100 year old James (Jim) Harris of Edmonton, Alberta BLOG#20 July 7, 2019

Jim Harris of #460, 4480 McCrae Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta (July 7, 2019)

On July 7, 2019 I enjoyed a 3 hour visit with Jim HARRIS, the 100 year old son of my great aunt Emma Marie (HUMBKE) HARRIS. At 25 years younger that Jim, I can just hope that my memory is as good as his is at 100 years.

Jim was of heavy heart as his 95 year old wife (Lucy Marie COWAN) of 36 years had a serious fall in their kitchen and was in the Royal Alex Hospital in Edmonton. One of his daughters (Margaretta) was on her way from Calgary to take her dad to visit Lucy.

Jim told me that for his 100th birthday, ön 11FEB2019, he hosted two parties: one for residents of the independent living facility where he and Lucy have lived for the past for years; and one for all his relatives and friends. Being an avid square dancer he hired the “Rippling River Dance Band” and once more enjoyed dancing with his wife and others.

Beside always having physically active jobs (farming and construction), Jim never smoked and seldom drank alcohol.

Greeting and congratulations were received from the Edmonton Mayor, the Premier of Alberta, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Queen and many others.

One week ago I had met with Margaret HARRIS daughter of Jim’s older brother Walter Edgar HARRIS. Through these two visits I have been motivated to continue with the Humbke Family History Blog and will publish the William Ernest and Emma Marie (HUMBKE) HARRIS family.

That BLOG will complete blogs for the families of seven children of Ernest Dietrich Christian and Sophie Marie Louise (SCHNEPEL) HUMBKE.

Roger HUMBKE with Jim HARRIS (1st cousin of Roger’s father, Lawrence HUMBKE 07JUL2019

Ernest Humbke Sr. Letter to Great-Great-Granddaughter Blog#19 Oct. 30, 2018

Hi Katrina Darsch,

Not sure if you knew that you were born on the same month and day as your Great-Great-Grandpa Humbke. This is a letter he might have written to one of his great-great-granddaughter/son to help them know him a little better.

I encourage you to know all 16 of your great-great-grandparents (paternal and maternal) and keep their memories alive. They have all lead interesting, unique lives and have contributed a bit to who you are. The more you know them the more you will see similarities.

Grandpa Humbke


Happy Birthday Katrina,

I was born the same day as you, only I was born at home (house #57 in the village of Windheim, Germany on Oct. 30, 1867). It was the year Canada became a country and 153 years ago.

#53 (Humbke Residence) Windheim, Germany                                    #53 (Humbke Residence) Windheim, Germany

A big event had just happened 3 days before my arrival. On Oct 27, 1867 my father and mother were married in the same home and I am sure it was because of me. If I had been born out of wedlock, I would never be able to inherit land from my father. My parents were very religious and attended the German Lutheran Village church where I was baptized 3 weeks later on Nov. 17, 1867.

My first 14 years were spent growing up in Windheim where I went to school, helped my mother with chores around the house, and worked with dad in the fields. Times were tough as there seemed to be a continual war going on and village males would be conscripted up to age 40 to fight. If I survived, I would always be a farmer, but the land had been divided among the boys in families so many times before, there wouldn’t be enough for me to support a family.

My grandfather and father decided in 1879 to send my Uncle Chris (age 22 and the only one single in their family) to the New World to see if it was possible to get land. Chris homesteaded SE of White Lake, South Dakota and sent back such glowing letters, about getting 160 acres of land for $10, that my dad sent me to join him 4 years later. At age 15, I arrived in New York aboard the H.H. Meier on May 12, 1883 and immediately set out to join my Uncle in South Dakota. What a trip and adventure that was! My life was turned upside down and I was never to return to Germany!

                                                                H.H. Meier

My father, mother, 3 younger sisters (Sophie, Minnie & Mary) and a brother, baby Dick, arrived on the “Neckar” in New York Aug 4, 1883. They spent a year in Buffalo Center, Iowa before coming to South Dakota where dad obtained a homestead and later became a citizen of the United States of America. Life was not all that good and Uncles Chris homestead was returned to the government for non-payment of taxes. My parents did better and two girls (Alvina & Emma) were born before they sold the $10 homestead for $1,000 before moving to the Titonka-Woden area of Iowa.

It was a long trip by horse and wagon, but well worth it as corn grew 8 feet tall on very productive soil and I managed to buy two quarters (320 acres) of land. I gave 3 acres of land for the building of a German Lutheran Church and Cemetery by founding Germans of which Dad, a brother-in-law and I were members. Two sisters married to local German boys and it looked like we were settled and would be Americans for life. All I needed at age 32 was a wife and we were living in a German farming community.

                        German Lutheran Church in rural Titonka/Woden Iowa

Fate had something different in store for our family and on July 20 my father fell from a wagon load of logs when the horses were spooked while he was hauling logs for the building of the church. He died in the early morning hours of July 21, 1899, and our family had lost its patriarch. We were all in shock and disarray.

It was the 1900, the beginning of the Twentieth Century, In early 1900 I made the trip to Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan where I joined a band of Indians as they wandered South in their search for food. After a couple of weeks we reached the Battle River where I claimed three homesteads on the Southern Bank in name of my mother, brother and myself. I hurried back to Iowa where we made plans to sell what we didn’t pack in a boxcar and the whole family (except the oldest married sister who was farming with her husband) left for what was called the NorthWest Territories of Canada.

Still being single at 33 years old was an embarrassment and a disaster so I had written back to the Parish Church in Windheim asking if there was ANY girl in my Conformation class of 1882 who was still single. I would pay for her ticket, pick her up in New York, marry her and provide a home plus hopefully children in Canada. Luck would have it, a certain Mary had recently planned to marry, but the prospective husband had changed his mind and it looked like she would remain a spinster for life.

Who said you should fall in love and then get married – I say you should          say you should get married and take responsibility for raising a loving family!

Mary took the opportunity and on Jan. 1, 1902 I left for New York to meet her ocean liner. She had an absolutely terrible passage during which she had contacted a tape worm; lost 30 pounds; and was extremely ill on arrival. It took a long time to nurse her back to life and we didn’t get back to our future 224 sq ft future home on the homestead on April 15th. We were both age 34 and wasted little time; were married on May 22, 1902; and had our first of 3 daughters, Erna, 15 months later. We had two more daughters, Elsie and Martha, in that small home until I managed to sell more of my land in Iowa and buy 320 acres across from the New Berlin one room school, and build a two story home.

In our new home we added 2 sons, Ernest Jr. and Lawrence, which were a tremendous help for me because at that time farming was mostly done by animal and man power.

I never participated much in sports, but both the family I was born into and my family were active musicians. Our main source of entertainment was dancing and my two youngest sisters, brother and I were all members of various community orchestras and bands. My two sons were accomplished musicians and played in local dance bands with cousins because they loved playing and they needed to earn extra money to assist in their farming.


 L to R Ernest Jr., Elsie, Mary, Ernest Sr. & Lawrence Humbke

From 1912 to 1914 I satisfied an itch to do something totally different and moved to Edmonton where ran a general store. It turned into a disaster because of the increasing animosity toward shopping at a German store and the treatment of the girls at school. We quickly returned to the New Berlin School District where he had the comfort and support of neighbors and relatives, both German and other nationalities.

Mary was a hardworking, devoted wife who was an excellent cooked loved her children and grand children. At age 35 she was even registered, during her first year in Canada, at the New Berlin School to learn English. We had a very good life and family.

Mary passed away on Feb. 16, 1944 from blood poisoning as a result of stepping on a nail and I spent the next 3 years staying at my older son’s farm in the winter and my own home close to my younger son’s home in the summers.

I passed away in my sleep in my own home on Sept. 26, 1947, just one month short of my 80th birthday. At the time of my passing I had 5 children, 21 grand children and one great-grand daughter. At my funeral in Wetaskiwin I had 4 brother-inlaws, a relative and a neighbor for pallbearers.

It is nice to see that my son has arranged for a new tombstone plaque to remember my wife and me by.

I can only hope you are having as interesting and fulfilling life as I have experienced.

Best Regards,

Ernest Humbke Sr.

LUCIDIMINE – The 2nd Time Used BLOG #18 Oct. 19, 2018

LUCIDIMINE – The 2nd Time Used BLOG #17  Oct. 19, 2018

Derek Lee (MA in Developmental Psychology from San Francisco State University) is the founder of the Company (Luciminal LLC 2013) whose stated purpose is:

“Luciminal Nootropics is a cognitive-enhancement start-up offering formulations of nutritional supplements with evidenced-based performance augmentation on mental tasks. Nootropics, or smart-drugs, are rapidly becoming noticed by those seeking peak performance for both the body and mind. Our goal is to make nootropic supplementation as common-place as “energy drinks.”Unlike traditional mental enhancers (caffeine, amphetamines, etc.), most nootropic supplements appear to support the brain by making it healthier over time.”

from luciminal nootropics Linkedin.com

I first used Lucidimine on Oct. 10,2018 to induce a lucid dream and the results were presented in a previous blog “LUCIDIMINE – A Dietary Supplement that enhances Lucid Dreaming”.

