History Recker Harhoff



Transleted by Ingrid Seliger, January 2014


This history of the Harhoff Recke was in 1987/88 published in the compilation about the historical Harhöfe of Westphalia


The Harhoff Recke – lonely lying in the Har of Recke in the lowland of the river Aa


The community of Recke which belonged always to Westphalia, is lying on the northern border of the county of Steinfurt and the border of Nordrhein-Westphalia. It is one of the four old parishes of Tecklenburg and belonged – as Ibbenbüren, Mettingen and Brochterbeck – to the main shire of Lingen. In the west and northwest direction the community of Hopsten is neighbouring, in the south the town of Ibbenbüren, in the southeast the community of Mettingen and in the northeast beyond the Nether Saxonian border which was established in 1815 by law, the former Westphalian county of Osnabrück.

Geomorphologically the county is characterised by carbon soil in the south, which forms the hills of Ibbenbüren. In the north follows a sandy zone at the base of the hills, especially in the “Bauerschaften” (farm areas, transl.) Steinbeck and Espel, the zone of the sandy banks of the Recker Aa (small river, transl.), the sandy zone of the higher banks of the “Bauerschaften” Twenhusen and Langenacker, in between the center of Recke, and the most northern “Bauerschaft” Harhoff which is lying, where the sandy soil of Plantlünne changes to the lowlands of Voltlage and Vinter Moor.

These last mentioned lowlands are drained by the Halverder Aa (small river, transl.). The highest place of all the Bauerschaft Harhoff is 48,1 m high and situated in the middle of Harhoffs/Harmeiers “Esch” (special field, transl.). Already in 1605 this field was gauged as a field for 65 bushel seed. In 1829 same as in 1880 until nowadays it had always 8,4176 ha latitude (about 21 acres, transl.) and historically always was used for rye.

The neighbouring Harhof of Recke in the west is lying on 47 m NN, so it is situated on the water parting between the Halverder and Recker Aa on a slightly higher ridge. But because of the distance of the Recker Aa and the higher situated bank the drainage is not of much influence, same as the drainage by the Vinter-Moor-Channel, which was digged out in the last (19th) century. Even in the north along the drainage channel you could find larger expanses of water in wet winters and in local pits.

In historical times the drainage of the Harhoff farmlands was effected by own ditches with sag pipes – even under the later Vinter-Moor-Channel – to the Halverder Aa in northern and northwestern direction. 20 years ago the “Niedersächsische Grenzkanal” (Nether Saxonian border channel) was built and enhanced the drainage essentially.

The historical Harhof of Recke, lying on the Har of Recke, and its fields were never threatened by water because of the relatively good high situation, as it is defined by the Westphalian term “Har” (which means a former sand hill and is dry and unfertile, transl.).  

The traditional fields of the farm have a layer of top soil about 1 m (more than 1 yard, transl.) or even more, as the investigations of the “Agraramt” (office for agricultur) in Münster and the new owner to their surprise found out. Some more acreages had in the subsoil a thin layer of  moor, which  held the water and was like a border; it was  broken by very deep ploughing.

The reason for the good situation on the traditional fields of the farm is the manuering with “Plaggen” (sod plugging) which was in use since more than thousend years and was very effective. The manuering with dung would not have been enough for the cultivation of rye during longer periods. Even without the fields in the west and the north which were used only since 1605, the Harhoff “Esch” (fields, manuered by sod plugging, transl.) needed every year 200 t (203 British tons) of sods in the time of 1000 years, or 130 t (132 British tons) in the time of 1500 years for their fields of 65 bushel seed or 21 acres land. All these sods had to be cut from the nearby “Har” (surroundings, transl.) and to be brought by horse and cart, before it could be used for manuering and could be ploughed. So the layer of top soil won its depth of 1 m (more than 1 yard, transl.).

In 1867 the common land were divided and in 1897 59 lots of land, altogether 65,4366 ha (about 162 acres, transl.) were registered in the records of land tax. These new properties got functional and practical names, and the term “Har”, which named the farm and the family, was not part of the new names. It is to be found only in the name of eight land lots “Wolferhaarfeld” and three more lots named “Haarst”. Besides that there is the lot 416/59 – an area of 1,513 ha (about 3,8 acres) – interesting, the so called Eschdiek. It is situated south of the place of the farmhouse and the above mentioned main “Esch”. It was used as meadow and obviously was the dyke against the deeper lying south ground, where later the Vinter-Moor channel was digged out.

But the term “Har” is used for many places: from west to east the “Haren” of Halverde, which was up to 1824 the northwestern part of Recke, north and west from the Voltlager Moor; the “Plaggenhar” north of Weese; the “Kreienhaar”, the farm Harhoff and the area “Wolferhaarfeld” north of Recke; the farmland “Haaren” and “Harkamp” (up to 1605 named “Stroitmans Haarkamp”) west of the village Recke; the area “Auf der Hahr”, situated at the “Napoleondamm” and “Neuenkirchener Straße” (two streets, transl.) in Mettingen, the place “Haren” southwest of Ostercappeln and at last the “Fuchshaar” west of Hunterburg, rather close to the “Dümmer See” (a lake, transl.).

The historical Harmeiers of the last centuries lived in the west-east zone from Halverde to Recke, also Venne up to Venne-Moor (17 km = 4.35 miles north of Osnabrück). According to the archives of the Mormons a lot of Harmeiers also settled in the Westphalian Dielingen and Drohne, south of the “Dümmer See” and in Minden. But researches in Dielingen and Drohne did show no indication of a historical Harhoff.

