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About the Thomforde name

Sources indicate that the variations of this surname mean "at the river crossing". Karl W. Tomfohr writes that this is from the High German "zu dem Forde". From what I can tell, "furt" would now seem to be the Standard German translation of "ford". He writes further that it was condensed to zum Forde and then the Low German Zumfohrde before being further modified to Tomfohrde and then Tomfohr in his line. Other variations include Thomfohrde, Tomforde, Tumforde, thom Fohrde, thom Fohr, Zumforde, zum Vohrde, etc. They all seem to apply at different times and places to my family, often spelled differently from one generation to the next by subsequent pastors. I've seen these variations in the church books of several parishes in Kreis Stade.

My Six Lines in Germany

1) Theiß thom Vohrde of Ahlerstedt, whose son Laverentz was born circa 1637. My 6th gr-grandpa, Lütje Tomforde, served as the local Grefe (Greve) from 1740 until 1775 after succeeding his father-in-law, Valentin Gieseler. Not all areas had a Grefe, and he might be a rich man in a large community or less so in smaller one. He might be elected or appointed by a noble, and he might be called the Gemeindevorsteher (parish provost) in some areas. Sometimes compared to a mayor, he had legal, customs, and perhaps police duties. Ahlerstedt was apparently in the Harsefeld administrative district (amt zu Harsefeld), and their Grefe was appointed. 5th Gr-Grandpa Hinrich Tomforde served after his father from 1775 until 1797. 4th Gr-Granduncle Albert Tomforde then served from 1798 until 1814, when it passed out of family hands. "Gasthaus zum Grevenhus" is a restaurant today operated by a descendant in the former home of the Tomforde Grefen in Ahlerstedt.

2) Magdalena Tomfohrde, born circa 1649, who married Johann Poppen in Ahlerstedt in 1674. Perhaps she was related to the above Theiß.

3) Hinrich Zumforde, whose daughter Margareta was born in Ottendorf in 1691. He was formerly of Klethen and married Engel Kordes in Ahlerstedt in 1681. Klethen and Ottendorf were in Ahlerstedt parish, so maybe this is again the same Ahlerstedt family.

4) Hinrich thom Forde of Hollenbeck who was born circa 1709.

5) Ratken zum Vohrde, whose children were born circa 1670 in Kutenholz of Mulsum parish.

6) Peter zum Vohrde, who died in Klein Fredenbeck of Mulsum parish in 1688. Perhaps he was related to the above Ratken.

I tried to connect to the Thomforde and Thomfohr families in Minnesota, but to no avail. A Thomfohrde (later Thomforde) family from Harsefeld settled in Goodhue, Wabasha, and Wilkin Counties. My Grandpa Dahling's brother and sister married members of this family in Belvidere. My Ahlerstedt family that were Grefen might have lived for a time in nearby Harsefeld, so I really wanted to prove a connection to them. The available church records seem to have too many gaps, though.


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