Wesel & Moers


An abbreviated version of this page was published in "MISSING LINKS: RootsWeb's Genealogy Journal Vol. 5, No. 25, 21 June 2000, Circulation: 629,629+ (c) 1996-2000 Julia M. Case and Myra Vanderpool Gormley MISSING LINKS and ROOTSWEB REVIEW are free, weekly e-zines."  You can read the full issue by clicking here.

Since April of 1999, my attempts to get any background information for Johan Heineken and Magdalena ter Stegen had repeatedly hit dead-ends.  Despite months of researching, Wes Karlson was unable to locate where they had gotten married.  Wes sent me an email in which he had written that, unless the marriage record showed up somewhere else, there was nothing further that he could do.  This was when I realized that Johan and Magdalena must have gotten married outside of Bremen.

Late one evening in January of 2000, I began to re-examine the 3d generation of the Mayor's Branch family tree that Wes had supplied me with earlier.  According to that family tree, Johann Heineken was a son of Heinrich Heineken and Alke Schrivers, and he was the brother of Anna, Catharina, Helena and Dirich Heineken,  who were the siblings previously mentioned on the Maus page.

Around 1690, when he was about twenty years of age, Johann departs Bremen and arrives in Wesel, which is near the Dutch border.  He is noted as a merchant, and about two years later, Johann weds Anna Catharina Gravers.  This marriage established the line to the future Bremen mayor, Dr. Christian Abraham Heineken.  It was known that Johann had been married twice in his lifetime; however, despite having borne him a son named Peter, his other wife was not identified.   This marriage was also purported to have  occurred in Wesel, but not much seemed to be known about this wife and son.  Therefore, I decided to turn to one of the largest web sites specializing in family history.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) operate a very popular and comprehensive web site known as FamilySearch.  They are a well-known and highly respected source for genealogical research. (A quote taken from their official web site states that: "All centers coordinate their efforts with the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, which has over two million rolls of microfilm containing copies of original records from more than a hundred countries. They include vital, census, church, land, and probate records and other records of genealogical value.

This vast collection of microfilm has been acquired through the cooperation of governments, churches, and individual record custodians throughout the world. The master negative of each film is stored in the Granite Mountain Records Vault, which is located just outside of Salt Lake City." Eventually, they plan on extracting information from the microfilms and make them available online.  And though this extraction is in the early stages, some details are already beginning to turn up on their web site.) 

My intent was to search the LDS database for any records of a Peter Heineken with a father named Johann.   The on-line Ancestor Search revealed the birth record of Pieter Thomas Heineken, who was christened by the Evangelical Church in Moers, Germany on December 18, 1707.  Although I found it very interesting that his parents were Johan Heineken and Magdalena, it was still possible that the mother might not be Magdalena ter Stegen.  Therefore, I continued on with the LDS's Ancestor Search.  I entered the couple's names to search all available records for Johan Heineken and Magdalena.  It was now early in the morning, and I was not expecting what I saw next.

There on my computer screen appeared the marriage information for Johan Heineken and Magdalena Terstegen!  I stared at my computer screen in shock and disbelief because this appeared to be the very document that had eluded me for these past, few months.  I had resigned myself into believing that this record would never be found.  I was overjoyed, and called to my wife to take a look at what I had found.

The February 15, 1705 marriage of Johan Heineken and Magdalena Terstegen was also recorded by the Evangelical Church in Moers...almost three years before the christening of Pieter Thomas.  In addition, Johan and Magdalena were recorded by the Moers' Evangelical Church as being the parents of a daughter, Agneta Magdalena, who was christened on December 27, 1705.

Seeing as Moers is only located about twenty miles south of Wesel, I began to suspect that Johan Heineken, Magdalena ter Stegen and Pieter Thomas were actually Johann Heineken (the merchant from Wesel), his unknown spouse and Peter Heineken.  But according to the Mayor's Branch family tree, this did not seem to be possible because Johann's marriage to the unknown spouse was listed first, indicating that the marriage was prior to 1692.  And yet, I now knew that Johan Heineken and Magdalena Terstegen were not married until 1705.  Were the marriages listed in the wrong sequence?

Upon closer scrutiny, I observed that several things were still unknown within the 3d generation of the Mayor's Branch.  It wasn't precisely known when and where Anna Catharina Gravers had died, neither was there a date given for Johann's marriage to the unknown spouse nor was there a birth date provided for Peter Heineken.  Without these things known, how could it then be determined which marriage had actually occurred first?  I again thought to myself, could the order of the marriages have been reversed?

And so, I sent an email to Wes Karlson and explained what I had found out in Moers.  I also asked if it were possible whether the marriage of Johann Heineken to the unknown spouse could have been the second marriage.  His response was that their genealogy software program automatically places the unknown dates of marriages before the known dates of marriages.  And furthermore, Wes pointed out that Johann was only twenty-two years old when he married Anna Catharina, therefore, making it unlikely that she could have been his second wife.

Because of the new information, the church in Moers sent Wes a copy of the actual christening record for Pieter Thomas.  Among the witnesses present were Johanna Ter Steegen and Tilman ter Steegen, which seemingly confirms the identity of Magdalena.

The discovery of the marriage details for Johan and Magdalena, along with the birth record of Pieter Thomas, has rekindled Wes' interest.  Shortly after my breakthrough in Moers, Wes sent me the following email:

Hello John,

Johan Heineken, father of Laurentz Heineken, is the great grandfather of Christian Abraham Heineken, mayor of Bremen!

Several telephone calls between the church and town-library in Moers and the church and archive in Wesel confirmed my guess that Johann (Heineken) was a widower when he married Magdalena Terstegen.

On Saturday or Monday of next week, I will get copies for this fact.