So devinitely the Harhoff in Recke, where Harmeiers lived, seems to be the most northern lying place of this name. It was situated overlooking the whole area, was large and important; it was founded in the earliest Saxon times on meager soil and was unique in Westphalia. That shows also the suffix “Hoff” (farm, transl.) which is usual for this area. So the following describtions will be longer than expected and will also describe its tragical faite in the last century.

Although I researched intensely, I only found out three historical farms in the northern part of Westphalia between Recke and Mettingen, which have the suffix “Hof” in their names; that are the Strothoff and Harhoff of Recke and the Langenhoff in Mettingen. But only the Harhoff and the Langenhoff are fully comparable, because on both farms lived “Meiers” (in middle ages a bailiff, transl.), the Harmeiers and Langemeiers, whereas the Strothoff was owned by Strotmanns. The Langenhoff of Mettingen is the origin of the distillery dynasty C. Langemeyer, who in 1895 bought the Harhoff of Recke after its undeserved recession.

Also in Recke you find south of the Recker Aa many local “Hare”, as the Schweighar, Rohenhar and Haarkamp Moor, the area Aufm Haar close to the “Rutenmühle” (a mill, transl.) of the Mühlenbach, where the farm “Auf der Haar” und “Von der Haar” are situated. Astonishingly you find even here in the most northern part of Westphalia on the map of 1826 a longer “Hellweg” (former trade road, especially for salt, transl.). It leads from the foot of the Steinbeck Mountain across the very old light fields of the Steinbecker Esch up to Schlickelde-Mettingen and is to be seen until today.

Although the cultivated fields of the Harhof probably had only 65 “Scheffelsaat” (bushel seed; 1 “Scheffelsaat” = 40 pounds of rye seed = 1300 m²; 1555 square yards, transl.), that means altogether 8,45 ha (20,88 acres, transl.), it was surely the largest farm of Recke in medieval times and was the outstanding farm of the area from Voltlage up to the Vinter Moor. The “Hare” around and the wet borders of the Voltlager and Vinter (= Recker) Moor were used as meadows, but there were growing only brushwood and scrubs, same as on the sand hills, that divided both fens. The right to use this common land probably included thousends of acres, but was not exactly defined. During the centuries the cultivated fields encreased by and by from a few percent to 30 % in 1930, while even in that year 19 % remained untilled space, area for the houses and ways. So it was registered in “Niekammers landwirtschaftlichen Adressbüchern” (list of agricultural adresses), where the estate was specified with 83,7 ha (206,83 acres, transl.). The reason for proclaiming so much untilled soil was to save taxes; although these areas had only poor plant cover, they were used extensively as meadows for sheeps. The breeding of sheep, cattle and pigs was the main business on the Harhof of Recke up to the last decades.

In 1883 the farm had 59 lots of land and 65,4466 ha (161,725 acres, transl.). The buildings were the farmhouse, barns and space around the house, a small house with the baking oven, a shed, a house, where the old couple of the farm lived, and probably two houses for farm labourers, one sheep shelter near the farmhouse and one shelter in the fields. All these buildings covered

                                                                                             0,3 % of the area  

and so the farm area was cultivated:


garden close to the house 583 m² (697 square yard) and gardens in the fields 6.719 m² (8036 square yard)


      1,7 % of the area

fields of the farm and of the farm labourers 165296 m² (197692,36 s.y.)


     25,4   % of the area

meadows (farm and farm labourers)

     12,7   % of the area

pastures, including  Wolferharfeld and lot 19 = Vinter Moor

     57,3   % of the area


wood, including many oak trees, several hundred years old

      2,6   % of the area


   100,0  %


The farmer Johann Jacob Harmeyer left a list of his estate of october, 31st, 1829. The farm was called “Sunderbauer Nr. 8”, same as later “Harhoff Nr. 26” and today “Harhoff Nr. 30”. After several separations and without the lots 1 to 51 in the common land the property consisted of 144 Morgen (old Prussian measure of land = 3,25 ha = 800,63 acres, transl.) and 153 Ruten (roods; 1 Prussian rood = 3,77 m = 4.122 yards), that is 278 “Scheffelsaat” (bushel) + 6 Ruten + 160 Fuß (feet) of the local measure. After selling of 12 Morgen of the Espeler Weiden by contract of june, 18th, 1859 the extent was lessened to 132 Morgen + 128 Ruten + 20 Fuß. This property is registered in the land charge register in 1863. The selling was made to avoid tributes, because the farm had to bear so many burdens, which encreased drastically: rights of the former landlord, that was the king of Prussia; old taxes of the church and the sexton up to the reformed clerical manors and clerical seminars of Lingen; and the gratuities for children, who left the farm. These gratuities were fixed by the judical authority and registered in the land charge register, but they were much to high, although not contradicted. For all this the farmer wanted to avoid to pay charges.

The situation of the family on the farm was good. Without doubt that is to be found out from the checked environment of the whole Harmeier clan, including the dividing into secondary farms, cottages, settlements on the common land and new farm places. The farm enjoyed a good reputation and was known of its extraordinary competence and economic performance. Through many centuries up to modern times it was the outstanding farm in the area of Voltlage, Recke, Twenhusen and Steinbeck up to Ibbenbüren. The sons and daughters of the farmers, who did not inherit the farm, married with children of the best farms in the surroundings or cultivated themselves new parts of the nearby sandy soil of the extended “Hare”, heath grounds and fens, which offered only meagres possibility of livelihood.

