|The town of Ohrum is part of the
municipality known as Oderwald in the southern part of the German state of Lower
Saxony. Oderwald has a total area of approximately 35 square miles, 7000 inhabitants and
is made up of seven villages: Ohrum, Heiningen, Floethe, Dorstadt, Cramme, Boerssum and
Achim. The town of Ohrum has approximately 500 inhabitants and is a 4-hour drive to the
north of Frankfurt, Germany, approximately 200 miles.
limit at the Oker River
Ohrum is located on the west bank of the Oker River,
which was the border between the Halberstadt and the Hildesheim catholic dioceses between
814 and 827 A.D.
Oderwald is mostly a farming area but is also well known for its
scenery and as a recreational haven.
In 780 A.D., Karl the Great introduced Christianity (by force)
to the Saxonian residents. The first baptisms in this forced conversion were performed on
the Oker River at Ohrum. In the 12th century, many monasteries were founded in
the Oderwald area, some of which are still standing today and are open to the public.
|Medieval church in Ohrum
In 1997, Professor Dr. J. Udolph published The
Place Named Ohrum, 747-1997. In this paper, he attempted to document the word Ohrum
as it relates to current and medieval languages.
Although he admits that his research was not conclusive as to the exact
origin of the word, parts of his research shed some light on the possible origins of the
family name Ohrum: Family names have only been in existence for the last five or
six centuries. It is a common assumption that family names originated either from
ones trade, or from the name of the place from which one came. Based on this, one
can reasonably assume the family name of Ohrum originated in the place named Ohrum.
Dr. Udolphs research lists names such as Arem, Orem, Horum and
Orum appearing as early as the 12th century for the town in Germany
presently known as Ohrum. He attributes the introduction of the "h" in
Orum to the lengthening of the pronunciation of the vowel "o," based on the
theory that the spelling of most words was changed over time to fit the pronunciation used
in the local dialects.
|The present spelling first appeared in 1568,
corresponding to the time when family names first started to be used, fitting the theory
that, at some point after 1568, a man from Ohrum needing a second, or family name, took
the name of his hometown.
Dr. Udolphs research also provides an
extensive evaluation of the meaning of the word Ohrum. Based on his research, the most
likely origin is from an ancient Germanic language.
Germanic is a term used to describe old Nordic, and other languages,
considered to be sister languages to German. Pieces of these languages are still evident
in modern words in languages such as Danish, Swedish and German, although specific words
have disappeared. Dr. Udolphs research documents words in as many as three ancient
Germanic languages that could have evolved into the word Ohrum. Almost all of these
words have meanings relating to water and the surrounding landmasses. From the many words
listed in his research, the most logical conclusion is that Ohrum comes from
various ancient words meaning "village or home on a sand bank near a body of
water" or, since the body of water is named the Oker, Village on the Oker