Peatland colonization

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Bog colonization or bog colonization describes the reclamation of land and the settlement of people in bog areas .


In different periods of human history, boggy wetland areas were developed for settlement and agriculture. In this sense, many settlements on the edge of the lake in the foothills of the Alps during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age (so-called wetland settlements or pile dwellings ) could also be referred to as peatland colonization, such as the draining of the Roman Forum by the Cloaca Maxima in Rome - this was where it was before a swamp where the dead were buried. Likewise the legendary Lacus Curtius , a crevice into which Marcus Curtius threw himself in order to avert disaster from Rome according to an oracle .

Until the Middle Ages, moor areas were mostly only used for agriculture in the peripheral areas. From the middle of the 18th century the trend towards colonization of the previously unused moorland began, mainly to bring the state additional income and independence from other states through so-called peuplication . The peasants newly settled in the moor, mostly simple servants and maidservants, who applied with the prospect of owning their own property and exemption from taxes and military service, had a hard time. The saying “Den Eersten sien Dod, the Tweeten sien Not, den Drütten sien Brod” (The First Death, the Second Distress and the Third Bread) was probably true in all moor areas.


Canal in Großefehn

The fen culture can be seen as a form of internal colonization , as it had previously opened up uninhabited and uninhabitable areas for relatively intensive settlement . It is related to canal construction and peat cutting and was developed in the Netherlands , where the oldest colony is Oude Pekela , founded in 1599 . The lack of the typical name element veen / Fehn shares this Dutch moor settlement with Papenburg , the oldest and largest German fen colony in the Emsland district , founded in 1630, which retains the name of the former northern border castle of the diocese of Münster. On the other hand, for example, Hatzumerfehn ( Gem.Jemgum ) and various Dutch places with the basic word veen (for example Aarlanderveen, Waddinxveen) are not fen settlements in the sense described above, which is evident from the fact that the settlement names are already used before the actual fen culture. In Holland , fen has been dismantled since the late Middle Ages, often without considering the risk of flooding, which together with the many storm surges led to the formation of many inland lakes. In the eastern provinces, namely Groningen , Drenthe and Overijssel , people began to systematically excavate the raised bog there in the 16th century for the purpose of peat extraction. First a canal or "wijk" was dug, later secondary canals or "dwarswijken" were added.

Grained ship in front of the Von Velen facility in Papenburg (splitting right)

The “ideal” fen settlement consists, in the Netherlands as in Germany, of one or more originally navigable canals driven into the moor , along which the settler houses are lined up like a string of pearls. The Fehnkanal, the main Wieke , was initially used to drain the moor, to transport the peat away with grain ships and to bring in building material, fertilizer, etc. From the main Wieke, side and ancillary canals, the inward and aft wedges, were often created. The settlers built their simple, uniformly built houses on both sides of the canals. The row settlements , which often stretch for kilometers, do not appear monotonous despite their uniformity. In addition to 'real' Fehn settlements, however, the basic word Fehn was also given to those moor settlements that lack the typical canal. The youngest such settlement is Hinrichsfehn , which was only founded after 1945.

The settlement name element Fehn (neuter) in East Friesland (i.e. in the former administrative district of Aurich ) , which is only used in a relatively small area in the extreme north-west of Germany, has its highest frequency of distribution . In addition, Fehn is also found in the neighboring areas, for example in the districts of Ammerland ( Augustfehn , Friedrichsfehn , Petersfehn - although the typical central Fehn Canal was never built in the latter two places), Cloppenburg ( Elisabethfehn , Kamperfehn , Kartzfehn), Emsland (Fehndorf, Wittefehn) and Oldenburg (Moslesfehn). This should cover the entire German-speaking area of ​​distribution of this name type, which ideally also denotes a type of settlement. It is no longer used as an appellative in Low German either, except for the regional language designation of a certain settlement (mostly its own: “bi uns up't Fehn”).

The living conditions of the first settlers ( Fehntjer ) were all pitiful. Initially, only the most primitive huts made of peat slabs were used for housing and the food supply was limited to a few components. But after the first hardship was over, the residents knew how to expand their economic base, and the feudal settlements experienced a noticeable boom in the period that followed. The catchphrase "The First sien Doad, the Tweten sien Not, the Dridden sien Broad" is said to come from the time of the Fehn colonization . Many Fehntjer found other sources of income in modern times, for example in shipping.