So far my experience has been positive and I am sleeping as good as I ever have. I will continue with my research into the product.

At present the product is not available on Amazon as the owner of the company, Derek Lee, is relocating the family business in another state. As soon as I know  I will be announcing when Lucidimine is available. In the meantime I will post the results of my research on this site approximately once per week

LUCIDIMINE – The 2nd Use Oct. 15, 2018

Awoke at 1:30 AM, did some work online and at 3 AM took one 6 mg Lucidimine pill. My intention was to have a lucid dream about flying or my ancestors. Neither happened, but I did have a lucid dream (1.5 on a scale of 0 to 5) involving 2 older second cousins and one of their husbands.


Back in the summer of 2017, on the original homestead of our Great Grandmothers (Mary (SCHNEPEL) HUMBKE – Blog # 15, I had met with her granddaughters (Gloria FONTAINE b. 1937, Gladys FONTAINE b. 1934) and her husband Art MOWAT b. 1933.

Refer to Blog #14 for information on the girls’ grandmother Alvina (HUMBKE) FONTAINE who was the second youngest sister off my grand father, Ernest HUMBKE Sr.


The time setting of the dream was in the 1950s, but the 3 participants (Roger, Gloria, Gladys, and Art) were there present ages of 75, 81, 84 & 85. Gloria had married Dan MOWAT who passed away in 2006, but I had never met him. Dreams are not always logical.


Family homeThe family home of Lawrence and Marvalin (VANOUCK) HUMBKE built by Lawrence, his brother and relatives in 1937 on his parents [Ernest and Mary (WESTENFELD) HUMBKE’s] farm.

The dream takes place in the home of my father and mother on my grandfather’s farm. The roads, weather and surroundings were all 1950s and I was visiting my two second cousins to get information in order to write a blog on the girls” grandparents (Dave & Alvina (HUMBKE) FONTAINE Blog #14.

It was winter and there was a terrible blizzard that dumped three feet of snow. The four of us were stranded for the next two days in the cozy two bedroom home.

The Humbke family home in 1950 when 3 bedrooms and a pantry were added to make room for a girl, five boys, a wash machine, deep freeze, numerous work clothes and footwear.


The four of us passed time in social conversation getting to know each other and shoveling snow. Two days later Gloria had to return to her job as a nurse; farm life resumed; and I returned to Edmonton. As much as I would like to write about what we talked about specifically, it is very difficult to do. It seems all conversations were of a general social type. I have yet to gain the skill of asking question about life in previous times.

The fact that we were all 75 to 85 years of age relating in a physical environment of the mid 1950s was illogical and confusing, as dreams can be.



Barbara (HUMBKE) KUSK 1937 – 1982

Later in the afternoon, about 2:30 PM, while i.e. was having a nap, I had a second very short lucid dream in which I was studying at the University of Alberta. All of a sudden Barbara (HUMBKE) KUSK, a first cousin, who had been a victim of cancer in 1982 at the age of 45, walked by. I was very surprise, but managed to call out her name and she came back to talk with me. She looked great, mid-twenties, with a short black haircut.

I was short of words so we said little other than her asking where my older sister, Rose Marie (HUMBKE) PETERS, was. I answered and she was on her way.

My memories of Barbara were that she was the person who helped my big sister Rose Marie take care of a 5-year old hyper active little boy (me) when I started grade 1 at the one room, grade 1 to 9, Verdun school. At school, I was constantly in trouble running away or starting fires.

This dream re-energized my memories of Barbara as a kindhearted and caring individual.


There is no doubt in my mind that these two dreams occurred because of me doing research on specific ancestors. At this time I believe that Lucidimine also affects my ability to lucid dream, but that my intent and active research play a larger part.

One fact that I have experienced is that in these dreams I have only seen and heard individuals. This has definitely been a very positive experience, but I know touch (i.e. shaking hands or a hug) are somethings I want to experience in the future.

Smell, more than any other sense, brings back intense memories and I did get a very slight scent for a millisecond from Barbara (HUMBKE) KUSK which was unique and positively enhanced the experience. I have often heard that the best way, to bring back memories of past events and people, is through smell and that the house coat of a mother, who has passed, is highly valued by her daughters.

The scientific reason for this fact is that when a smell enters the nose it is processed by the olfactory bulb which is next to and communicates directly your amygdala and hippocampus. These are the regions of the brains that process memories and emotions.

Do you disagree or agree with the statement above? Do you remember the smell of a home you have lived in for a long time? What part does smell play in falling in love?

First lucid dream about Great-Uncle’s family – Dick & Hulda Humbke BLOG #17 Oct, 2, 2018


What is amazing about this dream of Oct. 1, 2018 is that it was a lucid dream in which I realized I was dreaming and that all the characters and events were a compilation of my past plus what I have learned about the Dick and Hulda Humbke family.

I did have a vague awareness of Dick as my father’s Uncle, but do not consciously remember ever meeting him in person. In fact I am sure that we did meet and that he had a few kind words for his Grand nephew at one of the many family functions we attended.

I first really became aware of Dick’s past in early 2016 when I began doing research into Ernest Humbke Sr., my grandfather. My research started in 1999 with a family tree from Dan William (Dick’s grandson) which created in me a desire to know Dick as a living, breathing individual.

I had spent a day with Dick & Huld’s youngest son, Richard of Abbotsford, BC, in 1984 and since 2016 have talked a number of times by phone with his youngest daughter, Dorothy. I read newspaper clippings, heard family stories and studied many family photos over the past two years. For more details on the Dietrich “Dick” Frederick Ernest and Hulda Elizabeth (WICKLAND) HUMBKE family, you can go to Blog #12 at  https://humbke.com.


In July of 1961 I finished one year of teacher training at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and now had a Jr, E certificate which allowed me to teach any subject to grades 1 to 9 in Alberta Schools. I had hitchhiked to Wetaskiwin, AB to meet my parents and 4 younger brothers, watch the Wetaskiwin yearly parade and take in the Fair.

I went to the Driard Hotel in Wetaskiwin and was having a beer with a man who worked for the Wetaskiwin Times Newspaper. I knew that I must be dreaming because I was only 17 years old at the time and the law, requiring individuals found in a beer parlour to be at least 21, was strictly enforced. The reporter asked if I knew any Humbke’s and I was about to say “Yes”, when some of Great-Uncle Dick’s children started coming into the beer parlour with their wives and children. It may have been 1961 in the dream but it was just like being in some present day pubs where families are allowed to bring in their children.


Being aware that I was in a dream, I wanted to meet everyone, take notes and was hoping somehow to take pictures. That did not happen – perhaps another time!

It was easy for me to recognize Humbke characteristics in their faces as I had been examining many old photos over the past two years. I was hoping to see Great-Uncle Dick, as I knew he would be 79 years old in 1961 and probably living in Wetaskiwin, but he did not attend.

I did see Fred (61 yrs old in 1961), Dick’s oldest son, along with his two sons (Stan 26 yr in 1961 and Leonard 24 yrs in 1961) who I easily recognized and talked with briefly.

As you probably realize, dreams can be very real and engaging, but they can also be illogical and difficult to remember in detail.

                                        B – Henry, Dorothy, Norma, Conrad, Myrtle, Florence & Fred   F. – Richard, Hulda, Dick, Elsie & Gordon.


Gordon (42 yrs at the time of the dream) and Henry (44 yrs) were also present and I was eager to hear about their experiences when they were in the Canadian army.but we never talked.

There were about 15 women and children there also and I did recognize a couple of Fred’s daughter, but we were only able to exchange recognizing glances.

I specifically looked for Dick & Huld”s youngest child, Richard, the only member of the family that I am aware of meeting in person. Back in 1984 when he was age 57 and I was 42, I had spent a full day talking with him at his home in Abbotsford, BC. His wife’s delicious Sunday meal, meeting a number of his family and the setting of their home around a small lake, still brings back fond memories. But I did not see him, probably because in 196 he was living in Abbotsford, BC. Most of the time, dreams seem to follow their own logic.

The other member of the family I looked for, but could not find was the youngest girl, Dorothy. Then I realized it was 1961 and Dorothy would have been 36 yrs old and living in North Carolina. She is still there living in her own home and very active on facebook. She often posts photos from her past.


For some reason, at this point I awoke, much to my disappointment. On reconsidering I was surprised and delighted that as much happened in the dream, as did. Dreaming has always been of interest to me, but I have had very limited success with Lucid Dreaming. It is only recently that I occasionally  realize that I am dreaming. The more I participate in our Edmonton Lucid Dreaming MEET-UP GROUP’S twice each month; work on this web site and do research – the more I remember and find value in both dreaming and lucid dreaming.

