Heinrich Ahrens Family of Merrick County, Nebraska

Magdalena Ahrens
Magdalena Ahrens

Heinrich Christopher Ahrens was born December 5, 1839, in Hanover, Germany. He married Magdalena Dierks on November 19, 1868, in Liverpool, England, en route to the United States. She was born on November 18, 1847, in Holstein, Germany. They settled near Yorkville, Illinois, where they lived for three years before traveling by horse to Shelby County, Missouri, where they remained through the winter. This trip took three weeks. In February of 1872, they homesteaded in Lake Township, Hall County, Nebraska.

Their children were Alida Christine, who later married Frank Niemoth and lived in Merrick County; Helene, who died at the age of two; Alex, married to Sophie Lorenzen; and Henry C., married to Maria W. Hintz, who was born in Germany and was the only member of her family to come to the United States.

Heinrich Ahrens had been a valet for wealthy employers before coming to America. After settling in Hall County, he worked for a dollar a day digging cellars in Grand Island. He was killed by a neighbor’s team of runaway horses on June 9, 1885, and Magdalena alone raised the children, then very young. She especially feared prairie fires because of the seven miles distance from Grand Island and no close neighbors.

Magdalena returned to Germany for a visit in 1907, then returned to Hall County, moving into Grand Island. By this time, she, with the help of her sons, had accumulated several farms. She passed away in Grand Island on April 18, 1927, at the age of 79. Heinrich and Magdalena and their infant daughter are buried in the Wiegert Cemetery.

It is noted in history books that Heinrich Christopher Ahrens owned the first binder in the area.

Submitted by Mrs. Carl (Karen) Niedfelt.


Persinger, C. E., A History of Merrick County, Nebraska: From “the Beginning” to 1895, Dallas, Texas : Taylor Publishing Company, 1981.

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