Location: Dhronecken, Bernkastel-Wittlich, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Surnames/tags: Neu Hildebrand Heusner
What is this page about?
This is a collection of inhabitants, pictures, literature, anecdotes and genealogical resources for the small village of Dhronecken.
Also enclosed are the inhabitants of Rothmühle and Boussermühle, two mills on the outskirts of the village. Technically they belong to the neighbouring village of Malborn. But the people who live(d) in these mills are and have always been part of the Dhronecken community, and for this reason they are included.
The page is still under construction, and will be that for a while. If you would like to contribute or if you have ancestors from this village, feel free to contact me.
Where is Dhronecken?
Dhronecken is part of the Landkreis (district) Bernkastel-Wittlich, which is part of the German Bundesland (county) Rhineland-Palatinate. Dhronecken is located in the Hunsrück area and is about 10 km away from its highest peak, the Erbeskopf. It's also not far from the Moselle river, Trier and Idar-Oberstein, as well as the Saarland region. The village is part of Verbandsgemeinde (municipality) Thalfang, also called "Mark Thalfang".
Denominations and Churches
Dhronecken was a protestant village from 1564 onwards, when the reformation was introduced here by the Wild- and Rheingrafen (the local gentry). Still there were some Catholics and Jewish people living here, too.
The nearest protestant church was and is located in Thalfang, about three kilometres from Dhronecken. Protestant Dhronecken citizen would have been baptised, married and buried in Thalfang. Art-historically it is an important building - one of the oldest churches in the area, partly rebuilt in 1300, 1450 and around 1600. The pulpit was donated by Dhronecken bailiff Friedrich Christian Heusner.
The castle in Dhronecken had its own chapel, though, where services were held on certain days. In the 18. century these services were limited to every three weeks in winter and every two weeks in summer. This chapel doesn't exist anymore; it was torn down and replaced by a bell tower in the middle of the 19. century.
The nearest catholic churches are in Malborn (which is just up the hill, within the range of vision from Dhronecken) and Thalfang. The protestant church in Thalfang was used for catholic services from 1690 to 1911, when the new catholic church was introduced. Many catholics also went to Geisfeld church for marriages and baptisms. Thalfang also had a synagogue which was built in 1822 and partly destroyed in 1938. The remains of a Jewish cemetery are still visible.
[see source 1, page 217ff.]
The registration office responsible for Dhronecken is Standesamt Thalfang. Records have been kept from 1798 onwards when the area was under French government.
Luckily both church records as well as registration office records have been indexed in "Familienbüchern" - family books (see section on sources) listing all the people mentioned in the records and grouping them into families - which considerably simplifies research.
History of Dhronecken
Dhronecken started with the castle which was probably built during the 10th or 11th century, as archaeologists have found remains of walls from that time. There are celtic remains in the area, and a Roman road used to run right through the village.
Not later than 1223 the castle must have come into the ownership of the Wild- and Rheingrafen. In 1297 Dhronecken was first explicitly named as "Throneck" in a document - a knight called Conrad of Dhronecken is mentioned in it. 1309 sees the first mentioning of the castle. Wildgraf Friedrich, the local count, entrusted his uncle, a noble Templar also called Friedrich, with one half of it. Friedrich pobably used it as his retirement home.
In 1341 Archbishop Balduin of Trier took the castle as his fiefdom. The Wild- and Rheingrafen weren't too happy about this, some quarrels followed.
The counts usually owned many small castles and villages in one area, travelling from one to the other took a long time. As they were not able to visit them all, the counts usually gave them to lower nobility as fiefdoms. For most of the time it's unclear whose fiefdom Dhronecken was. Next to the Archbishop of Trier, only three noblemen are mentioned in the old documents:
- Berchram von Budenburg in 1373
- Simond von Rüdesheim in 1427
- Claus von Kellenbach in 1495.
Wildgraf Otto (+1409) is said to have resided on Dhronecken castle, also Graf Gerhard (+1490) who seems to have extended its animal husbandry during his residence.
