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The route of Franz Balthasar Schönberg von Brenkenhoff

The route ofFranz Balthasar Schönberg von Brenkenhoff

Franz Balthasar Schönberg von Brenckenhoff was born on April 15th, 1723 in Reidelburg upon the River Saala, and died on May 21st, 1780 in Gardzko. He was a notable Prussian official, since 1762 secret finance, military and demesne counselor. He was responsible for reclaiming wetlands along the rivers Warta and Noteć. The commissioner of the works on the Bydgoszcz Channel which was completed in 1775. At the age of 15, von Brenckenhoff was sent to serve prince Leopold Anhalt-Dessau. In 1745, he was nominated the prince’s equerry and two years later Head of the Pension Chamber so he became responsible for the principality's finance. At the same time he was the commissioner of works on reclaiming wetlands along The River Elbe. There, he married Louisa von Bergen who gave him his son Leopold.

In 1762, he was appointed to rebuild two provinces of Prussia from the Seven Years War’s damages by Frederick II. In particular, von Brenkenhoff supervised the works to reclaim wetlands upon the rivers Warta and Noteć and enhanced craftsmen and merchants to settle down in tows and to open manufactures. He began works on the Bydgoszcz Channel in 1772. As a result of suspicion of malpractice, von Brenckenhoff was removed from his post and deprived of privileges and honors. He was the owner of numerous estates such as Pławin and Licheń in Neumark (from 1763). Von Brenkenhoff also owned land fees in Karnin and real estates in Zieleniec near Gorzów, which he bought in 1774. Moreover, he was the leaseholder of the estate in Gardzko where he resided owing to the estate's central location. He was the owner of lands in Western Pomerania such as Świecie (Schwenz), Kozin (Cosemühle), Rokitki (Klein-Rackit) and Święte (Swantee). He established a stud farm and conducted experiments in the breeding of camels and buffaloes. He also brought Friesian cattle and better than the local species of sheep. He was engaged in establishing plantations of hops, madder, cumin and oilseed rape. His second wife was Elisabeth Gottliebe von Papstein, the daughter of the owner of the estate in Lipie Góry. Their marriage on April 4th, 1776 brought him three children- Franziska, Leopoldine and a son who died in 1778. Franz Balthasar Schönberg von Brenckenhoff died in Gardzko and was buried in the church in Licheń. After his death, the estates were confiscated by the king as a result of allegations of acting against the state treasury and processes for damages brought by its creditors dragged on into 1789. The name Breckendorf was used to name some of the local villages established in the 18th century in the wetlands along the rivers Warta and Noteć including Błotno near Zwierzyn (Brenkenhofsbruch), Dierżązna near Krzeszyce (Brenkenhofsfliess) and Błotnica near Stare Kurowo (Brenkenhofswalde). Also, the today's street in Strzelce Krajeńskie called ulica Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego was named Brenkenhofstraße, after the secret counselor.

Here is a description of the secret counselor, made ​​in the years 1777-1778 by Johann Bernouolli, a Swiss and Dutch scientist: "Brenckenhoff is extremely thick. He has a quadrangular, intensely red face with features not particularly noble, but exalted and endearing. His eyes are fiery and testify to the soul and courage. "


Brenckenhoff leased assets in Gardzku from the von Möhlen family and lived in the local court since 1774. Here, on April 24th, 1780, he dictated his last will to his secretary, in which he bequathed all his assets to the king. A month later, on May 21st at 19:00 hvon Brenckenhoff died in the local court, preparing a letter to King Frederick II before his death. It began with the words: "Your Majesty, I ask for grace, not for law enforcement. I have served Your Majesty's for 20 years with the greatest zeal and spent the best years of my life holding the highest-ranking offices. In Pomerania, and Neumark, new works were completed, and I made many people happy. [...] ". The cause of death was asthmatic problems. Neither the buildings nor the church dating from the Brenckenhoff's times have preserved in Gardzko.


Elisabeth Gottlieb von Papstein, the second wife of Franz Balthasar von Brenckenhoffa was born in Lipie Góry. Their eldest daughter Franziska married major Leopold Karl Wilhelm von Knobelsdorff of Otanowo near Lipiany, who bought the property in Lipie Góry in 1801. From 1842 to celebrate the golden wedding anniversary with Brenckenhoff's daughter, Leopold Karl Wilhelm and his heirs changed the surname Knobelsdorff - Brenkenhoff, in honor of the secret counselor of the court and at the same time their respected ancestor. The Knobelsdorff-Brenkenhoff family remained in possession of the property in Lipie Góry till the beginning of 1945. One of the recently deceased representatives of this family, Benno von Knoblesdorf-Brenkenhoff, conducted historical research and has published numerous articles on the life and work of his ancestor. Until 1945, there was a portrait of Franz Baltahasar von Brenckenhoff in the court in Lipie Góry. It was ​​oil on canvas painted around 1775 by Christian Friedrich Reinhold Lisiewski (1725-1794). The portrait was framed in a wooden, gilded and richly decorated frame with the Brenckenhoff's coat of arms. A similar portrait was in the pre-war town museum in Gorzów, donated by the city counselorellor Dagobert Brahtz. Neither of the portraits have preserved until today.


The Licheń manor was purchased by Franz von Balthasar Brenckenhoff in 1763 from the heirs of a landrat of Strzelce Wilhem von Sydow for an amount of 33,000 thalers. The councellor built a large mansion and a sheepfold here. Brenckenhoff was buried in the church of Licheń in front of the great altar, during the funeral ceremony, which was attended by the family of the deceased, including his wife Elisabeth, Leopold- the son from his first marriage, his daughters Franziska and Leopoldine, and numerous colonists from upon the River Noteć. The eulogy was delivered by Rehfeldt, the pastor of Lipie Góry, Licheń and Pielice. From its preserved text which we may learn about the many facts of the life of the secret counselor. None of the buildings in Licheń related to Brenckenhoff survived to this day. The church in which he was buried was soon demolished, and in its place a new church was built in 1794.