With the Collaboration of:
José Adolfo Wiechers Escandón - Guillermo Tovar de Teresa - Luis Núñez Gornés
Walter Putze - Heiner Rohlfs
Guillermo Tovar de Teresa
José Adolfo Wiechers y Escandón
Summary of the Spanish version of this Text.
For a more complete version please see the Spanish text.
HEINRICH LUDWIG WIECHERS, or H.L. WIECHERS as he would be known in Mexico as entrepreneur, was born on October 26, 1843 in Germany, in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen at the Balgebrückstraβe No. 29 domicile, son of the spirits entrepreneur (Branntweinbrenner) and building materials merchant, Johann Christoph Wiechers [y Hasselmann] (1799-1855), and Catharina Margaretha Manneroh [y Schaffer] (1809-1872), both of them Lutherans.
His father came from Barrien, a town in the Electorate/Kingdom of Hannover close to Bremen, the son of Johann Coord Wiechers and Sophie Hasselmann, both of them also from Barrien. His mother, born in Bremen, the daughter of Matthias Ludewig Diedrich Manneroh (other forms of this surname are Mannroth, Manroth, Mannroh, Manro, Manrow, etc.), native of Hagenow, in Mecklenburg, and Catharina Margaretha Schaffer, native to Bassum, also in the Electorate/Kingdom of Hannover. We have very comprehensive information on all their ancestors received from the above areas.
H.L. WIECHERS emigrated in 1858, at 14 years of age, to Veracruz, where he started working at the Commercial House F.E. Watermeyer & Co., owned by Friedrich Eduard Watermeyer, also a native of Bremen. In 1863 the company changed its name to Watermeyer, Schmidt & Co. and, around December 1867 it became Watermeyer, Wiechers & Co. In April 1867 H.L. WIECHERS took up the lead position at this Watermeyer House in Veracruz. It would have offices in Bremen, Veracruz and Mexico City and its members would include, among others, Hermann Dionisio Watermeyer [y Benjamín], the son of Friedrich Eduard, and Diederich Graue [y Warneken], also coming from Bremen.
Upon the fall of the Second Mexican Empire, in 1867, H.L. WIECHERS undertook in Veracruz, supporting Vice-Admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff, the repatriation of the body of Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg, as well as the supply and re-embarkation to Europe of the Austrian Foreign Legion established by Emperor Maximilian and constituted by diverse officers and soldiers from Austria-Hungary, Belgium and Denmark. At the same time, H.L. WIECHERS was provisionally in charge of the Belgian Consulate at Veracruz. The repatriation of troops demanded an impressive logistics. In recognition of these efforts, the Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph I, in January 1868, granted H.L. WIECHERS the Order of the Iron Crown, Third Class (Orden der Eisernen Krone 3. Klasse), coupled to with the hereditary nobility title of “Ritter [Knight] von Wiechers”. The title never came into effect, because H.L. WIECHERS did not pay the corresponding tax. The concession is recorded in all the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Almanacs until the Monarchy’s fall in 1918; in the corresponding chapter we include all the certifying documentation, obtained from the original archives in Vienna.
From 1867 until 1876 H.L. WIECHERS was Consul of the Kingdom of Denmark in Veracruz, and from 1876 to 1909 he was Denmark’s General Consul in Mexico City; in consequence, for several decades, he was the foremost Danish representative before the Mexican Government. Because of his works, in 1904 the King of Denmark granted him the Royal Order of Dannebrog, Knight (Ridder) Class, a circumstance that is also completely certified with documentation coming from Copenhagen archives. In 1909, H.L. WIECHERS signed, in representation of Denmark, the agreement on the exchange of postal pieces between Mexico and the Danish West Indies.
In 1881 he took leave from the Watermeyer House of Veracruz and, in 1882, after close to a year of works, he officially established the Fábrica de Hilados y Tejidos de Algodón (Cotton Textile Factory) “Cerritos de San Juan”, in Orizaba. For this purpose he brought machinery from England and technicians from Germany. He sold the business in 1886 for 400,000 pesos (approximately US$400,000) of the time to a French-Mexican business group that urgently needed a factory in operation that would supply fabrics to its stores.
After this sale, H.L. WIECHERS moved its residence to Mexico City. Between 1886 and 1887 H.L. Wiechers was partner at the society "Béraud, Proal y Cía.", owner of the cloth store “Al Puerto de Marsella”. On January 1, 1889 he joined as a partner the ancient German Banking House of Esteban Benecke Succesors, in association with Paul Kosidowski and Donat de Chapeaurouge, where he remained until December 31, 1892. In 1890 he founded the Toluca and Mexico Brewing Company (Compañía Cervecera Toluca y México, S.A.) where he was chairman until April 1905. It was the most important Mexican brewing company of its time, with its plant at Toluca and headquarters in Mexico City. The three key individuals at this company were H.L. WIECHERS, chairman, Santiago Graf, general manager at Toluca, and Emilio Léycegui y Núñez, manager of the Mexico City branch.
