"Christian Mencke Kleyböcker und Maria Elisabeth Erdbrügge  (husband and wife) Den 4 December 1815, Friedrich Möller."  This inscription over the main door identifies the Colon, or head farmer, Christian Menke Kleyböcker (1767-1842) as the heir of the Hof's tenancy at the time the building was renovated in 1815. Christian was the oldest son, but had 3 older sisters.  Christian Mencke Kleyböcker and Maria Elisabeth Erdbrügge from Neuenkirchen were married on October 14, 1799 in Damme.  Christian had become the Colon of the Hof in 1798 when he inherited the tenancy from his father, Johann Hermann Kleyböcker at the age of 31.


Most likely before 1815, there was mud and straw plaster, whitewashed, between the timbers.  The brick work was added to help prevent spread of fire and improved insulation.  The carved woodwork was also probably renewed or created at that time. Note the various patterns in the brickwork.

Ryan Kleiboeker stirring the pot of stew over the open flame on the "Flett". 

2016 Kleiboeker Family Trip to Kleyböcker Hof (farmstead) standing in front of "Deeltor" or Service Door (shown at bottom of Ground Plan below) where originally, animals and carts entered, now considered the front of the Hof.

Inscription just above main door on front of the Hof:

 "Dies Haus in dieser Eitelkeit dient hier nur eine kurze zeit,  Drum denk ans Haus das ewig ist, weil du in diesem Hause bist."
This house in its vain state serves us here only a short time, so better to think on the house that is eternal, while you are in this house

The back of the house was renovated later in 1958 by Christian Menke's great, great grandson Rudolf Kleyböcker.  The top half of the back retains the original fachwerk brick and timbers of the original 18th Century House with 4 different lines of inscriptions and the Kleyböcker Coat of Arms.

Back side of entrance shown to the left with front gate in distant background

Unique to the Kleyböcker Hof is its own cemetery.  Most farmsteads in the area do not have a cemetery.  There has always been governmental restrictions on who can operate a cemetery and most were strictly regulated to churches only. As the Kleyböcker Hof is quite old it seems that the cemetery was allowed for historical reasons. It is not clear exactly how many are buried here, but the more recent burials all have distinctive markings as shown in these pictures. 

Inscription at the top of the front of the Hof: 

"Sieh gnädig hin auf dieses Haus, du der Gebethe erhöret, treib alles ferne von Ihm aus was Fried und Ruhe störet." 
Look graciously on this house dear Lord, to whom we raise our prayers and ask you to disperse all things that might disturb its peace and solitude.

Cows in large barn near front Entrance

Carol, Don and Karen Kleiboeker standing in front of the cornfield directly behind the House.  Kent and Donna Schnelle standing by Beech Trees growing on the Kleyböcker farmstead.  In German, beech trees are named "Bücher" or "Boeker" which makes up part of the Kleiboeker name. See Family Crest for more info.  In addition, Beech trees were used to create early written records as it is conjectured that the earliest Indo-European writings may have been carved on beech wood.  The Saxon, German, English, Slavic and Russian languages all use the same word for book and beech tree.  In German for example book is "Buch" and the Beech Tree is "Buche". Also of interest is the word Buckwheat.  Buckwheat is a plant that was grown in the moors (swampy lowlands) near the Kleyböcker Hof.  Buckwheat in German is "Buchweizen" or literally wheat from the Buche tree.  The small kernels of grain growing on the buckwheat plant (which is native to Southeast Asia) is not related at all to the Buche or Beech tree, but reminded Germans of the taste of the nut from the Beech tree with which they were quite familiar.  So the Kleyböcker name has ties to Buckwheat too!