Dreams can be very real and engaging, but they can also be illogical and difficult to remember in detail. I believe that everything I have ever experienced in life is somewhere in my subconscious mind and with training it can be brought to conscious awareness through techniques like meditation, hypnosis and lucid dreaming.

Your Comments are very much appreciated!

(Please click on the title of this blog to open the comment box)

Remembering Great Grandmother (SCHNEPEL) HUMBKE birth on September 11, 1843 BLOG #16 Sep. 11, 2018

On Sept. 11, 1843 Sophie Marie Luise HUMBKE was the third and final child born to the family of Johann and Mary SCHNEPEL of house #38 in the village of Dohren, Windheim District, Germany. She was baptised at the Dohren Church 3 days later and would spend her childhood in Dohren  a village of a few hundred, with her older brother Ernst Friedrich Conrad b. June 15, 1814 and an older sister Auguste Wilhelmine Luise b. on Mar. 1, 1867.

The German Luthern Church has always been the largest and most important building in the Village of Dohren. Records of  births, baptisms , marriages and deaths recorded there are more complete and accurate than other public records.

There is little information about her brother, other than that he would marry on Sep 2 1868 to Catherine Lisette Dorette Busching and passed away on Oct. 12, 1906. Even less is known of her sister Auguste.


By 1750 Lutheran, along with other reform churches, struggled against the Pope and Catholicism. They were to eventually became the  Evangelisch Church that was most common in the Windheim District. Religion was extremely important and deeply affected the life of all members of the community.

When the Humbkes had settled in Iowa, USA around 1999 Sophie Marie Luise’s husband, son and son-in-law played a major role in the building of a German Lutheran Church. The land and cemetery, on which a modern Lutheran Church now stand, was donated by Ernest Sr., Sophie Marie Luise’s first born son.  He in turn, at his death in 1947, gave half of his land in Canada to the Megido Mission Church of New York, USA. Sophie Marie Luis also bequeathed money to the German Lutheran Church of British Columbia upon her death in 1930.

German Lutheran Church and Cemetery NE of Titonka, Iowa in 1999

At that time, after the families had built necessary living quarters for humans and animals, the next building to be built was a church. By the time they got to Canada in 1902, that had changed and they built the New Berlin one room school as a school, community center and church on Sundays.


From 1600 to 1900 life was extremely difficult for women and it is estimated by some historians that a women’s life during this period was twice as hard as that of a man.  Women worked nearly constantly year around and were in a state of pregnancy or recovering from giving birth or miscarriage.

“On average, a women experienced five to seven successful   pregnancies (i.e. those producing a live child) every two and one-half years, up the age of 38 to 40.” QUOTE p. 115  OUR DAILY BREAD. 

In the four generations of our grandparents going back to this period the average life span (barring accidental deaths) of 6 men was 73 years. The average lifespan of 8 women was 71 years.


“It was not surprising that women aged more rapidly than men. The life of the Hausvater (man) was hard, but that of the Hausmutter was doubly so. A man’s work required bursts of extreme strength and effort, but usually was punctuated with periods of inactivity or even leisure. The woman’s life was one of never-ending labor in her every waking moment: cooking three meals over an open hearth, baking, tending the children, hauling water from the village well, feeding any animals, milking a cow or a goat, sowing and weeding vegetables in the family plot, washing and mending the clothes and keeping the house. In the eighteenth century, it became more common to keep horses and oxen in stalls instead of pastures, and it was generally the wife’s job to walk to the family pots, gather the clover or hay and haul it to the animals’ stalls.”      QUOTE p. 114  OUR DAILY BREAD. 

A Women’s harsh life in the early 1900’s in North America

There is a longer detailed read about education (translated from German) at <https://translate.google.ca/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://www.remme-dohren.de/Chronik-doc/06.Schule_Dohren.doc&prev=search>. The Doren in this article is 100 or so miles West of the Doren Village where Luise spent her childhood and youth, but I believe it describes most of what was happening educationally in all villages of the region.          

Daily Life in German Villages 1500 to 1900

Life for our HUMBKE and SCHNEPEL ancestors in the early German villages of Windheim and Dohren was largely influenced by religion, wars and their status as peasant farmers. The resulting hardships were the primary causes of a mass immigration of German peasants to the new world for freedom and the opportunity for a better life. Their status as peasant farmers and  and wars were the biggest influencers and saw the greatest changes in North America. The church was just as strong in their life and the first public, shared facility to be built until the early 1900’s.

Luise was the mother and matriarcal leader who played the most critical role in the successful establishment of descendants in North America and further.

For the best and easiest description of Governance; Law and Order; Marriage and Inheritance; Family Roles and Relationships; Work; The Village Year; and Emigration during this period I recommend “OUR DAILY BREAD” German Village Life, 1500-1850 by Tev Scheer It is a historical fiction that is based on facts and historical documents, yet tells the story of the fictional Mann family in an easy-to-read format for the average reader.

You can either get the book from you library or purchase it online from Amazon in the USA  for $19.95USA by clicking on: OUR DAILY BREAD

I bought my copy from USA Amazon as, in the order, I wanted additional books that were not available from Amazon Canada. .

For ordering on Amazon Canada click on this OUR DAILY BREAD

Further information is given in the Review under the title on this website.

Please be aware that if you purchase this book or any other product on Amazon as a result of entering the Amazon website in this manner I will receive a reimbursement from Amazon known as Affiliate Marketing Income. Your support is appreciated and help me to continue with researching the families mentioned on this website. Thank you. 


of Sophie Marie Louise (SCHNEPEL) HUMBKE                                                              b. 11SEP1843 Dohren 38  c. (christening/baptism) 24SEP1843                                m. 27OCT1867 Windheim 57 to Ernst Dietrich Chrisitian HUMBKE (Jr)            d. 24NOV1930 age 87 -Wetaskiwin City Cemetery, Alberta

Grandmother Louise Humbke holding her daughter Mary’s children – Agnes, Ben & Earl George (about 1910 in Wetaskiwan. Alberta

Grand Ma Louise Humbke with daughter-in-law Hulda (Wickland) Humbke’s youngest son/child – Richard 1928








Mother: Marie Louise Elisabeth(KAELKE) SCHNEPEL                                                b. 15JAN1814 Dohren 34 c. 19JAN1814 Dohren                                                                  m. 24DEC1833 Dohern 38 to Johan Friedrich Konrad SCHNEPEL                            d. 04AUG1874 age 60 Dohren 38

Grandmother: Catharine Louise (WIEGMAN) KAELKE                                            b. 08OCT1783 Diersdorf, Huddesdorf, Hanover                                                              m. 06DEC1807 to Conrad Diedrich KAELKE at Hanover, Prussia                            d. 03DEC 1860 age 77

Great Grandmother: Ann Catherine Elizabeth (EHLERDING) WIECHMAN    b. 28NOV1749 Dohren 9 c. 30NOV1749 Dohren                                                              m. 28NOV1776 to Carl Henrich WIECHMAN at Hanover, Prussia                        d. 31JAN1821 age 72

Dohren is a small village (1,000 pop.)  immediately North of  the village of Windeheim (1,500 pop.), both of which are on the West side of the Weser River (200  miles West of Berlin). The main occupation has always been farming and the Doren’s Wild Farmers play in the Germany’s major baseball league. Be sure to attend a game if you are ever in Dohren in the summertime.

So for at least 8 generations back from me, all I could find was farmers. In our family, I was the first male (followed by  5 brothers) to take up  different occupations than being a farmer. It has reminded me that an entrepreneur is closest to being a farmer in my mind and in that sense I believe I still have the characteristics and outlook of a farmer. I have come to value and appreciate my farming ancestors very much.


[The two reasons I have yet to write more about her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren is because of either lack of interest, the reluctance to share information or growing concerns for privacy. I fully intend to write about her grandchildren in Canada and the United States next, but will limit my time to creating an accurate family tree for subsequent generations, other than my own family.

That being said, as I find myself aging I become more concerned with writing about the past from what I believe to be the truth than being concerned about issues of privacy, liability and hurt feelings. My ancestors and descendants are not responsible for what I write – I am]

Ernst Dietrich Friedrich HUMBKE Sr.                                                                                b. 30OCT1867 Windheim 57  c. 17NOV1867 Windheim 57                                      m. 22MAY1902 to Maria Louise Sophie Lisette (WESTENFELD) HUMBKE        d. 26SEP1947  age 80 Farm Home, Wetaskiwin City Cemetery

Katharine Sophie Maria (HUMBKE) CONRADI                                                              b. 17OCT1869 Dohren 38  c. 31OCT1869 Dohren 38                                confirmation 08JUL 1883  Dohren Schule                                                                      m. 25SEP1891 Wellsburg, Iowa to Heinrich Wilhelm CONRADI                              d. 06NOV1951 Titonka, Iowa burial 09NOV1951 Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery, Woden, Iowa.