Between 1893 and 1896 H.L. WIECHERS was a member of the Board of Directors and, on two occasions, also acting general manager, of the Bank of London and Mexico (Banco de Londres y México), then presided by Thomas Braniff. He signed in 1896 the new framework contract between the Bank of London and Mexico and the Mexican Government.
In 1892 he founded in Mexico City the Banking Company bearing his name, “H.L. WIECHERS”, located in its new domicile of Cadena 4, and in 1893 he became the representative in Mexico of the “La Helvetia” Swiss fire insurance company. His most important collaborators during those years were Friedrich Wilhelm Kladt, a German from Brazil, and Georg Schwuchow, from Berlin. Towards 1909 H.L. WIECHERS and on health considerations began to withdraw from the business world, but his banking house continued operating at least as late as June, 1916.
In 1910 H.L. WIECHERS moved his residence to Naranjo Street No. 96, in Santa María la Ribera, Mexico City, a residential area where he had been one of its leading developers, but the residence at Cadena 4 (which in 1910 was renamed Capuchinas 50) remained in use. In Veracruz he always kept a residence on Independencia Street No. 23, while he also owned the Hacienda de San Cristóbal Cuyucuenda, or El Cocuite, with almost 61,000 hectares of top quality land, where, in addition, oil explorations started near the end of his life.
H.L. WIECHERS was married in Veracruz to Lucía Léycegui y Núñez, of Veracruz, daughter of Luciano Fernando de Léycegui y Verástegui (1824-1896), born in Gordejuela, Vizcaya, Basque Country, Spain, and Rafaela Núñez y Sobrevilla (1839-1920), of San Francisco Tantima, Veracruz. Ten children were born from this marriage (Luciano, Enrique, Lucía Luisa, Lucía de las Nieves, Alejandro, Roberto, Rafael, Margarita, Josefina and Adolfo), all of them having the Wiechers y Léycegui surnames, of which 7 had descendants (the families Wiechers-Rul, Wiechers-Luna, Wiechers-Benito, Zeevaert-Wiechers, Wiechers-Leal, Wiechers-Sánchez, Wiechers-Muñoz, De Teresa-Wiechers and Wiechers-Escandón), and many of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are up until today very renowned in Mexican affairs. We know, in addition, about an illegitimate daughter, María del Carmen Wiechers y Beyel, born in 1868 in Veracruz from Magdalena Beyel y Beyel, but we do not have any other information on the mother or daughter.
In November 1922, already in his old age, H.L. WIECHERS converted to Catholicism. He passed away in Mexico City on July 22, 1923, as a German national. His wife Lucía expired in 1924. They are buried in the crypt he built for himself and his family, at the ancient Panteón Francés de la Piedad.
We have a copy of a most interesting anonymous serial publication – when these publications were very popular at the time – titled Caras y Caretas. Semblanzas en Verso por Tres Ingenios de esta Ciudad, whose “First Series”, published in Mexico City in 1904, includes the following poem on his person:
Honra el señor de Wiechers
la capital mexicana,
donde es banquero opulento
y Cónsul de Dinamarca;
y por sus hechos preclaros
y por su historia sin mancha
merece, sin duda alguna,
la admiración de su patria.
The brothers of HEINRICH LUDWIG WIECHERS [y Manneroh] were the following: Sophie Catharina Maria (1835-1904), Johann Christoph (1837-1921/23), Gesina Maria Elisabeth (1839-1900), Meta Anna Adelheid (1840-1841), Carl Heinrich (1848-1903) and Hermann Friedrich Lebrecht (1852-1939), all of them born in Bremen, the first of them at Knochenhauerstraβe 4, and the others, including Heinrich Ludwig, in Balgebrückstraβe 29.
Johann Christoph Wiechers [y Manneroh] was the first one to emigrate to Mexico, in 1855, firstly residing in Veracruz and secondly in Oaxaca. In 1860 he married María Inocencia Díaz-Quijano. Around 1869 he returned to Germany, residing one year in Hamburg and subsequently once again in Bremen (1870-1888). We ignore where he lived in the immediately following period, but in 1895 he settled in Salzburg, Austria, where he lived until 1915; his wife died there in 1914. In 1915 he moved to Munich. Johann Christoph passed away in Munich on April 10, 1921. He managed substantial import trades from Mexico to Europe and he was also a partner, together with his son Enrique Wiechers y Díaz-Quijano, of the renowned “Puig y Wiechers” silk company in Reus and Barcelona, Spain. In 1896 he joined the Board of Directors of the Salzburg Electricity Company (Elektrizitäts-Werke Salzburg), of which he became its Chairman, until 1900. Four of his offspring went back to Mexico; another four remained in Europe. With known descendancy in Mexico through the Wiechers-Condey family (and eventually the Wiechers-Mendoza family).
