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A story about the Hilkmann, Hilckmann, Hilkman family. - Anneke & Henk's travel and genealogy website

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A story about the Hilkmann, Hilckmann, Hilkman family.

Family > Genealogy > Hilkmann

May 2018: Dear Familiy members in 1992 I wrote a story about the family Hiilkmann, you will find it on this page. But recently I rewrote the story and published it as a book with hard cover. Unfortunately at the moment, this new version is only available in Dutch. Maybe in the future I will translate it into English. But for the moment you have to deal with the old version or the new Dutch version as a Pdf file.

Why put this family story on the internet? I have been working on the family history for a very long time. I have gathered this information from archives, stories and old documents. Every time I speak to a Hilkmann, they ask me “How far back have you traced our family history?” and “ do you have anything on paper yet?”  Well, a number of years ago, I produced a small booklet, outlining the family history. I have now translated a summarised version into English so that it can be viewed on the Internet
I have used the name Hilkmann in this story, however this story applies equally to the names, Hilkman, Hilckman and Hilckmann.
I found most of the information in archives, but I also used old family documents and stories that were told by family members. The latter is not always the most reliable method of gathering information . In the Rotterdam branch of the family there was a story that 3 brothers, Casper, Melchior and Baltazar came from Denmark to the Netherlands. First of all they came from Germany and secondly it was an uncle and 2 nephews, who came to the Netherlands separately.
Besides all the information from the archives I also got a lot of information from rev. H.Heifort (his mother was a Hilkmann) and via him from Prof.Dr.A.Hilckman, both from Germany. They have both been working on the family history for a long time. They knew the members of the family who lived on the old farm and in the village of Metelen. Their information seems to be quite reliable.
The Dutch archives show us that the history goes back to that small German town of Metelen, 20km east of the Dutch border.

The archives from the church in Metelen started in 1623, these early records appear to be somewhat incomplete. However the name Hilkmann was found in these books several times around 1628. So from that we can assume that there were several families living there at that time. We can now start the real family tree from 1656, when Herman (1) and Adelheit (2) were married.
Even well before these church archives, we can read that in the 13th century, a Johannes Hillekenmann and Johannes Hilckeman had to pay a certain tax as free farmers. They were probably distant descendants of the Hilkmanns. Besides that, there is no reason to assume that there were other places were Hilkmanns lived and had families. 
Until now there is no known explanation for the name Hilkmann, it could be that it has something to do with an old Saxon expression.

How to write the name?
How would the original name have been spelt? Some people assume that it was spelt “Hilckman”. It would have been in the Prussian time that the second “n” was added, (because in the Saxon way, man is written with only one “n”).   
In the archives we can see that for the same person, several different spellings were used. The archives were usually written by the local priest, and the name was written as it sounds. So in a certain official document a person can be found as Hilkmann, while that same document was signed as Hilckman, and in a later document the same person’s name is spelt Hilckmann. (This was in a different handwriting, so it was probably done by a different priest). And it is not always clear if one should read a “k” or a “ck”. So, I don’t think there is a clear answer to that question. However it is obvious that all the different Hilkmanns (to this date) are members of the same family tree. 

In the Netherlands one can find 3 different spellings for the name Hilkmann, belonging to the 3 different branches.

  • HILCKMANN: The branch of Nijmegen and Alkmaar, descends from Ignaz Melchior (25),  

  • HILKMAN: The Amsterdam branch, descends via Hermanus Albertus (41) from Johan Bernard Heinrich (17)

  • HILKMANN: The Rotterdam branch, descends via Eugenius Antonius Bernardus Wilhelmus (46) from Johan Bernard Heinrich (17).

But they can all be traced back (like several German branches) to the same person: Augustin (9), we could call him the "family father".

