* Niedersachsen in blue
Description of Emsland
Emsland is a Landkreis in the Regierungsbezirk
Weser-Ems in the Land Niedersachsen in northwest Germany. As a governmental unit,
Landkreis Emsland came into being August 1, 1977 during a reorganization of
districts within Germany. It did not exist before that time in the same form. Emsland
extends from Papenburg in the north to Salzbergen in the south, with the Dutch border
forming much of it's western boundary. The eastern boundary runs roughly from Esterwegen
in the north to Schapen in the south, and then SW to Salzbergen.
Today's Emsland covers roughly the same territory as the combined Kreise (Kreis
= district) of Lingen, Meppen, Aschendorf and Huemmling under Prussian rule which
dates from 1866. Before that, the area had been part of the Kingdom of Hannover and made
up of the Aemter (Amt = district) Lingen, Freren, Meppen, Haseluenne,
Aschendorf and Huemmling. Before that the area was briefly under Napoleon's rule as part
of France. And prior to Napoleon and his secularization of the German states, the northern
two-thirds (roughly) of present-day Emsland belonged to the Bishop of Muenster. It made up
a large part of that Bishop's land in northern Germany called Niederstift Muenster
The southern portion of Emsland was, at that same time, mostly part of Grafschaft
Lingen whose history was quite separate from that of the territory belonging to the
Bishop of Muenster. Along the western border of Grafschaft Lingen was a strip of
land, also belonging to the Bishop, which connected his northern land holdings, Niederstift
Muenster, with his land to the south in Westfalen, Oberstift Muenster. That
corridor of land belonged to Oberstift Muenster and contained the parishes of
Schepsdorf, Emsbueren and Salzbergen.
Emigrants who came from the area now known as Emsland were predominantly Catholic.
Therefore, most of the church records consulted while doing research for this project
belong to Catholic parishes.