Der Nederlanden: Part 10

Dingden and the drive to Venlo – Day 5 afternoon

The name Dingden came from Ding or Thing – the name for the governing council in old Germanic societies, and probably it was the old regional meeting place for the Thing.

The Netherlands, like most of what was the Holy Roman Empire, was divided into many small principalities, which changed hands often for a thousand years and more. Bocholt, Rhede, and Dingden were in the Principality of the Bishopric of Munster, which was created by Charlemagne in 795, and part of the Holy Roman Empire. It bordered on the Duchy of Cleve. It was dissolved in 1802, and the area of Bocholt, Rhede, and Dingden became the Principality of Salm, which was taken over by the French Empire shortly thereafter, until 1815, when it went to Prussia. Venlo, to the southwest, also bordered Cleve, and from 1096 was in the quarter of the Duchy of Guelders that remained in the Hapsburg Spanish Netherlands. In 1713, Venlo and the area around it became part of the Dutch Republic. The areas of Upper Guelders to the east became Prussian, and the German border dates from then. From 1795 to 1815 both the Dutch and German areas were held by the French. The whole area spoke closely related dialects of East Dutch: South Guelderish, East Bergish, and Klevelander. Since then, standard German has taken over in the German area.

Sankt Pankratius in Dingden was bombed in 1945 by Americans and Poles. Only the tower survived, and after much discussion, the church was replaced by a simple stucco – inside and out – design. As the church site says (translated by Google)

A simple solution should be: “A hall church without pillars, which could obstruct the view, with small worship chapels should arise”, as it is called in a Festschrift to 60 years of reconstruction. The Dingden vernacular puts it mundane: “Like a barn.” Fits the village character of Dingden and its peasants. In the Festschrift it is well-put: “Sober and cool presents the interior and inevitably directs the view of the brightly lit chancel.”

And the light is stunning.

Sankt Pankratius, Dingden

Sankt Pankratius, Dingden


Font, Sankt Pankratius, early 17th c.

The font apparently survived the bombing, and dates from the early 1600s. The church records only go back to the late 1600s, so all of my known Dingden ancestors – Nienhaus, ten Busch, Klueck, Syverding, Hoffmans, were christened in this font. The Germans have not been nearly as good as the Dutch in putting old records on-line, so I haven’t learned much more about them than can be gleaned for the church records.

Peter Arnold Venhorst, son of Jan, who had moved to Venlo in the 1760s, was appointed mayor of Meerlo, north of Venlo, in 1800, under the new government after France occupied Limburg. He was only 26. The next year he married Agnes Douveren, who must have died, perhaps in first childbirth, because in 1803 he married Antonetta Nienhaus, and they were the parents of Louisa Venhorst, Otto deGruyter’s mother. Antonetta’s parents, Joan Henrich Nienhaus and Marianna ten Busch, never left Dingden, and in fact had their last child there the year after Antonetta married, in Meerlo. I wonder, but have not found a clue, how Antonetta ended up in Meerlo.

Antonetta was descended from several cousin marriages. Her father’s father was Arnold Neinhaus b. 1716, her mother’s grandfather was his brother Henrich Nienhaus b. 1709, and his wife was Maria Anna Elisabeth Nienhaus b. 1719, daughter of Henrich b. 1674, son of Jacob, who was probably an uncle of Arnold and Henrich’s father Joannes.

Robert spotted this plaque on our way from the church to the car.

Today’s nursing home St. Josef in Dingden goes back to a former inn. This house is mentioned for the first time in 1657 in a document and called “white horse”. At that time it was a tavern.
For a long time the house was owned by the respected and wealthy Nienhaus family. Here also the sessions of the poor board took place. In the year 1729 Heinrich Nienhaus is called as supervisor of the poor.
In 1829 the house was demolished. The following year, the reconstruction took place. Several times the owner changed.

Source – KuLaDig

Nearby is the Jacobshaus, now the Humbergerhaus Museum, which commemorates the Jewish family Humberg. In the late 1600s it was the home of Jacob Neinhaus.



Here is a family tree of Otto deGruyter’s ancestors, again.

And here is a musical interlude, by Dutch folk band Rowwen Hèze (Wiki in English), while we drive to Venlo.

“Een kwestie van geduld” means “A matter of patience” and is about how North Limburgerish, one of the remaining East Dutch dialects will eventually take over.

“Vanoavend vur altied” lyrics but it is Limburgerish and Google Translate doesn’t deal. But it includes “Consumption is mandatory. The bank gentleman in the room makes himself happy”

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