The Renn Family History


††††††††††† The Renn family of Howard County, Maryland, can trace their origins back to the early and mid-1800ís, to a small town called Hombressen, in the northernmost part of the German state of Hesse-Kassel (originally spelled Cassel). Though the original immigrants' place of birth is often listed as Prussia, technically Hesse-Kassel was not annexed by Prussia until 1866, twenty years after they left. The nearest large city to Hombressen is one called Hofgeismar; less than twenty miles to the south lies the capital city of Kassel, where the Brothers Grimm lived and wrote their timeless fairy tales. The Grimm's first collection, Children's and Household Tales, was published in 1812; the first illustrated edition aimed at children was published in 1825. It is possible that the Renn children were among the first children in the world to fall asleep to these bedtime stories about Cinderella, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, and so many other now-familiar characters.



Map of Germany, 1815

(click to enlarge)


Hesse-Kassel is in the center



The flag of Hesse-Kassel



Map of Germany and Italy, 1803

(click to enlarge)



††††††††††† In January of 1846 a 44-year old Johannes Renn left for America with his five children: Maria Louisa, 21, Anna Christina, 16, Friedrich, 14, Augustus (Justus), 11, and Christoph, 9. Johannes' wife Christina was likely with them, though she is not listed in the emigration indexes found so far. Johannes was listed as having money in the amount of 1200 Taler, which seems to be a fairly good sum for the time. A Johann Georg Renn, age 66, who may be related, had left the same city nine months previously, in April 1845. The Renns settled in the Howard district of Anne Arundel County in Maryland. In 1851 this area was to become Howard County. In various old and new records the Rennís names can be found in both their original and Anglicized forms. Johannes became John, Friedrich became Frederick, and Christoph became Christopher.


John Renn became a farmer upon his arrival in America. In 1854, John and Christina purchased 147 acres of land in Howard County for the sum of one thousand dollars. Their community included several other newly arrived German families of the Lutheran faith. Lacking a place of worship, these families would gather together at one anotherís homes to hold religious services. In 1870 they decided to build their own church, and so created Saint Paulís Evangelical Lutheran Church, in an area which was to become the town of Fulton in 1882. Much of the Renn history on the pages that follow is taken from the records of St. Paulís, and many of the names listed can also be found on the gravestones in the small, well-tended cemetery behind the church. Justus Renn died single and childless at the age of 34, but his brothers and sisters began families which have in turn led to the many Renn descendants around today. Anna Christina Renn married Columbus Dettmar; they moved to Baltimore County and had six children. The other siblings all remained in Howard County. Maria Louisa Renn married Jacob Gerwig and had five children; Frederick Renn married Catherine B. Strouse and had nine children, while Christopher married her sister Barbara Eva Strouse and had five children of his own.





1860 map of

Howard County,

District 5.

The location of the Renn farms can be seen on these maps of Howard County from 1860.

Districts 1 and 5 were adjacent, and the Rennís property was along the border. Look at the bottom right of District 5, and the bottom left of District 1.


1860 map of

Howard County,

District 1.




Continue on to list ofRenn Descendants




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