120 North Main Street
The non-profit “New Bremen Historic Association” was founded in 1973, and dedicated to the collection and preservation of the history of New Bremen, Lock Two and German Township. The original nine trustees, appointed in 1974 were: Mary Ann Brown, Emil Fledderjohann, John Hoffman, Jeanette Hellwarth, Vic Maurer, Sue Maxson, Holly Riebel, Melba Roediger, and Mary Wint. The original Curator was Greg Parrott. John Poppe served as Legal Advisor. Under the direction of Vic Maurer, who was serving as president, the members raised approximately $20,000 to purchase the William Luelleman house at 120 N. Main St., a mud and wattle lined house dating to about 1837. The N.B.H.A. has a fine collection of New Bremen history and has worked tirelessly archiving genealogy, indexing newspapers, cemetery research, building preservation and canal history and restoration.
In the 1830s, ships sailed regularly between Bremen, Germany and the United States. Many German immigrants disembarked in Baltimore, Maryland and traveled inland, across Pennsylvania, through the mountains on the National Road, now known as U.S. Rte. 40, to Wheeling, West Virginia. The travelers then boarded boats on the Ohio River on their way to Cincinnati, Ohio. New Bremen’s founders, mostly from Bavaria and Hannover, followed this route. A group of them formed “The City of Bremen Society” on July 23, 1832 in Cincinnati, Ohio. A charter was drawn up among the 33 members of the Society authorizing the purchase of land to found a Protestant town. The Society hired two scouts to explore Ohio and select land that would be suitable. The scouts traveled throughout western Ohio and into Indiana in search of such land. They selected the present site of New Bremen and purchased 80 acres. One of the scouts built a cabin and remained there that first winter. The other scout returned to Cincinnati to inform the Society of the land purchase. The plat of Bremen was officially recorded on June 11, 1833 and the 102 lots were distributed by lottery. The name was changed to “New Bremen” in 1835, when it was determined that another town in Ohio was already named Bremen.
Although the land produced abundantly, there was no way for the immigrants to sell their farm products and no other way to earn a living until the advent of the Miami-Erie Canal. Built without machinery and completed in 1845, it forged a 248 mile waterway between the Ohio River at Cincinnati and Lake Erie at Toledo, and marked the beginning of rapid growth for New Bremen. Large warehouses were constructed, enabling New Bremen to become one of the main pork packing centers, second only to Cincinnati.
New Bremen sits near the halfway point of the canal, 123 miles from Cincinnati, at the high point of the Loramie Summit, 512 feet above the level of the Ohio River. (The Loramie Summit is a plateau extending from Lock 1 North at New Bremen to Lock 1 South in Lockington.) The original Canal Marker with the numerals “123” is on display in the Museum.
The Historical Museum (Luelleman House) is one of the oldest houses in New Bremen. The lot (west half of old lot #26) was chosen in 1833 by A. H. Schreiber, one of the original members of the City of Bremen Society. The lot was sold to Gerhard Heinrich Hehemann in 1837, and he and his first wife, Maria Engel Rolf, built the house. Hand hewn timbers were used for the exterior walls. The materials and methods of construction were crude, with mud and straw, also called daub and wattle, and brick nogging (inserts) used between the timbers, but the house represents the influence of New Bremen’s German heritage. The windows and doors are plain and symmetrical, the stairway is located in the front, and the house is adjacent to the sidewalk.
The building served as a residence and a shop, with an addition built on about 1846. In 1847, Gerhard’s first wife died and he married Maria Engel (Stagge) Barth, the widow of Johann Heinrich Barth. In August of 1849, Gerhard, Maria and three of their children died during the cholera outbreak. Three minor children survived, ages 12, 10, and 6 years, as well as an older daughter, Anna Maria (Hehemann) Isern. She and her husband, Friedrich Isern, were married in 1845 and became administrators of the parents’ estate.
The house was purchased in 1852 by Jacob Heinrich Portune, Town Trustee (1850) and Supervisor (1856). After his death in 1857, the house was willed to Susanna (Schuhmann) Portune.
William H. Luelleman and his wife, Anna Catherine (Beckmann), purchased the house in 1868 from Susanna Portune, Ernst Friedrich Siekmeyer and his wife, Catherine (Portune) Siekmeyer. William H. Luelleman (b.11/24/1835) was a mason from Bohem, Hannover, Germany. In 1866 he and Anna Catherine (b.1844 in Hannover) were married, and William came to the United States. Anna joined him the following year. A brick summer kitchen with a root cellar was built behind the house in 1870. William H. Luelleman died in June of 1890. In 1896, his widow built another house on the east half of the lot, facing Water Street. She then rented out the original house on Main Street.
In 1912, William H. F. Luelleman, son of William H. and Anna Catherine Luelleman, built a barn and workshop between the two houses, and encased an outside toilet built on slabs of Piqua limestone. In 1931, the son purchased the Main Street house and did a major renovation. His mother, Anna Catherine, died in May of 1942. In 1953, William H. F.’s son, Carl W. Luelleman, and his wife, Esther M., became owners of the house. In 1973, the house was sold to Bruce Scheer.
The twelve-room, two-and-a-half story house became the immediate subject of a community restoration project in order to show a fine example of architecture and also the earliest life style of this German community.
The New Bremen Historic Association was organized in 1973 as a non-profit group dedicated to the collection and preservation of all that has historical significance to the New Bremen area, including Lock Two and German Township. We believe that the unique German background of this small community should be preserved and shared with future generations. In the fall of 1973, the N.B.H.A. approached Mr. Scheer and negotiated the preservation of the house. The house was purchased through pledges from businesses and individuals. The founders and other volunteers did much work in the early days to restore the building to its original look. Many fundraisers were held to fund the restoration project. The museum was completely paid for and dedicated on July 4, 1976. The house has been placed on theNational Register of Historic Places.
The Historic Association has continued its work to maintain the property and increase the collection of artifacts contained within the house, summer kitchen and barn. We invite you to tour these areas and see the exhibits, which are always evolving as new donations are made to the museum.
We invite you to tour not only the Museum itself, which contains many historical artifacts, but also the summer kitchen and the barn. The barn has a display of ice-cutting equipment, and also houses many other old tools and equipment. The summer kitchen has a large collection of old-time laundry equipment.