Nieland Family Reunion in Germany

The family tree grew on the Internet

First Nieland Family Reunion with 64 attendees / guests from the USA

The Borkener Zeitung, Borken, Germany, August 2, 2004

Ramsdorf/Südlohn (geg). It's a good thing there are search engines on the Internet because that's what made the Nieland family reunion on Saturday possible. "Just for fun" two years ago Verena Sinnhuber, nee Nieland, entered her surname into the computer just "to see what happens." She couldn't believe her eyes because she found that the "Nieland Family Tree" was nothing other than her own family tree. "I thought that surely I belonged in this family," she said, beaming, and in that spirit she filled in the rest of her branch, which ended in the 60's on the website. Her parents gave her the missing information and an e-mail was sent to America in an instant.

Photo caption: 64 members of the Nieland family met this weekend for the first time.  Click image to enlarge
 Click to download 300 dpi image, 600 KB file

"I was very happy", commented the American relatives on Saturday. Elaine Lawson and Kay Davis have worked on family research for several years and are the creators of the website that Verena Sinnhuber had found. When she heard about the American visit, Anneliese Nieland of Südlohn took charge of organizing the reunion and sought out the German relatives, many of whom she did not even know. Altogether 64 people came to the Terhörne hall in Südlohn.

Many were meeting for the first time so each family member wore a name tag. And many people there could see their resemblance to each other.

Elaine Lawson spent a day in Ramsdorf during a visit to Germany in 1984 in order to look in the right place for relatives. Unfortunately, no one could help her then. Clearly, there were tears on this visit — tears of joy. For David Nieland, family research was his purpose the last time he was in "good old Germany" in 1973 but he never dreamed he would ever see his relatives again.

John Daniel Nieland and Johanna Enning, both born around 1690, are the common ancestors in Germany to whom the Nieland roots can be traced. So far over 6,200 descendants have been identified, including several thousand Nieland descendants born in the USA. Today the number of Nielands in the USA is greater than in Germany.

The website follows the history of Johann Daniel Nieland to his son Johann Bernhard (born 1713), to his grandson Johann Daniel (1740) to his great grandson Johann Heinrich (1778) and so on down through the generations to the current time.

Maria Gertrude Nieland (1845 - 1912) was the middle child of Johann Heinrich and Elizabeth. She remained in Germany. In 1873 she married Christopher Bernhard Funke (1838 - 1918), the American researchers discovered. They had four children; one died as an infant. There is little information about Maria Gertrude's descendants, compared to the other branches.

The family now hopes for a chance to uncover further information in order to complete this branch like it did with Verena Nieland.

The family tree can be found at www.Nieland.our


More Nielands in the USA

The Münsterland Zeitung, Südlohn, Germany, August 5, 2004

SÜDLOHN - It all began when Verena Sinnhuber (nee Nieland) from Ramsdorf searched the internet simply to find out what she could about the term "Nieland."

It is because of this lucky coincidence that the Nieland family today was able to welcome American visitors on Eichendorff Street.

With her Internet search, Verena Sinnhuber discovered the American homepage of Elaine Lawson, which included a family tree. From that Verena Sinnhuber found that her father, Josef Nieland, was a relative of the American. A lively e-mail correspondence then commenced between Verena and Elaine Lawson, through which much family-historical information was exchanged. And so the Nieland family history was pieced together.

John Henry Nieland was born in Südlohn, grew up on the Nieland farm in Ramsdorf-Blecking, and then immigrated in 1869 to the USA. Six more members of the Nieland family also left their homeland and established themselves in America.

Today there are more Nielands in the USA than here in Germany.

In attendance were Elaine Lawson, John Henry Nieland's great-granddaughter, together with her husband Robert Lawson. Another of Nieland's great-granddaughters, Kathleen Davis, was welcomed from Washington State, and his grandson, David Nieland, had traveled from Iowa.

A colorful homeland program guided the four visitors all around Südlohn and Ramsdorf. Pastor Stefan Scho led the Americans through St. Vitus church [in Südlohn] and explained its history. "It is unfortunate, that we do not speak English very well, but communication was good nevertheless, " declared Ludger Nieland.

The high point for all was probably the family reunion on Saturday, organized by Anneliese Nieland, at which 64 family members met one-on-one. Naturally all were very curious and interested in the American visitors, and it became completely clear that the Americans surely had made the longest journey.

back to top

back to History Page