Sophie Wilhelmine Louise HUMBKE                                                                                b. 30AUG1872 Windheim 57  c. 22SEP1872                                                                  d. 04NOV1872 Windheim 57  Age 2 months and 2 days.

Sophie Luise HUMBKE                                                                                                              b. 03OCT1873 Windheim 57  c 19OCT1873 Windheim 57                                              c. 13FEB1878 Windheim 57  Age 4 years and 133 days.

Louise Wilhelmine Marie “Minna” (HUMBKE) CALLIES                                        b. 17JUN1876 Windheim 57  c. 09JUL1876 Windheim 57                                            m. 19JAN1898 Kossuth, Iowa to Charles “Carl” Ludvig CALLIES                            d. 09SEP1961 Wetaskiwin  Age 85 Burial 11SEP1961 Wetaskiwin City Cemetery.

Marie “Mary” Louise Lisette (HUMBKE) GEORGE                                                       b. 01APR1979 Windheim 57  c. 27APR1879                                                                    m. 08JUN1903 Wetaskiwin to Joseph Henry GEORGE                                                  d. 08JUN1957 Age 78 Wetaskiwin City Cemetery



Dietrich “Dick” Friedrich Ernst HUMBKE                                                                        b. 21FEB1882 Windheim 57.  c. 12MAR1882 Windheim 57.                                        m. 24APR1907 Wetaskiwin Swedish Lutheran Church to Hulda Elizabeth (WICKLAND) HUMBKE.                                                                                                          d. 01JAN1968 Wetaskiwin Age 86. Burial 06JAN1968 Wetaskiwin City Cemetery.

Alwine Marie Sophie Louise (HUMBKE) FONTAINE                                                    b. 14APR1885 White Lake, South Dakota.  Confirmation 01APR1900 Rural Immanuel Lutheran Church, Titonka, Iowa.                                                                    m. 20DEC1905 Wetaskiwin Swedish Lutheran Church to Delphinius FONTAINE.                                                                                                                                      d. 07MAY1955 Wetaskiwin Age 70. Burial Wetaskiwin City Cemetery.

Emma Marie (HUMBKE) HARRIS                                                                                        b. 29JAN1890 White Lake, South Dakota.                                                                          m. 14FEB1912 Wetaskiwin to William Ernest Harris.                                                     d. 11JUL1978 Wetaskiwin Age 88. Burial Wetaskiwin City Cemetery.

Louise’s headstone was broken by vandels and repaired by her Great Granddaughter, Rosemarie Humbke

Louise’s headstone is located in the Humbke family plot located in the Wetaskiwin City Cemetery, immediately North of the Water Tower in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada.









Grand Ma Humbke had also lost 2 more children while in Germany: Sophie Wilhelmine Louise at 2 months and Sophie Luise at 4 years.  At the time of her passing she had 43 Grandchildren and 16 Great-Grand Children (which would multiply many times over in the years to come). The number of Great;  Great-Great; and Great-Great-Great-Grand children has yet to be counted. Louise would have spent 40 years of her life as a peasant farmer’s wife in Germany; 7 years as a homesteaders wife in South Dakota; 29 years as a widow farmer 14 miles West of Wetaskiwin, Alberta. At 87 she would  outlive all previous grandparents and her children except for her youngest daughter Emma.

Sept. 11, 2018 would have been her 175 birthday and her faith would have her smiling down on us all from above.

For more information on the life of Sophie Marie Louise (SCHNEPEL) HUMBKE, read Blog #6.


Remembering Great Grandfather Humbke on Aug. 2, 2018 Blog #15 Aug. 2, 2018

If you have free calling for Canada or USA, phone a relative, no matter how distant, and mention the name “Dietrich”. My number in Edmonton is 780-782-6277. If that doesn’t work for you, write a sentence on the “Dietrich Humbke”Face book page and wish him a Happy Birthday!


On August 2, 2018 Dietrich Christian Humbke would have been 173 years old, but his life was cut short when he was killed in an accident 12 days short of his 54  birthday. In 1999 I had no idea of who my great grandfather was other than that he was German – not even a name! That summer of 1999 I spent July tracking down his name and ended up leaving flowers on his grave site in Iowa. I went to court houses, libraries and archives that enabled me to walk on the land he had broke and farmed in South Dakota and Idaho.


Roger Humbke pays respect to the grave of his Great-Grandfather (Ernest Dietrich Christian Humbke), located in the Immanual Lutheran Church Cemetery about 3 miles NE of Titonka, Iowa.




Over the next 15 years,  I spent most of my time in China, but upon returning to Canada the genealogy flame flared up and I started a website to gather and share memories of distant ancestors. It has personally been very rewarding and now I feel an emotional attachment of gratitude and pride in all of the ancestors I have come to know.

Today, August 2, 2018, I hope you pause and think of Deitrich, whose blood runs thru all our veins. As head of the Humbke family and with his wife they assumed the responsibility and task of bringing a young family to America where it  has spread  from coast to coast in Canada and the United States, plus the continents of Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Africa and back to Germany.

Shed and barn on the Humbke farm in Iowa, USA – 1999. Since then the land has all been cleared, the home cellar filled, and no evidence remains that a family once living there. Even the lane way that lead to the home is gone and crops of corn thrive on every inch of land.


Family Tree – Our Paternal Grandparents

Below are the grandparents and  5 sets of paternal (great grandparents to great-great-great-great-great-grandparents). 

I am working on a family tree through myheritage.com and below am including the information on  the 7 paternal grand parent older than my great-grandparents, Dietrich and Luise Humbke. They cover the 310 year period of 1620 to 1930 and 7 generations of Humbkes.

Tielcke HUMBKE b. 1620 Windheim, Germany; d. SEP1669 Windheim; m. 1643 Metcke (STANNEN) HUMBKE b. 1620 Windheim; d. 26DEC1680 Windheim #8. Metcke’s father was Nn STANNEN b. 1595 Kries Minden. 1 girl and 4 boys

Hinrich HUMBKE b. 1646 Windheim #8, Windheim, Germany; d. 04MAR1709 Windheim; m 20JUL1681 Ann Christina (WESTENFELD) HUMBKE b. 1650 Windheim #11; d. 24JAN1731 Windheim #8. 4 girls and 5 boys (1 still born).

Cord Hinrich HUMBKE b. 22NOV1683 Windheim #8; d. 13FEB1728 Windheim #8; m.  22NOV1714 #8 Anna Margaretha (BUECK) HUMBKE Windheim #8; b. 19JAN1688 Schaffhorst #13, Windheim; d. 13DEC1715 Windheim 8. 1 boy.

2nd wife Anna Margarethe (STOPPENHAGEN) HUMBKE b. 28FEB1687 Windheim 3; d. 18MAR1746 Windheim 8.  3 girls and 3 boys

Johann Hinrich HUMBKE b. 25NOV1715 Windheim #8; d. 28OCT1757; m. 20JAN1737 Anna Clara (JAEGER) HUMBKE b. 14JUN1715 Dohren #29; d.  d. 18MAR12DEC1779 Joessen, Windheim – 3 girls and 2 boys.

Cord Hinrich HUMBKE b. 25JUL1747 Windheim #8; d. 27NOV1782 Windheim #8; m. 31DEC1769 to Catherine Christine Louise ERNSTING b. 04MAR1748; Ikse #5 d. 18DEC1799 Windheim #8.  3 girls and 5 boys

Johann Carl Dietrich HUMBKE b. 01APR1785 Windheim #8; d. 04MAY1843 Windheim #57; m. 17MAR1816 Windheim, Sophie Marie (RODEMEYER) HUMBKE b24SEP1785Windheim #22; d.03MAY1841 Windheim #57. 2 girls and 2 boys

Ernst Dietrich Christian HUMBKE b. 31JAN1821 Windheim #57; d. 06NOV1866 Windheim; m. 11MAY1845 Sophie Louise (WIEBKE) HUMBKE b. 30JAN1819 Holge, Windheim #22; d. 06NOV1866 Burial 09NOV1866  Windheim #57.







The following 4 boys and 3 girls comprise the children of Ernst Dietrich Chrisitian Humbke and Sophie Louise (WIEBKE) HUMBKE. They are my Grand-Grand Uncles and Aunts. 