A village at this place, either originating in the outer bailey (today called Hostert) or located further down the river, was first mentioned in 1220, and again in 1476. In 1427 a document deals with a fief of a "Haus in der Vorburg" (a house on the outer bailey) so we can safely assume that by then the Hostert was already settled upon.
For more than three decades Graf Jacob the Blind used the castle as his main residence. An inventory of his mobile possessions was made in 1532; probably because both the castle and village were Gräfin Anna von Isenburg's "wittum" (hers to use in case of her husband's death so she would have some place to live and to feed her). Anna must have taken possession of it shortly before or after Jacob's death in 1532 or 1533, and she probably lived here for most of the rest of her life which ended in 1557. After Anna the castle was lived in by Graf Otto who introduced the reformation to the area in 1564.
In 1637, during the 30-year-war, the castle in Dhronecken was first destroyed. And more wars and destructions were to come around 1680, 1690 and 1700. The end of the 17. century saw rebuilding activities on the castle; the archway on the way up to the castle probably stems from this time - only for the castle to be destroyed again in 1714 by French troops. Another rebuilding created the castle as seen today, with the main building in the Baroque style, a former barn with living quarters for servants, now converted to a community hall, the small tower which now serves as a lookout point, a stable building and the remains of the big tower and guardroom.
In 1794 the French Revolution ended serfdom, but it also meant Dhronecken became part of the municipality of Thalfang and lost its importance. Since 1815 it was part of the Preußen kingdom.
From 1803 onwards most of the possessions of the local aristocracy were auctioned off, and much of it was bought by the bailiff family Heusner. Most inhabitants were poverty-stricken and either emigrated or started to work in the inudstrial plants in the Saarland or Ruhrgebiet.
Since 1817 the castle is the seat of the local forestry commission.
In 1903 a railway line was built through Dhronecken. In WW II, Dhronecken was part of the supply line for the Westwall. V2 missiles were fired from a forest nearby. While the Allies bombed Dhronecken, more damage was done by German soldiers who blew up all bridges in the village. [see source 1]
Sometimes Brabach is mentioned in old documents (also Probach, Bropach). This was a small hamlet very near to Dhronecken which does not exist anymore or is now part of the village Dhronecken. It was mentioned in 1570 and 1578, still lived in after the 30-year war and also during 1777-1788.
Historic Houses in Dhronecken
The oldest wall remains on castle Dhronecken are from the 10. and 11. century. In 1309 the castle is first mentioned. It was destroyed at least twice but always rebuilt. (see above)
These days the castle is used as headquarters of the local forestry commission, and also for village festivities.
"Auf der Hostert" is a term referring to "Hofstatt" - a farmstead. It used to belong to the castle of Dhronecken as an outer bailey, and is in fact located right at the foot of the castle. The Hostert is first mentioned explicitly in 1638 as the location of the bailiff's house and a chapel belonging to Thalfang church. A document from 1427 also talks about a house on the outer bailey which had been the fief of Johann Freioff von Numagen, also Hansmann Klebesaddel von Wilspiliche as well as Symond and Johann Bock from Veldenz and their ancestors. There is a map from 1770 which shows the castle and the Hostert surrounded by the castle wall.
Here the castle's farm was to be found, together with administration buildings. In the course of time, the Hostert in Dhronecken accommodated the hunter's house, a chapel, a baking house, a guardroom also used as a prison if necessary, the bailiff's office and a flower garden, probably also some storage rooms and maybe stables and a barn.
Today it consists of four residential houses and three gardens.
The two lower ones are called "Treine" after former residents - today the Freudenreich-Fuchs family lives here. Their carport is located where once the bailiff's office stood. The prison was in one of today's houses, probably in the cellar.
The upper two houses are lived in by descendants of Michel Neu who came to Dhronecken from Pilmeroth sometime before 1860.
Originally one of the houses was a barn - it was converted sometime in the Forties or Fifties, and Hermann Neu moved in with his wife. Hermann also had a shoemaker's workshop here. After his and his wife's deaths a son of Julius Neu bought and modernized the house.