Sophie Catharina Maria Wiechers [y Manneroh] was married in 1863 in Bremen to her second cosin Hermann Heinrich Boyer (1826-1902), coming from Barrien but he was already a resident United States of America. She emigrated with him in 1865 to Washington, D.C., where she lived until her death; her husband had a successful tobacco and cigar business. They were survived by three daughters; we have identified descendancy from only one of them (through the Pape-Boyer family), which apparently has not reached our time.
Gesina María Elisabeth Wiechers [y Manneroh] was married in Bremen in 1871 to Heinrich Ludwig Carl Hartjen (1828-1895), a Klempnermeister (tinsmith or plumber). They always lived in Bremen, where they passed away. They had four children, all of them born in Bremen, some of them with descendancy, in our understanding, through the Hartjen-Feller and Hoops-Hartjen families.
Carl Heinrich Wiechers [y Manneroh] emigrated to Mexico in 1867. Around 1873 he settled in Nuevo Laredo, where he later founded, with his brother Hermann Friedrich Lebrecht Wiechers [y Manneroh], the firm Wiechers Bros. & Co., which, since 1884 became the representative of the National Bank of Mexico (Banco Nacional de México) in Nuevo Laredo. In Veracruz he married in 1889 Aniana Léycegui y Núñez (1868?1924), sister of his sister-in-law Lucía Léycegui (wife of Heinrich Ludwig). He died in Nuevo Laredo, leaving three surviving children, also bearing the Wiechers y Léycegui surnames, all of them with descendancy through the families Wiechers-Rodríguez, González-Wiechers and Guerrero-Wiechers, and their subsequent branches.
Hermann Friedrich Lebrecht Wiechers [y Manneroh] emigrated to Mexico in 1867, but apparently lived in the United States of America for some time; in 1879 he adopted the American citizenship in New Orleans. In several periods, particularly in 1879 and 1880-1885, he temporarily substituted his brother Heinrich Ludwig as Consul of Denmark in Mexico City. Around 1886 he took residence in Saltillo, Coahuila and we know that afterwards he lived in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, where he was also a partner of his brother Carl Heinrich. In 1891, in Washington, D.C., he married his niece Sophie Catherina Margaretha (Meta) Boyer [y Wiechers] (1865-1916), his sister’s daughter. In 1901 they re-married in Buffalo, New York, acording to the laws of the State of New York, after finding our that their first marriage was probably void according to the laws of the District of Columbia. In 1907 they moved to Mexico City, where they died, first (1916) his wife, from an accident, and much later himself (1939).
With relation to the Léycegui family, we may note that Luciano Fernando de Léycegui y Verástegui emigrated to Mexico in 1843, establishing himself in Veracruz, where he engaged in trade, mostly with clothing, foodstuffs and liquor stores; for some time during the second half of the 1870’s we also see him residing in Jalapa. He was one of the most prominent members of the Spanish colony in Veracruz. From his marriage to Rafaela Núñez y Sobrevilla will come the Léycegui-Perea, Chabat-Léycegui, Palazuelos-Léycegui, Léycegui-Morales, Léycegui-Cárdenas, Léycegui-De la Cerda, Roustan-Léycegui families, besides the two Wiechers-Léycegui families, and their respective branches.
The official genealogical tree we used for the purposes of this work is precisely the Léycegui family tree, administered by Luis Núñez Gornés. It brings together not only both Wiechers-Léycegui families but also a good part of the Wiechers families who are not Léycegui. This tree may be seen at the following link:
We have also collected information on two direct uncles and an aunt of H.L. WIECHERS, brothers of his father Johann Christoph. They are Johann Heinrich Wiechers [y Hasselmann] (1797-1863), who was born and died in Barrien; Cord Heinrich Wiechers [y Hasselmann] (1806-1859), born in Barrien but dying in Neubruchhausen, a town in the Electorate/Kingdom of Hannover to the South of Barrien; and Gesche Marie Wiechers [y Hasselmann] (1809-1894), born in Barrien and dying in nearby Wachendorf. The first uncle, who was also the godfather of H.L. WIECHERS, married twice, first with Anna Adelheid Gerken (1827) and then with Gesche Adelheid Willenbruch (1831), and we were able to locate his sons and descendants in Barrien and Bremen, up until approximately 1955. The second uncle moved to Neubruchhausen and got married in the neighbouring church of Sudwalde (1848) with Gesche Margarethe Dorothee Bolte (1823-1867), from Neubruchhausen. We have located all his family born in Neubruchhausen, but all of them emigrated, upon their father’s passing away, to the United States of America, establishing themselves in New York City. We have reconstructed good part of the lives of several of them and their offspring, and we we have found living descendants of one of them. The third aunt married in 1840 with Lüdeke Friedrich Willenbruch, brother of Gesche Adelheid Willebnruch, and with the husband they lived several years in Wachendorf, town close to Syke and belonging to the parish of Heiligenfelde, where they had several children, of which aparently only three survided childhood, of which two have confirmed descendents, in Wachendorf, Syke and New York.