 1805, died 6th May 1880
  • Lorenz Peter August, born 1808, died 21st December 1870
  • Wilhelmine Johanne, born 1810/1811
In Tønder, Johann Friedrich worked as a porter at the local administrative office and as a scrivener. When the children were older and had left their home, the couple received alms from a local organization, so their live was not a wealthy one. When in 1854 a workhouse was established (Gørrismark, danish article on this workhouse here), no support was given to people outside the workhouse anymore. Around 104 people were subject to this and notified, and it is possible that Johann Friedrich and Dorothea were two of them. The couple lived on the so-called "Freigrund" (danish: frigrund) on the premises of the old Tønder castle, probably close to the ruins of the former castle. Dorothea died there the 24th July 1854 and Johann Friedrich only a year later, the 26th March 1855. Their children are by then already spread around the world.

2. The next generations

(The numbers in front of the sections indicate the generation number, starting from the oldest known ancestor as generation 1).

2a. Augusta Friederica Engellenner (* 1802/1803)

Augusta, now grown up in Tønder, married a scrivener from the local administrative office on 23rd November 1823, who was the son of a farmer. It is possible that she knew him from her fathers work. His name is
Johannes Jensen and he is originally from the town Leck further south. The couple had three sons, one of them already died in an age of 7 weeks. In 1845 they lived in the town Lügum (now known as Süderlügum). One of the two remaining sons, Peter Wilhelm Friedrich (born 4th February 1824), worked as an assistant teacher in Kleinwiehe in 1839, only 16 years old then. The next year, 1840, he was an assistant teacher in Klixbüll and 1841 he was a teacher in Drelsdorf. He probably did not have a formal education as a teacher then but in 1845 he is listed as seminarist in the census and lives in Tønder again (Spikerstraße 21). Perhaps he is at the local teacher school although I did not find him enlisted there. In the next census, 1855, we find a "Peder Jensen" as a house teacher in the home of professional hunter Langkilde in Sønderby near Odense. It is, however, not completely without doubt, that it is him. There are 7 children in that household and 25 employees. Among them also is the 4 years younger Emilie Jørgine Adelaide Nathalia Foersom (born 30th December 1828 in Odense as the daughter of the music teacher and church organist Frederik Foersom*). She worked in the household as a domestic worker (Danish: husjomfru). Only one year later (1856), they got married in Copenhagen. Peter worked as a teacher in the St. Peter church & secondary school, the school of the German community in Copenhagen that still today is the school and meeting place of the German-Danish community (with the St. Petri church and a large school for German and Danish families). In 1860, the couple lived in Lykkeholms Allé in Frederiksberg. Unfortunately, Peter died only 11 years after their marriage. In the hospital of Frederiksberg, he gave in to a rupture on the 8th June 1866. Shortly after, his wife, now a widow, enlisted as a member of the German parish of St. Peter. After this, we loose her track. She didn't have children and I do not know when and where she lived after this.

* Frederik Foersom (1805–1854) was a friend of the famous poet Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875). Both were born in the same year and knew each other since their childhood. Frederik also knew Andersen's mother Anne Marie Andersdatter. The Foersom family was a highly respected family in that time. A brother of Frederik Foersom, i.e. an uncle to Emilie, was actor Gebhard Foersom (1810–1857) and another brother was the royal actor Christian Martin Foersom (1794–1850). The family was also tightly related to the known Danish translater of the works of Shakespeare, Peter Thun Foersom (1777–1817). – So, Augusta's son Peter Wilhelm Friedrich (the grandson of Johann Friedrich Engellenner and Dorothea Gulbrands) made a big leap up in the social hierarchy. While his grandparents died as poor people in Tønder, he could afford to live in a flat in Copenhagen and they even had a domestic worker themselves (Cathrine Nielsen).

2b. Maximilian Engellenner (* 1792/1793)

He appears in the year 1845 in the town Ehlersdorf (near
Bovenau) which belonged to the manor of Kluvensiek. He worked as a gardener and was married to Dorothea Magdalena Kramhöft. In 1845 they had three sons and the census mentions "barn" as their living place in Ehlersdorf.

2c. Georg Friedrich Engellenner (* 1796/1797 or 1792/1793)

He lived near Maximilian. In 1840, we find him in one of the four virgates (German: Hufe) in Bovenau that belonged to the manor of
Georgenthal. He was also married at that time and his wife was Dorothea Krabbenhorst. The couple had three sons and as his brother Maximilian, Georg Friedrich worked as a gardener.

2d. Wilhelmine Johanne Engellenner (* 1810/1811)

She is the youngest daughter and went to the now Danish town of Løjt, near
Aabenraa. She became a skivvy (maidservant). On the 15th April 1842, she married the farm and day labourer Mads Christensen (born 1794/1795) who was 15 years older than her. He came from Lemvig/Nordhuse in northern Jutland. In the following year, they got a daughter: Johanne Marie Christensen (born 8th May 1843).

