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Origins of the Bremser Family in Germany

From 1000AD to the Present

Special print from the Untertaunus, Yearbook of the homeland-province. 1957 - pages 49-56

By Reverend Dr. Karl May, Bad Schwalbach, Germany.
Excerpted and Translated by Otto Brömser, Franklin, Wisconsin

Again and again we encounter the name of the Bremer in our homeland for instance in the capital of our province in the villages Breithardt, Ramcheid, Kemel, Springen, Nauroth, Grebenroth and in the settlement Schönberg. Many families of our province got their wives from the families of the Bremer; and if we go back into the past the line of the villages, farm and mills in which the Bremsers once lived increases and widens considerably.

When I heard for the first time this family name, which also appears in the form of Brömser and which developed from the older form of names, like Brümser, Brumpser, and Brimpser, I was reminded from one of the names of one of the most famous of names of families of nobility of the Rheinland, the Brömser of Rüdesheim. Immediately I suspected, that the citizen-name Bremser was a sideline of the name of the noble family of the Brömser This opinion wins on probability through a contract which the Brothers Dietrich and Heinrich Brömser of Rüdesheim made on January 2nd 1539.

Dietrich, who married below his rank, but wished to be connected with the mother of his children, who was a commoner had, according to a state law of those times, to give up the right to the inheritances of his Father and his Mother which now fall to his Brother Heinrich, who was married to Antonia of Ingelheim, who came from a noble family. The latter, however, pledged, to provide well for his Brother up to his death. The Brother should receive each year 125 Gulden which were referred to a property of a Camp and several incomes in towns to the left and right side of the Rhine. Dieter's children of unequal quality of birth should be provided for through entering the clerical rank or, if this was not to their liking should be paid off with 70 Gulden each. But, apparently none of the children was to become a monk or a priest.

From one of the sons Best or Sebastian Brumpser we know with certainty that he remained in the worldly rank of his noble forefathers. His nephew, Heinrich Engelhard presented to him a farm in the "Hellen", with all the fields belonging to it in place of the present Klunkhardshofes; it could be that he liked especially well this unequal relative, or that he was not able to get together the promised amount of compensation. When Heinrich Engelhard had died, on the 19th of October, 1567, he attempted to be the guardian of his son Johann Reichard who had taken on the common name Of Best Bremser to push him out of the farm. His petition to leave him the uncontested inheritance was a success. However, Johann, Heinrich Brömser's son, who was declared of age in 1585, insisted strongly that the three sons of Best Bremer, who in the meantime had died, should leave the farm. However, the three brothers Ludwig, Philip and Andreas, declared in the year 1590 that this petition represented a slander, born out of envy, and the noble relative was told that they had planned to sell the old family property, where in truth none of them had the slightest wish to do that; but that one should live in the house "in the hell" and that they should furnish the services and carry the services of the noble ones.

Since that time Bremser Citizens cannot be anymore accounted for in Rüdesheim. Evidently he had succeeded to drive the brothers from their living quarters, However, we are not perfectly able to prove where these three brothers or their Father, Sebastian, found housing and bread, but a striking inconspicuous oral tradition of a line of the citizens Bremser leads us to the right track. When the owner of a shoe factory Andreas Bremser, born at Dehrn on the Lahn river and living in Hamm in Westfalen visited me on an exploratory trip of the history of the family on September 27, 1949 in Kemal, he told me the following:

"My Great Great Grandfather Johann George Bremser comes from Dickschied. He hired himself out as a farm hand in Limburg, made the acquaintance of a girl from Dehrn, married her in the year 1820 and settled down in Dehrn. His son, my Grandfather, who spent the last years of his life in Limburg, called me once to his room, when I was about nine years old. I feared already that he wanted to scold me because I had done some mischief which had caused his displeasure, but then he began in ceremonial ernest: Andreas, I have to tell you something, what my Father had told me; but you shall not talk to others about it because it represents a shame. We are descendents of robbing Knights. Of course, now grass has grown over it, but it may be stirred up again. Only pass it on as I have told you to family members and descendents and speak once with your Father about it."