Small family tree
Because there is so much information to handle here (I registered about 475 people in the family tree), I have placed at this spot. It shows the Dutch branches and their German origin. Hopefully you can find your father or grandfather at the bottom of this tree. Because of limited space on this web site, I have only mentioned the men who are of interest to the Dutch branches.
The numbers that you find in this family story are the same as the numbers I use in my system, so if you would like more information about a person, please use that number. Because most of you never have met me, I will tell you my place in this tree, I am a son of W.J.A.Hilkmann (72)

Where is Metelen situated?
The Hilkmanns originated from a small German town called Metelen, (today’s population of Metelen is approximately 10,000). It is situated 20 Kms  East of Enschede, near the Vecht River. In Roman times it was the place where the road crossed the river. Metelen is a town with a long history, artefacts which were probably used by Germanic tribes, were found in the area, these artefacts date back to 600 BC. These tribes drove away the Nomadic Celts. On a map made by Ptolomaus in 200AD, this same area was called Mediolanum, which could well have been the first official name for Metelen. On 16-8-889 Emperor Arnulf gave permission for the religious, Noble Lady Friduwi to form a “Stift” - a monastery for women, mostly for nobility. As a result of this, the Village received certain rights. In official documents, the Village was called Matellia, which was later changed to Matelon and then to metel. The name Metelen only became common after the 1200’s.
There are 2 meanings for the name Metelen: “honey wood” and “place of justice”.
There was a long struggle between the independent Stift and the bishops of MÜnster. In 993 the Emperor gave Metelen the status of “Imperial freedom” this was to state it’s free rights. The Stift finally closed in 1911.
Of course there were many disasters in the long history of Metelen. In 1572 and again in 1815, a big fire destroyed the village. In 1623 there were big Battles between the Germans and the Swedish, contributing to the loss of many of the church’s archives. Throughout the history there were also several epidemics to contend with, such as the plague in 1635, which claimed 200 lives.
The large Catholic Church (the Holy Martyrs of Cornelius and Cyprianus) (drawing 1), is one of the main features in the town of Metelen. The Church started out as a wooden Church, but in 1100 construction was started on a new stone building. The tower was constructed first, and the Church featured a large Choir Gallery, specially constructed for the Nuns of the Stift. The Church was built in a Roman style, however, by the time it was finished in the 13th century, the church was already being influenced by the Gothic Style. In later centuries there were several more changes made, making it difficult to recognise the original style.
In this Church you can find the old baptismal font which is 900 years old. We can assume that many generations of Hilkmanns were baptised there. (Drawing 2) 

The Catholic church in Metelen (1100)

The 900 years old baptismal font.

An old proverb in Metelen:
“If there is a white calf born at the farm of farmer Hilkmann, there will be war. And only when the calf has grown up will there be peace again. Both friend and foe will eat the white calf together”
Münsterländische Sagen
Aschendorf Münster

The old family farm.
The old family farm was Located 3 km out side the centre of Metelen. Maria Elisabeth Hilkmann (Born 30-4-1888)(372) was the last Hilkmann at the farm. She married a Spitthof. Later a daughter from this couple married a Klockenkemper. They built a new farm and used the old one (dating from the 16/17th century) as a stable. In the 1980’s it was pulled down (drawing 3).
Officially the name Hilkmann had already became extinct, but it was common in those days that if a daughter inherited a farm, the husband took the name of the woman so that the name of that farm/family continued. This happened with their great grandmother Maria Elisabeth Hilkmann (Born 30-4-1888)(372).

    The family farm

The family ancestors
All the Hilkmanns are probably descend of the couple Augustinus Johannes Hilckman (9)  (1770-      ) and Anna Maria Gertrud Kestrinck (10) (1778-1864).
In the old documents Augustin is mentioned as an innkeeper, a linen weaver and a merchant. According to an old family story his wife apparently died after giving birth to twins. The family, who was talking in another room and planning her funeral, was shocked by her request for a cup of coffee. She died many years later at the age of 86.
The couple started an egg business. The young sons bought eggs from the farms in the region. Then, using a horse and chart (the name of the horse was Flücht) the eggs were transported to the Dutch border at Glanerbrück and from there they were transported to Amsterdam where their son Bernard (17) had an egg and butter shop at the Nieuwendijk.
Augustin and Gertrud first lived in Metelen in Molen Street, where their first 10 children were born. On drawing 4 you can see a similar house in 1925 (same street, 3 houses away). In 1817 they bought the house opposite their own house, where the last 2 children were born. This house was destroyed by fire in 1889, A new house was built on the same location, and in 1939 an extra floor was added.
The building, which currently occupies the site, has been totally rebuilt. The only thing that was retained from the original building was the original fireplace.
There are tiles in this fireplace with the old family farm on it. After WW II the house became a bakery: Gasthoff/Bäckerei "Züm Mühlentor". In 1973 Lina Hilkmann (312)died there, she was the last Hilkmann in Metelen. Nowadays it is a small house for the elderly.