The other house must have been the hunter's house. It was used by Julius Neu with his wife Martha, and also by Emma Neu and her son Gerhard (called Migo). The living situation must have been cramped: Emma lived upstairs with Migo - they must have shared one bedroom, or that bedroom was divided into two smaller rooms already. They also had a kitchen. Julius and Martha lived in two rooms downstairs - they slept in their kitchen while their five children shared the other room. When Emma and Migo moved to Thalfang, Julius and Martha took over the whole house and built an additional room into the attic. Still living here was no luxury: in order to reach the bathroom Julius built into the cellar, they had to cross the barn and walk down a narrow wooden staircase, at least in winter in freezing temperatures. There was no bath or toilet in the part of the house they slept in, and the bedrooms were not or only rudimentarily heated until the house was modernized in 2015/2016 by Julius' and Martha's granddaughter.
The chapel had been torn down, and around 1850 a bell tower was built here. The bell is still rung - every Saturday evening at 6 pm, on New Year's Day, and whenever a citizen of Dhronecken passes away. [see source 1]
The housename "Haags" refers to the last owners, Waldi and Resi Haag. From the 18. century onwards the house had been used as an inn, and Waldi and Resi kept that tradition and ran a successful business here, much missed even today by Dhronecken citizens.
Originally the house had been built by bailiff Friedrich Christian Heusner as a residential home for himself and his family, sometime between 1700 and 1720. By then he had seven children, five more followed. Heusner's origins lay in Franken, and he built a house in the tradition of his home area. It is a huge house in the baroque style, with an impressive garden loggia and an oak-pillared hall in the basement.
Many people still think it also was the location of the bailiff's office - maybe due to its impressive looks; the official bailiff's house, however, was on the Hostert. "Haags" was private property and stayed in the family until 1975. Heusner also ran a bark and oil mill here which was destroyed when in 1945 the bridge right next to it was blown up. [see source 1]
In modern times the house, although already listed by the time, was sadly neglected. Several owners tried to restore it to its former glory, but the house swallowed a lot of funds, and they gave up. In the end it was bought by an university lecturer who brought it back to life.
This not-so-historic but comparatively striking house was built in 1934/1935 by Jakob and Luise Konrad. This big white house at the crossways in the middle of the village was the first house in Dhronecken which did not have buildings for farming etc. (barns or stables). Instead it had central heating and a bathroom - luxuries unheard of in those times, complete with a swimming pool in the garden! A small shop which had been opened in the Haags house moved here. [see source 1]
Later the house was the residence of Waldi and Resi Haag's daughter Ruth who had married Hugo Hildebrand, and they continued to manage the shop which now incorporated a post office; later they used it as a café and hotel. Today it is a holiday home.
"Schreinersch" is a pretty little farmhouse in the center of Dhronecken, at the crossways of Weyer Damm and Zur kleinen Dhron.
Its name can probably be explained by the profession of its former owner. It might have belonged to Carl Hildebrand, who is mentioned in 1797 as a joiner ("Schreiner" in German). Damp pastures right next to the house, due to the vicinity of Röderbach (a small creek), did not allow for a cellar, instead there is a barn and a small shed for storage of farming produce.
Around 1866 the house was upgraded, probably the first floor was added to it. The date is engraved in the door lintel. There used to be an oven for baking in the back of the house which could be filled from the kitchen area, and a service hatch to the living room still exists. It used to belong to Carl and Ida Hildebrand later and was renovated by their heirs Ruth and Hugo Hildebrand in the 1980s. Until recently it was used as a holiday home but has just been sold to new owners. [see source 6, Heft 58 Dez. 2001]
Striking due to its red half-timbered construction, this house really stands out from the other farmhouses in Dhronecken. It does not have the customary slate roof but a red one, and it has a beautifully decorated oak balcony. Two barns in the back suggest farming activity in the past. An intermediate floor did not only serve as storage for potatoes but was also used to hide a person from the Nazi regime.
It was the home of the Fetzer family. Elisabeth (Neu) Fetzer moved here with her three children after her husband fell in WWII. Four more hungry mouths, though, were not too welcome, and Elisabeth moved to Thalfang.
