In order to fully appreciate the tangle of Ortmanns' and Zaffts', copies of the F. Christian and Anna Eleanora (Zafft) Ortmann Family History by Marnette (Ortman) Hofer (466 pages, hardcover with maps, photos, stories and index) are available ($15.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling). Send check to
David E. Ortman, 7043 22nd Ave N.W. Seattle, WA 98117.


© Copyright 1989,1996 Mennonite Family History

(reprinted by permission from Mennonite Family History, October 1989, pp. 144-147; July 1996, Rt. 1, Box 20, Morgantown, PA 19543- 9701).

by David E. Ortman*

[NOTE: When I wrote "The Ortman-Mennonite Connection" it was a status report on my knowledge at that time. I have uncovered additional information. In addition, in 1993, Marnette (Ortman) Hofer, of Dolton, S.D., published the Christian and Anna Eleanora (Zafft) Ortmann Family History 1800-1992, (Pine Hill Press, 1993). Working with a number of helpful relatives, she has documented additional facts that answers some of the questions posed by my 1989 article. Quotes are from the Ortman Family History book. The updates in italics are from a subsequent article appearing in the July 1996 Mennonite Family History

Three-fourths of my parentage (both my Grandmothers were Grabers and Grandfather on my mother's side was a Mueller) stems from the Swiss Volhynia Mennonites. 1/.


The Ortman name 2/, lineage and history is an interesting one.

Origin of ORTMANN Name:

In various old German name dictionaries, Ortmann is often found as a variation of Orthmann. One source cites the name Peter Orttmann zu Ratzenhofen in 1536. ". . .most family name dictionaries state that 'Ortmann' is middle high German for Shiedsmann or Schiedsrichter: an arbitrator, one who works to bring about an agreement, who straigtens out problems; an umpire or referee."

The earliest Ortman of record who came to America arrived in Georgia in 1734. A band of exiled Lutherns from around Salzburg, Austria left to help settle Savannah, Georgia, established under a land grant from George II of England. The origins of Christopher Ortman are unknown, but he joined the group in Dover, England. They sailed on the "Purisburg" and arrived in Charleston, South Carolina on 7 March 1734. There they were met by General Oglethorpe who conducted them to Savannah, the first city of the new colony of Georgia. Christopher Ortman was the first teacher in the state, but his tenure was only five years. 3/

In The Salzburger Saga, Religious Exiles and Other Germans Along the Savannah, by George Fenwick Jones, (1984, U. of Gerogia Press) p. 12, Christopher Ortmann is referred to as the "old German schoolmaster" who "had learned English while serving as a British marine". No children are mentioned, none accompanied them to Georgia and no children were born while in America. This makes it extremely difficult to attempt to find the direct descendents, if any, who stayed in Europe. Still it is an interesting side journey to locate the first person with your surname who arrived in Ameria.

Whether this Christopher Ortman can be placed on our family tree has not yet been determined. What has been passed down in our family follows. 4/


A Friedrich Ortman(n) lived in Mecklenburg, Germany (whether this is in reference to the city, now in East Germany just south of Wismar, or to the greater region is not clear) in the early 1800's. As late as the 1930's, Mechlenburgh was described as an "agrarian area(s) in which a rural proletariat subsisted in a state of semi-feudal tutelage to the landed aristocracy."5/ We do not have any actual records from Mecklenburg, however.

History of FRIEDERICH ORTMANN (late 1770's-1840's?): Additional research in the LDS Indexes show a number of Ortmans around the late 1700's and early 1800's in various villages of the Mecklenburg-Schwerin region north of Ludwigslust (northern part of former East Germany), including Gross and Klein Laasch, Wobbelin, Hohewisch, Dutschow and Spornitz. These villages are shown on a 1842 map copied at the Library of Congress in WA D.C. Thus, it seems likely that our first ancestor of note, FRIEDERICH ORTMANN, did came from this area. We are still attempting to locate information from a census of the Mechlenburg region taken in 1819. "The Ortmann name can be found in the region from at least 1700, at which time Ortmanns were found to be living in about 20 different places. By 1819 [when FRIEDERICH left for Adelhof, Congress Kingdom of Poland], the Ortmann name was found in 10 towns and 50 places in rural districts."

In the early 1800's, a German nobleman in Poland received a tract of land which he divided into villages named after his children: Adolfhof, Augustinon, Emilienheim, Friedricksfeld and Sophiental. The name of this nobleman remains unknown, but it is likely that the estate was in the vicinity of Kalisz, Poland. Nancy Vick, Assistant Map and Geography Librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (418 Main Library, 1408 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801), was able to locate an old map showing the villages of Friedrichsfeld, Adelhof, Softenthal, Emilienheim and and Augustynow east and south of the current Polish town of Zagorow, north of Kalisz. Kopojno appears to be the nearest village to Adelhof, which does not show up on a modern map. Further research is needed to determine if these are the correct villages.

German Nobleman who established villages in Congress Kingdom of Poland in early 1800s: While researching Polish villages remains difficult, a Polish student sent me the following information:

Colonies were established on land given by Prussian King Fryderyk Wilhelm to the prince Hohenlohen Ingelfingen in the year 1797. In 1802, the prince sold a half his land to Karol Weigl and the remaining part divided into colonies which he named after his children. In 1891, the (Russian?) government of the so-called Polish Kingdom ordered the names changed -

(NOTE: These villages have been located on a 1917 Map). There is still a village called Chrusciki existing (which was visited by a friend of mine in 1992), as well as five others.

In addition to the above information, Kay Shariff of Rawlins, WY was independently going through LDS records on Emilienheim for a branch of her family and did run into some Ortman/Zafft names ("Zagorow akta urodzin 1843-1859" (0127730)).


In 1819, Friedrich, who had done a lot of traveling already, and his family(?) moved to Adolfhof (Adelhof). Friedrich's brothers (unnamed) stayed in Germany.

Adolfhof had a Lutheran Church where Gottlieb Zafft was the preacher and elder. A few families in the church organized a prayer and bible study during the week. This group, which the Ortmans joined, kept away from worldly amusements and dressed in plain clothing. Because of this they were called, mockingly, "Prayer Brothers". A man named Fuhrmann became the leader of these Prayer Brothers. Friedrich Ortman, during this period of bible study, found little scriptural support in the Bible for the Luthern positions on swearing the oath, military service and infant baptism. A division in the church occured, with some following Fuhrmann and others agreeing with Ortman and Gottlieb Zafft, who became the leaders of the "Right Christians". The Luthern Church had Zafft and Ortman arrested and put in prison and their unbaptized children were taken away by force and baptized. Since Zafft and Ortman would not recant, eventually the Church gave up and had them released. But later when the Ortmans would not baptize their child, the Church appealed to a higher court and finally to Petersburg, but again charges were dismissed. After this, Zafft and Ortman visited Mennonites in Thoren and Grandenz, Germany, (north of Warsaw) but since these Mennonites did not seem to be living up to their calling, they returned home disappointed.

Zaffts in Adelhof: The LDS records show a large number of Zafft names on the birth and death lists. This provides additional confirmation that when Friedrich Ortmann arrived in Adelhof, he found Zaffts already there, including Gottlieb Zafft, preacher and elder of the Adelhof Lutheran Church.

Adalbert Goertz wrote and pointed out that in the Oct 89 MFH article, "Grandenz", where Gottlieb Zafft and FRIEDERICH ORTMANN visited, should have been spelled "Graudenz" and that Thoren and Graudenz are northwest of Warsaw (not north).

In 1821, Zafft and Ortman took a journey to Berlin. Perhaps because they did not take off their hats in the presence of an official they were arrested and put in prison. They were later set free. (Recently while in East Berlin, I attempted to locate any arrest or trial records from this period, but without success.)

The Zaffts and the Ortmans continued to hit it off and considerable intermarrages took place for a number of generations.

Ortmanns and Zaffts intermarriage: In 1989 there were question marks regarding FRIEDERICH's children and their intermarriage with the Gottlieb Zafft family. Based on microfilms from Zagorow, Poland, it is now surmized that FRIEDERICH ORTMANN had up to four surviving children. One son, F. Christian (ca. 1803-1856) married Gottlieb's daughter Anna Eleanora Zafft. Another son, Johann (ca. 1805-1870s?) married Anna Elizabeth Janke. We now believe that it was Johann and Anna's daughter, Elizabeth (1825-1899) who married Gottlieb's son Christlieb Zafft, while Johann's son Friedrich (1834-1910) married F. Christian's daughter (his first cousin) Wilhelmina Julianna (Julia) Ortmann (1837-1910). In addition, "[I]t is probable that Gottlieb's third wife was a daughter of F[RIEDERICH ORTMANN]."


Christian and Anna had four sons:

Christian (b. 31 May 1831) 6/,

Karl (b. 27 May 1841)

Henry (b. 10 September 1842)

Friedrich (b. 18 February 1849)

the four Ortman brothers; and a daughter, Julia (b. 14 January 1837). All were born in Poland, presumeably in Adelhof.

Children of F. Christian Ortman and Anna Eleanora Zafft: My 1989 list can be amended as follows:

1. Christian C. b. May 31, 1831 m. Henriette Krookowska

...................................... 2m..Wilhelmina Kramer

2. Carolina --remained in Prussia

3. Wilhelmina Julianna b. Jan. 14, 1837 m. Fredrich Ortmann

.................(Julia)..........................(1st cousin)

4. Karl C. b. May 27, 1841 m. Dorothea Zafft

5. Heinrich C. b. Sept. 10, 1843 m. Paulina Runge

6. Jocham --remained in Prussia

7. Friedrich C. b. Feb. 18, 1849 m. Carolina Zafft

Christian, Karl, Heinrich and Friedrich are the four Ortmann brothers who came to South Dakota with the Swiss Volhynian Mennonites in 1874. Julia, and her husband Fredrich Ortmann (Johann Ortmann's son) came to Kansas in 1878.

The oldest son, Christian and his cousin Friedrich (b. 30 Dec. 1834), Johann Ortman's son, traveled to Kotosufka, Russia in 1870 to visit a Swiss-Mennonite settlement. Friedrich, his family and Johann, his father, moved there in 1871 and joined the "Stucky Church", headed by Elder Jakob Stucki.

Christian, accompanied this time by his youngest brother, also named Friedrich, made another trip in 1873 and rather than move to Kotosufka, decided to join the Swiss-Russian Mennonite migration to Ameria. But the Polish Government would not give them passports to Russia. So the four Ortman brothers and families sneaked across the border into Germany, stopping briefly in Posen, Germany (now Poland) then traveled on to Berlin and Hamburg where they joined the Mennonites on the ship "Westfahlia". They docked in New York and arrived at Yakton, Dakota Territory on 11 May 1874. Their sister Julia (who had married her first cousin Fredrich Ortman (the son of Johann Ortman(?) in 1856 and moved to Kotosufka in 1871), her husband and family came to the U.S. in 1878 on a later ship, the "Wieland" and settled in Kansas. During this time period, some of the Ortmans dropped the last "n" from the name.

I am a descendent of Karl (of the four Ortman brothers), as well as Julia (the sister) since Karl's son Christian from South Dakota married his first cousin Julianna (Julia's daughter from Kansas).


Between 1734 and 1874 over forty other Ortmans had trickled to America from Europe. For example, the 1860 Kansas Census shows a Frederick Ortman already living in Topeka and a Charlotte Ortmann in Americus, while an Ernest Ortman is recorded in the 1870 Dakota Territorial Census living in Cheyenne. I am compiling a list of all Ortmans in America prior to the arrival of the four Ortman brothers in 1874 in the hopes that some linkage can be found.

I moved to Seattle, WA in 1975 and found a modest number of Ortmans in the phone book. Eventually, I contacted one who provided me with a completely new and separate Ortmann geneology, again intertwined with Mennonites (The LOEPP and ORTMANN FAMILIES- The descendants of Peter Loepp 1814-1890 and Ferdinand Ortman 1811-1---, by Alfred J. Englhorn, 1970). These families lived in Germany in what was then East Prussia. The largest city near the Loepp and Ortmann homes was the city of Danzig (now Gdanzk, Poland).

[NOTE: Additional material on the Loepp's from the article has been deleted.]

"Family legend has it that a 'great-grandfather' entered Germany somewhere in the south of Germany with knapsack and staff and travelled on to north Germany. This appears to be in reference to an Ortmann ancestor and would probably have been in the early or middle eighteenth century." (p. 1)

Ferdinand Ortmann was born 7 December 1811 and lived in the village of Liebwalde, East Prussia. Married Renata Meseck (b. 18 March 1821, d. 15 Sept. 1901). Children:

Carl b. 21 Nov. 1847

Adolf b. 26 Nov. 1849 twin

Chistena b. 26 Nov. 1849 twin

Minna Fenata b. 11 August 1851

Friedericke b. 7 June 1854

Herminia b. 28 February 1856

Marie b. 5 June 1858

The Mennonite Loepps and the Luthern Ortmanns also hit it off. Two of Peter Loepp's sons, David and Aaron and one daughter, Elizabeth, married children of Ferdinand Ortmann, Christina, Minna and Carl.

To date no connection has been found between Ferdinand Ortmann (b. 1811) of Liebwalde south of Gadansk, Poland and Friedrich Ortmann (b. 179-?) of Mecklenburg, Germany, then Adelhof, Poland. However, it is interesting to note that both Ortmans made a Mennonite connection.


I made a trip to East Germany and Poland in October of 1988 and am still trying to track down the following information:

a) Further information on the German Nobleman who established the villages around Kalisz, Poland.

b) Varification through birth/death/baptism records of the presence of Ortmans and Zaffts in the village of Adolfhof, near Kalisz. (I have scanned some of the LDS microfiche Luthern Church records for the general area.)

c) Where to search for arrest/court records in Berlin during 1821.

d) Information on the origins of the Ortman name.

e) Any other Ortman geneologies that are known to exist.

*David E. Ortman, 7043 22nd Ave N.W. Seattle, WA 98105, is a graduate of Freeman Academy, Freeman Jr. College, S.D. and Bethel College, KS ('75) and writes occasional articles for THE MENNONITE.


1/ Jerold A. Stahly is presenting an excellent series of articles on the Swiss-Mennonites in Russia in this years MFH (Jan 1989, p. 13+) Also see The European History of the Swiss Mennonites from Volhynia, by Martin H. Schrag, 1974, Mennonite Press; Banished for Faith, by Emil J. Waltner, 1968, End-Time Handmaidens; and The Heritage of the Swiss Volhynian Mennonites, by Soloman Stucky, 1981, Conrad Press.

2/ The ORTMAN name is a bit of a mystery. The German word "ort" means simply, "place, locality, town". There is no such Dutch word, although Jan Hendrick Oort was a famous Dutch astronomer. In crosswords, "orts" is an archaic expression for table scraps. A West Berlin phone book shows dozens of Ortman(n)s, so the name is not a emigration transcription error. The name Orthman, often shows up in phone books, as well.

3/ The Lutherans in Georgia, by Theodore G. Ahrendt, (Adams Press).

4/ Ortman History, As written in German by Fred C. Ortmann and Translated by his daughter Anna F. Ortman. 5 pages.

5/ The 12-year Reich, A Social History of Nazi Germany 1933-1945 Richard Grunberger, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971 pp. 60-61.

6/ Christian and Anna's sixth child, Fredrich C. Ortman, born 20 September 1868, is listed in the Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol IV, Scottsdale, PA, 1959, p. 88.