The house in Metelen in which Hilkmanns lived from 1817 until 1973.

The type of house in which Augustin and Gertud lived until 1817

Prof. dr. dr. Anton Joseph Maria Hilckman
Anton Hilckman (288), a great grandson of Augustin (9), was a professor in (vergelijkende cultuurwetenschap)[a knowledge of and comparison of cultural differences and similarities] …….. at the university of Mainz. In that position he wrote many scientific articles. During his life he also paid a lot of attention to minorities and suppression. In 1930 he warned against the Nazis and during WWII he was kept in 20 different prisons and 5 concentration camps.  The German officials took away his title, but he still signed his name with Dr Hilckman, because he gained his second title in Milan. Besides his native German, he also spoke Polish, Basks and Friesian (he was a member of honour of the Friesche Acadomy).
After he died in 1970 he  gave his parental house in Bevergern to the “heimats verein”. There is a small local museum there now. A small part of the exhibition is dedicated to him. (drawing 6)

The local museum in Bevergern

Is there a coat of arms?

There is a drawing of a Coat of Arms in the family. This Coat of Arms is not registered in the Dutch or German heraldic system. But it is also not registered as belonging to another family. This does not prove that there is no Coat of Arms, everyone can adept a Coat of Arms, but in that case it is not connected to a noble status.
According to H.Heifort and Prof.Hilckman our Coat of Arms has always been in the old family farm . But the “Contra torrentem” (Against the current) was probably added by Prof.Hilckman. It is said that in the 1970’s  “regierungs director” Kurzinski found this Coat of Arms in the old family papers, but I did not found any proof of that. It could be that because the family Hilkmann had to pay taxes to certain nobles or to the “stift”, they also had to pay forces for an army to those nobles. In that case it was not uncommon that certain parts of that nobles’ Coat of Arms to be used by those farmers in their own ”herald”, or Coat of Arms.

The family herald.

Hilkmann in the Netherlands

There were probably 5 Hilkmanns who originally came to the Netherlands in the 19th  century, the reason for that is of course not clear now. But in those days there was a lot of unemployment in that part Germany, so many  workers came to Holland in the harvest season or for trading. Some of them settled down in the Netherlands. Like the Dreesmans (V&D) and Brenninkmeijer (C&A).

Proof that J.B.H. Hilkmann was allowed to leave the German army (Urlaubspass,20 February 1833)

Johan Bernhard Heinrich Hilkmann (17)
Johan Bernhard Heinrich Bernard Hilkmann (1808-1879) is probably the first Hilkmann who settled in Holland, or anyway the first one from whom there are still descendents living here today.
In the old family documents we found a dirty piece of paper. Later that seemed to be the proof that he could leave the military service in Metelen in 1833.  On 21-5-1834 Bernard married H.J.Nieters (16) in Amsterdam.  According to the marriage certificate their professions were shopkeeper and blacksmith. Only 10 months before that date she became the widow of Hinrich von Uchtrup, a German who was born in a village not far from Metelen. Did Bernard know this man, or was he a business contact of H.Nieters?

When they were first married they changed their address often, but in 1848 they bought a house on the Nieuwendijk in Amsterdam (It was a house with a shop front). The house, which was constructed in 1675, still exists today, and many of the documents pertaining to that house are still in the family. A very interesting document  was made after H.Nieters’ death in 1855. At that time there were 8 children. Every item in the house was described and recorded in order to calculate the wealth of the family. This gives us a good idea of what the family possessed. The list is too long to reproduce here, so I decided to make a list of the most characteristic items in every room (unfortunately still in Dutch)
It is difficult to compare these figures with today’s equivalent, but it is clear that the family was not rich but definitely above the average level.
In 1878 Bernard sold his shop, including goodwill to his son Eugenius (46) (already making use of the upcoming inheritance). But Eugenius was not such a good a businessman as his father, so in 1897 he went bankrupt. He then moved to Rotterdam with his family. There are stories in the family that he became bankrupt because he lent money too easily and also because he bought too many eggs in Germany, which his brothers were, supposed to sell (but they didn’t)

