Fascinating links of Otley butchers to Germany

Vanessa Strachan visiting the house in Hohenlohe where her German ancestors once lived

Vanessa Strachan visiting the house in Hohenlohe where her German ancestors once lived

First published in Local news Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A music teacher will head to Germany this summer to find out more about the country’s historic links with Wharfedale’s butchers.

Vanessa Strachan started researching into her family history after wondering how her German great-grandmother, Rose Steinbach, had ended up living in Otley in 1881 as a 19-year-old.

Her investigations revealed that her ancestors’ movements were part of a mass migration of pork butchers to the north of England from the Hohenlohe region of Germany, which began in the mid-19th Century.

Fifty-four-year-old Vanessa, from Leeds, has already been on a trip to Hohenlohe to find out more and visit her ancestral home, and will be heading back in August for the Hohenlohe Pork Butcher’s conference.

She said: “Rose was my great-grandmother, born in Germany, and I wondered why she, at the age 19, was living in Otley, married to local carpenter David Myers in the George Inn, as it was, on Market Place. I often come to Otley and always walk past the place where the George Inn used to be and wonder about Rose as a 19-year-old, miles from home in a strange town.

“Years of research later I now know the story – that she came from one small region of Germany along with more than 1,000 people from the Hohenlohe area, to work in the pork butcher trade.

“They had cornered a niche market in providing fast food in the towns of the industrial revolutionary period in the north of England, in particular.

“I think the Weegmann family had come over in the first wave and I believe will have ‘sent word home’ for more helpers, which is probably why Rose came, to work as a servant girl for them.

“She must have met David in the George Inn, which he ran, two doors down from Weegmanns Butchers.

“Sadly, but happily for me, David died shortly after the 1881 census and Rose must have gone to live with her sister, who was already married to a German pork butcher in Hull.

“There, she married an English butcher and had more children, including my grandmother.”

Vanessa will attend the conference on August 30 and 31, when she hopes to meet and share stories with other descendants of the Hohenlohe pork butchers.

She said: “Our ancestors would have known each other, or at least, have held a great bond of kinship and now their descendants are meeting up again.”

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