Nuxoll family history, reunion at Greencreek July 4
               By Jay Nuxoll ( assisted by Wanda Reif Nuxoll, Josef August Nuxoll,
                  Elizabeth R. Nuxoll, Bonnie Nuxoll Kinney, Mike Wasko, Rod Arnzen, Frank and Val
                  Nuxoll, Albert Kleinberg, and Alice Kowaleski, with thanks  to German Ancestry
                  Consultants: F. J. Tegenkamp and Walter Wendeln of Dinklage, Germany 

Our Ancestors

Now will I praise those godly ones, each in their own time:

These were godly people whose virtues have not been forgotten; whose wealth remains in their families, their heritage with their descendants.  Through God’s covenant with them their family endures, their posterity, for their sake.

And for all time their progeny will endure their glory will never be blotted out. Their bodies are peacefully laid away, but their names live on and on.  At gatherings their wisdom is retold and the assembly proclaims their praise.

                                                                  Book of Sirach 44: 1, 10-15

The names, NUXOLL, NUXHOLL, NUXHOL, NUXHALL and/or NUXALL (and other less known variations), go way way back.  That is what is important.  Whether the description for the tiny farm, the source of their name originally meant “at the eagle owls’ hollow” or “completely useful or fruitful” might not be very important.  But 29 year old ANNA NUXHOLL four centuries ago insisted that her neighbor change his name if he wanted to marry her and run her farm.  Another ANNA NUXHOL two centuries later not only had her husband change his name, she made him erect a still standing “new” Nuxoll farmhouse in 1788 after the ancestral one burned to the ground.  Nuxoll wives throughout history have been long-suffering, supportive and devoted (maybe even “hellishly” fruitful).  Many died in childbirth.  But if they hadn’t also been capable of being assertive when it really counted, there wouldn’t be any Nuxolls at all today, and nothing left to show where they came from.  They knew what was important.Anna Nuxoll home
The name of NUXOLL has come down through the centuries from a descriptive location for their tiny ancestral farm (14 hectares = 35 acres) in a small farming village named Bahlen now part of Dinklage close to Oldenburg, in Nieder Saxony, North Germany.  The name of the farm, the source of surname for its inhabitants and their descendents, came from the description given well-defined lowland, possibly a dried lake bottom, before the year 1300.  According to one theory (although not everyone agrees with it) German language experts at Munster University who specialize in derivation of early German names say the initial descriptive location for the area was "ton Hukes Holle" which meant “at the Eagle-Owls’s Hollow” in the early low German dialect called Oldenburger Plattdeutsch.  "Ton", they say, was the dialect equivalent for “tun”, the common German combination of "tu” (at) and “den" (the).  "Hukes” was the early local name for what are now known throughout Germany as “Uhus”-- Eagle-Owls.  The early local word used to describe a low-lying dampish depression, hollow or swale (not quite a swamp), they say was “Holle”.
There are other theories.  According to an 1820 edition Worterbuch (Dictionary) of Oldenburger Plattdeutsch, the name could just as easily (and perhaps more realistically) have come from a combination of the dialect words “Nux” meaning “fruitful” or  “useful” (as compared to the negative expression, “Nix Nux”, = nichts, i.e. not, and “Nux” describing something as “useless” or “worthless”) and “Holle”.  But the last word was not the dialect word for hollow (see “Hohle”).  Its more common version was capitalized and had an Umlaut (the two little dots above the “o”) and was the name for that terrible burning place where souls are endlessly punished.  That would suggest the name described a fruitful place in the midst of hell or a place that was hellishly fruitful (maybe “Fruitful as Hell”) which, at least in Idaho with its numerous Nuxoll descendents, would be appropriately meaningful.  But more probably “holle” (without capitol and without dots) was like the early adjective “volle” that came to mean  “whole” or “full”, but was an adverb meaning “totally” or “completely”.  Under that theory the name described an area completely usable and fruitful.  Assuming the farm was once a lake in the middle of an almost impenetrable swamp, when the swamp drained it would have been clear of brush, fertile and immediately ready for growing crops.  Well into the 20th century this area was easily identified by its expanse of treeless grassland, and in the bleak days where no one could afford firewood after the Second World War peat could still be dug there. 
