The Bracklo Family Crest has been traced back to the 16th century. The heraldic elements suggest it was probably adopted by the Westfalian ancestry in the 13th century.
The Bracklo family has its roots in the German region of Westfalia. The earliest spelling of the name was Bracklo, though in subsequent centuries, descendants have adopted various spellings including Bracklo, Bracklow, Braklow, Brackloh, Braklo, Brachlow, Brachlo, Brachelow, Brackow and Brachelo. Bracklo is a composite of the words "Brack", meaning untilled land and "Lo" which is an early german word for woods or forest.
The name was probably adopted by our ancestors from the place name of Bracklo, a town in Westfalia near Dortmund. The earliest documentary record of the place name is in 842 in a latin document where the town is referred to as villa bracla. The name of the town was spelled "Bracklo" until the early 16th century since when it is spelled "Brackel". Today the town is part of the municipality of Dortmund. The most notable historical building is the monastery (Ordenskommende) of the Deutsche Orden (a religious order dating back to the crusades).
The oldest record of a family named Bracklo living in the town of Bracklo dates to 1277 and refers to Dietmar Bracklo. It has also been established that two family members Theodor Bracklo and Dietrich Bracklo were feudal nobles who obtained title to the land in Bracklo in 1341 from their feudal lord Dietrich von Volmerstein, who in turn was a vassal of the Archbishop of Cologne. The family sold their property at the end of the 14th century and migrated to Brandenburg.
Colonisation of Brandenburg
The Bracklo family moved to Brandenburg at the end of the 14th century to take advantage of the economic opportunities from the colonisation of this underdeveloped region. They initially settled in the city of Berlin and bought property just outside of the city. The Brandenburg family came to spell the surname with a “w”, blending into the local phonetic usage where many place names which are pronounced “o” are spelled “ow” including Buckow, Machnow, Rudow etc.
Many of the Brandenburg Bracklows, over at least 10 generations were forest rangers. Their domains were in Schmöckwitzwerder, the Schorfheide, the Teltower Heide and the Letzlinger Heide, all royal hunting grounds. The Finkenkrug, a popular inn, just outside Berlin was established by Oberjäger Carl Friedrich Bracklow on an estate he had acquired.
Settlement in Ostfriesland
The Bracklo family was established in Ostfriesland (East Frisia) in the late 18th century by an ancestor who moved there from Brandenburg to manage a large estate. He married into an established East Frisian family and after some years acquired a farm in Petkum (near Emden) which was farmed by his descendants well into the 20th century. He dropped the (w) in the family surname, making it sound more Frisian.
The East Frisian branch of the family was mainly active in farming, to this day the predominant activity in this rural coastal region. In Friesland it was common for the youngest son to inherit the farm. A number of descendants married into other local farming families. Others moved into commerce and a significant number became lutheran pastors, serving parishes in Petkum, Leer, Werdum and on the island of Juist. Some family members became civil servants, most notably in the diplomatic service leading lives far away from Ostfriesland serving as Consuls General and Ambassadors for Germany in China and South America. In the 20th century some family members became officers of large german corporations including Siemens AG and Linde AG. However, the traditions of farming, lutheran ministry and diplomacy have continued into the 20th century.
The Bracklow family was also established in Schleswig Holstein by the late 18th century. This clan became intimately involved in the movement for independence from Denmark. The German National awakening following the Napoleonic Wars led to a strong popular movement in Holstein and Southern Schleswig for (re-)unification with other German states. The most prominent member of this clan was Theodor Bracklow (1783 to 1871). He was a prolific writer of glowing republican and patriotic texts including titles such as “Political Catechism for the people of Schleswig Holstein” and “The unfettered truth – Illumination of the Schleswig Holstein Question”. He was not content with writing however and in 1848 when the independence movement led to the first military conflict with Denmark, formed and led the “Bracklow Corps” in which he and several other family members served. This volunteer corps was involved in several unsuccessful skirmishes with Danish troops. He became active in politics as a deputy to the Congress of Democrats in Berlin. A warrant was issued for his arrest because of his political activities, forcing him to emigrate in 1852.
Emigration to the Americas
While the newly unified Germany offered opportunities for economic and social advancement in particular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these were not sufficient to satisfy all members of the growing Bracklo(w) clans. A number of Bracklo(w) family members therefore chose to emigrate. We have records of emigration to Argentina, Brazil and the USA. Those emigrating were mainly farmers and went seeking similar occupation in their new countries.
One notable exception was Theodore Bracklow who, not long after emigrating to the USA recruited a corps of sharpshooters in New York and joined the 41st regiment of the Union army in the rank of a captain. He fought at the battle of Bull Run and died shortly thereafter at Fredericksburg on December 13th 1862.
In Argentina the Bracklo family initially settled in the province of Buenos Aires, near a town called Orense as farmers and these days is reprented as far south as Patagonia.
The Bracklo family today is truly an international family spread around the globe.