Germany Visit by Roy Kokenge


In February 1992. we visited Germany and P. Hildebrand Kokenge, a Franciscan priest. He is a delightful person. At his invitation, we spent two nights in the Kloster. With his pidgin English and my pidgin German we communicated.

The purpose of our trip was to make contact with our German cousins, to find the location of the ancestral farm, and find the German pronunciation of our name.

Father Hildebrand Kokenge informed me that we were not related. He reported, his ancestor, named Krimpenfort, had been a lucky man to marry the widow of Otto Kokenge. He then took the name Kokenge, since the name went with the farm. However, we have a common ancestor, Wilke Schomaker, making us seventh cousins.

We hoped to visit Father Willehad Kokenge, but he was ill with "heart trouble". Hildebrand is not in good health and suffers from "swindle" in the head. This translates to dizziness. His superior, Rudolph, expressed concern that Hildebrand had been failing for the past two years.

The German pronunciation of the name is "cocaine geh". With the accent on "caine" and a very light "geh" sound on the end.

The Kokenge's were residents in Ehrendorf, Germany, which belonged to the castle of Dinklage. Your allegiance, protection, taxation and source of wars was through your local ruler, in this case, Dinklage.

The Kokenge name is from the tribe name Chauken or Koken. This is the name of one of the tribes that lived in this area and are mentioned in Caesar's Commentaries. The meaning of the name is unknown.

In the past, there was a village named Kokenge. The mountains near Sudlohne were named the Kokengen Bergen. These mountains are small prominent hills held in sharp contrast to the generally flat land of this area.

The Kokenge estate was in Sudlohne. This was one of the largest estates in this region. It was 85 hectares in size. (1 hectare = 2.47 acres. Most of the farms are 50 hectares or less. The farm included a brick works and distillery. A servant who was "not too clever in the head" burned the place down.

Heinrich Kokenge, the last owner of the estate, lost two sons in WW1, and became a "broken man" and sold the farm. The location of the farmland is across the road from the home of Bernard Kokenge, Heinrich's son.

Now, there is nothing to indicate the location of the old farmhouse. A nephew of Hildebrand Kokenge made an attempt to locate the old farmhouse a few years ago and could find nothing.

We visited briefly with Bernard Kokenge. He's 82 years old, tall, dignified and has a large comfortable home in Sudlohne. He is the only remaining Kokenge in the Lohne area. He has two daughters, one is a physician. When he dies there will be no more Kokenges living in the old ancestral area of Lohne. He was unaware there were any Kokenges in the U.S. and had thought the Kokenge emigration was to South America.

I looked up the name Kokenge on international Internet white pages for the name Kokenge in South American countries and could find no listings. Most of the Germans went to Argentina but this was a later migration than the big migration of the 1850's. Mostly Germans fleeing Nazi Germany or fleeing Nazis.

The early migration of Germans was in the 1600's. They were from southern Germany and left Germany because of religious persecution. They are short, dark and swarthy and migrated to Virginia and surrounding areas, No Kokenges were in this migration.

Our ancestral migration was from northern Germany. These migrants were educated and craftsmen. There were several reasons for emigration: need for genetic mix, encouraged by the Catholic Church (you were likely to marry a cousin), the family farm went to the first born son.

Examples of success of an immigrant: our grandfather Olberding was born in Germany but was a county commissioner of Nemaha County. The German born Cincinnati Kokenge family were successful high fashion women’s shoe manufacturers.