Now and then I asked my Father, he confirmed the statements of my Grandfather and added to it about the following:

"The Bramsers have always been free people, they did not have to do any enforced labor services like others who were compelled to do the work in the fields or by wagons: Our Forefathers were evangelic and have become catholic first in Dehrn: Originally they lived in the land of the Archbishop of Mainz. But because they did business with the Fuggers in Augsburg, he drove them out, and they settled down in the Heath of Kemeln. There they made their living by hard work. Even today Bremsers are still living there making a frugal living. You do not have to be ashamed of your forefathers, but can be proud of them. Our name is not really Bremser, but Brömser."

Whoeever. for many years past by, has not forgotten the desire of many citizens to date back their forefathers from noble lines, will meet rightfully such stories with distrust. What, however, strengthens the confidence of the family tradition of the Bremser's is in respect to the fact that it was passed on as a secret which was guarded carefully and that the noble descendents of robber knights was considered as a shame. The oral tradition was also confirmed through the descendents of Dieter Brömser of Rüdesheim and through the principality of Katzenellenhogen which existed since 1577 in the Rheingau. Their inhabitants bore the name of Brömser.

So it was possible that a Johannes Brombser at Nastätten, who estimated his assets and all his food at 40 Gulden (guilders), could very well have been a son Dietrich and a brother of that Sebastian who at first could still live in Rudesheim. One can very well consider the brothers Peter and Heinrich Brömser of Nahstätten as the sons of Johannes. According to a list of the deceased and living citizens of Nahstätten 1628/36, Peter Brombser was dead and among the living ones one could find only a Frederick Brombser. One may add to this branch of the family the Constable Master Heinrich Brumzer living at the fortress Neukatzenelnbogen, the so called 'Katz' (cat) who from 1631 on had baptized children and who asked at the baptism of his son Philip on January 26, 1634 that Philipp Brümser from Bornich be the Godfather. To the present neighboring province, St. Goarshausen, belongs also a Peter Brümbser whose possessions were estimated at 250 Gulden. The name of Peter puts him into the neighborhood of an older Peter Bremser at Lollschied, whose widow was married to the son of Adam Klosz Schnatz zu Klingenbach on October 17, 1612 at the chapel of Pohl.

In our province, we take at first a Philip Brombser at Grebenroth who from 1614 on had children baptized and who, according to date, could be the same person as Philipp Brombser. who was placed from 1628 on in Egenroth had himself pursued till 1652 and was mayor of the Vierherrengerichts (Four Lords Cour) at the Altenberg. In his house the plague (die Pest) broke out and snatched away the second born son Andreas, on the 23rd of October, 1628 the oldest son Johannes and on the last day of this month the daughter Sybille died. Whoever was spared by the pest (plague) in this year had to bear the entire hardness of the war which for over 30 years raged in our land. The house book of Peter Bremer reports from these days of the terrors of Niedermeilingen. In the year 1635 they plundered this land and ravaged It. Many people were shot to death, murdered with pouring in water so that we could not stay at our farm for four years. Then came a great increase of prices. A bag of grain did cost 10 Thaler, one pound of cheese or butter one half Spanish Thaler. Therefore many died in our village and some on account of hunger so that the two villages Ober-and-Niedermeilingen had died out, except for 12 people, five old ones and seven young ones.

Likewise hardly hit by the needs of the time were evidently the inhabitants of the village Zorn which belonged to the section of Niedeimeilingen. Here in 1623 lived a Jakob Bremser and his wife Elisabeth who was judged to have possessions of 125 Golden in 1628. Their son Johann Philipp Brömser who was born in 1604 and from the year 1634 on was mayor at the court of Zorn, had himself better protected through the fortresses Burgen Katz, Reichenberg and Rheinfels from the war (Kriegsvölker) in 1644 and fled to Patersberg and had found a better place to stay in the community house Of that town. One granted him a concession to sell beverages and named him innkeeper. In a Lutheran Baptism book of St. Goarshausen appears his name as Mirth zu Patersberg (innkeeper of Patersberg). In the year 1650 he is officially referred to as mayor of the court of Zorn and in any case temporarily he has seen to it that the law was observed. He died on January 20, 1654 at Patersberg at the age of 50. The death sermon was about Psalm 116,15. The Death of His Holy Ones is held high before the Lord.