But long before description became name (when “ton” would no longer be needed or used), the Munster pundits say that in speech the strong "n" sound of the “ton” overpowered the consonant “H” sound at the beginning of the word "Hukes" and elided it to sound like “Nukes” (i.e. “Nux”).  The “H” sound starting the second word “Holle” softened a bit too, and the final unstressed “e” was totally swallowed.  All was run together as if a single word -- “Nukesholl”, but spelled either “Nuxhol” or “Nuxholl”.  Around 1800 the Nuxoll spelling become the norm in Germany, at least for those no longer in the direct line which continued to inherit control of the ancestral farm.    Even if none of these “Zellers”(i.e. head farmers”) remain in Germany, the surname there is still pronounced in the same way it has always been in the local dialect -- “Nukes” (the first syllable accented) and “Holl”.   In the United States there is variation in pronunciation and accents, which created differences in spelling immediately when the ancestors came to America, the very first arriving probably in 1833. 
A view of the ancestral farmThe earliest written record of the surname was in a levy upon the livestock of side-by-side farms made in 1498 by both the spiritual and temporal ruler of the area, the Catholic Prince Archbishop of Munster.  The extent of the levy shows that the area of the farm had to have been already extensively developed, probably existing long before the local parish in the area was founded in 1350, maybe even in the prior century.  In the levy the area of the farms was rendered phonetically in Latin, but the names of the two “Zellers”, the farmers in charge, were not.  One was HINNERK TOR NUXHOL (one “L”), the spelling of last name (and even first) of subsequent operators varying only slightly in records of other levies through 1562.  The next door farm levied upon in 1498 was operated by Johann Rentze with his location described as being “ton Nukesholle”, a full blown spelling using an “N”, not an “H”, and still using the “ton”.  This argues strongly against the Munster theory of eagle owl name derivation for the location.  Perhaps the second smaller farm split off from the larger area involved, but its Zeller was distinguished from other Johanns in the area by a shortened reference to his father’s name, Rentze (from Laurentius or Lawrence) in the form of a surname.  It might have been common for a son to be identified by his father’s name, but unexpected that such a surname should continue basically unchanged to this very day.  The farm next door to the Nuxoll farm is still called the “Renze” farm.
Surnames only started in North Germany after the late middle ages.  Tradesmen became known by the names of their trades – Schmidt, Schumacher or Schneider.  But before that farm families had long been identified by the name of their farm.  With farm names so important, the Zeller who ran a farm was expected to bear its name.  Even when members were forced to move off those farms and fend for themselves elsewhere when only the oldest sons inherited, those disinherited still kept the old surname even when identified in church records as “Heuermen” working for others on their farms.  For example a person shown living “Bei Schiplage” was working on the Schiplage farm for the Zeller with that surname.The old St. Catherine's Church
At least twice in the history of the Nuxolls there was no son to inherit and take over the farm when the head farmer died.  Because of the first instance an unbroken chain can be directly traced by all living persons with some variation of the Nuxoll/Nuxholl name back through ANNA NUXHOLL (born 1604).  As a young woman she inherited the farm from her father, HEINRICH NUXHOLL (born 1580).  Nuxolls really should be thankful to her.  At age 29 she married her 49 year-old neighbor, HEINRICH UCHTMANN, but insisted he change his name – he became “genannt” (i.e. known as) NUXHOLL” – if he wanted to become Zeller and run the farm.  Who knows if he considered that a huge sacrifice (she so young and he so old), but their descendents continued the ancestral name of this strong woman who outlived him (she died at 90).  Unusual for a woman of 29 not to be already married in those days, but without even pictures (certainly no photos) we must not guess why.  However, this young woman saw to it that her surname, not that of her husband, continued.  Through her all the various branches of the Nuxoll family can trace their roots to the farm with its descriptive name.
