Over 135 years have passed since A. Johann (known as John) Grote-
lueschen and Anna Catherine Loseke married, left Germany, sailed to America, and
traveled to Columbus, Nebraska, to begin the Grotelueschen tradition in America.
In order to better understand and appreciate the Grotelueschen heritage, it is im-
portant to learn about the early Grotelueschens in Germany and America through
clues to the past.
There is no clear record on the meaning of the name Grotelueschen. Rela-
tives who have been to Germany relate that the Grote stands for big or large
while the Litje stands for small. The physical stature of the Grotelueschens and
the Litjelueschens seems to correspond with this information. The Luschens, hav-
ing no prefix, were considered average in stature. There is no record of what the
name Luschen means.
Our Grotelueschen heritage was based on a farming tradition in Germany;
that tradition continued in America. In Germany, the family settled in Grossenknet-
ten in the province of Oldenburg (see the maps on the following page). The prov-
ince of Oldenburg had forests, mostly state owned; low marshy areas with peat
bogs, the major source of fuel; marsh land near the sea, reclaimed by diking; and
the Geest, higher sandy land for growing gardens and crops. Most fields were
enclosed by dirt walls with a hedge on top or by furrows with rocks set at the cor-
The farmhouse the family lived in was multiuse. The center section of the
structure had a tier of living and sleeping rooms at the back, a middle room for a
working space, and a front area that was used as a threshing floor. There were
stalls and pens for stock at either side of the center section. Cows used the edge
of the threshing floor for a manger. The threshing floor was of hard-packed clay;
the living area floors were usually of brick. The roof was thatched with reeds or
straw. The sleeping rooms in back had poor ventilation and were good places for
flies and bedbugs. In spite of the close living arrangements, there was a parlor that
was used only for festive occasions. Relatives visited the Grotelueschen home-
place in Grossenknetten in 1984 and saw the farmhouse much as it looked when A.
Johann left for America in 1866.
The children lived under the philosophy Spare the rod, spoil the child.
Both at home and in their schools our ancestors were well acquainted with this
axiom because discipline was very strict. Our ancestors probably started school
the first day of March after they reached the age of six. They studied the three
Rs and geography and learned many Bible texts by heart. This folk-school
lasted for eight years, with the students spending quite a lot of time with the pastor
on the eighth year learning the catechism and getting prepared for confirmation.
The schools our ancestors attended probably had plain wooden benches and
desks. The boys and girls were seated on opposite sides of the room. This seating
arrangement was also seen in the churches on Sunday morning, where the men
were seated on one side and the women and children on the other side. Christ Lu-
theran, in Columbus, Nebraska, carried on this tradition for some years.