When conditions became more stable the families of the Brömser could hold their belongings the inheritances of Zorn, for a while longer. Johann Wilhelm Brömser born In Zorn on the second of November 1679 was probably able to hold their belongings for a while longer. He had probably married into a family of Dickschied. Here children and grandchildren were born to him. Then new members came from Niedermeilingen to Dickschied. Johann Peter Bremser married Anna Elisabetha Krüger at Dickschied, as we know already. Her son, Johann Georg, born January 5th 1789 founded the Dehrner line. The family of the Bremser was still flourishing in Dickschied in the previous century. When a great fire had laid almost the entire village in ashes on September 13, 1859, a Martin Bremser, who lived in Frankfurt at the Goethe Square 22, called for help in the Intelligenzblatt of Frankfurt in the form of money to rebuild the village.

The line Bremser can also be traced back through Johann Jacob Bremser, born on the 3rd of July 1687 at Zorn, and through the marriage of Johann Jacob to Anna Elizabetha Greb on November 26, 1709. Also, through the marriage of his son, Johann Peter to Maria Margaretha Kläner at Mappershain on January 23, 1731. This family is today still living on in Erich Bremser, the owner of the Estate Schönberg.

Again it was a Johann Wilhelm Bremser, born in Zorn, who was married on February 5, 1737 to Maria Elisabetha Huth at the Altenberg and by this settled the family in Martenroth where they built new buildings in 1747. A son was born to him on March 9, 1749 named Johann Peter. He took over these buildings upon his father's death. This line of Martenroth produced not only a line of excellent peasants, but also gave its village, since the beginning of the 19th century for over 100 years, for sighted and capable mayors. Yes, it gave to the Untertaunus Kreis (the section of the lower Taunus) a man of unselfish character. Philipp Bremser, mayor of his hometown from 1879-1920, since 1880 Elder of the congregation of the church at the Altenberg, belonged to the 'Kreistag' from 1892-1920 and at the same time from 1904-1919 belonged to the presidium of that place. One often and gladly remembers this excellent peasant who died at 94 on November 8, 1933. He bad worked tireless, with dignity and in excellent health. Without being able to use the present practical means of transportation, he walked on foot from his home at the farthest border of his county at first to Kemel in order to stay overnight at his son's, Secretary of Forestry at the forest office Erlenhof. The son is now state forester and retired. Karl Bremser reached the next day the capital of the county and made the return way in the same manner.

For us of today he is a wonderful example that on the heights of the Taunus just as gifted and modest people live who are capable of wonderful accomplishments; for this reason it has to be still higher valued how the fathers of this Bremer fought the battle of existence under less fortunate conditions and succeeded. We heard already of plagues and troubles of war, under which members of the Bremser family had especially severe to suffer; all this can be proven. Let us furthermore add that our unfruitful heights far and wide, which were covered only with heather, and one began first at the begin of the 19th century to intensify the care of land and forests. Then the picture of the surroundings of the Bremser's of the 16th till to the 18th century becomes more gloomy. One may assume that the Bremsers also used as possibilities to make a living in this unproductive region. Sheep still find nourishment where cattle had to starve to death, and poor acres are suitable for the raising of flax as it was proven during the last war. So the Laufenselder Pastor Valentin Imhoff who was born in Springen, reports in his Chronik, which was written in the year 1598, in the lower Duchy of Katzenelenbogen that in Nastätten, Schwalbach, Laufenselden, Springen and in other places wool is made and very good cloth, which is sold at the fairs in Frankfurt and bought by the Swiss and merchants of the upper countries with great desire and it is sent into the most remote regions.