My Family Tree –  My Paternal Great-Grandparents

Ernest Dietrich Christian HUMBKE b. 02AUG1845 Windheim #57: christened 10AUG1845 Windheim Church; d. 21JUL1899 Woden, Iowa; m. 27OCT1867 Sophie Louise  (SCHNEPEL) HUMBKE Windheim; b. 11SEP1843 Dohren #38; d. 24NOV1930 Wetaskiwin, Alberta. 7 girls and 2 boys

My Family Tree – Great-Grand Uncles and Great-Grand Aunts

Wilhelmine Louise [Luise] Charlotte (HUMBKE) BUCHORN b. 19JAN1848 Windheim #57; d. 10FEB1933; m. 27NOV1974 Johann Dietrich August BUCHHORN b. 07AUG1849 Ovenstaedt #45, Westfalen. No Children.

Wilhelmine Sophie Louise Charlotte HUMBKE b. 13JUN1850 Windheim 57, Christened 30JUN1850 Windheim 57, d. 17JAN1854 Windheim 57.

Louise Sophie Caroline (HUMBKE) HANKE b. 02SEP1852 WINDHEIM 57; d. 24MAR 1878 Windheim #148; m. 13DEC1878 Windheim #149 Carl Friedrich August HANKE b.23OCT1849 Windheim #149. They had twin daughters who died shortly after birth.

Ernst Heinrich Christian HUMBKE b. 31AUG1854 Windheim #57; d. 08JAN1938; m. 24SEP1886 Johanne Charlotte Sophie (ROMBKE) HUMBKE  b 24NOV1860 Windheim #21. Had 2 girls and 3 boys.

Conrad (Chris)Dietrich Christian Dominicus HUMBKE b. 04JAN1857 Windheim #57; Christened 18JAN1857 Windheim #57; d. 07JAN1938 South Dakota; m. 26NOV1889 White Lake, South Dakota to Marie DIRKS b. South Dakota. Had one daughter

Conrad Dietrich Friedrich HUMBKE b. 07MAY1859 Windheim #57; d. 07JAN1864 m. 23OCT1885 Windheim #44 Louise Lisettte Dorothee (DAVID) HUMBKE, b. 07JAN1864 Windheim #13; d. 15JUL1886 Windheim #44. Louise died at the birth of a child which died 1 1/2 months later. Second wife was Hanna Christine Wilhelmine (BRINCKMANN) HUMBKE b. 14NOV1861 Ilserheide, Lahde #4, m. 18DEC1888. They had 10 children.


As you can see I am very short of photos of ancestors and would love to receive pictures of the named ancestors.

I would personally like to Thank Pastor Bob of Austin, Texas for the tremendous help he has given me.  Most of the accurate information on ancestors that I am passing on to you is from him.

Pastor Bob has over one million in his family tree and has been to churches, cemeteries, families etc. in Windheim and other Germany locations to verify information. I believe his records are the most accurate available to me. What he has done and his willingness to share is a blessing for all of us ancestors.

Roger Humbke                                                                                rogerhumbke@hotmail.com                                                    1-780-782-6277



Conradi-Callies-George-Humbke-FONTAINE-Harris #14

Delphinus “Dave” and Alvina Maria Sophia Louise (HUMBKE) FOUNTAINE family history 1885 to 1970

Alvina Maria Sophia Louise HUMBKE

Her parents, Ernest Dietrich Christian & Marie Louise (SCHNEPEL) HUMBKE plus four children left their home village of Windheim, Germany for Bremen, Germany where on July 25 1883 they boarded the S.S. Neckar steam/sail bound for New York. The lack of farm land for the family’s two boys, the lure of cheap homestead in the new world, and conscription of all men in Germany up to age 50, were three of the main reason the family immigrate to the USA. Dietrich‘s younger brother, Chris, and his eldest son, Ernst Sr., were already in South Dakota, USA.

Original family homestead of the Ernst Sr. Humbke family in South Dakota, USA  (Taken July, 1999) Roger Humbke

The family made a stop in Buffalo Center, Iowa for a year, but in 1884 proceeded to South Dakota where they filed on a homestead SE of White Lake, and SW of Plankinton in Aurora County. One year later on 14APR1885 Alvina Maria Sophia Louise HUMBKE  was born in a sod house on the family  homestead – an absolutely, table flat, grass covered piece of land.  She would be the first HUMBKE to be born in North America – a citizen of the United States by birth.  Life  in South Dakota was very difficult, to say the least, and the family sold the homestead and moved in 1891, by covered wagon and horses, to  Iowa a farm, NE of Titonka and NW of Woden.

​​Alvina would grow from a girl of 7 to a young lady of 15 in a new 2 story home constructed of lumber on the 80 acre family farm NW of Woden, Iowa. Whereas South Dakota had been in a drought for 7 years; in Iowa it was so wet the cattle suffered from foot root, but corn did grow 8 ft. high and life was much better. In Iowa, Alvina would see her two older sister marry, and become an aunt to two nephews and a niece. It was looking like the HUMBKE family would be settling down permanently when life took one of  those unexpected turns.​

​PHOTO: Tree that grew up outside Alvina’s 2nd fl bedroom window in IOWA.  Roger Humbke with Step-Children Cletus and Kelly Quintal  July 1999

​Her eldest sister, Sophie, had married Henrich Conrad CONRADSep. 25, 1891 and moved to Wellsburg, Iowa where they had 3 children and farmed. In 1899 Henrich and Sophie would buy land near Titonka/Woden from her brother, Ernest Sr., and move to their new farm across the road from where her parents lived.​ Sophie is buried in the cemetery where her father was interred in 1899.​

Alvina’s other older sister, Minnie​, married a German entrepreneur (25 year old Charles Ludwig CALLIES) on Jan 19, 1898. They would have a son in 1899 and immigrate to Canada with the Humbke family in 1901, ​leaving 2 sons and 3 daughters living on the family farm with their parents..

Her eldest brother, Ernst Sr. had bought 2 quarters of land in Iowa and given 3 acres for the construction of a German Luthern Church in the country side just 1/2 mile West of  his father’s farm.

At that time the family lived close togeather on productive farms and it appeared that they would remain in Iowa. ​Ernst, his son (Ernst Sr.) and his son-in-law (Charles CALLIES) were very strong Lutherans  and members of the church founding committee​.

On July 21, 1999 while hauling logs to build the church Alvina‘s father, age 54, was killed when his horses had a run-a-way.

Ernst Dietrich Christian HUMBKE had been patriarch of the HUMBKE family and his death seemed to follow the tragic deaths of both his mother (age 47 yrs)  and father (45 yrs) on Nov. 6, 1886 when Ernst Sr. was 21 years of age. Cause of their deaths was probably suicide or a tragic fire.

Now his oldest son, Ernst Sr. would lead the HUMBKE family to 3 homesteads 14 miles West of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada where they would become Canadian citizens and remain for the rest of their lives.

Alvina arrives in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada – April 4, 1901

Alvina, age 15, arrives in Wetaskiwin aboard the first passenger train between Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, spends the night at the Alberta Hotel and the next day the family sets out using a horse pulled wagon loaded with their belongings. They travelled  10 miles SE, crossed the Battle River at Carpenter Crossing and proceed 6 miles NE to the families three homesteads where the men await their arrival.

Alvina will celebrate her 16th birthday on her mother’s homestead on April 14th and spend her next 4.5 years  toiling to help her mother and family break the land and establish a life on the desolate prairie. There is no record of Alvina or her siblings (except for Emma – Grades 1 to 5  New Berlin/Verdun School, Alberta) ever attending school in Germany, South Dakota, Iowa or Alberta.

Alvina would later learn to read and write English as a result of helping her 5 children with their homework while they attended the newly named Verdun School.

The Humbke family quickly expanded and before Alvina left the homestead in December 1905 her older brother and sister would marry, move to their homesteads and have children. Her oldest brother Ernest Sr. would marry Mary Westenfeld from Germany on May 22, 1902 and niece Erna Louise would be born July 19, 1903.

Elder sister, Mary, married Joe GEORGE on June 8, 1903 and they moved to his farm in the Hauletain District where nephew Earl (a leap year baby) would arrive on Feb. 29, 1904.

Now only sisters, Alvina and Emma, plus brother Dick are left at the homestead with their Mother, Mary. At this time the horse was the most necessary animal on farms and they  outnumbered humans, reaching their peak in 1920. Their care, feeding and use involved all members of the family.                                                                

Delphinus “Dave” Fontaine

Dave, b. 28MAY 1885, was the youngest of 9 children born to Davidicus John FONTAINE, b. OCT1843, Quebec, Canada and Angeline (PARENT) FONTAINE, b. DEC1839 in Quebec, Canada. The family  immigrate to the USA in 1867 where 9 children were born  and appear on the 1900 USA Census as living in Rudolph, Wood County, Wisconsin.

In 1901 the family, with boys Albert Joseph, Frank and Dave, emigrated from Wisconsin to Alberta, Canada and spent a short time in the Duhamel region before Dave moved to the Rosalind District and filed on a homestead. At the same time Davidicus (John) and his son Delphinus (Dave) built a ferry at Gwynne and floated it down the Battle River through Dried Meat Lake  and on to Ferry Point where they ran a ferry service for a number of years.

Dave and Alvina (HUMBKE) FONTAINE Family

In Dave’s travels his paths often crossed with those of 20 year old Alvina Humbke and on Dec. 20, 1905  they were married in the Swedish Lutheran Church,  Wetaskiwin. Dick HUMBKE (brother of the bride) and Hulda WICKLAND (future sister-in-law of the bride) were the witnesses.

The REGISTRATION OF MARRIAGE reads: 20DEC1905 Alwine HUMPKE, age 20 married Dave FOUNTAINE in the Swedish Lutheran Church at Wetaskiwin. According to the records, Clergyman Friedrich BREDLOW officiated, and her brother Deitrich HUMPKE and his future wife, Hulda WICHLAND were witnesses.

Please note that the names of the bride, groom and witnesses were all misspelled. I have heard  the family named pronounced and spelled so often as Fountaine, Fontain and Fontaine  that at one time I thought that George and Wilfred Fontaine families were not related. Since studying the family tree I have come to realize that there are a large number of Fontaine Families in the Counties of Wetaskiwin and Camrose, and that they are all originate from the Davidicus & Angeline (PARENT) FONTAINE family.

Dave was to remain a Roman Catholic for his life, while Alvina and the children would be Lutheran.

They spent their first 3 years on a farm in the Rosalind area where the family ran the Ferry Point Ferry and had their first of five children.

Emma Louise Angeline FONTAINE b. 20JUN1907 married 17NOV1926 David Richard MILLER  b. 08OCT1886 d. 17OCT1960(1 son)  – 2nd husband married 26MAR1946 Edmund (Ted) Septimus HALL b. 28FEB1905 d. 04JUL1984.. (no family).

Dave, Wilfred, Alfred, George, Gladys, Emma & Alvina (Humbke) Fontaine

They moved back to the New Berlin School District of Duhamel in 1908 and lived with Alvina‘s mother on the original homestead until retiring to Wetaskiwin in the early 1930’s after the death of Alvina’s mother. The Fontaine family would increase to seven with the addition of another son, a daughter and twin boys. All five children would attend the New Berlin/Verdun one room school 2 1/2 miles from home so the horse a carriage would be well used over the years.

George David FONTAINE b. Sep. 22, 1910, d. 08DEC1991 Camrose,  m. 17MAR1931 Rosella Elivina JONES b. 28DEC1913 in Duhamel, d. 08OCT1983 in Daysland, burial in Camrose (6 sons & 1 daughter).

Gladys Maria Sophie FONTAINE b. May 30, 1911 d. 01FEB1989 Wetaskiwin, m. 14JUL1931  Harold Lee JACKSON b. 09JUN1912 Wetaskiwin, d. 22NOV2002 Wetaskiwin  (1 son & 1 daughter).

TWINS:  Wilfred Henry Dietrich FONTAINE b. 23NOV1912, d. 11JUL1991 Wetaskiwin,  m. 19MAR1933  Clara Caroline NYGAARD b. 13Oct1910 Duhamel, d. 05APR2000 Camrose, burial in Wetaskiwin  (2 daughters).

Alfred Conrad FONTAINE  b. Nov. 23, 1912. d. 05JUN 1975 accidental drowning on farm,   m. 14MAR1946 Margorie Isobel MOWAT b. 08APR1920, d. 21OCT1996 (1 daughter).

Dave Fontaine was a very happy-go-lucky man, active in the community (school trustee) and an avid sportsman. He swan, skated and especially enjoyed training his dogs for hunting coyotes. Whenever a dance, card party, church service or any social event was held at the New Berlin/Verdun School you could be sure that Dave and Alvina would be in attendance.

Dave’s skill with the fiddle was well known and he played for many dances far and wide. Sometimes Alvina would accompany him with her dancing man on a board, entertaining at home and get togethers.

For an idea of what Alvina could do with her dancing man click your mouse on the title above the picture below.

Dave’s passion was passed on to his family. This video is my impression of what a gathering of the Fontaine Families in the the 1940’s and 50’s would have look like.  Click on either title to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=375&v=cs2j8f7H2WY

“While the health of Mrs. Fontaine was not too good she found time to prepare the meals and clothes for her family. She canned great quantities of berries and fruit gathered in the fall and in preparation for the long winter months. Mrs. Fontaine was a dedicate mother teaching her girls to knit, crochet and sew, and to become proficient housekeepers. In the evenings she would read stories to her children with the allocation of a certain number of chapters each night. The children loved this pastime and looked forward to this special attention given to them”.                            Taken from a local history book –  author unkown.

According to a granddaughter, Alvina was a very kind, loving grandmother who was was the brains of the family and kept it on an even keel.

Humbke Homestead

Alvina had scarlet fever as a child and was not in the best of health, but that did not stop her from enjoying life and looking after her family. When her mother, Mary, passed in on Nov. 24, 1930 she left the homestead to her youngest two daughters (Alvina and Emma). Wilfred would marry Clara Nygaard 19MAR1933 and take over the family homestead, while Dave and Alvina retired to their house  at 40 Avenue and Main St. in Wetaskiwin.

In 1952 they would sell that home and move to a small house in Wetaskiwin where they lived until 1955 when Alvina passed away from heart condition and hypertension 07MAY1935. Alfred and Marjorie Fontaine would look after Dave for a year after which he lived in a Lutheran Seniors Home in Wetaskiwin until his passing on 06JAN1970.

Dave and Alvina (HUMBKE) FONTAINE with relatives in Wetaskiwin


Alvina (HUMBKE) FONTAIN burial site

Last Will And Testament














When I started researching and writing this blog I knew very little about the Fontaine Family. As a matter of fact I thought as a boy in school that there was a Fountain family and another unrelated Fontaine Family. It did not help that official documents could be found using either one spelling or the other.

I have seen Gloria and Gladys (FONTAIN) MOWAT at Verdun School yearly reunions, but have not seen another Fountain for at least 60 years. I had fond memories of Curtiss Fontaine and was researching how to reconnect, when I was shocked to hear that he had very recently passed away while attending the funeral of Louie Hazelwood.

It has prompted me to make more time to visit with relatives that I have rarely or never met in the past. Researching fanilies and their relationship with closer relatives has been a thrilling adventure.

On another note as a result of visiting cemeteries. I would like to do something to fix the older sunken graves and making inscription readable once again. Perhaps a nonprofit organization could be formed to handle the problem and we could raise some money to ensure that our ancestors are not forgotten. Please send me your thoughts if you are interested.



The Statue of Liberty, Castle Clinton & Ellis Island welcome Humbkes to America #13 APR2018

The Statute of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States in celebration of American Democracy. As the statue was commemorated in October 1886 it was probably never seen by the first 6 of the 7 Humbkes to arrive in New York from 1879 to 1883, but it would have been seen by Ernest Humbke Sr. when he picked up his future wife arriving from Germany in early 1902,.

On April 21, 2018, I spent the day at Castle Clinton National Park, The Statute of Liberty and in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Before Ellis Island was opened on Jan 1, 1892 immigrants passed through “Castle Garden” in the Battery (originally known as Castle Clinton after the local Governor). Locate in the lower end of Manhattan Island, it served as the New York State immigration station and from 1885 to 1890 approximately eight million immigrants arrived – mostly from Northern and Western Europe (England, Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia).

FIRST Humbke from Windehiem Germany to arrive was my GREAT UNCLE CHRIS HUMBKE(Conrad Dietrich Cristian Dominicus Humbke) b. 04JAN1857 Windheim, Petershagen, Germany; arrived at a dock in New York City and at what is now known as Castle Clinton ??APR1879; and d. 1938. The exact date and location of his death in South Dakota, USA is unknown. Chris arrived as a single 22-year old man and traveled to the White Lake area of South Dakota to find land and prepare for the arrival of his eldest brother’s family. He married Marie Dirks in White Lake, South Dakota on May 7, 1889, but little is known of his life except that he lost his land for non-payment of taxes and he did appear to have made a trip to the Humbke homestead at Wetaskiwin, Alberta where he appears in a photo with his brother and three brother-in-laws. (see BLOG #10)
Battery Park, New York 1870’s

SECOND to arrive was my GRANDFATHER ERNST SR. HUMBKE (Ernst Dietrich Fredrich Humbke Sr.) b. 30OCT1867 Windheim, Petershagen, Germany; d. 26SEP1947 Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada. Ernest, at age 15, came on “H.H. Meier” from Bremen, Germany and arrived at a dock on or near the Battery, Manhattan, New York on 12MAY1883. It is not clear whether his Uncle Chris met him on arrival or if Ernst Sr. made his own way to White Lake, South Dakota.


THIRD to arrive were my GREAT GRANDFATHER DIETRICH HUMBKE (Ernest Dietrich Fredrich Christian Humbke) b. 02AUG1845 Windeheim, Petershagen, Germany; d. 21JUL1899 Woden, Iowa USA; GREAT GRANDMOTHER LOUISE HUMBKE (Marie Louisa [Schnepel] Humbke) B. 11SEP1843 Dohren, Lower Saxony, Germany; d. 24NOV1930 Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada; GREAT AUNT SOPHIE CONRADI (Katherine Sophie Maria [Humbke] Conradi) b. 17OCT1869 Windheim, Petershagen, Germany d. 04NOV1872 Titonka, Iowa, USA; GREAT AUNT MINNIE CALLIES (Louise Wilhelmine Marie [Humbke] Callies) b. 17Jun1876 Windheim, Petershagen, Germany d. 09SEP1961 Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada; GREAT AUNT MARY GEORGE(Marie Louise [Humbke] George) b. 01APR1879 Windheim, Petershagen, Germany d. 08JUN1957 Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada; and GREAT UNCLE DICK HUMBKE (Dietrich Fredrick Ernest Humbke) b.21FEB1882 Windheim, Petershagen, Germany d. 01JAN1968 Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada. They arrived on the “H.H. Neckar” from Bremen, Germany also at the Battery, Manhattan, New York 04AUG1883 and made their way to Buffalo Center, Iowa before homesteading near White Lake, South Dakota. Two daughters were to be born as American Citizens at White Lake – GREAT AUNT ALVINA FONTAINE (Alvina Maria Sophia [Humbke} Fontaine) b. 14APR1885 White Lake, South Dakota, USA; d. 07MAY1955 Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada and GREAT AUNT EMMA HARRIS (Emma Marie [Humbke] HARRIS) b. 29JAN1890 White Lake, South Dakota, USA; d. 11JUL1978 Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada.


Castle Clinton – New York State immigration station from 1855 to 1890
So the first 3 ships to bring the Humbke relatives from Germany, on our family tree in North America, all docked at the lower berths at the lower end of the Borough of Manhattan and the passengers were transported by local boats to nearby Castle Clinton.

Present day Battery Park (2018) at the lowest point of Manhattan. The orange circular two story building in the center of the photo is Castle Clinton – named after DeWitt Clinton (1769 to 1828) a United States Senator, Mayor of New York City and 6th Governor of New York. The building served at various times as a USA army fort, opera house, America’s first immigration processing center house and aquarium. Presently it houses a historical display and is where you can get tickets for a boat to the Statue of Liberty and Ellise Island. If you go try to buy tickets beforehand as the line up can be 1.5 hrs+

Roger and Fanny Humbke leaving Castle Clinton, Battery Park for the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island,

FOURTH to arrive was my GRANDMOTHER MARY (Maria Louise Sophie Lesette [Westenfeldt] Humbke) b. 22MAY1868 Windheim, Germany; arrived by ship from Germany at Ellice Island, New York, USA. My Grandfather Ernst Sr. had left from the Wetaskiwin homestead on Jan. 2, 1902, for New York where he was to picked up his future wife.

Mary became very sick during the crossing of the Atlantic and lost a lot of weight, possibly due to the fact of being infected by a tape worm. Ernst Sr. was only able to recognize her by a red flower she had arranged to wear. All immigrants were examined by doctors who refused entry to the USA and sent back to the country they arrived from (about 2%). Such families had to decide if they would return as a group or seperate. Others were kept in the hospital until able to travel.

Since it took Ernst Sr. 3 1/2 months to make the trip from Wetaskiwin to New York and back, it may have taken Mary a long time to get well enough to travel. One can only imagine the suffering she went through. Her granddaughters have remarked that she told them of the terrible time she had and that she would never get on another ship, for any reason.

Roger Humbke, on an Immigration benches in the Grand Receiving Hall at Ellise Island, New York, listening to a tour guide describe the experience of immigrants trying to enter the United States in 1902,. Immigrants were marked with a colored chalk indicating which of three doors, at the end of the large hall after a preliminary examination at a row of high desks. The middle door led to further examination, hospital or a ship returning to where they came from. It must have been an extremely distressing experience for both Ernst Sr and May.

Eventually they were able to make their way back to the Duhamel homestead by April 15, 1902, and were married on May 22, 1902,. Together they were to raise a family of three healthy daughters and two sons, one of whom was my father, Lawrence Humbke, who lived to the rip old age of 93.

Castle Clinton, Battery Park in lower Manhattan Island with the tallest building in America – The One World Trade Center

For further excellent information and photos of Battery Park, Castle Clinton, Ellis Island please check out:

https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/ellis-island-history Below in italics is information copied from this site for your convience.


Immigration Policy Embraces the Masses


Prior to 1890, the individual states (rather than the Federal government) regulated immigration into the United States. Castle Garden in the Battery (originally known as Castle Clinton) served as the New York State immigration station from 1855 to 1890 and approximately eight million immigrants, mostly from Northern and Western Europe, passed through its doors.

These early immigrants came from nations such as England, Ireland, Germany and the Scandinavian countries and constituted the first large wave of immigrants that settled and populated the United States. Throughout the 1800s and intensifying in the latter half of the 19th century, ensuing political instability, restrictive religious laws and deteriorating economic conditions in Europe began to fuel the largest mass human migration in the history of the world.

It soon became apparent that Castle Garden was ill-equipped and unprepared to handle the growing numbers of immigrants arriving yearly. Unfortunately, compounding the problems of the small facility were the corruption and incompetence found to be commonplace at Castle Garden.

The Federal government intervened and constructed a new Federally-operated immigration station on Ellis Island. While the new immigration station on Ellis Island was under construction, the Barge Office at the Battery was used for the processing of immigrants.

The new structure on Ellis Island, built of “Georgia pine” opened on January 1, 1892. Annie Moore, a teenaged Irish girl, accompanied by her two brothers, entered history and a new country as she was the very first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island. Over the next 62 years, more than 12 million were to follow through this port of entry.

Ellis Island Burns and Years of Records Lost


While there were many reasons to immigrate to America, no reason could be found for what would occur only five years after the Ellis Island Immigration Station opened. During the early morning hours of June 15, 1897, a fire on Ellis Island burned the immigration station completely to the ground.

Although no lives were lost, many years of Federal and State immigration records dating back to 1855 burned along with the pine buildings that failed to protect them.

The United States Treasury quickly ordered the immigration facility be replaced under one very important condition: all future structures built on Ellis Island had to be fireproof. On December 17, 1900, the new Main Building was opened and 2,251 immigrants were received that day.

Journeying By Ship to the Land of Liberty


While most immigrants entered the United States through New York Harbor (the most popular destination of steamship companies), others sailed into many ports such as Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Francisco, Savannah, Miami, and New Orleans. The great steamship companies like White Star, Red Star, Cunard and Hamburg-America played a significant role in the history of Ellis Island and immigration in general.

First and second class passengers who arrived in New York Harbor were not required to undergo the inspection process at Ellis Island. Instead, these passengers underwent a cursory inspection aboard ship, the theory being that if a person could afford to purchase a first or second class ticket, they were less likely to become a public charge in America due to medical or legal reasons.

The Federal government felt that these more affluent passengers would not end up in institutions, hospitals or become a burden to the state. However, first and second class passengers were sent to Ellis Island for further inspection if they were sick or had legal problems.

This scenario was far different for “steerage” or third class passengers. These immigrants traveled in crowded and often unsanitary conditions near the bottom of steamships with few amenities, often spending up to two weeks seasick in their bunks during rough Atlantic Ocean crossings.

Upon arrival in New York City, ships would dock at the Hudson or East River piers. First and second class passengers would disembark, pass through Customs at the piers and were free to enter the United States. The steerage and third class passengers were transported from the pier by ferry or barge to Ellis Island where everyone would undergo a medical and legal inspection.

A Record Year for New Americans


During the early 1900s, immigration officials mistakenly thought that the peak wave of immigration had already passed. Actually, immigration was on the rise, and in 1907 more people immigrated to the United States than any other year, a record that would hold for the next 80 years. Approximately 1.25 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island in that one year.

Consequently, masons and carpenters were constantly struggling to enlarge and build new facilities to accommodate this greater than anticipated influx of new immigrants. Hospital buildings, dormitories, contagious disease wards and kitchens all were feverishly constructed between 1900 and 1915.
As the United States entered World War I, immigration to the United States decreased. Numerous suspected enemy aliens throughout the United States were brought to Ellis Island under custody. Between 1918 and 1919, detained suspected enemy aliens were transferred from Ellis Island to other locations in order for the United States Navy with the Army Medical Department to take over the island complex for the duration of the war.

During this time, regular inspection of arriving immigrants was conducted onboard ship or at the docks. At the end of World War I, a big “Red Scare” spread across America and thousands of suspected alien radicals were interned at Ellis Island. Hundreds were later deported based upon the principal of guilt by association with any organizations advocating revolution against the Federal government.

