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The Colonization of Marshes and Heathlands in Schleswig-Holstein (1761-1765)

In the 1761 Manumission Index of the Zweibrücken Oberamt a Andreas Diehl from Erbach is listed to move to Flensburg in Jutland. This citizen from Erbach is an example of persons from the areas of the Kurpfalz, Württemberg, Hessen and Baden who were willing to follow an invitation by the Danish government to settle the vast marshes and heathlands in Jutland and Schleswig. The prospect of settling in a new area fit with popular notions as fleeing war, avoiding religious issues and escaping serfdom. The Danes promised tax exemptions for 20 years, along with various kinds of support. Colonizing a piece of property with a package of fringe benefits sounded alluring. Germans of the Southwest were more generally willing to leave the homeland. Many before this time had made precarious moves, having gone all the way to America.

The first “Pfälzer” (then a synonym for foreigners) as they became known in the North, approx. 15 families, left Frankfurt/Main in 1759. By 1760, the Danish government had 265 families to accommodate. People arrived from Leutershausen, Hohensachsen, Schreisheim, Orsenbach, Heddesheim, Grossensachsen, Oberflockenbach, Dittenbach, Litzelsachsen, Anfertal, Aschaffenburg, Kossenheim, Edigen, Burkenau, Anschbach, Ladenburg, Weinheim, Zwingenberg, Statthausen, Burghausen. Most of these towns and villages are „an der Bergstrasse“, located north of Heidelberg in the Rhine/Neckar region. Other places of origin were “Durlach, Hesse-Darmstadt, Pfalz, Speyer, the areas of Iserburg and Schwaben.

Some of the "Pfälzer" family names are: Bendler, Cords, Eggers, Reve, Harneck, Jansen, Kayser, Laurens, Mathiessen, Neller, Ohlsen, Stümmel, Thöm, Wilhof, Zarzinger.

The colonization of Jutland was organized in two areas, southwest of Viborg and west of Vejle. The plan was to build 4200 colonies. However, not even 600 were built and fewer than 500 remained. During the winter of 1764/65 the Danish government decided to abandon the marsh projects. Most “Pfälzer” with a few exceptions left to settle in Prussia or Russia, leaving the local residents to try their hand at marsh colonization.


Clausen, Otto. Chronik der Heide- und Moorkolonisation im Herzogtum Schleswig (1760-1765)