This ancestral story starts in c.1200 with Daniel v. Ossenbroich (or Ossenbruch).
Many of the family names in the scroll on the Welcome page are his descendants.
The "of and to" (van en tot) Ossenbroichs were an old noble family and were already mentioned in documents in 1242. They had their ancestral country estate and castle "Ossenbroich" (enlarge pic on the left) situated in the Lower Rhine region of Cleves, what is now Germany.
Ossenbroich (or also written as Ossenbruch) means "Oxen pasture" and the word "broich" (German: Bruch- oder Sumpf-Landschaft) refers to a marshy area, which served as a cattle pasture, here: an oxen pasture. The "i" in "broich" is not pronounced and the preceding vowel "o" is lengthened.
In Europa gab es bereits im 12. Jahrhundert Windmühlen. Die Windmühlen wurden durch die Kreuzritter nach Europa, möglich auch in unserer Gegend, importiert. Der erste Nachweis einer Windmühle im Raum Moyland stammt aus dem Jahr 1350. Josef Jörissen „Chronik der Gemeinde Bedburg-Hau“): "Graf Johann von Kleve machte sie dem Rittergeschlecht von Ossenbroek zum Geschenk und sie gehörte zu Till." Sie stand an der Bienenstraße (Schloss Ossenbroek). Es gibt auch einen Hinweis auf eine frühe Wassermühle des Stiftes Bedburg in Hasselt 1318.
From: Nachrichten-Community für Bedburg-Hau.
The moated Castle
The van Ossenbruch family lived here from before the first records in the 1300s until it was demolished in the 1800s. The first, still existing, document dates from 1378 and describes the castle, windmill and estate in the hands of Geryt van Ossenbroic. In addition there are, in chronological order, another 33 deeds going into the 18th century. The last one is from 2 March 1756 to Conrad Friedrich Stephan v. Ossenbruch, lieutenant.
It is exceptional that all these documents have survived over all these centuries. They are kept in the Landesarchiv in Duisburg.
The Ossenbruchs were part of the County of Cleves Government Council (which later included the counties of Zutphen, Gulik, Berg and Guelders), which also seated other noble family members as: van Pallandt, van Bueren, van Brienen, Schimmelpenninck, van Culemborg, van Bronckhorst, van Wylich, van Steenhuis, van Heeswijck etc. etc.
The van Ossenbruchs' descendants married into all of the above families and others. As was the custom, they arranged marriages between their own and other noble families' children, which included large dowries and formalized contracts. There are several of those nuptials documented on this website, including one very elaborate contract between Gerit van Osenbrueck and Yda van Buren in 1455.
The Ossenbruchs gradually expanded and sometimes migrated to:
At this time, the main heir and dominant person in the family is Johan v. Ossenbroich (-bruch): Lord of Haen, Curtenbach and Blitterswick (near Venlo). He was Ambtman of Grevenbroich and Stallmeister Julich (Gulik).
Johan was also a Dutch knight i.e. member of the "ridderschap van het Overkwartier van Gelder 1592".
He had married:
Sexual chastity was essential for both women of the nobility and the lower classes. But a double-standard existed as chastity was not expected of (young) men. Women were to remain chaste until marriage; men were permitted to "sow their wild oats". Especially in Medieval feudal times, casual affairs with female vassals were common.
However, it was a different story if the (young) woman was a noble. In 1606 Johan v. Ossenbroich (son of Johan v. O. and Margriet von Bodelberg) got Gertruijd Schimmelpenninck pregnant. She came from a powerful noble family in Zutphen. Maybe after a bit of pressure, Johan signed a statement, on 6 April 1606, that he will take the pregnant Gertruijd for his wife, so that she will not be denigrated by her parents and friends.
Gertrudt had two daughters, but died not long after.
N.B.: The term "sow your wild oats" came from the middle-age era in Europe, comparing pre-marital affairs to wastefully planting oats in the wild rather than on a fenced-in, well-plowed farm field.
Caspar's descendants seem to fizzle out after. At least we have not been able to find more than 3 v. O. generations. Descendants with other last names are living today!
We have been more successful in tracing the v. O. descendants of Caspar's brother Johan, but gaps still exist. A large segment develops around Bochum (Bärendorff and Weitmar).
Several Ossenbruchs have leading position in the Prussian army (e.g. General-major).
The Ossenbruch's castle was in bad shape and had been sold in 1766 by Frederick the Great (1712-1786), King of (the new) Prussia, to Adriaan Steengracht from Zeeland.
The moated castle was demolished in the early-mid 1800s.
We have only been able to find a handful of Ossenbruch descendants in Germany at this time:
The moated castle was long gone, but there are still many reminders of the manor today (moat, dug out areas etc.). In 1919 there was still a swinery and a barn. Read more about the history here (in German).
In 1963 there is a Friederich Conrad H. Oosenbrugh in Napier Hawke's Bay in New Zealand.
Could he be a descendant of Conrad Friederich Stephan von Ossenbruch?