Nieuwendijk 10, Amsterdam

Bill, early last century

A list of properties, Nieuwendijk 10, 1856









Bovenste achterkamer

Gladhouten ledikant met matras


Bovenste achterkamer

3 glasgordijnen, 1 vloerkleed, 1 karpet, inschuiftafel + 6 stoelen, mahonijhouten secretaire


Middelste achterkamer

mahonijhouten theetafel + kleed
6 gladhouten stoelen, 1 fateuil (paardenharen zitting)
14 japonnen, 2 jakken, 1 omslagdoek, 5 zijden en 10 japonnen van div. stof
2 bos's, 1 handmof, 4 hoeden, 2 paar laarsjes, 3 paar schoenen en 2 paar pantoffels


Middelste voorkamer

spiegel in vergulde lijst, 2 platen achter glas in mahonijhouten lijst
mahonijhouten buffetkastje waarin 2 pors. theeserviezen, theeblad, 12 kopjes+schotels en div. roomkleurig aardewerk
mahonijhouten kabinet, waarin o.a.: 6 tafellakens en 14 servetten
48 vrouwen rokken, 25 vrouwen onderbroeken, 3 borstrokken
72 hals- en zakdoeken, 40 frauwen kousjes, 6 boezelaars, enige mutsen, kraagjes, zijzakken en verdere kleine lijfsbenoodigdheden en lijfsdragt, 5 pakken nieuw en ongenaakt linnen


Kamer achter de winkel (het zgn zaaltje)

1 gouden pendule onder stolp, 2 bloemvazen onderstolp, 2 porceleinen bekertjes, 1 albasten luciferpotje en aschbak, 1 gladhouten lessenaar, nootenboomhouten bureau.
5 mans jassen, 1 lakenseche rok, 3 vesten, 3 lange broeken, 1 hoed, 2 lakensche petten, 2 paar engelsche laarzen en 1 paar pantoffels



1 engelsche lamp, 1 kantoor lamp, ameubelement


Beneden woonkamer

1 zijden paraplui, 1 rotting, 1 kagchel met voetstuk en toebehoren



1 koperen doofpot, 3 waterketels, aschpot en haardbenodigdheden
2 ijzeren kookpotten, 2 dito koekenpannen, 1 koperen tulbandvorm



4 wateremmers, 1 waschtobbe, 4 stoelen met matten, 1 tafel en aardewerk kruiken



toonbank met raam, schalen en gewigten, 32 eierkisten, gaslichttoestel, 600 eieren


Stalling in Smaksteeg

karretje, vrachtslede, mestwagen, 1 bruin trekpaard, ruin, hooi



1 paar oor sieraden met diamanten, 1 gouden halsketting met gouden sluiting en diamanten, 1 dames horloge in gouden kast en gouden haak, 1 flacon met gouden dop, 1 kerkboek met gouden sluiting, 1 gouden cigarenpijpje met mondstuk



6 theelepeltjes, 2 suikerstrooijers, theeseefje, 1 theeschopje, bonbondoosje, schaarketting met haak, priem, naaldenkoker, rijgpen, 2 vingerhoeden, 2 pinklidjes, 2 brillen met zilver gemonteerd, 166 oude munten




The total value of the properties in the house, including fl.678,- for gold and silver.


A house on the Nieuwendijk, a stable and yard in the Smaksteeg and a house in the Spaarpotsteeg


Cash money and claims






Total means














Bergen (N-H)









Den Haag



Den Haag



























Sensus of population 1947
To get an idea how many Hilkmanns lived in the Netherlands, I used the information, which was gained during the census of population in 1947. All the 9.6 million inhabitants were registered at that time, and for privacy reason the information was separated from the names. But all the names appeared in alphabetic order in press. At that time there were 77 Hilkmanns in the Netherlands. I could trace them all back in my own system. At the moment I think there are about 100-150 Hilkmanns living in the Netherlands. (Because I did not get all the recent mutations, the figure is not that accurate)
But to give you an idea, in the 1992 phonebooks  there were 50 Hilkmanns mentioned and in 2002 there were 61 Hilkmanns in the telephone list of Infobel on the internet.

At the end of this summary, I would ask you to contact me if you have questions, information or remarks. And I would like to thank Piet Hilkmann (78), who produced all the very informative drawing which were based on clear and unclear photographs, Peter Hilkmann,New Castle, Australia, who transformed the Dutch English in real English and of course to my girlfriend Anneke Huigen who also spend many hours on this story.

Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
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