52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #4: She's a Mystery to Me

Well, I was positive that I wouldn't find anyone closer to my birthday (Sept. 9) than my mother (Sept. 12), but I dutifully went through the list anyway.  And guess what?  I found someone a day closer than my mother, Anne Margrete Otten, born September 7, 1777.  That was a surprise.  But guess what?  I know next to nothing about this woman, other than that she was my great-great-great-great aunt.

What do I know?

1.  She was born on September 7, 1777, and lived to November 23, 1858.  That's a good long life -- 81 years.

2.  We can assume she was a strong and healthy woman, to live that long!

3.  Her parents were Peter Otten (1737-1792) and Anna Jachens (1737-1786).  Not so long-lived, either one of them.

4.  She must have been close to her brother, Johann Harm Otten, because he and his wife named their daughter -- Anna Margrete Otten -- after her.

Where did this information come from?  From a treasure trove of info I found in an Ortsfamilienbuch (OFB) for the Lesum area of Bremen, Germany.  I found many, many ancestors of my great-grandmother, Christiane Bellmer.

What else can I figure out?  Peter Otten is listed as 1) a farmer, 2) a laborer (1780) and 3) a day laborer (1781).  Since I assume these are listed in order, he went from a farmer to a laborer (three years after Anne's birth) to a day laborer, suggesting a downward slope of his position in the world.  Did he have a farm and lose it?  Why? Did he drink, gamble, become disabled and therefore not able to run his farm?  Since the OFB offers no information on Peter's father, Dierk Otten, I don't know whether the farm had been in his family.

Anne seems to have married fairly well -- her husband, Johann Friedrich Fastenau, was the owner of a house and a small piece of land, and was a "wood sawyer."  She was mother to 10 children, only five of whom survived into adulthood. 

So, that's the best I can do for my near birthdate-mate.  I'd like to find out more!


  1. I've found an Ortsfamilienbuch for one of my German families, too, and the records took me back over 200 years! Incredible!

    And, I like your detective work!

  2. Thanks, Dana -- I've found the OFBs, when I can get my virtual hands on one, to be a treasure trove. By discovering my great-grandmother's true birthname, it opened me up to 39 new ancestors, all at once! And I truly love the detective work part of it.


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