2e. Lorenz Peter August Engellenner (* 1808, + 21st December 1870)

Lorenz, who was born in Schleswig and then lived with his family in Tønder, went to Aabenraa and became a ship carpenter (German: Schiffszimmermann). At that time, Aabenraa was a flourishing city, and its harbour played an important role in Denmark. Ships from Aabenraa sailed to places all around the world. Lorenz married in Aabenraa 17th March 1837. His wife,
Maria Thomsen (born 8th February 1798) was the daugther of a ship carpenter in Aabenraa and gave birth to their first child the 13th June 1838, a son called Hans Jürgen (after his paternal grandfather, as this was a typical tradition at that time). They lived in the city's 2. Quarter No. 19, in the "Gildegade" that still today looks much like in historic times. In 1843, he became a citizen of Aabenraa. This implies, that he was quite more wealthy than his parents who suffered from poverty. To become a citizen at that time (and not just a resident) was only possible if you could afford it. In return, you got voting rights and other privileges.

3a. The son Hans Jürgen Engellenner

The son grew up in Aabenraa and married
Botilla Magdalena Cornett (born 14th September 1837), who also came from Aabenraa, on 28th November 1862. The couple got three children: August Nicolai (born 20th January 1864), Anne Marie Elisabeth (born 1st August 1865) and Maria Nicoline (born 29th March 1868). Maria Nicoline married the merchant Jens Christian Lorenzen in Aabenraa on 22nd April 1892, the son of the day labourer Jesper Lorenzen from Løjt/Spramshuse/Bramsmark near Aabenraa.

4a. The grandchild August Nicolai

When August Nicolai attended school in Aabenraa, this Danish area had become German.
Prussia had won the Second Schleswig War in 1864 and swallowed the southern part of Jutland. After August Nicolai's confirmation on 16th March 1879, he seemingly only knew one path ahead: One year later, in 1880, he emigrated and the great-grandson of Johann Friedrich Engellenner and Dorothea Gulbrands ended up in the northern part of California, USA. It is not clear, how he arrived there. Possibly, he just entered one of the many ships sailing from Aabenraa. Five years later, he married Ingeborg Crogh (born 30th May 1886) who also came from the Danish/German border area. He worked as a labourer in a pottery, one of California's oldest industrial companies. The couple got at least five children: Tillie, Mabel, Hans, Bothilda (after her maternal grandmother) and Amos. Their descendants still partly live there today, in Placer, Lincoln, Roseville, all near Sacramento and the surname Engellenner is still present. When August Nicolai's parent died (Hans Jürgen on 29th October 1891, Botilla Magdalena on 19th April 1910), they may have known from letters of their son what became of him but they most probably never saw their grandchildren. The first two, Tillie and Mabel, were born when their grandparent were still alive.

2f. Ernst Christian Bartholin Engellenner (* 30th March 1805, + 6th May 1880)

The story of Ernst Christian Bartholin is known to a large degree. He becomes a carpenter in Schleswig, marries Ida Margaretha Ebenhausen (sometimes spelled Ebenhusen) and they get nine children.In 1835 the family lives in Gaarden and he is a carpenter and day labourer. At that time, Gaarden was still a town of its own, these days it is a part of Kiel. Then, the couple had two children, Hans Christian and Heinrich Nicolaus. When Ernst Christian died in 1880, he was again back in Schleswig.

3b. The grandson Hans Christian (* 1832)

On the 12
th September 1832, Hans Christian was born in Flemhude (in today’s municipality Quarnbek) near Kiel. His parents lived in Gaarden at that time, but where on a journey to Bovenau where Ernst Christian’s brother lived. Hence, Hans Christian was also baptised in Flemhude. We do not know much about his life. He died already the 17th August 1855, without being married, in the small town Bredstedt, living as a carpenter in the local workhouse for the poor. But the birth register of that same year in Bredstedt reveals, that he had a son who was born in the same year when Hans Christian died. The mother is Margaretha Hedwig Detlefsen. They give the son the name of his grandfather: Ernst Christian.

4b. The grandson Ernst Christian (* 1855)

Ernst Christian is born on 3
rd February 1855 in Bredstedt. We know nothing about his early life, but he emerged in some files in the year 1878. There, he is accused of not showing up for military service or of illegal emigration. In fact, the 4th March 1877 he arrives in Melbourne, Australia on the ship „Grandee“, coming from New York. Three years later he marries Adelaide Hulm. In 1897 he is naturalized in Warragul, West Gippsland, and works as a labourer. After his wife dies, he marries again in 1903, his wife is now Charlotte McDougall. Ernst Christian, now called Ernest Christian, dies 28th February 1926.

All persons carrying the surname Engellenner in Australia are descendants of Ernst Christian Engellenner.