An overview of Herdorf's location, history and industry.
The Immigrants' Origins
The immigrants and their ancestors and relatives documented on this website were born in, or were married in, or at least briefly
lived in Herdorf, Germany and the nearby villages of
Alsdorf, Altenbrendebach, Betzdorf, Birken, Brachbach, Bruche, Büdenholz, Daaden, Dauersberg, Dermbach, Derschen, Dickendorf,
Fischbach, Freusberg, Gebhardshain, Grindel, Grünebach, Hahnhof, Herkersdorf, Hüttenhoffen,
Kakenberg, Katzenbach, Kausen, Kirchen, Lasdorf, Mudersbach, Nauroth, Niederdreisbach, Niederfischbach, Niederschelden, Nisterberg,
Offhausen, Sassenroth, Scheuerfeld, Schutzbach, Seelenberg, Steinebach, Steineberg, Wehbach and Weitefeld.
Today these towns are in Kreis Altenkirchen, Rheinland-Pfalz, in the Westerwald region of Germany. In the mid 1800's and early 1900's immigrants from this area
would have claimed their homeland as Prussia.
The Town of Herdorf
Herdorf is located about 100 km southeast of Cologne and about 125 km northwest of Frankfurt.
The settlement of Herdorf can be traced back to Celtic Times where archealogists discovered smelters.
The first documented mention of Herdorf occured in 1344.
In 1815, Herdorf and the district of Altenkirchen became part of Prussia.
Herdorf lies in a low mountainous region and is divided by the Heller river.
In 1860 the population was 875. By 1865, the population tripled. By 1910, Herdorf had grown to 4500 inhabitants.
The rapid population increase was driven by attractive employment in the metallurgical industries.
Industry in the Mid to Late 1800's
Iron mining and iron making were the predominant industries in the Herdorf area for centuries.
The existence of mines and iron smelters are documented as early as 1471.
These are the oldest known sites of iron ore in Rheinland-Pfalz.
By 1870 more than 20 iron ore mines were operating.
The largest and longest operating iron making facility, Friedrich Hütte, began operation in 1874.
Iron-making production peaked in the early to mid 1900's and began a steady decline. Friedrich Hütte ceased making iron in 1967 (see picture to left).
Thousands of workers were employed in the mines and smelters.
Skilled workers immigrated to Allentown where iron making and manufacturing was growing rapidly in the late 1800's.