Have a nice day!!


A few days following, Wes received a letter from the Evangelical Willibrordi Church in Wesel.  And although it's no longer possible to view the original church book, they did provide the following details, which are based upon certified documentation:

    1.  March 23, 1692

         "Johannes Heineken, young man from Bremen, and Anna Catharina Graver, young maiden from here (in Wesel.)"

    2.  October 9, 1695

        "Johan Heineken and Anna Catrinna Graffers

        Child: Abram"

    3. "Between 1692 and 1705, no other births or deaths were recorded for any of the family members."

Wes also received the following marriage entry from Churchbook #18-Weddings 1694-1706 in Moers:

    1. February 15, 1705

        "Johan Heineken, widower, and Magdalena Terstegen, young maiden, both living in Moers."

Since Laurentz's father was a known widower when he married Magdalena in Moers, and if it were to be proven that he was actually Johann Heineken, the merchant from Wesel, it became even more crucial to know the place and date of Anna Catharina Gravers' death.  To see if I could find out more about Anna Catharina, I revisited the LDS web site.  I entered the names of the couple, Johann Heineken and Anna Catharina, to see what, if anything, would show up.  Amazingly, the search results revealed that they were listed as the parents of two sons born in Moers, and that they were christened in the same Evangelical Church as Agneta Magdalena and Pieter Thomas.  These two sons born to Johannes Heineken and Anna Catharina were Bernhardus Heineken, christened June 29, 1700, and Diterich Heineken, christened September 19, 1702.

This was very significant for two reasons.  First, although it had been known that Johann and Anna Catharina were the parents of two children in Wesel, the Mayor's Branch family tree made no mention of them also having children in Moers.  Secondly, it's also important in that neither Johann nor Anna Catharina were known to live outside of Bremen and Wesel.  To put it more precisely, the here-to-fore presence of Johann and Anna Catharina in Moers had been unknown, or forgotten, to Bremen History.  With Anna Catharina's presence now firmly established in Moers, and since the Evangelical Willibrordi Church had no record of her death in Wesel, there appeared a good possibility that Anna Catharina might have died in Moers.  I emailed Wes this latest information and asked if he could try to locate Anna Catharina's death record in Moers.

The Evangelical Church in Moers was able to locate and send the death record of Anna Catharina to Wes, and he in return, emailed me a copy for my records.  The death record verified that she had, indeed, passed away in Moers before Johan married Magdalena.  Anna Catharina's death record may be viewed by clicking here.  This was the final piece of the puzzle that finally tied my family to the Bremen Mayor's Branch.

Aside from sharing nearly identical names, there had been several clues indicating that Johann, the merchant, and Johan, the widower, were actually the same individual.  Among these was the fact that two of Laurentz's siblings had godparents with known ties to the Mayor's Branch; and furthermore, that the information within the 3d generation of the Mayor's Branch was incomplete.  In addition, one of Pieter Thomas' godparents, Pieter Lieps, had come from Wesel, which is in very close proximity to Moers.  Taken separately, these details might seem coincidental, but when taken together, the evidence becomes pretty substantial; however, it's still circumstantial at best.

So, in order to prove beyond doubt that the widower in Moers was the same person as the merchant in Wesel, two conditions needed to be met.  First, Anna Catharina must be definitively connected to Moers, and secondly, it must be shown that she had passed away prior to February 15, 1705...the date on which  Johan and Magdalena were married.   The first requirement was satisfied when Johannes Heineken and Anna Catharina were recorded as the parents of Bernardus and Diterich Heineken, who were both born in Moers.  The second condition was met when it was learned that the death of Anna Catharina had occurred on July 9, 1703, also in Moers.  Her death record had lain forgotten for nearly 300 years.  All of this accounts for the Evangelical Willibrordi Church in Wesel not having a record of her death since, after all, she had actually died in Moers.  Moreover, her death in 1703 further helped to explain why Johan Heineken was recorded a widower when he married Magdalena ter Stegen in 1705.

The Evangelical Church office in Moers (which, ironically, is located within the old house of church poet and song writer, Gerhard Tersteegen) was able to provide Wes with the baptizing record of Magdalena ter Stegen.  She had been baptized as Sybilla Magdalena ter Steegen on July 17, 1674.  Her father was listed as Telma (Tilman) ter Steegen, who most likely was the godparent mentioned on the baptizing record of Pieter Thomas.  I later discovered that Johann Heineken, Laurentz's father, had been baptized on March 20, 1670.

Dr. Christian Abraham Heineken, the mayor of Bremen, had written his family history in the revered "Golden Book."  The "Golden Book" consists of the family histories for the important and influential members of Bremen Society.   However, the mayor only wrote of his direct-line ancestors and did not include the details of the 2nd marriage of his great grandfather.  It's entirely possible that the details of the 2nd marriage weren't really known to Christian Abraham as these events took place nearly a century before he became the mayor.

Although I had a lot of help from Bremen during my research, the facts and information that I gathered in Moers should equally be credited to my visits to the Mormon Church's web site and the subsequent visits to my local Family History Center.  And though it's granted that important documents were obtained from the church archives in Wesel and Moers, their procurement were secured because I was first able to locate the marriage of Laurentz Heineken's parents in Moers.

This upcoming Fall, a Senior Researcher will append the Bremen "Golden Book" based upon all of the new information.  I hope that I'll  eventually be recognized for my work because my research filled in the missing pieces of Johann Heineken's life, and it also resulted in the "Golden Book" having to be revised.   The very fact that this revision will take place gives testimony to the strength of my research, which has proven that my Dordrecht Hennekes family is directly descended from the Heineken Mayor's Branch.  And even though we were a "lost and forgotten" branch, it was finally realized that we are a part of Bremen History.