The records of Anna’s descendents -- their births, baptisms, marriages (even names of baptismal sponsors and the witnesses at their weddings) -- can be found in the archives of St.Catharine’s, the Catholic Parish in Dinklage or in those of neighboring Bakum or Carum parishes. Prior to 1300 parish records are almost impossible to trace because only first names were used.  When St. Catherine’s was founded, it was divided out of an older one at Lohne on the higher ground to the East.  There probably was a chapel in Dinklage before 1300, but the area was barely populated because it flooded all the time.  Reduction of that flooding and permanent settlement came only because of the great influx of people fleeing from the plague in the 11th to 13th centuries, the same influx that required development of lasting surnames.  Sadly, the more recent records of all these churches are also full of the details of lives and deaths of a great many who fought American cousins not too distantly related in both world wars.  Some also never came home from the Russian front.
German spelling did not become standardized until long after the invention of moveable type by Gutenberg around 1640.  Even when the ancestral Nuxoll home burned to the ground a century or so later (and a “new” one erected), the NUXHOL spelling of the name was used as regularly as NUXHOLL, and interchangeably even for the same person.   It all depended how someone wrote the sounds that he heard.  It was only at the turn of the nineteenth century, perhaps because of overwhelming French influence at the time of Napoleon, or for no reason more mysterious than a new pastor at the church at Bakum (near Dinklage), that the surnames of children (at least those of Heuermen) began to be written into the parish record as NUXOLL (and even at first, NUXOL).  Whatever the cause, that spelling – NUXOLL -- has become the norm in Germany and is the only way the name is listed in the telephone directories in the area. 
The current St. Catherine's, built in 1875.As already mentioned, the original ancestral Nuxoll home was destroyed by fire and a “new” one built to take its place.  It still exists (although there is no longer a Nuxoll farm), but does not stand where the old one burned to the ground on Easter Sunday in 1786.  Instead, it is on the opposite side of the main road running through Bahlen from Dinklage north to Märschendorf.  The Zeller at the time, GERD BOCKLOGE “genannt” (i.e. called) NUXHOL, was the second of those who had to take on the surname of his wife, ANNA MARGARETA NUXHOL, to run her farm after their marriage.  In 1788 he built for her the “new” house re-using some of the old charred oak beams.  Into one was carved their names in French script which makes the “H’ of  NUXHOL look deceptively like a “Z”.  That beam is supposed to have come from the primeval forest bordering the old lakebed, which became the family farm.
Sadly, neither that house nor the farm is owned by the Nuxolls any more.  By 1801 the debt on the family farm was more than 2,000 thalers; by 1831 more than 2,500.  Perhaps the debt started as the cost of rebuilding, but it was truly a terrible burden because at a time the full value of the entire farm at best was no more than 4,000 thalers.  By 1844 pressure from its many creditors forced the farm into bankruptcy.  The highest bidder at the auction was a Dinklage business man named Arnold Pöppelman, but he kept the Nuxoll farm only until 1852 when he acquired the ancestral holdings of the Lethe family in the nearby parish of Emstek.  Then he sold the Nuxoll farm to Heinrich “klein” Sextro whose older brother had inherited their father’s farm.  Entirely unconnected to the Nuxolls, he was able to became Zeller without having to change his name.  But in 1893, upon his death, his son who would have become the Zeller emigrated to America with his children, staying barely long enough to sell the farm to his widowed sister, Bernadina (“klein” Sextro) Kröger.  Her descendants still occupy the farm today, but graciously allow visitors to gaze at the names and 1788 date the Nuxhol couple carved into that beam more than two centuries ago.  The building is sturdy and still in use. 
