Thursday, January 22, 2009

Siepmann family

updated 7.8.2010 - see PS

My daughter and I recently saved a pile of over 100 old books from ending up in landfill, and in one of them, a 1916 edition of George Meredith, we found the name Doris M. Siepmann stamped and signed, with the additional information "from Dad". As I also have distant ancestors by the name of Siepmann, I pricked up my ears and consulted the 1901 UK census re. who these people were and where they came from.

Sure enough, the whole family is there, and "Dad" turns out to be Otto Siepmann (1861-1947), a pioneer of foreign language teaching in the UK (I'm sure it's not his fault that this field is still in less than perfect condition!). He taught at a private school near Bristol, sat on various boards, and wrote and edited numerous language teaching books including a whole series that bears his name (search his name at, you'll be surprised). He has a quite detailed entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

This entry tells us that Otto Siepmann was born at Waldbröl, near Cologne, and that he "was the eldest of the nine surviving children of August Siepmann (1835–1908), insurance broker, and his wife, Wilhelmine Henriette Hasenbach (1836–1891). The Lutheran Siepmann family came from a long line of wealthy landowning Rhineland farmers."

While the name Siepmann is quite widespread today, its geographic distribution clearly points to a single origin in the Ruhr area, around Dortmund. That is precisely the area where my ancestor of that name, Anna Siepmann, resided in the 18th century. Her son, Georg Wilhelm Düselmann, was born there in 1757.

I am hoping that by following back the "long line" of Siepmann ancestors of Otto, I may find out something of interest to Anna. (They must be related, they're both palindromic!)

So if anybody out there knows anything about any Siepmann family in the 19th or 18th century, I'd be interested to hear from them.

And isn't it amazing what an inscription in a random old book from a rubbish skip can teach us ?

PS (7.8.2010): Reading an article about the elusive founders of the Aldi empire, Karl and Theo Albrecht (the latter died a week or two ago), I found out that their mother was called Anna Siepmann as well, before she married Karl Albrecht senior, and she's from the right kind of area too, just some 170 years younger than my eponymous ancestor. However, as the Albrechts are famous for keeping their lives extremely private, this isn't going to help much, unless one of their descendants is into family history and finds this ...


Elianah Avram said...

Hi Michael,

There are many Siepmanns throughout western Gremany. My great grandfather, Friedrich, came from Oberhausen in Westfalia. He and his brothers, Wilhem and August came to the U.S. in the 1870s. I am not sure where Wilhelm and August finally resided in the U.S. but I know that Friedrich eventually came to Iowa, where my grandfather was born.

Anonymous said...

Hello Michael and Hello Elianah,

My grandfather Wilhem Siepmann sailed to the port of Boston on the Willehad from Germany, arriving sometime in August 1914. He came from a family of 11 siblings who were mostly teachers and musicians. His family was also from Oberhausen in Westfalia.
My grandfather settled in New Jersey and is buried in Brielle, N.J.
Debra S.

Michael said...

Hi Elianah and Debra, thanks for your contributions. I will keep collecting these jigsaw pieces, hope they will fit together one day ...

best, michael

Anonymous said...

Hello Michael, Just checking out the site to see if any progress has been made in your ancestry quest.

I find it rather interesting there are so many Siepmann's who have become writers.

A post script to the last post to both you and Elianah: I know my grandfather came from a large family, whether it was 11 or 9 children I cannot be sure.

Hope all is well.

Cheers, Debra S.

Anonymous said...

My mother´ s birth name is Siepmann as well. They lived in Dortmund, but the origin of the family is definitely Duesseldorf.My grandfatehr was the only one who moved to Dortmund.They also have a successful boxing tradition and are named in various books "History of Westphalia"
By the way, my uncle was the best entertainer on the world to my mind, best singer as well, and a good writer, he wrote 2 stories and both were immediately published in a school book. But he would always shy the public. So just we know how great he was.
Andrea Heinz

Anonymous said...

Well, at least I can say I am a Siepmann and I have an interest in my past, but have not yet ponied up the cash to sign into to figure out all the lineages. My father's side supposedly came from somewhere in Germany. My mother is a Geib who apparently come from Austria. My Dad's middle name is Frederick and my Grandmother was Glennetta. I live in the US and apparently my great-grandparents immigrated from Europe to the US around 1900. If anyone else has any further information on the Siepmann lineage I would be very interested. Looking at some of the on-line networking social media sites I see several of us are scientists, attorneys, etc.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

During my research I have been finding some interesting things.

1. The first big wave of Catholic Siepmanns came to the US in the 1870s. They were the children of Wilhelm and Catharina Lang Siepmann. The siblings were Catherine Siepmann Hartgenbush, Wilhelm (?), Friedrich (Fred)Siepmann, Joseph James, Gertrude Siepmann Page, Mary C Siepmann, Frances Siepmann, and Peter August Siepmann. The first to arrive was Wilhelm in Buffalo, NY. He eventually made it to Iowa. As far as I can tell, all of the other siblings came to Iowa directly, settling in Cedar, Linn, Johnson and Benton Counties. From there, the descendants went to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, California, Washington and Oregon.

It appears that the greater majority of Siepmanns in Germany are Lutheran. So I am thinking currently that the Catholic Siepmanns are more likely to be more closely related to each other than to the Lutheran Siepmanns.

Where I am stuck right now is that the sons all said that they were born in Oberhausen. This makes sense for Peter August because Oberhausen was not incorporated until 1862, two years after my 2nd great-grandfather was born. I know that their eldest daughter was born in Temmels, where her mother was born.


Deb S said...

Hello Andrea Heinz,
I am very interested in learning more about the books "History of Westphalia" you mentioned. If you would like to contact me that would be great. Go to Linked-in.
Debra Siepmann

Deb S said...

Hello Andrea Heinz, I am very interested in learning more about the books you mentioned. If you would like to contact me, I can be found on linked in.
Debra Siepmann

Anonymous said...

On a whim I googled Otto Siepmann, who was my great grandfather and found your post. Doris was my grandfather's sister. I started some genealogical research when sights like ancestory were fairly new and didn't get very far on the Siepmann side. Thanks to your find and this post I will start anew.
I was very close with my grandfather but knew little of his extended family.
I hope you have kept the book you found!

Anonymous said...

I am the great grand-daughter of Otto Siepmann. My grandfather was Charles, Doris's brother. I was pleased to come across your post as I hit a dead end when looking into Otto's genealogy a few years ago.
Have you found any new info since your last post here?

Michael said...

Hi Katrina, thanks for your comments, I'm afraid I haven't found anything new on the Siepmanns since the 2010 postscript on the Aldi brothers. However, I haven't very actively looked at this branch of the family tree either, will get back to it some time ...

Michael said...

I've now posted a photo of the book (and two similar ones without Siepmann links) here:

Unknown said...

Doris M. Siepmann was my great aunt, i remember he well, lovely old lady. When her husband retired, (he was head of the civil service and knighted for it - Sir Percival Waterfield) they built a house in their garden to downsize into, and when he died, she built another house in the garden of that second house.

Roger Bankes-Jones said...

I am a great grand-son of Otto Siepmann. My grandmother was Edith Alicia Bankes-Jones, ne Siepmann, eldest sister of Phyllis, Doris and Charlie. I have vague memories of meeting Doris and fond memories of meeting Charlie when he sometimes traveled across the Atlantic. (Apart from his being great fun, he would give my brothers and myself a crown on each occasion). I guess I am Katrina's cousin.
If you haven't already found this, it is probably helpful:
Kind regards

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