Colonized moors

Teufelsmoor near Bremen

The colonization of the Teufelsmoor near Bremen was initiated by the Elector of Hanover . In 1751 Jürgen Christian Findorff , the namesake of the Findorff settlements , was commissioned with the implementation of the peatland colonization and in 1771 was appointed peatland colonizer.

First, a number of ditches and canals were dug in the moor. They were used for drainage and were supposed to protect against flooding. In addition, the canals created a good transport network, as there were no roads on the marshy land. The construction and maintenance of waterways was a top priority for the colonists and so, in addition to countless small trenches, the Hamme-Oste Canal (1769–1790) and the Oste-Schwinge Canal (from 1772) were built.

Small settlements emerged on the drained land. They should be close to meadow and grassland to allow the farmers to keep livestock and border on black or brown peat reservoirs . Findorff limited the localities to 25-30 yards. The farm size was calculated for a family of 6 and consisted of 50 acres of arable land and 15 acres of pasture and peat cutting area. In the years between 1750 and 1782, 36 villages with 722 farms and around 3000 residents were created and Findorff also provided the infrastructure for the settlements with the construction of schools and churches .

The settlers received construction timber, grain and fruit trees from the Herrenhausen Gardens in Hanover to help them get started . However, the life of the settlers was full of hardship. Keeping livestock was very difficult. In order to receive money, one could only sell the peat, which was then brought mainly to Bremen by peat barge , and in addition one had to fulfill the duties imposed: building and maintaining ditches, dams and bridges. Although the peat trade was actually only intended as a transition, it remained the main source of income for most peat farmers.

The bog colonies include:

Large moor near Bremervörde

From 1782 Findorff dedicated himself to the Bremervörde area . In the former Great Moor he used his experiences of the Teufelsmoor colonization. Many of the settlers came from the Teufelsmoor.

No grazing land was provided in the planning. Later, at the request of the bog farmers, pasture land was bought on which only buckwheat could be grown after the top layer of bog had burned off (burn culture ) . The canal system was completed until 1822.

Large moor near Gifhorn

In the Great Moor near Gifhorn , Neudorf-Platendorf was founded as a moor colony in 1796 at the instigation of the government of the then Electorate of Hanover .


Many settlements were founded in 1788:

  1. Adorf , 1775 (since 1974 Gem. Twist )
  2. Alte Piccardie, 1647 (since 1974 in Osterwald )
  3. Altenberge (Haren) , August 29, 1810
  4. Breddenberg , 1788
  5. Fehndorf , 1912
  6. Füchtenfeld , 1945 (Gem. Wietmarschen )
  7. Gehlenberg, 1788 (Gem. Friesoythe )
  8. Georgsdorf , around 1750
  9. Levermeer, July 15, 1788 (since 1974 Gem.Twist)
  10. Hesepertwist, 1784 (since 1964 Gem.Twist)
  11. Klausheide , April 27, 1914 (since 1974 city of Nordhorn )
  12. Lindloh (Haren) , July 29, 1788
  13. Mühlengraben (municipality of Wachendorf , part of Lingen since 1978 )
  14. Neubörger , 1788
  15. New marriage , 1788
  16. Neudersum, 1788 (according to Dersum )
  17. Neudörpen , 1788 (Gem.Dörpen)
  18. Neurhede, 1788 (Gem. Rhede )
  19. Neuringe, (since 1974 Gem.Twist)
  20. Neusustrum, 1788 ( Gem.Sustrum )
  21. Neuversen, 1788 (City of Meppen )
  22. Neuvrees, 1788 (Gem. Friesoythe)
  23. Papenburg , 1631
  24. Rühlermoor / Rühlerfeld , (since 1974 Gem.Twist)
  25. Rühlertwist, 1788 (since 1964 Gem.Twist)
  26. Rütenbrock , July 29, 1788
  27. Schöninghsdorf, 1875, (since 1968 Gem.Twist)
  28. Schwartenberg (Haren) , July 29, 1788
  29. Schwartenpohl , December 8, 1764 (since 1974 in Wietmarschen)


  1. Augustfehn (Gem. Apen)
  2. Friedrichsfehn (Gem. Edewecht)
  3. Kleefeld (Gem. Edewecht)
  4. Süddorf (Gem. Edewecht)
  5. Hogenset (Gem. Edewecht)
  6. Husbäke (Gem. Edewecht)
  7. Jeddeloh II (Gem. Edewecht)
  8. Mosleshöhe (Gem. Edewecht)
  9. Wittenriede (Gem. Edewecht)
  10. Petersfehn I (community Bad Zwischenahn)
  11. Petersfehn II (community Bad Zwischenahn)
  12. Karlshof (City of Westerstede)