A relatively numerous part of the Harmeier children also became tradesmen and traded especially with the nearby Netherlands which after the 30years War advanced by its colonies. In the area of Hopsten, Recke and Mettingen you find many tradesmen, so called “Tödden” (merchants, who moved around through the country to sell and buy, transl.). Some of them later became wellknown and international trading firms (for example: Brenninkmeyer, Hettlage and several more). The part of Harmeiers, who emigrated overseas during the last century (19. cent.) is immense. The reason was the large number of children, who sprouted from the farm. The soil was not fertile enough to give them a chance of livelihood. Besides that, the free and goodnatured Westphalians did not really get along with the Prussian government with its red tape, militarism and bellicosity, which were unknown to their nature.

But in that times there was no other possibility as to vote “by feet”, as it was in the times nowadays, when people migrated from the East German Zone, where the Prussian bad spirits were preserved, understandable from its history.

When the farmer Johann Jacob Harmeyer retired on december, 19th, 1861 his heir and son from his third marriage Henrich Joseph Harmeyer inherited already a reduced farm with many burdens registered in the land charge register. Johann Jacob moved together with his fourth wife into the reserved property for the parents, which lay north of the houses for the farmworkers.

The “Große Harmeyer” farm and its appendage in the area Sunderbauer belonged originally to the former landlord – the king of Prussia -; it was registers in the land charge register in part 2 on march, 9th, 1822 – following the request of the “Königlichen Domänen-Rentei” Lingen (property administration of the – Prussian – king, transl.) of december, 28th, 1816 – as follows:


Pos. 1:

9 "Gulden" (gulden, Netherland, transl.) + 7 "Stüber" (old coin, transl.), 7 bushel oats, following the measure of Berlin, 7 pound of wax, 1 pig, 3 hens every year, besides that unsettled taxes as money from the earnings, heritage and so on

Pos. 2:

18 Gulden + 12 Stüber money every year; theses taxes were not accepted by the owner, but nevertheless pushed by the Prussian government

Pos. 3:

1 Gulden every year for the (clerical protestant, transl.) seminars of Lingen

Pos. 4:

8 Stüber sacrifice money and 2 Stüber "Beigabe" (addition) and 2 "Spint" (1/4 Bushel) for the clerical reformed manors of Lingen

Pos. 5:

during the harvest a bread of 25 pound and during the year another bread and 16 eggs for the reformed sexton Recke


The last three positions were pushed already before 1700. At that time the Oraniers (governors of the Netherlands) tried by force to bring the area of Recke to the new (protestant) confession. But they were not successful at any farm of Recke. Already in 1648, the first year of peace after the 30years War, the government of Netherlands forced the people who were altogether catholic, to give up the very old Romanesque catholic parish church of St. Dionysius. Furthermore it was forbidden to register all catholic baptisms, marriages and deaths, as well as the construction of a new own church.

Part 3 of the land charge register begins with the record of 25 “Taler” (old coin), to be paid twice a year. The farmer J. J. Harmeyer himself asked for this record to be paid for his minor brother Bernhard Henrich Harmeyer, beginning in 1816 after the death of his parents, the farmer Gerhard Jacob Harmeyer and his wife Anna Catharina Wessels, who died in 1815.The brother did not get his gratuity yet, as his other four siblings did. Three of them luckily married-in in Voltlage and Heppen, while the fourth child began to trade together with Maria Agnes Talmeyer (the mother came from the merchant familia Flaake). This trade was also continued during the following generation in Espel. Besides that the youngest brother got 2 cows, 1 ox, 1 stirk and so on.

The second position, registered on october, 20th, 1828, referred to a bailment of 1323 Taler + 12 “Silbergroschen” (old coin) + 6 Pfennig (pence) for the “patrimony of the minor Leeve”. Already on november, 25th, 1794 a daughter of the Harhoff Recke, Anna Catharina Harmeier,  had married into the very old Leuwen farm in Twenhusen. Maybe for her a patrimony from her grandfather J. J. Harmeyer was still to be paid. But it is more probable, that the obligation  refers to a cottage on “Leven Stätte” (a place, transl.) west of the Harhoff Recke. It was not possible to find out the truth. The third position again is a very hard burden for the Harhof Recke. It appoints a sum of 1325 Taler + 27 Silbergroschen + 8 Pfennig for the three still living minor children as “mother heritage” of the departed wife of J. J. Harmeyer, Anna Catharina Therese Püttemeyer, registered on january 25th, 1833.

The Pos. 4 shows, how good and model the solidarity of the family clan Harmeier was. On october, 1st, 1836 the shepherd Hermann Stegemann lent his cousin J. J. Harmeyer 300 Taler, because he was the son of his father’s sister Anna Cath. Harmeier. His fidelity for the catholic church of his home parish Recke is documented, when on december, 17th, 1843 the farm owner donated 300 Taler for the catholic church, although he already had a lot of burdens. When the farmer moved to the reserved property on december, 19th, 1861, another 750 Taler were registered in the land charge register for the three youngest children of the fourth marriage, who had not yet got any money before. The other five children of this marriage had already got their inheritance, when they married or left the farm. The second child of the couple, August Harmeyer, lived with his wife Maria Theresia Lambers in the south of Harhof in a twinhouse for farm workers. They had six children from 1863 to 1873. Still 1900 one of them was registered together with his father as farm worker in the Langemeyer records. Descendents of this branch lead to the Kreienfeld with nowadays Robert Harmeyer.