The house was later lived in by the Kimmling family. Currently it is being restored by its new owner.
Hellebrands was a house named after its owners, the Hildebrand family. It was later used by the Marx family and then torn down to make way for a modern house. It had a slate corridor and a storage for baked bread. See a picture of the old house in the photo collection belonging to this page.
Schütze / Strouvelle (Struwwel)
Schütze was named after his inhabitant, Friedrich Hildebrand, who had the nickname "Schütze Fritz". His nickname stemmed from his occupation as "Schütze" (gunman). The house is directly next to the spot where the two creeks Röderbach and Thalfanger Bach merge and form the "Kleine Dhron" river.
Schetze Fritz was a true original and is mentioned in the Dhronecken chronicle by Carla Regge. He was cared for by the Strouvelle family who took over the house and opened an inn here ("Gasthaus zum müden Wanderer"). Later it also became an old people's home and is nowadays the residence of the Becker family.
Hirtenhaus / Peese
Supposedly this house, used for the accommodation of the local shepherd, is the oldest in Dhronecken, except for the castle buildings. On the 1770 map of Dhronecken it was the only house on the path to the neighbouring village Burtscheid.
In 1861 it couldn't be used as a residence anymore due to its derelict state, and thus shepherd Conrad Dahm had to look for another job. As the village needed a shepherd, a repair was performed by nailer Carl Manz (probably Manz-221). Obviously he was successful, as in 1868 the house is mentioned as being in a good condition, the roof tiled with slate. It had one room, a kitchen, a little chamber (maybe a bedroom) and stables as well as some room for storage.
Around 1905 the village community gave up sheep farming, and the house was let. In 1910 it was let to Katharina Jakob (born Nix) who had come from a mill in Heimbach/Nahe with her five children. She was accompanied by mill hand Jakob Pees who gave the house its current housename although he wasn't allowed to live there with Katharina - the community thought this would be immoral.
Around 1925 the rental contract was taken over by Johann Klein who was married to a daughter of Katharina, and in 1950 they were able to buy the house. The Klein family still lives here. [see source 1]
The name Eckepatts refers to a godfather ("Patt" in Dhronecken dialect) who lived in one corner of Dhronecken, directly at the village exit to Thalfang and Lückenburg. "Corner" in German is "Ecke", so Eckepatt was the godfather who lived in a corner of Dhronecken.
There are two houses here. One was owned by the Conrad family (Erich Conrad and his wife Martha Neu), the other one by an old lady called "Elsmutter", Elsa Mark, who was a descendant of the Fuchs family and is still fondly remembered by the village community. Her voice can be heard on a CD made in 1996 by a local TV station.
This old mill consists of several parts from different building periods, with the oldest being the part with the mill machinery. It was used as a saw mill but also housed a wool spinning mill around 1850.
This might be the saw mill a contract from the year 1690 deals with; the contract is about the reconstruction and reactivation of the manorial saw mill which seems to have suffered from neglect during wars and sieges. Miller Nikolaus Kirst is willing to take over the task of reactivation. This could be the same Nikolaus Kirst who is also mentioned as gunman and later as forester in Dhronecken. Until the middle of the 19. century the mill thus was called "Kirstenmühle".
The saw mill kept going until modern times; one of the men working there was Julius Neu. In the 50s the house was leased to a miller called Reich who died around 1960. The family then took over the house as the Decker family's holiday home.
The mill wheel can still be seen from the outside. It was made in 1900, by a clockmaker from Papiermühle.
This "new mill" (Neumühle) was built in 1820 but on the site of an older bark mill. It is the home of two branches of the Krämer family; also some areas of the former barn and stables are let as flats.
Technically Rothmühle does not belong to Dhronecken but to the neighbouring village of Malborn. But as the Rothmühle people take an active part in the Dhronecken village community, they should be added here. This mill was the home of the Echternach family, with Johannes Echternach as yet being the oldest known miller there. He probably came from a miller family from the Moselle area. The mill then went to the Paulus family who had married into the Echternach family. It is still lived in by this family and the site of an organic farm although the mill machinery isn't used anymore.