Those of the Zeller lineage brought the NUXHOLL spelling to America first, about a dozen years before any NUXOLL came.  The NUXHALL variation came about almost immediately as neighbors persisted on spelling the name like it was pronounced.  In 1833, eleven years before the fateful sale of the farm, JOHAN HERMANN HEINRICH NUXHOLL (born May 14, 1803), the very last to inherit it traditionally as oldest son also became the very first Nuxholl to come to America.  He was seeking the fortune it would have taken to save it when he arrived in Covington, Kentucky and he left behind his desperate wife and two children to run the farm.  At least they were able to rejoin him in 1845 in America after the bankruptcy.  There the couple had more children despite that long separation.  Eventually almost all his remaining brothers and sisters came to Covington, six of the ten children of HERMANN HEINRICH NUXHOLL, (born November 26, 1778), the last Nuxholl Zeller to operate the farm until he died.  The NUXOLLS left living in the Dinklage area were for the most part (and still are) the descendents of Heuermen whose great-great or great-great-great grandparents had never been the ones to inherit the farm.  Many spelling their names that way also came to America through the 1800’s.  By the mid 1900’s some adopted the NUXALL spelling to reflect pronunciation, especially in eastern Oregon.  There have also been instances when the final “L” was dropped so names are spelled NUXOL or NUXAL.  There are also instances of the name as NUXELL or NOXELL.  Stories of both planned and unplanned name changes through immigration process are not unusual for many other families who came to this country. 
But the centennial celebration book of the St. John the Apostle’s Catholic parish in Carum entitled, “Carum, einst & jetzt” (Carum, as it used to be and still is), probably most fully reveals the history of the area and its living conditions that the Nuxoll peoples abandoned when they became “Auswanderers” (emigrants).  The emigration became widespread by the 1840’s, and by the end of the 1800’s almost two thirds of all the young men and women of the area had departed for other lands, mainly for America.  There never had been enough land.  Living conditions were dismal at best.  Families always suffered at the death of a Zeller when only the oldest sons inherited the farms and the rest had to leave.  Many had been forced to depend on seasonal jobs in the Dutch lowlands which became more scarce as population increased.
One of the very best reasons to leave was to avoid the mandatory six-year military duty imposed upon all men at age 20 by the Prussians who took over control of the area after the fall of Napoleon.  Military duty caused a most galling conflict of religion for Nuxolls since the Duke of Oldenburg was Lutheran and they were all Catholic.  Those who left in time happily avoided the big Franco Prussian war of 1870. 
The most famous and prolific of “auswanderers” to America, even if not the earliest one, was HERMAN HEINRICH (H.H. or Herman Henry) NUXOLL (born March 23, 1829).  His second generation Heuermann father who had been forced to serve the Lutheran Duke encouraged his oldest son to leave at age 19 to avoid that.  Details of his 1848 trip to America are well known both in that area of Germany and in America because of the letters (one even printed in full in the Carum parish centennial book) he wrote home to his parents, brothers, sisters, and grandmother.  He sailed from Bremerhaven and landed at Baltimore where he took the famous B&O railroad to Cincinnati, Ohio.  There he got a job as a bookkeeper at a lumber mill run by an Irishman who taught him English with a brogue he never lost.
Within a year he managed to send enough money to bring his next three younger brothers.  Unfortunately the oldest of these, 17 year old GERHARD (born October 10, 1832), became sick on ship and died in a hospital in New Orleans in May, 1849 even as the other two, 14 year old JOHANN WESSEL (J. Wessel) NUXOLL (born November 8, 1834) and 11 year old JOHANN HEINRICH (John H.) NUXOLL (born December 19, 1837), were continuing upriver by steam ship to Cincinnati.  They had been forced to leave him behind, and only learned months later that he died.  By the next year the rest of the family -- parents, two younger sisters, their youngest brother and maternal grandmother joined them in Cincinnati in 1850.  Their descendents have cousins all over the United States, in Canada, in Germany and even in Australia.
On February 1, 1853 Herman Henry married Elisabeth Bernadina “Dena” Auman in Cincinnati.  She had come with her folks from the Dinklage area too, and he and she were already well acquainted because they worked together on a big farm in Germany before he left.  After two years (during which HH became an American citizen) they moved with their first two children to a farm of their own in the Illinois area called Green Creek (two words).  The family kept increasing.  Dena, sadly, died in childbirth with their thirteenth child, a girl named Elisabeth who died shortly afterwards also.  Herman then married a widow named Gertrude Waldman (born a Detters).  She died too when their only son, Clemens William, was barely 14.