So in 1861 the Harhof of Recke had to pay a lot of money as gratuities and inheritances for children, who left the farm: 400 Taler for the brother; 1323 Taler as father’s inheritance for the minor children of Leve; 1325 Taler as mother’s inheritance of the minor children of Püttemeyer and 750 Taler as parent’s inheritance of the minor children Schwierjohann; altogther about 3800 Taler debts. It is unknown, how much was already paid at that time. Also is unknown, how much of the liabilities for the administration of the Prussian king was paid, the clerical protestant and catholic obligations of the Harhof Recke of Pos. 2 of the land charge register. To this are to be added the new Prussian taxes of 1812 and following years.

J. J. Harmeyer brought up his altogether 13 children in a godly and honourable way befitting to their rank. He held the familiy together as good as possible and patiently bore the death of his three wives as fate, given by God. So his lifework is not to disdain. His work on the farm, put into money, surely is respectable, compared to all and the best farms in Westphalia, who lay on much better soil, although the farm was declining from 1830 to 1880. For example, the Grevenhoff of Herbern, to which belonged 170 Morgen, was sold in 1812 for only 2500 Taler. The Harhof of Arnsberg, which had 410 Morgen, many faultless buildings, a brickyard, many usage rights and all the stock was sold for 15000 Taler. The Harhof of Recke and all his added properties, the stock, especially the imposing buildings of Westphalian timber frame construction – farm house and houses for the farm labourers – and 262 Morgen of expanse were sold for only 20600 Mark = 6866 2/3 Taler. That was a shame, but the selling took place as a judical sale. On august, 28th, 1895, when the following tenant Joseph Grotemeyer also was driven to judical sale with all his stock, he got the above named sum already for his lifestock of 103 cows.

The reason for the, because of its strength, slowly declining of this old Saxon Harhof – more than thousand years old, probably 1500 years old – was not the fault of its inhabitants. If at all their characters are to be blamed: Westphalian sense of family and fidelity to the place of birth, godliness, goodnaturedness, the trust in God and their own power and the patience to bear more and more burdens up to the fall. They acted according to the word of the bible: “Give the emporer what is his”; but this word can not be applied to the Prussian state, which was bureaucratic and degenerated in Byzantine manner.

Already Dr. Augustin Wibbelt (catholic priest and author, esp. of dialect stories and poems, transl.), who lived in the area of Harhofs of Dolberg, Ahlen and Vorhelm, transl.) expressed that in 1909 in his poem “De Buernstand” (About Farmers, transl.) in the following verses: 


Ji denkt: De Buer hät taohen Bast                            You think: The skin of the farmers is thick

un hätt en sturen Nacken,                                       and he has a stiff neck.

Wi willt em alle Drägt un Last                                   we will put all the burdens

Up sienen Nacken packen                                        on his neck



De Buer is stark, apatt man kann                             A farmer is strong, but you can

Den stärksten Mann verdiärben,                              ruin the strongest man,

Un gripp man so de Wuottel an,                              and when the roots are ruined,

Dann mott de Baum auk stiärben.                           the tree itself will die


(Poem in Münsterland dialect)


On december, 12th, 1861 Heinrich Joseph Harmeier was declared as heir of the financially strickened farm by a notarial contract. He was the fourth child of Johann Jacob Harmeier and his third wife Anna Catharina Therese Püttemeyer and was 35 years old. On June, 11th, 1862 he married Maria Agnes Kempker from Limbergen, Neuenkirchen und Hülsen. Up to 1866 the couple had three children, who all died in childhood, the last one in 1879, when he was 16 years old. The first wife died not later than 1868, for on january, 10th, 1869 he married Maria Anna Theresia Hungermann (Hunger = hunger – nomen est omen?) of the farm Hungermann in Püsselbüren in his second marriage. In 1867 the common lands “Sunderbauer” were divided and caused many bureaucratic difficulties and costs, without bringing appreciable advantages. Compared to the former immense rights in the whole area it was insufficiant, that he got only 130 Morgen uncultivated acreages in 13 lots of Wolferhaarfeld and Vinter Moor. The whole estate consisted now of 59 lots with 65,4466 ha (161,75 acres) up to 1880. The also immense rights in the nearby “Kingdom of Hannover” he had already lost by the new political and absolutely arbitrary border. He never got any compensation for these rights.

Originally the extension of the “Große Harmeiers Colonat” (Large Harmeyer Farm) and its rights was immense, but obviously not defined in a legal sense. During the centuries it was reduced by the settlement of cottages, small farmers, inhabitants and settlers on new farm places, who cultivated the only extensiv used “Har”, the poor environment and even the fen areas from all sides. Especially the extremly growing of the family of the Harhof Recke and his Harmeiers by children – nearly as in the Old Testament –entailed numerous divisions of its original estate in all directions: west, south and north. Their descendents were as numerous as the sand by the sea.

So in the mere nine years of peace between 1609 an 1617 and in the following 21 years of the 30years War 17 children were born. They were registered in the first volume of the church records of St. Dionysius Recke (the complete church records of Recke are in the episcopal archives of Münster and people can not inspect them until now); they all were baptized as catholics and had names with “Har”: Harmeier, Harmeiers, Harmeyer, Harmeyers, Haermeyer, Haemeyer, Haermeyer, Haerhuis, op der Har, up der Har and Haer. In 1618 died an Albert upper Hare, in 1615 a marriage was registered of “upper Hare” and in 1626 another one with Haer. Noticeable is, that with all these names you never find an “aa”; that is historically correct for the Münsterland (in Westphalia the “long a = aa” is replaced by “ae”, transl.). Also the christian names were typical for traditional Westphalia: Henrich, Johannes, Gerhard, Bernhard, Georg, Albert and so on, as for the boys, so for the girls: Catharina, Margareta, Adelheid, Maria and more. The most used Germanic girl’s name, very common in the center of Westphalia, “Gertrud” is not found, perhaps by chance, and according to history the newer christian names “Franz” and “Joseph” were not yet used.