Don and Carol Kleiboeker trying out the Colon's family beds. The beds were inside cabinets with doors to keep the cold out and feather comforters, as there was no heat in the back rooms behind the "Flett"

The Hof is listed continuously in the "Lehnbücher" from 1442 to 1775 which are the tax registers of the various farms which were fiefs or inheritable tenancies.  In the German feudal system, all land was owned and controlled by either the King / Prince of the area, or the Catholic Church.  In the Kleyböcker Hof case, the land was owned by the Church.  The Kleyböcker family who operated this farmstead owed the church usually 10% of the proceeds of the farm each year. There were also taxes if someone got married or died and especially when the Hof was given to a son once the farmer was too old to farm or had died.   The size of the Kleyböcker Hof in the 15th Century was listed as 83 Morgens.  A morgen is the amount of land one man could plow behind an ox in a single day. In 1945 the farm was listed as 70 hectares or 173 US acres.


The Hof farmer, was called a "Colon" which uses the same latin root word from which we get the English word, Colonel.  The Colon operated the Hof and managed the farming using serfs or what in German was called Heuerlinge or Heuerleute.  These people were almost slaves of the Colon as they were obligated to a life long service contract to him.  In return the Heuerlinge were provided a place to sleep, most likely in the hay mows above the animals in the Hof and meals which were often quite meager. If you were the child of a Heuerling, you were destined to a life as a peasant and all your progeny the same.  The Colon and his family lived in the apartment as shown at the top of the diagram.  The Colon was not allowed to subdivide the Hof farm.  This meant that one of his sons would inherit the Hof and become the next Colon, but the other sons were destined to become Heuerleute.  Generally the written history shows that the oldest Kleyböcker son inherited the Hof.  But sometimes, in certain generations, other middle and youngest sons have received the Hof.   If one of the daughters got lucky, they might marry a Colon at another farm, but most likely they would also become Heuerleute.   The Kleiboeckers who made it to America were all of the Heuerleute class.

Centered in the upper back side of the house is the Coat of Arms or in German, "Wappen" of the Kleyböcker Family.  You can see the emblems of Clover for Kley and the horse representing the area of Niedersachen.  For more information on the family name and crest see:  Family Crest

Hella (nee Pieper) Kleyböcker showing Dennis Kruse the beech nut from the trees on the Hof.   Beechnuts were collected and eaten throughout history.  Beechnuts are a goldmine of healthy calories, with roughly 50% fat and 20% protein.  To compare, acorns are only about 7% protein.  They were used to make coffee, and ground up to create a flour as well.  But mostly the Beech trees were used as building material.  Their close grain and smooth bark made them an excellent source of hardwood timbers used to build the houses and barns.  Most of the timbers between the brickwork on the house most likely came from the beech trees.

The Kleiboekers from the US cooked their own 19th century meal at a Hallenhaus at the Museum Cloppenburg and then shared the meal around the cooking fire on the floor or "Flett".  Right: Joyce, Jane and Elaine, all Schnelle sisters are shown preparing the cabbage for the stew.

Jane Mayden in front of "Hallenhaus". - Combined Barn and House - see diagram below

Above Entrance to inner courtyard separating Barn and Homestead:


"Bewahr vor Raub und Brand die Güter die Deine milde Hand uns gab.

Sei Du selbstloser Treuer Hüter und wende Schwere Zeigen ab. 
In Ruh und Frieden lass uns Gott geniessen unser täglich Brot."

Rudolf Kleyböcker und Erna geb. Karmann Kinder: Hermann und Elisabeth, 1958


"Watch o’er us Lord, let not fire or thief arrive to take away the wondrous things received from your gracious hand.
You are our steadfast, trusted shepherd. Hear us and drive away all evil things whereby we might enjoy our daily bread and here, undisturbed, know your blessed serenity."

The first time the Kleyböcker Hof is mentioned in any written history is 1415.  A record in the Domarchiv in Osnabrück, Volume V, Page 234, mentions that the head Abbess of Convent Rulle, Hille of Eckern, visited the "Cleybokers" house as well as others on January 25, 1415.  The Kleyböcker Hof was a feudal estate farm that was obligated to provide payments to the true landowners, the Bishop of Osnabrück of which Convent Rulle was a sub-order of this Osnabrück Bishopric.  The Hof is located in the small cluster of farms called Hinnenkamp which is just North and West of the town of Vörden.   In 1370 Vörden was founded as a monastery fortress. The name Vörden is from the old Saxon word for ford as in fording a river.  Here the main road between Osnabrück and Bremen crossed the river Aue.  A special exemption was granted in 1378 whereby all people who wanted to settle around the fortress were granted a tax or tithing exemption for 10 years. The usual 10% of all proceeds of the farm was not charged for those first 10 years, which motivated many to establish these feudal farms on the wet, boggy land.