On 11/18/95 Grover Cleveland made the homestead Law (Dodds Act) applicable for portions of Indian reservations not claimed by Indians as farms, leaving it open for settlers.  Most of Herman Henry’s children, except for some already settled with their spouses in Illinois, swiftly homesteaded together in an Idaho area they named Greencreek (one word) after the Nez Perce Indian Reservation was opened, HH himself being a surveyor of the land in advance.  HH visited the Idaho family for the last time in 1903 (his Illinois children may have come too) but died in St. Louis on February 14, 1904 on the return trip.  He is buried in Green Creek, Illinois.  Most of his children had eight or more children each, and many sons.  More Nuxolls now live in Idaho than in all of Germany.
The brothers and sisters of HH (and his Illinois children) had families too, but not many of their descendents are Nuxolls for lack of sons through succeeding generations.  John H. (who on coming to American in 1849 was 11) served as the constable of Teutopolis, Illinois for many years.  A picture taken of him and his wife and family on their 50th wedding anniversary is actually printed in the Carum parish centennial book.  His descendents still live in the nearby area and Ohio, and have held annual reunions for many years, the next scheduled on July 17, 2005 in Teutopolis.  J. Wessel (14 when reaching America in 1849) never left the Cincinnati/Covington area and died at age 95.   Some of his descendents now reside in the Kentucky and New York areas, and some are still Nuxolls.  Two younger sisters (two others died in Germany as infants), MARIA ELIZABETH NUXOLL (born March 9, 1840) and BERNADINA NUXOLL (born February 4, 1843), came to America in 1850 with their parents, grandmother and youngest brother, FERDINAND NUXOLL (born April 8, 1847).  Although he married while still caring for the parents in Effingham, Illinois ( his mother died in 1872; his father in 1873), he had only a single daughter already married, who stayed behind with her large family when he and his wife finally left for Idaho. 
According to the records kept in Germany another Nuxoll family with three children left together for America in 1845, but contact with them was lost on the Germany side and their descendents are still to be identified.  Another Herman Nuxoll and his wife in 1928 moved to Comstock, Nebraska where a descendent now runs what he describes on the Internet as his windmill ranch named “Second Wind”.  Besides displaying its many windmills the ranch provides a venue for musical summer concerts with mass attendance.  In 1928 several Nuxoll (and Nuxholl) families moved to Saskatchewan, Canada both directly from Germany and from the Cincinnati area.  In 1959 after graduating from high school in Dinklage, Josef August Nuxoll (who refers to himself as the “last of the Mohicans”), left Germany at age 18 for Canada.  He now lives in Kitchener, Ontario, one of the most Germanized areas in the world, where he uses both English and German to sell cars and trucks every day.  He has done much to reconnect and reacquaint the branches of the families.  His fluency and contacts have provided access to genealogists in Dinklage who can consult the various parish archives.  The Nuxolls in Canada have had annual reunions for the last 32 years, the one this year scheduled for June 12, 2005 in a park near Niagara Falls on the Canadian side.
Because of email and the Internet all the families have started to discover one another and their common ancestry.  Exact relationships were for a while confused due to the way so many ancestors had almost identical names.  Around 1800 many with the name HERMAN HEINRICH, or some close variation, less than seven years difference in age and living less than a mile apart when born shared that name with grandfathers, uncles, and even fathers.  There were so many that they can only be kept straight by constantly checking birthdates.  That has resulted in some bewildering family trees, especially if made with ignorance that dates are not written the same way in Germany.  Their custom is to list first the number of the day of the month; then, separated by a period, the number of the month; and finally, again separated by a period, the year (hopefully in four full digits to keep the centuries straight).  One may think something is wrong with a date like 14.2.1805.  But that is just valentine’s day two centuries ago.  There is never a second day of a fourteenth month.