Caused by this large number of children and as gratuity of a child (Maria Aleid Harmeyer, born 1725), perhaps already in 1745 the little Harmeier farm was founded, mostly called “Lütke” (small) or “Kleine Harmeier” farm. The girl probably got it, when she married Gerhard Henrich Göcke in 1745. It was lying about 250 m (= 273,4 yards) west of the Harhoff. Also another new founded farm, lying 250 m (= 273,4 yards) south of the main farm, was inhabited by Harmeiers. So were several houses for farm workers, and even a sheep shelter, lying in the fields (called “Bethlehem”), was converted into a farm worker’s house. Also the former cottage Leeve, lying north of Kleine Harmeier and 250 m (= 273,4 yards) west of it, probably in rather early times was divided from the Harhof. But inbetween it was always personally connected with Harmeiers. (1828 it was the father’s inheritance of  the minors of Leve, Johann Phillip Harmeier on “Leven Stätte” married Mar. Cath. Lewe; on december 21st, 1821 Joh. Henr. Harmeier, Leve, Lütkeharmeier  - three  names for the same person, transl. – 62 years old, died in that house; he was never married). During the following time the owners were named Wenker and Wolke, but nowadays it is again inhabited by Harmeiers, who came from the new farm of 1780, lying south; its extense is about 65 “Morgen”.

The Har cottage Leeve seemed to be a part of the farm Leuwe of Twenhusen, already 1494 known. The farmer of this property had to bring one pig as debt every year to the earl of Tecklenburg, just as the owners of “de Harmeyger” and 13 more farms of Recke had to do. According to the excellent researches of F. E. Hunsche, probably most of the farms in Recke had to pay money for the common lands and for services to the earls of Tecklenburg; one of them was also the Harhof Recke, whose farmers were called Hameiger, Hameyersche and Harnemeiger. This shows, that already in that times the original farm was divided into several parts.

1543 (the farm) Leuwe to Twenhusen is mentioned, also for the first time the farm Verfarth – at that time called Overfart -, lying close to the former fording of the Recker Aa (river, transl.), which in 1747/48 was supplanted by a bridge of stone with three arches. Today the farm Verfarth takes over the very old Harhoff in the north of Recke, according to the expansion of the village Recke and the land consolidation.

In old Saxon times and Middle Ages this Harhoff was surely the most extended estate of Recke. It was first named in 1189 in the so called “birth certificate” of Recke as Harhus; it was property of the noble man Wicbold von Horstmar, who was liege of the earls of Cappenberg in central Westphalia. The abbey of Werden, although nearly 150 km        (= 93 miles)  far off, obviously was of determinant influence in the times of the Carolingians. They forced the spread of christianity in the old Saxon districts of Venki-, Varn- and Threcwitigau around Recke and built parish churches in Schale and Recke. East of this area Herford was responsible. In 1189 the Harhoff Recke became a gift to the diocese of Osnabrück, in order to found a monastary for monks. But the bishop Arnold died in 1190 on a crusade, and probably because of this event the monastary was not founded. The gift came back and somehow became property of the earls of Tecklenburg and Lingen. In 1702 the Harhoff Recke was transmitted to the king of Prussia as heritage of Oranien. So after the wars of Napoleon, when the Prussian land charge registers were begun, the Harhoff Recke was called “the large Harmeyer farm, which former belonged to the landlord”.

The smaller Harmeier farm was at first also property of the landlord. Not before 1825 it adopted also the name “Kleine Harmeyer” (little Harmeyer) because Maria Aleid Harmeier got it as heritage. Already before that happened, two other branches, who had their origin in the farm, and all their siblings called themselves Harmeier. Between them and the numerous ascendents of the farm of their generations and the generation of their father (Johann Wilhelm Harmeier, born 1762 or 1763) judical arrangements were made. In 1787 this farm “Kleine Harmeier” had hardly 25 “Scheffelsaat” = 3,2 ha (7,9 acres), in 1883 18,1404 ha (44,82 acres), in 1902 18,2704 ha (45,146 acres) and in 1954 26,2569 ha (64,88 acres) property. Today (1987/88, transl.) the owner is Henrich Kleine Harmeyer and he is cultivating about 140 Morgen = 35 ha (86,488 acres). His adress is “Ehrenfriedhof 5”, former Harhoff nr. 19 and Sunderbauer nr. 53.

When in 1880 the main farm, the Harhof of Recke, was given up, the farm “Kleine Harmeier” also had a very bad time. Only by hard curtailments they just were able to avoid the financial failure, but they had to sell all their stock. Beginning about 1900 they obviously recovered.

Six generations back of the today’s owner Heinrich Kleine Harmeyer, the descendent was probably Johann Harmeyer, who is known by a document adressed to the Prussian king of october, 2nd, 1787, in which he begged in a very sumissively manner for himself and his collegues as new farmers of the area: (the farmers) “hiesiger Gegend demütigst und ersterbend um Gnade”. He signed as „servile servant”: „Dero Allerdurchleuchtigster Großmächtigster Gnädigster Königlichen Majestät Ihr Untertänigster Knecht, Neubauer Johann Harmeyer”.