  1. Ahrensdorf
  2. Benthullen
  3. Edewechterdamm
  4. Elisabethfehn
  5. Glassdorf
  6. Heinfelde
  7. Hülsberg
  8. Kamperfehn
  9. Kartzfehn
  10. Ostland
  11. Overlahe

Oldenburg (district)

  1. Harbern I (Gem. Wardenburg)
  2. Harbern II (Gem. Wardenburg)
  3. Moslesfehn (Gem. Wardenburg)


In East Friesland there were large areas of land not used for agriculture on the Geest, which were not cultivated until the 17th century. The older form of this colonization is the "Fehn colonization", as it is described in detail above. Colonization took off through the edict of land reclamation .

In East Frisia there are the following colonies (with details of the date of establishment and the name of the founder):

  1. Bargerfehn 1772 (Gem. Uplengen )
  2. Beningafehn 1772: Lantzius-Beninga family ( joint municipality of Hesel )
  3. Berumerfehn 1794 (community Großheide )
  4. Boekzetelerfehn 1647 (Gem. Moormerland)
  5. Brückenfehn 1772 (Gem. Uplengen)
  6. Busboomsfehn 1772: Busboom family ( Jümme municipality )
  7. Büschersfehn 1772: Büscher family (municipality of Moormerland)
  8. Großefehn 1633 (independent gem.)
  9. Hatzumerfehn (Gem. Jemgum, no "Fehnsiedlung")
  10. Hinrichsfehn ; after 1945: Jan Hinrichs (City of Wiesmoor )
  11. Holterfehn 1820 (Gem. Ostrhauderfehn)
  12. Hüllenerfehn 1639 (Gem. Ihlow )
  13. Idafehn 1893: Grand Duchess Ida von Oldenburg (Gem. Ostrhauderfehn)
  14. Ihlowerfehn 1780 (Gem.Ihlow)
  15. Jheringsfehn 1660: Sebastian Ihering (Gem. Moormerland)
  16. Klosterfehn 1876 (Gem.Rhauderfehn)
  17. Lammertsfehn 1772/1773: family name Lammert (s) (joint municipality Jümme)
  18. Lübbertsfehn 1637: Lübbert Cornelius (Gem.Ihlow)
  19. Lütjensfehn? (Velvet Holtriem)
  20. Meinersfehn 1773: family name Meiner (ts) (Gem.Uplengen)
  21. Mittegroßefehn (Gem. Großefehn)
  22. Neuefehn 1660 (together with Hesel)
  23. Neukamperfehn 1972: by renaming (Samtgem. Hesel)
  24. Nordgeorgsfehn 1829: George IV of Hanover (Gem. Uplengen)
  25. Oltmannsfehn 1813: Oltmann Leenderts (Gem.Uplengen)
  26. Ostgroßefehn (Gem. Großefehn)
  27. Ostrhauderfehn 1769 (independent gem.)
  28. Priemelsfehn approx. 1895: Robert Priemel (Gem. Friedeburg)
  29. Rammsfehn 1929/1930: State Secretary Ramm (City of Wiesmoor)
  30. Rhauderfehn 1769 (independent gem.)
  31. Spetzerfehn 1746 (Gem. Großefehn)
  32. Steenfelderfehn 1780/1790 (Gem. Westoverledingen)
  33. Stiekelkamperfehn 1660 (Samtgem. Hesel)
  34. Südgeorgsfehn 1829: George IV of Hanover (Gem. Uplengen)
  35. Veenhusen (Gem. Moormerland)
  36. Völlenerfehn 1649? (According to Westoverledingen)
  37. Völlenerkönigsfehn 1800 (Gem. Westoverledingen)
  38. Voßbarg 1787 (City of Wiesmoor)
  39. Wagnersfehn 1771: JG Wagner (Samtgem. Esens)
  40. Warsingsfehn 1736: Dr. Gerhard Warsing (Gem. Moormerland )
  41. Westgroßefehn (Gem. Großefehn)
  42. Westrhauderfehn (Gem. Rhauderfehn)
  43. Wiesederfehn 1797 (City of Wiesmoor)
  44. Wilhelmsfehn 1878/1879: Kaiser Wilhelm I. (City of Wiesmoor)
  45. Zinskenfehn 1772: first name Zinske? (According to Uplengen)