Plans are now getting underway for the first annual North American reunion of the various Nuxoll, Nuxholl, Nuxhall, Nuxall, etc branches hopefully scheduled next year somewhere near Cincinnati, Ohio, on the second week of June, 2006.  Even German cousins from Dinklage have shown interest in attending.  There is hope that JOE NUXHALL, the youngest major league baseball pitcher ever (if not the youngest to play major league baseball) might lend the glamour of his name to bring everyone together.  He just retired as announcer of Cincinnati Red games on September 23, 2004.  He first pitched for them on June 10, 1944 at age 15.  Another famous cousin, ELIZABETH NUXOLL, PhD., one of the nation’s preeminent history scholars and recently selected to edit the Columbia University papers of John Jay, first US Supreme Court Justice, is already involved.  Because of her efforts many Nuxoll ancestors can be traced on the Internet through the Ancestry World Tree Project.  Her husband is a descendent of the J. Wessel Nuxoll who at 14 was the older of the two forced to leave their third brother behind in New Orleans to die from cholera caught on the ship.  Elizabeth and her husband have three sons and live in New York.
To prepare for next years big Cincinnati reunion the Idaho Nuxolls will have its own this year on July 4, 2005, “piggy back” on the annual St. Anthony’s parish picnic in Greencreek.  Almost everyone there is a Nuxoll relative anyway so the increased attendance might hopefully neither prove to be a huge additional burden nor a great distraction.  Joseph August Nuxoll, from Kitchener, Canada, the last of the family to emigrate from Germany, will attend with Jay Nuxoll of Seattle whom he hosted at the Canada reunion in 2004.  They are fourth cousins, sharing the same great, great, great grandfather, HERMAN HENRICH NUXHOLL (born September 18, 1770).  They will be guests of Jay’s mother, Helen (Mrs. Ralph L Nuxoll) of Grangeville, who will turn 93 the very day of the reunion.  Besides a photo display of the ancestral homeland, a concentrated effort will be made to update and add histories to the Idaho family tree of about 9,000, which now records only names and dates of birth, marriage and death.  For many years it has been painfully compiled by hand by ALICE KOWALEWSKI, of Keuterville, a Nuxoll descendent everyone hopes will be able to attend so she can receive the recognition she so greatly deserves.  The Idaho family tree can probably never be totally current due to the birth rate of the family.
The recent death of Andy Nuxoll in the Cottonwood area has provided a huge trove of old family photos, some with glass negatives dating back to his father Frank Nuxoll of Effingham, Illinois.  These are already in the process of digitization through the efforts of his lawyer, Mike Wasko, Cottonwood, and Rod Arnzen, himself a Nuxoll descendent.  The latest of scanners, cameras and computers, will be able to add pictures, histories and news articles of parents and grandparents to the Idaho tree.  Computer programs easily handle even the largest of trees, storing and printing out information in a logical manner even if put in a bit here and a bit there.  The newest Family Tree Maker program even takes into account the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII modified the calendar Julius Caesar had adopted in 46 BC to bring it into sync with the seasons.  Ten days were dropped that year – October 15 directly followed October 4 – and the rule for determining leap years was altered.  HEINRICH NUXHOLL, father of the famous ANNA who married her older UCHTMANN neighbor, “lost” ten days of his life because he was born in 1580.  His father did too (would you believe another HEINRICH?), but he must have delighted in the consternation of non-Catholics in the nearby Dutch lowlands who were the first to be called “April Fools”.  They refused to follow any Pope’s new calendar, only to discover the following spring that the Easter they were waiting to celebrate had already come and gone..
So, if you are a Nuxoll, or used to be a Nuxoll, or related to a Nuxoll, and you have a picture of your grandfather or grandmother, or of their homestead, or a letter or an article printed years ago about something having to do with them, please come and bring that to the Greencreek reunion.  Help “flesh out” the Idaho Nuxoll family tree.  Learn about Dinklage and the Nuxoll farm.  Help identify people in the newly discovered family pictures.  Be proud of your precious heritage and name.  Rejoice that your ancestors were.

Cottonwood, Idaho 83522



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