All this is also stated and coincides with the reports and books of inventory of the trade firm Anton Haug, Hans Langenauer, Ulrich Link and relatives of Augsburg of the year 1550 the Nastätter, Allendorfer, Langenschwalbacher, Dreispringer who introduce cloth from Springener and Panroder Tuche. So we are hardly wrong in the assumption that the trippmakers Jacob and Johannes Bremser who settled in Gotha must have been born 1622 and from whom Jacob got married in 1648. Johannes, however, got married in Gotha in 1646, emigrated from our territory where wool and linen was made. A last bearer of the name of Bremser, city secretary Robert Bremer, died first in Gotha in 1934. The wig maker Johann Gottfied Bremser, who was born June 5, 1706, was the son of the candidate Johann Nicolai Bremser, born in Gotha. Johann Nicolai brought the name to Wertheim at the Rhine and married the widow of the innkeeper 'To the Golden Crown' on September 1, 1733. His son, Johann Christoph, born on August 9, 1735 in Wertheim attended the Latin School in 1754 till 1756 in Idsteiner and became secretary in his hometown.

Finally we shall not overlook a branch of the generation of the Bremsers who flourished in a section close to our neighhorhood of the province. When Hans Bardtt had baptized his son in the overhigh Village of Presburg on March 12, 1609, it was John, the son of Nikolaus Brembser, who was Godfather. This Nikolaus Brambser had died already when his daughter, Jodokus Ossener, was baptized by him on the 16th of August 1615. Matthäus Brömser born 1708, moved to Lorchhausen. He was a teacher there. His son functioned as Staats-csessist and judge in Rüdesheim in 1806-26. In the next generation we meet lawyer George Brömser of Rüdesheim and Wiesbaden, born 1607, who died 1846, father of the medical doctor George Brömser (1646-1916. Of his three sons Karl Brömser was a medical doctor (1876-1917) and exercised this vocation at the Josefs-Hospital in Wiesbaden. Max Brömser confirmed himself in 1883-1955 as Owner of a vineyard in Rüdesheim, and Dr. Philipp Brömser (1886-1940) worked as an esteemed professor of physiology at the University of Muenich, Munchen.

With purpose we gave the different forms of our family names because they bring out in their manyfold form a great uncertainty of their literal meaning. Recently we also learned the Latin form of the name through a document of the year 1294. Here the name Brömser or Bremser is given through the Latin word 'primicerius'. Primicerius will say 'Vorstreiter'. First fighter or warrior and means that knight who in battle stood in first place, and at the same time had to determine in the capacity of carrier of the banner the direction and most important place of the battle. The people who did riot understand Latin, made out of the Primicer a 'Brümser' this means a bee who is able to prick or a 'Bremser' who is able to bring someone into difficult circumstances, in both cases added names for a knight who in no case lacked humor.

The name Brömser is also explained according to its original meaning judge, similar as the one of Schenk of Liebenstein or Marschall Of Waldeck. Evidently, a forefather of our generation was a nobleman of the common Bremsers during 1200 or 1300 and also a fire-fighter and banner carrier of the public commons. Perhaps this office was inherited through several generations as it is to be observed in similar circumstances. Such an office would be equivalent to the meaning of a generation as it is to be found for the first time in a Giselbert of Rüdesheim (1130-1152). His son Konrad (1171-1173) was Viztum, this means substitute of the Archbishop of Mainz in the Rhine province. Heinrich Brömser had the same office (1509-1543) who at the time of the Peasant Revolution in the year 1525 showed understanding ability to solve the problems of the people, skill at the negotiations and moderating influence at the debates of these enterprises. Johann Brömser (1376-1423) was steward of the Archbishop of Mainz. Johann Reichard Brömser (1566-1622), First Counselor and Empirial Main Judge of the estate Königstein, since 1614, First Stuard and Vitztum at Mainz and in the Mine Province. Also, the last one of the generation, raised to nobility, Heinrich Brömser from Rüdesheim (1600-1668) united in his person the high offices of Viztum at Mainz, of Court Judge and Empirial Secretary as well as the Empirial Counselor of the office. The fact that Heinrich Brömser lent 2000 Gulden in 1537 to the Count Wilhelm of Nassau-Dillenbarg and the same amount in the year 1544 proves the great riches of the Brömser Family. The Crest shows a shield in silver and a black shield foot which is covered with six or eight lillies.

Not all too often one will meet a generation the history of which can be followed up over many centuries and which so faithfully remained to the soil of the homeland. Not all too often Its history can also be followed up through many centuries of war and hardship.