The letter is full of these demanded, dishonourable and Byzantine phrases: “Dero königlichen Majestät geruhen doch gnädigst unsere demütigste Bitte vorstellen zu dürfen, wie wir geringen Neubauern hiesiger Gegend die Gnade nicht erhalten können die Seiner hochseligen Königlichen Majestät, als wir zu bauen anfingen, uns gnädigst zu versprechen geruhet haben und wie wir mit neue Lästen beschweret werden, die wir unmöglich zu tragen im Stande sind“ (in a very humble manner the farmers try to explain that it is impossible for them to pay the taxes and tributes, they have to bring up, transl.). The named 7 items refer to neglected promises, new burdens and wilful bureaucratical harassments, perversions and breaks of law; they are an only accusation of the administration of Lingen, being an unable, unwilling and therefore dangerous Prussian bureaucacy.

The reaction of the Prussian bureaucrats is commensurate: The farmer was insulted as  obstructionist and accused of having no mind to cultivate the land. He was threatened with other more diligent applicants for his new farm, got uncredible written charges and the loss of his grant because of his bad and indecend suggestions. These reactions were the same ones, as they are common even nowadays, when somebody clearly and explicitly appreciates the bureaucracy according to its own laws and disturbs its undeserved rest.

Already one year before, on october, 11th, 1786, the new farmer Herman Hendrich Harmeier, whose farm was lying in the south, got to the “hochlöbliche Cammer Collegium” (laudible administration). He was living in a hole in the ground instead of a house. He remembered them, that they visited his new farm and encouraged him to build a solid house, but he was not able to do so without the promised help of money. But the royal Prussian bureaucracy did not react. In 1787 he made another humble kowtow to the enslaving, inhuman Prussian administration and complained about the encrouchments of the employees of the landlord’s employees, who wanted to force him to pay taxes. But H. H. Harmeier came from the area of Osnabrück and therefore was a foreigner in Prussia; so he had been promised 15 years freedom of taxes. At last he got the mean sum of 30 “Reichthaler”, which were receipted by the assistant of the finance department on october, 30th, 1790. Before he got the money he had to beg in a very humble manner: “Eure Hochwohlgeborene Freiherrliche Excellenz alleruntertänigt bitten, auf sehnlichste Bitten Gnädigst zu helfen, sich einer gnädigen Erhörung getrösten und in tiefster Erniedrigung als alleruntertänigster Unterthan ersterben”.

This manner really reveals the uttermost perversion; probably it has its reason in the Slavonian origin of Prussia with its suppression and exploitation since centuries. Compared to this deprivation of liberty the methods of the Westphalian noblemens and the church really look tamely. But also the ridiculous sum of 30 Reichsthaler is nothing and not correct, compared to the immense bureaucratic burdens of the main farm, which for example for the gratuities for children had to pay several thousands of “Taler”.

This new farm in the south was founded by Anna Maria, born Harmeier (born 1743) and Herman Hendrik Harmeier, nick name Sandherm (Herman on the sand), who lived in a hole in the ground. It was at that time a property of 20 ¼ Scheffelsaat = 10,5 Morgen (= 6,616 acres). In 1954 it had 16,2208 ha (= 40 acres); its adress is nowadays Sunderbauer nr. 70 and is cultivated by Werner Harmeyer, who belongs to the seventh generation.

When Heinrich Joseph Harmeier in 1862 became the new farmer of the historical Harhoff, the economical situation did not improve. Already in 1865 he had to loan money and he got it of following oblegees: Farmer Hermann Heinrich Wefels on the Losekamp farm, area of Hollenstädte, parish Schwagsdorf, jurisdiction of Fürstenau; tradesman Bernhard Hermann Neumeister of Recke; smith Wilhelm Hemmer of Schale; miner Gerhard Richter of Püsselbüren; innkeeper Heinrich Schröder in Weese; Maria Theresia Siebelmeier in Recke; new farmer Bernhard Frehe of Katermuth in Mettingen. The owner of the quarry Gerhard Schludert and the owner of the distillery Theodor Bergschneider, both of Ibbenbüren, bought outstanding debits. In 1868 until 1880 the tradesman Johann Friedrich Drees of Ibbenbüren took the debits of three sons of Joh. Jac. Harmeier, which had to be paid by the Harhoff Recke. In 1880 this was a sum of about 1000 Mark of the brother Johann Henrich Harmeier (born march, 21st, 1829; 51 years old) and already in 1868 for the stepbrothers Gerhard Clemens Harmeier (born march, 24th, 1843) and in 1874 for Benedikt Bernhard Heinrich Harmeier (born february, 19th, 1845) each with about 750 Mark, to be paid by the farm owner Heinrich Joseph Harmeier.

Already in 1880 Johann Friedrich Drees owned floating rate instruments (4 to 5 %) of about 2500 Mark against the Harhof of Recke. These and other demands caused the judical management of the farm in the same year, because the farmer Joseph Harmeier was the legal successor of the former farm owner Heinrich Joseph Harmeier and was in this position registered in the land charge register.

Joseph Harmeier of the southern new farm of 1780 most likely was the judical manager of the main farm (fourth generation, born july, 29th, 1844; married february, 2nd, 1873 to Anna Maria Schröder of Weese). He had at once to deal with several debts, securities, bailments and recalls of loans, which were burdens of the Harhoff, he was judically managing. Therefore the judical sell took place already on may, 23rd, 1882. On may, 26th, 1882 the tradesman Johann Friedrich Drees got the award of the estate of 65,4366 ha (161,7 acres) and all the buildings and stock. He was bidding highest and paid 20600 Mark.