This mill does not exist anymore; the site now is the location of Dhronecken's voluntary fire brigade. It was probably the most important mill in Dhronecken and should thus be mentioned. This mill was a "Bannmühle" which means that people were duty-bound to have their grain milled here, at least if they were from most of the neighbouring villages. It is first mentioned in 1505. Quite a number of millers are listed as working here during the decades, among them Nikolaus Morlang and later his widow Johanna Catharina Rauh. There also was a miller called Kehrein who gave it its name.
The People of Dhronecken
For a list of people who lived in or were connected to Dhronecken and have profiles in Wikitree, see the Category Dhronecken One Place Study (under construction).
Numbers of inhabitants are not given in the Dhronecken chronicle and offical documents - but there were two "Feuerstätten" (fireplaces - one could also call them households) in 1505. Until 1618 the settlement had grown to nine fireplaces, only to shrink again until 1638 (only one fireplace) - probably due to sieges during the 30-year-war and the destruction of the castle. Another factor was the plague - it reigned in the area in 1597, in 1607 and around 1612, as well as during the 30-year war.
In 1650 there were two households again, in 1779 there were nine, and in 1788 there were twelve households in Dhronecken.
There were probably more people living here than these numbers suggest, as only those households were counted which had to pay their due to the counts. There must have been day labourers and privileged castle servants who were not obliged to pay. In 1527, for example, there were 17 servants here, including the bailiff (a Caspar von Francken), the custodian of all farm produce ("Keller" Wolff Thies of Imeraidt) and the chaplain (Johann Schroeder), and some probably lived here with their family members which were not mentioned. [see source 1]
In 1819 there were 130 people living in the village, in 1833 there were 238 inhabitants. These were probably too many people to be fed now - around 1835 the number of people started to shrink as many emigrated to other countries.
Emil Fröhlich mentions the following inhabitants for Dhronecken in his "Geschichte der Mark Thalfang" [see source 9]:
- Seitz, Gg. (Forstmeister = forester)
- Cauer, Dietrich (Amtmann = bailiff)
- Kiefer, Claus
- Höfner, Briktius (in Brabach)
- Kirst, Magnus
- Kirst, Carl
- Juncker, Johann Wilhelm
- Pauli, Peter
- Loch, Ludwig
- Scherer, Gg. (probably Scherer-1142)
- Jakob Arrenz Gg. Pet.
- Mantz, Michel (maybe Manz-158?)
- Mantz, Johann Philipp
- Mantz, Magnus
- Hildebrand, Leopold
- Heusner, Friedrich Karl
- Bauer, Philipp
Today roughly 120 citizens are living in Dhronecken.
Bailiffs in Dhronecken
as mentioned in old documents
- Junker Jost - 1498
- Peter Ringrave Bastart - 1505 (obviously an illegitimate son of one of the counts)
- Casparen von Franken - from 1527, 1532
- Briktius Littich - 1548
- Georg Diether - 1592, 1607, 1620
- Dietrich Cauer - 1650
- Johann Eckard, "Kyrburgischer Sekretarius" - 1661, 1674
- Johann Georg Jäger - mentioned several times between 1691 and 1701
- Philipp Ludwig Stumpf, "Kirchenschaffner" from Kirn while Jäger was suspended - 1694
- Friedrich Christian Heusner (I) - 1701-1746
- Walrad Leopold Heusner (II) - 1749-1791
- Valentin Daniel Wilhelm Heusner (III) - 1791-1798
[see source 1]
Foresters and hunters in Dhronecken
Hunters and gunmen were always part of the castle staff, with game being a part of the diet. The hunter and maybe later also the forester usually resided in one of the houses on the "Hostert" (today's "Neis" house, as a map made in the 18. century shows it as "the hunter's house").
