Note: This information was taken from the first section of LOOK UNTO THE HILLS - The Leifeste family in the United States, Compiled and Edited by Ruby E. and Julius E. DeVos, 1985. Hopefully I will be able to take a lot of information from this book and present it on the web, but right now I am in the process of getting in touch with the DeVos's to see if they will allow me to do so.
Johann Hennig Leiweste, born about 1725, was a community shepard in Gielde, Province of Braunschweig, Germany. Gielde is a small town in central Braunschweig, Germany, at the present time. He married Marie Elisabeth Dammeyer. One of their children, most likely not the oldest, was Johann Heinrich Conrad Leiweste. Johann Hennig died December 3, 1772 at the age of fourty-seven.
Johann Heinrich Conrad did not and was not going to inherit the family home or the position of community shepherd. Therefore, he had to find some other means of making a living. He may have moved north working with sheep, seeking grazing areas. Whatever reason, he did find his way to Broistedt, about thirty-five to forty kilometers northwest of Gielde. There, as a comparatively young man, he married Johanne Catherine Conradine Stahe on January 27, 1774, in Broistedt. Johanne was the daughter of Johann Heinrich Stahe. Between 1774 when they married and 1782, Heinrich constructed a house in Broistedt.
Johann Heinrich Conrad eventually became a "Kotsasser" or small farmer. Usually this classification was given to men who owned their own home and owned or leased a few hecatres of land. Heinrich also owned sheep but was primarily a farmer.
One of Heinrich and Johanne's children, probably the fourth in the family, was Johann Heinrich Conrad who was born on July 12, 1782. It is known that six children were born in the family. Johann Heinrich Conrad was baptized in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, however not the church building existing in Broistedt today. A church of that denomination existed in Broistedt and very likely Johann Heinrich Conrad obtained what little education he received in that church building or through that church. He was able to write his name. Beyond that, he was probably not capable of writing much more.
On November 25, 1808, Johann Heinrich Conrad married Johanna Sophie Wöbekind in Broistedt. He had constructed a house in 1807. Over the door, he hung this inscription: "Was mein Gott will, geschehe allezit," J. H. K. Leiweste, translated, "What God wills, may it be done always." To this house he took his new bride.
Several unanswered questions arise at this point. Two children were born and died before Johann Heinrich Conrad was born. A third child, a son, was alive, and should have inherited the family home. The second question arises with Johann Heinrich Conrad's occupation, that of Community Sheperd. Did he or his father lose the few hecatres of land or did his father only lease it? What happened to the oldest son? To find the answers would take many more hours of research.
Johanna Sophie Wöbekind was born in 1786, probably in Heerte, Braunschweig, about twenty kilometers from Broistedt. Her parents were Johann Bartold and Johanna Rosine Weule Wöbekind.
On June 15, 1818, at the age of seventy-one, Johann Heinrich Conrad's mother died. His father continued to live in Broistedt for another twenty years, dying on January 1, 1838 at the age of eighty-two years.
Johann Heinrich Conrad and Johanna Sophie had eight children born to them, all in the family home. They were Heinrich Conrad 1810, Heinrich August 1812, Johann Heinrich Karl Christian 1814, Marie Christine Elisabeth 1817, Johann Heinrich Gottfried 1819, Johann Friedrich 1821, Sophie Christine Henriette 1824, and Johanna Marie Christine, who died at the age of six.
All of the children were baptized in the new Evangelical Lutheran Church in Broistedt built between 1787 and 1791. Very likely, their grandfather, assisted in constructing the building. They also attended what schooling they had at the church or church school. All were capable of reading and writing well, in German, of course.
The boys became sheperds, assisting their father in his work. With the exception of Heinrich Conrad, all would eventually have to find work else where as well as a home in which to live, should they marry.
Soon after their eighth child was born, Johanna Sophie died. The date was July 4, 1827. Life now took on a different look for the entire family. The youngest child was nine months old, the oldest girl only two years old. With no one to take care of the child, Johann Heinrich Conrad needed another wife. He found Marie Karoline Dorothea Juliane Heike, who he married on November 30, 1827. Marie K. D. J. Heike was the daughter of Gottfried Ludwig and Margarete Elise Lohr Heike. Johann Heinrich Conrad and Marie K. D. J. had five children of their own in the next thirteen years. They were Johann Heinrich Julius 1828, Karoline Dorothea Henriette 1830, Sophie Dorothea Henriette 1837, Ernst Friedrich Christian 1840 and Heinrich Julius Theodore 1841.
With a stepmother and a second set of children, the older children were being "pushed out the door". The oldest son, Heinrich Conrad, married and left home or died. Heinrich August married in 1841 and apparently brought his bride into the parental home. Heinrich Karl Christian married about 1840 and probably moved to Reppner, a small village south of Broistedt.
In 1844, tales of the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas began circulating in Germany. Dissatisfied men and women, eager to change their lives, eagerly listened to all the stories. They heard of the freedom, the opportunities, the free land and they signed contracts by the thousands. In the fall of 1845, Heinrich Gottfried, Johann Friedrich and Sophie Christine, all unmarried, were ready to depart Germany.
Their early letters from Texas to the family back home were of hardships and scarcities. However, they were impressed by all the open, uninhabited land. They were also impressed by the lack of police supervision. Once in Fredericksburg, their letters told of improvements in the way of life.
For those living in Germany with no future ahead of them, the news was "the light at the end of the tunnel". Without much information about the new land, they grasped at straws to keep from drowning. More Germans signed contracts and departed Germany.
Christoph's (Heinrich Karl Christian) wife died about 1846 or 1847, leaving him with a young son. He too was now dissatisfied with his life and decided to try his luck in Texas. Apparently, he convinced his younger sister, Johanna Sophie Elisabeth, then twenty-two, to accompany him to Texas. They left Bremen in the fall of 1848. Unfortunately Johanna died during the voyage. She supposedly was buried somewhere on the coast of the United States.
Christoph returned to Germany in 1851 or 1852. It is believed he had two purposes in returning. The first was to tell his father of the details of Johanna Sophie Elisabeth's death. The second was to obtain a second wife. While in Broistedt, he convinced his older brother Heinrich August, to immigrate to Texas with him. August, now the father of five children, was probably reluctant at first, but was finally won over to the new idea. Consequently, Heinrich August, his wife and children and Christoph sailed from Bremen in the fall of 1852.
What of Christoph's plan for a new wife? He did not marry while in Germany but married almost immediately upon returning to Fredericksburg. The woman he married, Johanna Lehmberg, was aboard the same ship coming from Germany to Texas. It is very likely they had known each other for many years prior to departing from Germany as her brother, Julius Lehmberg, was a community shepherd in Broistedt. Had Christoph made arrangements before he left from Germany or did he not find what he sought in Germany? But he did marry Johanna after their arrival in Texas.
Following the departure of the last of his first set of children, Johann Heinrich Conrad, continued to live in his house in Broistedt. With his sons gone, he had to rely on his oldest surviving son from his second marriage, Ernst Friedrich Christian, then a boy thirteen, to carry on his work as community shepherd. Eventually, the occupation and the home were inhereted by this son.
Ernst Friedrich Christian was married in due time to Friedricka Henriette Eppens. They had three children, Bertha (Graumann), Marie Henriette Minna (Mandel) and Karl. Karl died, unmarried, about 1910.
Descendants of Bertha Leifeste Graumann and Minna Leifeste Mandel still reside in Broistedt and the area. Anneliese Mandel, unmarried, remains in the family home in Broistedt constructed by her great-grandfather about 1807.
Johann Hennig Leiweste
married Marie Elisabeth Dammeyer