However, many place names have been forgotten due to the name change or are not in use today:

  • Apennärsfehn (= Neufirrel , Gem. Uplengen)
  • Aurich-Oldendorfer Fehn (= northern part of Ostgroßefehn, district of Großefehn)
  • Bietzerfehn (= Neufirrel , Gem. Uplengen)
  • Coldeborgerfehn (= Balkhaus, Gem. Jemgum)
  • Falkenfehn (probably at Falkenhütten, Gem. Ihlow)
  • Fiebings-Fehn (= Fiebing, Gem. Großefehn)
  • Jobusfehn (= Neuefehn, Samtgem. Hesel)
  • Hagerfehn (= south-western part of Berumerfehn)
  • Hooksterfehn (= Jheringsfehn, Gem. Moormerland)
  • Horstenfehn (= Südermoor, Samtgem. Hesel)
  • Königsfehn (= Grävenburg, Gem. Westoverledingen)
  • Lehmhüttenfehn (= Hinrichsfehn, City of Wiesmoor )
  • Louwermanns Vehn (= Beningafehn, Samtgem. Hesel)
  • Mitlingerfehn (= northern part of Völlenerfehn, Gem. Westoverledingen)
  • Neues Timmeler Fehn (= Neuefehn, Samtgem. Hesel)
  • Norderfehn (= Berumerfehn, district of Großheide)
  • Ostersander Vehn (= Lübbertsfehn, Gem. Großefehn)
  • Poggenfehn (near Müggenkrug, city / district Wittmund)
  • Pottsvehn (= Hüllenerfehn, Gem.Ihlow)
  • Rauder-Oster-Fehn (Gem. Ostrhauderfehn)
  • Rauder-Wester-Fehn (= Westrhauderfehn, Gem. Rhauderfehn)
  • Rorichmohrmervehn (= Warsingsfehn, Gem. Moormerland)
  • Timmeler Großes Fehn (= Großefehn, Gem. Großefehn)
  • Westersander Vehn (= Hüllenerfehn)

Also worth mentioning are "unofficial" names such as Tuitjersfehn bei Boen, Samtgem. Bundles. ( BE Siebs: Das Rheiderland, Kiel 1930: 27 ), Busemannsfehn for part of Warsingsfehnpolder (Gem. Moormerland), where the Busemann family owned real estate, to which there are certainly additions.


The colonization of the "Jutian pagans" had already been tried three times on a small scale in the first half of the 18th century. A fourth attempt began in 1759, but failed thoroughly: of the originally planned 4,000 settlement sites, only 600 were created, and only 500 remained permanently. The Danish King Friedrich V and his Chancellor Johann Hartwig Ernst von Bernstorff had tried to recruit settlers from southern Germany to reclaim the heather and moorland in the Gottorf and Flensburg districts and thus increase the takeover of the crown. The colonists were promised a house with the necessary initial equipment and money. Most of those recruited in the Palatinate, Baden, Württemberg and Hesse, however, found nothing on their arrival. Many left immediately despite the ban. The remainder soon noticed that the land was not cultivable and far too scarce for its income to support a family. They hadn't even been given fertilizer . The houses with the open fireplaces customary in Schleswig-Holstein, the first of which were only completed in 1761, did not meet the wishes of the new settlers, who were used to brick chimneys. In order to keep at least some of the new settlers, the government had smoke outlets installed. Such a colonist house can be seen in the Molfsee open-air museum .

The places founded at that time were often named after the king such as Friedrichsholm and Friedrichsau or after his son ( Prinzenmoor , Christiansholm ), but sometimes also simply Neubörm , Westscheide or simply a colony such as today's district of Handewitt .


See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. G. van Berkel / K. Samplonius: Nederlandse Plaatsnames. Utrecht 1995, p. 180 .
  2. D. Berger: Geographical names in Germany. Mannheim 1993, p. 209 .
  3. ^ Open-air museum "Jan vom Moor" .
  4. a b Named after the Oldenburg minister Johann Ludwig Mosle (* January 2, 1794, † October 24, 1877), who in 1844 propagated the Hunte-Ems Canal , which was decisive for the moor colonization of the Vehnemoor .
  5. Named after the Oldenburg regional economist Robert Johannes Glaß (* November 6, 1867 - December 23, 1944), who at the end of the 19th century gave new impetus to the stagnating peatland colonization through state advance payments.
  6. Heath and moor colonization in Schleswig-Holstein ( Memento of the original from June 22, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /