Tag: Joseph Bel

Johann F. Faßbender and Salome Barbara Bel

Johann F. Faßbender was born February 2, 1811, the sixth of seven known children born to Johann and Maria Apollonia Stüsser. Then as now, the birth needed to be recorded with the government officials. The very next day Johann, “age fifty-four years farm-worker living at Oedecoven” trudged through the early morning chill with his newborn son (the average February temperature for Oedekoven is 37°F). He appeared before the mayor of Oedekoven to present the child, declaring his name as Johann. [1]

Very little is known about the life that Johann and Maria Apollonia led. We know that they were successful farmers who made sure their children received an education and served as needed in the German army. Johann was also a skilled artisan. A 1921 article published in Wisconsin newspapers, tells of a snuff-box, given to his grandson while on a visit home to Germany in 1901. [2] “The cover is inlaid with mosaic work which represents two robins on a bough tree. The stones are no larger than a point of a pin and a magnifying glass has to be used to distinguish them. [3] The snuff box remained in the family until sometime in the 1940s when it was sold. [4]

Born October 19, 1812, in Oedekoven, Salome Barbara Bel was the fifth of ten known children born to Joseph Guilleaume Bel and Anna Maria Schweikart. 

Joseph passed away September 12, 1837, at age 66, [5] and so did not live to see his daughter Salome marry Johann F. Fassbender a few months later on Thursday, April 19, 1838. At 10:00 a.m. 27-year-old Johann and 25-year-old Salome appeared before the mayor of Oedekoven requesting to be married. They arrived with the required proof that they had posted the announcement of their wish to marry on the main door of the town hall on April 8, and again on April 15, 1838, and that no “contradiction against this marriage had been brought.” The mayor confirmed that Johann had been born on February 2, 1911, Salome on October 19, 1812, that the father of the groom had died on January 12, 18135, and the father of the bride on September 12, 1837. After the “co-present mothers of the bridal pair” agreed to the marriage, the mayor read aloud the vouchers, and “the sixth chapter of the marriage-title of the Civil Code.” He then asked Johann and Salome if they were willing to marry each other, and upon receiving an affirmative reply, he announced them “together legally married.” 

The chapel at Behlsmühle

Joining them in the mayor’s office, and acting as witnesses, were Johann’s brothers, 28-year-old Adolph, and 31-year-old Theodor, both stating their profession as “farmers in Oedekoven,” and Salome’s brothers, 27-year-old carl, profession, farmer, and 29-year-old Joseph Ignatz, who was an innkeeper in Duisdorf. Signing the marriage document was the bridal couple, Salome’s mother, Anna Schweikart, and the four witnesses. “The mother of the new husband declared not able to read and write. [6] As was the custom, Salome and Johann had their marriage blessed by the Catholic Church. This blessing occurred in the family chapel at Tempelhof Manor. [7]

Johann and Salome started married life with great hope and promise. Their first child was born on December 22, 1838. [8] One can only imagine how cold it must have been, when two days later at 9:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve, Johann arrived at the office of the mayor of Oedekoven and “presented to [him] a child of male sex,” declaring they were giving him the first names: Peter Joseph Hubert. Acting as witnesses were his brother, Heinrich, and Johann Lommerzheim.

Over the next five years, two more children would be born to the couple, but neither survived to adulthood. Nothing is known about these children other than what was included in published biographies about their brother, Peter. “She [Salome] was the mother of three children, all of whom are dead save our subject Peter Fassbender…”[9] and “…[Peter] is the only survivor of three children born to John and Salome Fassbender, the former of whom died in 1843 in Germany, leaving three children, of whom Peter is the only survivor.” [10]

The day before Peter’s fifth birthday, December 21, 1843, Johann died. The civil record that records his death does not include any details as to the cause of death. Witnesses to the death record were Heinrich Faßbender, and Johann Lommerzheim, the same men to act as witnesses to the birth of Peter just five years earlier.


  1.  Oedekoven, Administrative District Cologne, Germany, “Births,” 1811, No. 23, 12th Certificate of Birth,  Johann Fasbender. Cit. Date: Apr 1999. 
  2. I believe that the trip referred to in this story was made in 1899, not 1901 as I have yet to find a trip made that year.
  3. “Has Snuff Box More Than 100 Years Old,” The Capital Times, 10 Feb 1921, p. 3, col. 7; digital images, NewspaperARCHIVE (www.newspapersarchive.com : accessed 6 Nov 2002).
  4. Interview with Arthur Ellenbecker, by Susan C. Fassbender, Appleton, Wisconsin, 6 Dec 2002. 
  5. Administrative District Cologne, Germany, Certificate of Marriage,  “Fasbender to Bel, 1838, No. 7”. Cit. Date: 6 Oct 1999.
  6. Administrative District Cologne, Germany, Certificate of Marriage, “Fasbender to Bel, 1838, No. 7”; Community Oedekoven, Circle Bonn; Schloß Augustusburg, Brühl. Cit. Date: 6 Oct 1999; translated by Karl Wüllenweber.
  7. Interview with Arthur Ellenbecker by Susan C. Fassbender, 10 Aug 1999, Appleton, Wisconsin.
  8. Oedekoven, Administrative District Cologne, Germany, “Births,” 1838, no: 139,  Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender; Schloß Augustusburg, Brühl. Cit. Date: 29 Sep 1999.
  9.  J. H. Beers & Co., editor, Commemorative Biographical Record of the Fox River Valley Counties of Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago, Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, and of Many of the Early Settled Families., 2 (1895; reprint, Chicago, Illinois: J. H. Beers & Co., 2004), volume I: 570.
  10.  Thomas H. Ryan, History of Outagamie County Wisconsin (Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911), 924.

Tempelhof Manor and Tempelmühle aka Belsmühle

REVISED 17 Jul 2023

This post was first written and published with the title “Behlsmühle,” on July 23, 2021 – just about two years ago. I published it knowing that there was a piece of the puzzle missing. I could not match the map showing the location of the mill with the chalk picture shown below. Where were the hills leading up to the chapel? But what was the answer? A few weeks ago I was contacted by a generous man who lives in Oedekoven, and he kindly assisted me in sorting it out. Setting me straight. 

So let’s begin again.

“Peter Fassbender Received This Picture From his Cousin. 1904 From Germany”

I was introduced to Tempelhof Manor in 1999 while visiting with Arthur Ellenbecker, the grandson of the Fassbender patriarch and immigrating ancestor, Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender. As we sat talking in his home – the very home his grandparents purchased when they “retired” in 1901 to Appleton, Outagamie, Wisconsin – he stood up to take a picture off his wall. We immediately offered to assist him, but he brushed off the help stating that it wasn’t heavy, as he had dropped it a while back and the glass had broken. 

Handing the framed image to us, he continued with the story. We had been talking about his great-grandparents, Johann Faßbender and Salome Barbara Bel. The image he handed us was a chalk drawing of the property in Oedekoven, Germany, owned by his maternal great-great-grandfather, Joseph Bel. Arthur told us that before his marriage, his great-grandfather, Johann, had lived in an apartment behind the “third upper window from the right.”

The property was known as Tempelhof Manor.

The manor originally belonged to the Hospital of St. John and St. Cordula in Cologne run by the monks of the Johannites. The monks were descendants of the Tempel-Knights who operated many hospitals along the roads leading to the Holy Land and the Temple of Jerusalem. The history of this property is long and filled with land leases of the vineyards and farmland, the French conquering the Rhineland during the French Revolution [1789-1799], and confiscating the property of the churches and monasteries of the region.

But the house…

The two-story manor house is the oldest part of the building, being built with “field-fired bricks with window embrasures in house stones.” The chapel was added in 1755 and was consecrated that same year. In 1756 the farmyard with a large gateway was constructed. Using the same materials as the manor house, the two-story building had a cellar for the storage of wine and fruit. A keystone was placed on the basket arch gateway, showing the arms of the Knights of St. John, and included the date, 1752 [7?]1. The agricultural area surrounding the property was large, including 12 1/2 acres of “arable” land, four acres of vineyards, and one acre of meadow.2

The French held Tempelhof Manor and other properties as a veterans’ endowment until first in 1804 and then again in 1808 when the lands were sold at public auction. In 1808 on July 21st, Joseph Bel, a merchant from Bonn, purchased for the sum of 48,400 francs, Tempelhof Manor and the Chapel, and Tempelmuhle a seed oil mill a short distance away on the Hardtbach River.  Included in his purchase were 22.17 hectares of field, 1.66 hectares of vineyards, and 2.85 hectares of meadows. One hectare equals 2.471 acres.3

In 1812, while the French were still in power, Joseph became “Mair von Oedekoven,” and was mayor of the 14 villages that comprised the Borough of Oedekoven. He held this position for two years.4

Joseph did not live to see his daughter Salome Barbara marry Johann Faßbender on April 19, 1838, as he died at age 66, six months before the marriage, on September 12, 1837.5 His later years had been spent as a Gutsbesitzer, or “Gentleman Farmer.”6

Tempelhof Manor and Chapel today. The gateway was to the right of the Chapel.

A fire in 1864 burned part of the farmyard to the outer walls, damaging the adjoining manor house. The courtyard was not rebuilt. It was at this time that the chapel was decommissioned, and the altar and pictures were transferred to the Oedekoven chapel, St. Mary’s Marriage. Following the fire, and until World War II, the chapel housed the wine press. At some point during the war, it was set on fire by children playing in the room.

Two sides of the chapel still existed in 1956 when a reconstruction of the building took place. The chapel door leading to the street was bricked over, and the coat of arms which was above the door was removed and embedded in the wall of the chapel. Today the manor house is a residential building.7

The oil mill, known as Tempelmühle is located a short distance away on the Hardtbach River. The mill had a long history in Oedekoven before Josef Bel purchased it in 1808. The mill, now known as Belsmuhle, was still in the Bel family in 1978. In 1984 the manor house was given Monument status. While the house and the mill’s wheel still stand, the rest of the property has been converted into a multi-family housing complex.


  1. The keystone still exists, and while the numbering looks to be 1752, the building was not begun until 1756, so is it a 7? Or was the manor house built in 1752?
  2. Robert Thomas, Geschichte des Ortes und der Bügermeisterei Oedekoven: History of the Village and Borough of Oedkeoven (N.p.: Hrsg. von Gemeinde Alfter/Pfarrgemeinde St. Laurentius, Lessenich, 1978), p. 90.
  3. Thomas, Geschichte des Ortes und der Bügermeisterei Oedekoven, p. 92.
  4. Karl Wüllenweber, “Josef Bell,” email to Susan Sternitzky Fassbender, 23 Nov 1999.
  5. Administrative District Cologne, Community Oedekoven, Germany, death certificate no. 68 (1837), Joseph Bel; Schloß Augustusburg, Brühl. Cit. Date: 27 May 2002.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Thomas, Geschichte des Ortes und der Bügermeisterei Oedekoven, p. 93. 
  8. Thomas, Geschichte des Ortes und der Bügermeisterei Oedekoven, p. 234. 
  9. Rheinisches Amt für Denkmalpflege, Central Monuments Archive, 23, Rhein-Sieg-Kreis, Alfter, KZ.