- 1648: Georg Seitz, forest master[see source 2, p.418]
- Nikolaus Kirst, gunman and later head forester (born before 1630), father of
- Johann Philipp Kirst, forester (he lived 1651- after 1710)
- Johann Dietrich Kirst, forester (he lived 1661-1740)
- Georg Caspar Röder, head forester from 1779, 1791 mentioned as Jäger (=hunter) [see source 2, p.422 and source 4, no 10220]
- around 1865 Oberförster (= head forester) Helbron
- Förster (= forester) Berresheim - he was said to have owned 31 pairs of hunting shoes [see source 1, p. 214]
- Förster Müller - a devout catholic, arrested in 1933 by the Nazi government for not being a member of the NSDAP [see source 1, p. 214]
There are three family books ("Familienbücher") listing the inhabitants of Dhronecken in the last few centuries. The fourth one lists catholic marriages in the whole area.
- Detemple, Markus. Familienbuch der Mark Thalfang 1650-1805. Thalfang, 1989.
- Giebel, Armin. Ortsfamilienbuch Standesamt Thalfang bis 1934. Gusenburg, 2012.
- Karbach, Franz-Josef. Familienbuch der evangelischen Kirchengemeinde Thalfang 1818-1879. Cardamina, 2009.
- Bungert, Hans-Peter, Katholisches Heiratsregister Hochwald und westl. Hunsrück von Beginn der Kirchenbücher bis 1798, Völklingen a.d.Saar, 1986.
The family books of surrounding villages also often list some people from Dhronecken, for example the family book on Hermeskeil civil office marriages.
There are other books on the history of Dhronecken which are valuable resources:
- Regge, Carla. Burg, Amt und Dorf Dhronecken. Dhronecken, 1991.
- Reber, Hannelore. Das Rad an meines Vaters Mühle. Frankfurt/Main: Private print, 2002.
- Gerten, E. Dhron und Dhrönchen: Geschichte und Geschichten um zwei Hunsrücker Wasserläufe. Books on Demand, 2012.
Other resources are historical magazines' and essay collections', for example:
- Die Hott
- Der Schellemann
- Kreisjahrbuch Bernkastel-Wittlich
IGI Batch numbers:
- baptisms, 1650-1730, no.: C96365-1
- marriages, 1650-1720, no.: M96365-1
- marriages, 1739-1798, no.: M96365-2
- baptisms, 1764-1798, no.: C96365-3
Westdeutsche Gesellschaft für Familienkunde - http://www.wgff.de/trier/
- Genwiki (genealogical wiki) on Dhronecken: http://genwiki.genealogy.net/Dhronecken
- German Wikipedia on Dhronecken: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhronecken
- English version: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhronecken
- German Wikipedia on Castle Dhronecken: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burg_Dhronecken
Videos and multimedia sources:
A video on Dhronecken's voluntary fire brigade gives some history, views of houses and the castle: https://www.swrfernsehen.de/landesschau-rp/hierzuland/aexavarticle-swr-16810.html
A video showing pictures of Castle Dhronecken and surrounding buildings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCoHFU_mc4E
"Auf der Walz durch Rheinland-Pfalz: Der Südwestfunk 1996 in Dhronecken", CD.
1 - Regge, Carla. Burg, Amt und Dorf Dhronecken. Dhronecken, 1991.
2 - Reber, Hannelore. Das Rad an meines Vaters Mühle. Frankfurt/Main: Private print, 2002.
3 - Gerten, E. Dhron und Dhrönchen: Geschichte und Geschichten um zwei Hunsrücker Wasserläufe. Books on Demand, 2012.
4 - Giebel, Armin. Ortsfamilienbuch Standesamt Thalfang bis 1934. Gusenburg, 2012.
5 - Karbach, Franz-Josef. Familienbuch der evangelischen Kirchengemeinde Thalfang 1818-1879. Cardamina, 2009.
6 - Die Hott: Hunsrücker Hefte zur Geschichte und Gegenwart
7 - Der Schellemann: Zeitschrift des Kulturgeschichtlichen Vereins Hochwald e.V.
8 - Kreisjahrbuch Bernkastel-Wittlich
9 - Fröhlich, Emil Christian. Geschichte der Mark Thalfang. 1895.