Meals in the Hof were eaten communally involving all the "Heuerleute" (hired hands / serfs) and the Colon (head farmer) and his family. See diagram above for location of Flett.  These combined house and barn buildings had no chimneys, so the smoke from the cooking fire just filtered into the thatched roof and rafters.  This was where they hung their meat to smoke and cure it, as there was no refrigeration.  Sleeping arrangements for the Colon and his family were behind the nice wood paneled wall shown in the dining picture above.  The "Huerleute" usually slept in the haymows above the livestock stalls as shown below. Everyone in the area were known to suffer from various forms of bronchitis due to all the smoky air they breathed.  Most slept sitting up to keep their lungs and nasal passages clear. 

Guard dogs on either side of the base of the Deeltor (service or main front door)

Katie Kleiboeker in front of the haymow above a cattle stall, where the heuerleute or hired hands slept.  They were dependent on any residual heat from the Flett as well as the loose straw to stay warm on cold winter nights.

Nolan and Dottie Kleiboeker by the front gate of the Kleyböcker Hof. Note horse, the symbol of Lower Saxony (Hanover Province) and also used in Kleyböcker Coat of Arms.

Side Door Inscription:  (in old Platt Deutsch)


De Dür upschlott för Schlechtigkeet 
Un well de rechte Tiet nich weet.  
Häs Du wat gaos mit mi in Sinn 
Dann gao getrost hier ut un in.


This door shuts out all wickedness
Since we cannot know when Judgement day draws nigh. 
So, if you share the righteousness we treasure,
Then welcome. Come with confidence! 

Stews were the typical fare each noon dinner which was comprised of cabbage and smoked meat. Evening meals were mostly uncooked using bread, cold cuts, etc.

The top inscription:                              Unser tagliches Brot gib uns heute 

                                                            Give us this day, our daily bread.

Below this, the Second Inscription:     Achte stets der Väter Art,  Gott segne den, der sie bewacht

                                                            Honor your heavenly Father's will, for he blesses those who do.

The Third Inscription:                          Allzeit frohlich ist gefaehrlich, 

                                                            allzeit traurig ist beschwerlich

                                                            drum (darum) so lass all dein Tun
                                                            immerfort in Frohsinn ruhn.

                                                            Living always happy is a dangerous course, Living always sad is troublesome,

                                                            Instead, let your life be always spent, in simple, quiet joyfulness.

The Fourth and bottom Inscription:     So Lange noch die Eichen wachsen
                                                            in stolzer Kraft um Hof und Haus, 

                                                            so lange stirbt in Niedersachsen 
                                                            die alte Stammesort nicht aus
                                                            As long as these oak trees grow tall and mighty, all around our farm and house,

                                                            our Lower Saxony roots and culture will never die away.  


This last inscription is a motto from the local “Heimatbund” of Niedersachsen or Lower Saxony.   Supposedly written by Friedrich Tewes (1859-1931).  Tewes was an author, librarian, and museum director, who founded the “Heimatbundes Niedersachsen”.  This is the local historical / homeland association of the state which honors the cultural roots, heritage and traditions of the Lower Saxony area.  These Homeland associations, which are throughout Germany and Europe, were founded in the 19th and early 20th century.  There was incredible loss of cultural practices and memories after the many wars and occupations by foreign powers in the late 1700’s and continuing up to WW1 and WW2.

Typical floor plan of a Lower Saxony Hof or House Barn.  

Views of, from and through Front Gate looking out at neighboring fields.  Land is flat and formerly peat bogs that required tiling to drain the fields, and is now very productive land in the Province of Hannover (Niedersachsen)

The Kleyböcker Hof

Family Info and great history