Ostermann Family Traced to St. Bernhard, Thuringia

The Ostermann family of Wood and Portage counties is one of the Hanneman-related lines still shrouded in some mystery. But we’re getting a much clearer picture thanks to research by an Ostermann descendant from Madison.

The Ostermann family is related to the Hannemans primarily through Rosine Bertha Henrietta (Osterman) Hanneman, the mother of Carl Henry Frank Hanneman (1901-1982). She was the daughter of John Christian Ostermann (1844-1887).

According to new research done by Chris Bartosh of Madison, the Ostermann family originated in St. Bernhard, a small rural village in the German state of Thuringia. Thuringia is known as the “green heart of Germany” for its heavy forests. St. Bernhard, with a current population of 275, is about 75 miles northeast of Frankfurt, Germany.

Like the Hannemann family in the village of Zeitlitz in Pomerania, the Ostermanns were long established in St. Bernhard and surrounding villages. The patriarch of the Wisconsin family was Johann George Ostermann (1817-1894), the father of John Ostermann. The church register has listings for his father, Johann Martin Ostermann (1766-1844) and mentions his grandfather, Nikolaus Ostermann.

The Ostermanns had lived in Beinerstadt, a village less than a mile north of St. Bernhard. Johann Martin and his father Nikolaus were both born in Beinerstadt.

Johann George Ostermann’s occupation in St. Bernhard is listed in the church register as a “webermeister,” or the foreman in weaver’s shop.

George Ostermann, his wife Dorothea Frederica, and their four children applied for permission to emigrate to America in February 1852. On June 4, 1852, the family arrived in New York City aboard the brig Charles and Edward. The journey took 44 days from Bremen to New York. From there they headed west for Wisconsin.

The 1855 Wisconsin state census lists the George Ostermann family as living in the Town of Norway, Racine County. They lived in the Village of Wind Lake until 1858. By 1860, the family had moved, settling in the Town of Linwood, Portage County.

As a result of this new research, we have more surnames to add to the family database, including Popp, Schad and Zehner. Like the Hanneman family, the Ostermanns eventually dropped the second “n” from their last name.

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