The dislodged farmer Heinrich Joseph Harmeier and his family moved to the farm worker house of Börgelmann, nowaday Meier-Börgelmann, close to the glass factuary nearly in the center of Ibbenbüren. Two of his children (Gustav and August) were later known there as craftsmen.

The new owner of the Harhof Recke was not successful. A broad trace of decline characterized the years of 1880 to 1895 and caught the four engaged families of Heinrich Joseph and Joseph Harmeier, Joseph Grotemeyer and the Drees family, according to the unscrupulous oppression of farmers, which was supported by the incompetent Prussian judicature. On april, 8th, 1895 the widow of Joh. Friedr. Drees  (Sophie, born Hantelmann) and her children Rudolphina, Frieda and Emil voluntarily had to sell the farm to the owner of the distillery Johann August Langemeyer (married to Eleonora Maria Theresia Voß); 28.500 Mark were paid. Manager or tenant became Joseph Grotemeyer, but he came to an end already on august, 8th, 1895, when he had to sale all his stock by court order. He continued to be manager of the farm and was mentioned, when he bought 10,5 t Thomasmehl (chemical fertiliser, tranl.) on november, 3rd, and 10 t of Kainit (also fertiliser, mineral, transl.) on november, 15th, 1900 at the railway station of Hörstel. He left the farm about 1905 to 1907, to become a self-employed farmer in Mettingen.

The takeovers of August Langemeyer of august, 8th, 1895 can be found in the family chronicle of Langemeyer, which was readily shown (to the author) on request. He paid at the public sale of  Joseph Grotemeyer 516,05 Mark; Grotemeyer signed as “Harhoff, den 31. 12. 1895” (december, 31st, 1895). The whole volume of the sale – about 130 lots – brought about 2000 Mark; so the part, Langemeyer bought back for the tenant, was about ¼ , besides that a cow for 200 Mark, a cart for 67 Mark, a plough for 33 Mark and a straw cutter for 59 Mark, also bowls, pots, nippers, an axe, a bushwhacker, tools for planting, a pick for manure and handles, which cost less than 1 Mark.

According to the common regulations for lease set by the distillery C. Langemeier of september, 25th, 1895, the five farm workers and their families of had to pay about 10 Mark per month, including the houses, fields, gardens and meadows. This sum could go down according to the price of rye; the manager of the Harhof had to pay altogether 465 Mark per year. So the income of the Harhof Recke including houses and all appendage was calculated only for 1140 Mark per year, which was not much even compared to the mean buy price of 28500 Mark. Considering the costs for repair, taxes and insurances it was only a yield of 4 %. Nevertheless at that time a long phase of consolidation began for the Harhof Recke.

Every farm had the right of distilling a certain amount of alcohol, and the rural rights for distilling were rather cheap. It was the main interest of Langemeyer, to get hold of these rights for his distillery in Mettingen and to have the possibility to use the farm for the remainders of his production. These remainders were useful for the feed of life-stock, because they contained many proteins and minerals. The tenant had to buy them at market value. In 1900  records of the way administration of Recke show an all-inclusive-offer of Langemeyers of 100 Mark per year for the transport to the Harhof Recke.

So in 1895 the farm got much better foundations than before in 1892, when a tradesman bought it only for earning money. The solid phase lasted for 86 years, when the farm was sold again. During the years of 1909 to 1981, 72 years,  it had the same tenant family, inherited by generations.

In 1897/98 the C. Langemeyer company bought more ground, especially of Ignatz Meinert, Sunderbauer nr. 3; so the estates was 80,1001 ha (197,94 acres) and from 1912 to 1954 it was always 85,1818 ha (210,49 acres). In 1895 and the following years the houses of the farm workers were reconditioned and enlarged, and so in 1900 eight families of farm workers were registered. One appartment building, belonging to the farm, probably was also built in that time; it is used up today, whilst the other houses were broken down after 1972.

In 1900 all the old buildings of the farm burned down, especially also the old large, wonderful Westphalian farmhouse in framework with his imposing plentifully structured southern front with the barn floor and its gate and the horse’s heads on the top. No essential rests were left. Only an ink drawing of the main house, which was probably more than 200 years old, is conserved and the beam of the barn floor gate, but without the year of construction. Only by chance they found this beam, when in 1987 the reconstructed farm house of 1901 was taken down.

Under the date of march, 1st, 1901 in the private records of Langemeyer you can find the plans of Josef Krümpelmann for the construction of a new farmhouse with a middle part and the reconstruction of the cattle shed on the Harhoff. Employer was the August Langemeyer, owner of the distillery of Mettingen. In summer 1901 the first anticipated payments were registered for Josef Krümpelmann for his designs and delivery and for the constructor Josef Neyer for the realized buildings, altogether about 10000 Mark, which was surely not the whole sum.

The new buildings were very solidly constructed of broken stone of the carbon sandstones of the quarry in Steinbeck. The inner construction was made of framework, for barns, haylofts and the place for the grain as well as for the whole roof truss. Compared to the old framework buildings the new houses were very imposing and stable, but not so Westphalian and not fitting and not even conformed to the more than 1000 years of history of the farm.

After Josef Grotemeyer left as tenant, for a short time a tenant called Kohl took the farm over; he left also for the new farm Pelkmann just east of it. On  june, 1st, 1909 Josef Frielinghaus from Soest and his wife (born Neumeister) from Recke negotiated the tenancy agreement, which was defined by contract and was longlasting. They had to pay a rent of 2400 Mark for 83,6875 ha (8206,80 acres) including the houses of the farm workers and their grounds. All taxes for the community, repairs up to 50 Mark and the cleaning of the ditches and the dewatering were to by paid by the tenant; insurances against fire and storm, costs for the collective and taxes had to pay the landlord. The tenant had to take over the dry remainders of the distillery for 1,50 Mark per Zentner (110,23 pounds). For the first year the rent was reduced of 300 Mark; hunting rights had the landlord.

Because of the inflation the rent contract was altered into 2500 Pfund (3349 pounds) of healthy beef, and the hunting was allowed for both parts, also the repairing of the farm worker’s houses was regulated. On november, 2nd, 1925 the contract was enlarged to the heirs, the rent was fixed to 3000 Mark per year in the future. 1940/41 the son Alwin Frielinghaus, who was the farmer then, suddenly died. He left his wife (born Weßling-Lünemann) and two daughters. His three sisters got about 12 Morgen of wood on the hills of Ibbenbüren as gratuity, because their father was so successful during the decades before. The widow got  married again to Hubert Overesch. But Josef Frielinghaus and after his death his wife (born Neumeister) were the tenants and had to decide.

Not earlier than 1952/53 the rent contract was taken over by Hubert Overesch and his wife (born Weßling-Lünemann, widow of Alwin Frielinghaus) and the rent rose to 4400 DM. While they were the tenants, on june, 3rd, 1957 a flash caused a fire, which ruined all the constructions of wood as well as the roofs. The insurance paid for that, so that they could build them up again, but now the construction of the barn was made of massive steel and ferroconcrete with a large roof of cement asbestos. On august, 8th, 1858 the rent was fixed to 6400 DM per year. In 1978 the farmer Josef Hüning married Anita Frielinghaus, daughter of Alwin Frielinghaus and his wife (born Weßling-Lünemann) and he became the farmer. In 1979/1980 he had to pay 7000 DM/year for the first time. That is not more as you have to pay for a rented flat. Everybody complimented him on his good management, so his interest were longlasting and very well assured.

On june, 19th, 1981 Hubert Rammes, the director of the community of Recke – nowadays director of the town of Telgte –, requested the OHG Langemeyer (a firm, transl.), belonging to the C. Langemeyer company, if the community might be able to buy the Harhof Recke. The community should be enlarged in the south and get a bypass in the west; so the old farm of Verfahrt had to give way. Therefore the community had to take care for compensation; the farm had 37 ha (91,43 acres) ground and space for the house and the farm buildings, 12 ha (29,65 acres) lying in the center of the village. On september, 17th, 1981 the senior civil servant Bräutigam of the office for agrarian affairs of Münster wrote a letter and asked for the plans to be fulfilled in the recollacation of land, which was just going on. The regional authority of Wephalia-Lippe also wanted to realize an enlarged nature protection area in the Recker Moor (fen). The farm Verfahrt had to give up at these collective bureaucratical interests of these three public institutions, which had so many public money at their disposal; by agreements and contracts the surrender was arranged.

Already on september, 22nd, 1981 August Langemeyer, manager of the Langemeyer OHG made a binding offer for his 85.0080 ha (197,70 acres) ground and buildings, wood and stock. On october, 27th, 1981 this offer was sealed by contract. The whole purchase price, worth several millions (of DM) was paid before april, 30th, 1982. The community and the involved public institutions still had the risk of cancelling the contract with the tenant Josef Hüning. The OHG Langemeyer had to pay a rather high compensation, which at last was fixed by a law suit. In the meantime the Hüning family bought a farm of 32 ha (79 acres) in Herringhausen near Ostercappeln and Bohmte.

The interests of Langemeyer were these: reform of the business partnership in the distillery; removal of the distillery from the center of Mettingen to a new building at the Hagebröcker Weg 76, north of Mettingen; purchase and new construction of a farm close and in contact to the distillery; realisation of a rate of return for the purchase of 1895 and the following capital investments, which was not possible to be got by the longlasting rental. It is not known, if the community of Recke could realize all the dreams; but such a basic renewing of the town center and enlargement can not be forced in a few years.

Today after 100 years of interruption the Harhof Recke is again owned by a Westphalian family of farmers, family Verfahrth. The couple Agnes and Heinrich Verfahrt (born as Dräger of Hopsten) are the senior owners and there is the junior couple Marianne and Norbert Verfahrt (born as Plagemann of Riesenbeck) and their four minor children. It is remarkable, that in Westphalian tradition already two generations of men, who married to the farm, gave up their surname and adopted the name of the farm.

In the meantime they built a large new machine hall, a large new container for liquid manure, a new hog house for 700 pigs and they reconstructed the old cattle shed and got place for about 100 pieces of cattle and a large new silage container, which are all used now.

Soon the new very large twinhouse with reserved property for the seniors and the carports will be ready. The only one left farm worker’s house in connection to the farmhouse was also completely reconstructed. After the fire of 1900 only the now modernised large cattle shed is left; it got a new red brick facing, set before its walls of quarrystone.

May the renewed Harhof Recke with its estate of more than 80 ha (197.69 acres), its new buildings and its new farm family regain the same importance in the lonely north Westphalian area as the historical Harhoff had for thousand years.


(written by Hugo Harhoff, 1987/88; translated by Ingrid Seliger, 2014)