Hitting pay dirt

Every once in a while every family researcher will receive something new that makes his or her heart jump with joy. I just recently had such an experience. Months ago I got in touch with the pastor in Neuenwalde to ask if he could send me a picture of the page in his church records from 1683 that is said to contain the name of Anna Elisabeth Wyneken nee von Werdenhof – see my post “Possible Swedish Ancestors after all”.

It’s been a long, long wait but finally the pastor at the church sent me photographs of the two pages covering the year 1683. And there it was!!!! At the bottom of the left column on the right page (photo of both pages at the bottom of this posting, closeup at the top), the fifth through third lines from the bottom you can read:

Fr. Anna Elisabeth Wienecken, gebohrene von Werdenhoffen, H. AmbtM zu Beederkesa Eheliebste


Mistress Anna Elisabeth Wienecken, née von Werdenhof, dearly beloved wife of the bailiff in Bederkesa

The entry which contains this line is a record of the baptism of Anna Meyer, and Anna Elisabeth Wyneken appears in the list of godparents. Anna Meyer, the godchild, was born on September 23, 1683 and baptized on September 25. Her father, Andreas, was a bailiff (Amtmann) in Neuenwalde, so at least in a sense a colleague of Anna Elisabeth Wyneken’s husband, Peter Christoph Wyneken, in nearby Bederkesa.

The first godmother listed was a certain Miss Anna von der Liedt. I can’t help but wonder whether she might not have been a relative of Peter Christoph’s sister-in-law, Augusta Juliana von Böselager, whose mother was a von der Lieth.

And then there’s also the possibility that the little girl herself, Anna Meyer, was a relative of Peter Christoph’s mother, Catharina Oelgardt nee Meier. Maybe this baptism entry documents the getting together of several relatives to celebrate a new addition to the family. … And then again maybe I’m projecting too much into the names.

In any event, the reason I was so thrilled to get these photographs was not because of Anne Meyer but because of Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhof. This is actual physical proof that she was married to Peter Christoph Wyneken. Together they founded what I call the Bederkesa branch.

And since one of their granddaughters, Auguste Juliane Wyneken, married into the Rüstje branch by wedding her first cousin once removed, Joachim Wolf Wyneken, Anna Elisabeth Wyneken is also an ancestor of today’s members of the Rüstje branch. Thus all blood Wynekens living today, regardless of whether they are from the Bederkesa or the Rüstje branch are descended from this woman, Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhof, who shows up in these church records from almost 350 years ago.

The baptism and birth recorded here happen to have taken place at about the time that Peter Christoph died. My information says that he died in about 1683 or 1684. But he was apparently still alive at the time this entry was written because otherwise he would most likely have been listed as deceased.

One of the oldest Wyneken family sources, a list of the owners of the manor at Rüstje written by Anna Elisabeth’s great-great-great granddaughter, Auguste Juliane Martin (1800-1886), gives the name of Peter Christoph’s wife as “Wöweken“, which I believe is a Germanized form of the French word “veuve“, meaning widow. Since Anna Elisabeth died in 1724, roughly 40 years after her husband, maybe she never remarried and the family fondly referred to her as “the little widow”, and the name was passed on through the generations so that her descendants still referred to her that way over a 100 years after her death when Auguste Juliane wrote down her little family tree.

Another explanation for or, perhaps better, facet of the nickname “Wöweken” might have to do with the possibility that, as mentioned in my post “Possible Swedish Ancestors after all”, Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhoff was the daughter of Lorenz von Werdenhof. In that case, Peter Christoph Wyneken was her second husband, because Lorenz’ daughter, Anna Elisabeth, is documented elsewhere as being the wife of Otto Christer von Spandekow. If that is true, Otto must have died at a relatively early age, leaving Anna Elisabeth a widow for the first time before she married Peter Christoph (before 1675). Then, after she bears Peter at least three children, she becomes a widow a second time.

We will most likely never know for sure the real background of the strange name “Wöweken” or whether she was truly Lorenz von Werdenhof’s daughter or not. But thanks to these photographs, we can now be certain that Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhof was Peter Christoph’s dearly beloved wife.

Complete transcription of the baptism entry.

den 25. Septembris s. X getauft welche den 23. d. X 3/4 auf 4 Uhr frühe gebohren. Filia Anna Pater, H. Andreas Meyer, AmbtM. allhier, Mater, Catharina Elisabeth, gebohrene Krügerin, Patrizi (?), Jungfer Anna von der Liedt, Klosterjungfrau allhier, Fr. Anna Elisabeth Wienecken, gebohrene von Werdenhoffen, H. AmbtM zu Beederkesa Eheliebste, H. Buko (?) Eibsten (?), Voigt zu Ding (?), im Lande Wursten

And a translation:

baptised the 25th of September, born on the 23rd at 3/4 of 4 o’clock: a daughter Anna Father, Master Andreas Meyer, local bailiff, Mother, Catharina Elisabeth, maiden name Krüger, Godparents, Miss Anna von der Liedt, from the local convent, Mistress Anna Elisabeth Wienecken, née von Werdenhof, dearly beloved wife of the bailiff in Bederkesa, Master Buko (?) Eibsten (?), reeve in Ding (?), in the region of Wursten

Neuenwalde Kirchenbuch 1683  both pages

From parish register Neuenwalde. Photograph kindly provided by Pastor Joachim Köhler.

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