Dußlingen, Germany

Dußlingen, Germany

Dußlingen (Dusslingen) is the ancestral home of the Broyles/Briles family. Johannes left the town c. 1700 for Ötisheim. Dußlingen is located on the Steinlach River about 5 miles south of the city of Tübingen in Baden-Württemberg. Refer to the map for more information.

The information in this article comes from Elke Hall, a German native living in America. On a trip to Germany a few years ago she found a book containing local histories of the towns in the Tübingen area. She translated some of that information and sent it to Steve Broyles.

Portrait of the Village in 1683


This wonderful print of the village is from A. Kieser's Forstlagerbuch (Forestry Record Book). It shows Dußlingen as it appeared in the year 1683, when Johannes Breÿhel was only 4 years old! If you examine the print you'll notice the following:

  1. Dominating the village's dozens of houses and barns is the church, St. Petrus. Records from the church begin around the year 1630.
  2. Sprinkled around the picture are symbols for trees. (Well, this is a forestry record!) You'll also note the planted fields above the village.
  3. The Steinlach River is the dark waving line flowing from left to right near the bottom.
  4. If you look very carefully in the bottom left corner you'll see a building that has on its side a circle with an X through it. This building is a mill, and it's located on a branch of the river. This is of interest to us because Johannes's grandfather Martin was the obermüller, or "upper miller", meaning the one whose mill was most upstream. It is therefore likely that the mill is his. Can't you just imagine little Johannes skipping through the streets of Dußlingen, going to visit his grandfather at the mill?

Martin's Mill?

We also know from the town history that many of the houses, perhaps a third, contained barns under the same roof at this time. (Even today in Germany, most farms still have the barn on the first floor of the building with the family living quarters above on the second floor. This may not seem a desired living arrangement for Americans, but the family benefits from the warmth from below in the winter, and they ARE close to their work.) Between one third and one half of the buildings were probably stand-alone barns.

Early History

The village was named for the first time in the records as 'villa Tuzzilinga' in the year 888. By 1135 it was called Tuzzelingen, in 1216 it was called Tusselingen. The name itself comes from the personal name Tuzzilo, and the -ingen is an old Alemannic suffix. That Dußlingen goes "way back" is proven by artifacts that have been found from the stone age, the Hallstatt age, Latene period, and Roman era.

Like other villages in medieval times, the income from the church and from the farms was distributed to a series of nobles, typically as rewards or in payment for fealty and service. It is often difficult for us to understand these times because things were so different than they are today in terms of property ownership, political and church organization, and so on.

The Knights of Dußlingen were subjects of the Count of Tübingen, and seem to have flourished in the period from 1250 to 1400. They took on the family name of Herter (surnames just coming into vogue during that time), and passed the village property on from generation to generation. The Herters also performed the duties of pastor to the village. Apparently falling on hard time, Jacob Herter with his nephew Hans sold the village to Count Ludwig of Württemberg in 1446. However, Jacob's son Wilhelm ended up getting the property back as a fief because of his stature in the Württemberg court. When he died in 1477 in Basel, Switzerland, he was lauded as "brave Knight Wilhelm Herter of Tübingen, large of body, large of knowledge and wisdom and eloquence, mourned by all, by lordship and noblemen and common folk." The Herter family retained its fief until the death of their last male heir in 1614. (This is just prior to the time when the Dußlingen church records start.)

There used to be a castle in Dußlingen. A part of the wall which surrounded the old castle on the north edge of the village still remains today. It is incorporated into the foundation of the large old timber frame house formerly the mayor's house and town hall. (This may be the large house on the right side of the portrait above). Part of the castle moat is still visible today. Still remaining are enormous square foundation stones from the 13th century. A slight bend in the wall seems to point to a polygonal shape, similar to the old Castle of Kilchberg.

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