I was born on June 14th 1856 in Harscheid, a small farming village in the district of Marienberghausen


*, in Gummersbach county

[generally called: "Oberbergisches Land"




. I was the eighth of nine children. My father, Kaspar Heinrich Simon (christened




rich), can trace his family back to a farming estate called "ZUM HOFF" in the district of Waldbröl


* [

the Simon family's farm was the largest farm - called "Allodialgut" - in what later became a little village now called "



]. My father's father had a potash business and was nicknamed "ashman". He also worked on his farm.  It seems fairly certain that my ancestors settled on this farm, Zum Hoff, several hundred years ago. It is difficult to confirm because the church in Waldbröl burnt down in the 17th century together with the church record books in which the people were registered. After our farmhouse

[in Harscheid]

burnt down in 1854 a cast iron stove plate was found bearing the inscription:

EHELEUTH (married couple) ANNO 1700
DEN (the) 16 OCTOBER

by Wilhelm Simon *

completed Feb.10th 1927

I found the heavy iron plate, measuring about 90 x 90 cm, on another farm nearby. The farmer was using it to cover his cesspool. I assume that this plate was made for a young married couple and that they were fairly well off

[Henrich and Gertrud Simonis were born in 1660 resp. 1662

]. A lot of important family documents must have been destroyed in the fire at the Simon house. Some Simon family documents were in the possession of the neighbouring farmer (the one who used the iron plate to cover his cesspool). These included some settlements, discursions and requisitions of Johann Bertram Simon who lived

[in Hoff]

at the time when all this area was in French hands. The farmer refused to give us the documents even though his family has no connection with them. I have included a written copy of a birth and marriage document at the end of this chronicle

[these documents are not available]



(Photograph from: Gottfried Corbach, "Geschichte von Waldbröl", Cologne 1973)**. According to Corbach, the farm of the Simon family at Hoff, the origin of the "Takenplatte", was an "Allodialgut" (


) and the old core of the village where Simon descendants live down to the present day.

** Great gratitude is due to

Manfred Söhn †,

Nümbrecht, for his invaluable support. He found the source of this picture which had not been part of the original text.

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©   Kurt Müller 2022

Kaspar Heinrich Simon

born 13. May 1818 in Hoff
died  11. February 1884 in Harscheid

Elisabeth Dax

born 28. October 1814 in Harscheid
died  17. February 1885 in Harscheid




Chronicle of the Simon family

* Wilhelm was the son of Kaspar Heinrich Simon and Elisabeth Dax
 and the brother of
Amalie Simon
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 translated from the German original (which is not available any more)

Kurt Müller senior

and partly reviewed by Anne Humphreys

in Italic letters: notes of the editor


Below: panoramic view of Hoff, the village near Waldbröl, which grew around the allod of the Simon family.

Above: "Takenplatte" of Henrich and Gertrud Simonis.
A "Takenplatte" (


) is a cast iron plate, used for heat regulation in homes until about 1900. Recessed into the wall behind the open fireplace of the hallway ("Eren"), it stored the heat and emitted it to the living or sleeping room behind it. In the 17th and 18th centuries these plates  were important artisanal products of the ironworking crafts.


* Today Harscheid as well as Marienberghausen are part of the municipality of Nümbrecht, Hoff is part of Waldbröl, and all these places belong to the district "Oberbergischer Kreis".
Harscheid and Hoff are 5 km apart, only, but until 1800 they belonged to different confessions and even different states (Harscheid and Nümbrecht: Evangelical Reformed / County of Sayn-Wittgenstein vs. Hoff and Waldbröl: Lutheran / Duchy of Berg). After 1815 all these areas became Prussian, and while religious preferences persisted, they were no impediments for relocations or intermarriages any more.