In 1920, Ellis Island reopened as an immigration receiving station and 225,206 immigrants were processed that year.

Arrival at the Island and Initial Inspection


If the immigrant’s papers were in order and they were in reasonably good health, the Ellis Island inspection process would last approximately three to five hours. The inspections took place in the Registry Room (or Great Hall), where doctors would briefly scan every immigrant for obvious physical ailments. Doctors at Ellis Island soon became very adept at conducting these “six second physicals.”

By 1916, it was said that a doctor could identify numerous medical conditions (ranging from anemia to goiters to varicose veins) just by glancing at an immigrant. The ship’s manifest log, that had been filled out back at the port of embarkation, contained the immigrant’s name and his/her answers to twenty-nine questions. This document was used by the legal inspectors at Ellis Island to cross-examine the immigrant during the legal (or primary) inspection.

The two agencies responsible for processing immigrants at Ellis Island were the United States Public Health Service and the Bureau of Immigration (later known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service – INS). On March 1, 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was restructured and included into three separate bureaus as part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Despite the island’s reputation as an “Island of Tears”, the vast majority of immigrants were treated courteously and respectfully, and were free to begin their new lives in America after only a few short hours on Ellis Island. Only two percent of the arriving immigrants were excluded from entry. The two main reasons why an immigrant would be excluded were if a doctor diagnosed that the immigrant had a contagious disease that would endanger the public health or if a legal inspector thought the immigrant was likely to become a public charge or an illegal contract laborer.


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Conradi-Callies-George-HUMBKE-Fontaine-Harris #12 JUN2017

The 3 paintings  of Dick and Hulda HUMBKE’s family farm in the Haultain Community, Wetaskiwin, Alberta were done by Dorothy (HUMBKE) GALLANT. Dorothy, the youngest daughter, is the last remaining of the children, and lives on her own in Indian Trail, North Carolina. At age 92 with an excellent memory, Dorothy has been a wealth of photos and information about the family and is still very active on Facebook.


Dietrich “Dick” Frederick Ernest HUMBKE was the 7th of 9 children born to Ernst Dietrich Christian and Marie Luise (SCHNEPEL) HUMBKE of Windheim, Germany. Dick, born 21FEB1882, would only spend 16 months in the small village of Windheim, Germany before boarding the  “Neckar” for  the sea voyage to New York with his father – age 38, mother 36 and three older sisters (Sophie 14, Minnie 7 & Mary 4).

Altar photo inside Windheim Protestant (Lutheran) Church in WINDHEIM, GERMANY compliments of Shirley PAULEY (WILLIAMS) - granddaughter of Dick and Hulda HUMBKE.
Altar photo inside Windheim Protestant (Lutheran) Church in WINDHEIM, GERMANY compliments of Shirley (WILLIAMS) PAULEY – granddaughter of Dick and Hulda HUMBKE.

DIE WINDHEIMER KIRCHE (The Windheim Church) was originally built in 1300’s. The main altar picture (top half of photo) was painted in the 1400’s and blessed in 1503.

In 1556, the church was made larger by the addition of a tower. In 1600 it became a Protestant (Lutheran) church. Under Frederick the Great in 1769, two wings were added to the main church.

The church was renovated in the 1960’s and is now considered a historical site. In all probability this is the church where most members of the HUMBKE family, born in Germany, were baptised.

Dick HUMBKE’s German birth certificate compliments of his granddaughter, Shirley (WILLIAMS) PAULEY.

For those who can read German this is an original copy of Dick’s birth certificate giving the date of registration of birth as 24FEB1882.

Upon arriving in America, the HUMBKE family would spend their first year at Buffalo Centre, Iowa before homesteading South East of  White Lake, South Dakota (South West of Plankinton, South Dakota) . Life was very challenging as there was literally a 7 year drought in South Dakota. The highlight of life there would be the births of daughters, Alvina (1885) and Emma (1890), in White Lake, SD.

In 1891 the family bought a small farm near Woden, Iowa where they would stay until early 1902. When Dick was 17 years old,  his father died in an accident (July 21, 1899)  while hauling logs to build a German Lutheran Church on 3 acres donated by his oldest son, Ernst Sr. The next year Ernst Sr. went to Western Canada where on July 31, 1900 he filed for three adjoining 160 acre homesteads, 12 miles East of Wetaskiwin, in the names of his mother, brother Dick and himself.

The whole family moved to Canada in 1901 and lived togeather on their mother’s homestead while farming all three homesteads.  The family had a great passion for music and skilled musicians were common in the family. Dick quickly took time to start the Battle River Cornet Band composed of his older brother (Ernst Sr), 2 younger sisters  ( Alvina & Emma), brother in law (Carl CALLIES), Dave & Charlie WIDEN, Guy SUYS and C.R. WIBERG.

Certificate of Naturalization as a Canadian 06JUL1904 for Dietrich Ernest Humbke
Certificate of Naturalization as a Canadian 06JUL1904 for Dietrich Ernest HUMBKE

On July 6, 1904 Dick changed from an American to a Canadian and received his Certificate Of  Naturalization as a British Subject within Canada. On Nov. 2, 1904 he received his Certificate of Title stating that he had met all homestead requirements and now had clear title to his 160 acres. Earlier he had bought a steam thresher with his brother-in-law Carl CALLIES and threshed for many local farmers, from fall to early spring, over a period of 5 years. His last steam tractor can be seen at the Stan Reynolds Museum in Wetaskiwin, AB.

18JUL1904 Dick Humbke applies for clear title to his 160 acre homestead which he farmed, while living with his mother on her adjoining homestead, 14 miles East of Wetaskiwin in the Battle River regions 6 miles West and 3 miles North of Duhamel, Alberta.
18JUL1904 Dick HUMBKE applies for clear title to his 160 acre homestead which he farmed, while living with his mother on her adjoining homestead, 14 miles East of Wetaskiwin in the Battle River regions 6 miles West and 3 miles North of Duhamel, Alberta.

Hulda Wickland

During this time Dick found time to  court a certain Hulda Elizabeth WICKLAND b. 27NOV1889 in Ostersund, Sweden.

Her parents were Andrew WICKLUND and Kristina JOHANSON. I have no date of marriage but they were married in Ostersund, Sweden. According to family members Hulda’s biological father is unknown, but most certainly Scandinavian.

As a result of DNA testing an individual named Tim has contacted the Humbke family through his wife and is seeking to find his roots. You can read more about this mystery on  the the facebook page of Scott David Pauley <https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=scott%20david%20pauley>. Tim is possibly a great grandson of Dick and Hulda Humbke that was born 24DEC1966 in Toronto and given up for adoption. DNA testing indicates that he is 57% Scandinavian, 24% British, and 6% Western European (German) and physically tall and slender with blond hair and green eyes. He is seeking to find his roots through the facebook page of Scott David PAULEY. If you can help, please do.

Andrew and Kristina Lisbet (Johanson) Wickland
Andrew WICKLAND b. 20SEP1864 in Dalarna, Sweden d. 20AUG1950 in Wetaskiwin, Alberta married Kristina Lisbet JOHANSON. b. 29MAR1867 in Ostersund, Sweden  d. 19DEC1942 in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. They were married in Ostersund but the date is unknown.

Andrew, Kristina and Hulda left Sweden the end of 1893 for the USA where they spent 5 months before they arrived in Wetaskiwin, Alberta Canada on May 6th, 1894. There was no place to stay in Wetaskiwin so they spent  a few weeks in the Immigration Tent while Andrew searched for a homestead. What an adventure for 4 year old Hulda!

“He picked a homestead in the Crooked Lake District 6 kilometers N. of Gwynne, AB. Now that he had his land he had to fix up a temporary home. He dug a cave in the side of a hill, put on a door, and that served as their first home until he ad one built. This one was built of rails standing on end, all plastered with mud and a so roof. They lived in  this one for many years.” 

“The first school was built in 1901.  It was built of logs. There were no desks in those days, just a long table with benches for the pupils to sit on.” Taken from TREASURED MEMORIES Gwynne and District.

It was in this school and a new one built in 1907 that Hulda and her 3 siblings would receive their basic education.

Hulda’s 2 brothers and  sister were:

Algot Emanuel WICKLAND b. 03DEC1893 in Stephen MN, d. 25JUL1962 in Camrose, AB. Married 18DEC1926 in Edmonton, AB to Joan Mary FOREMAN b. 21JAN1907 in Red Deer, AB, d. 24SEP1986 in Camrose, AB. They had 2 boys and 2 girls.

Eda Alvida WICKLAND b. 27JUN1896 in Coal Lake AB, d. 04FEB1964 in Camrose AB. Married 18SEP1917 in Duhamel, AB to Arthur (Art) SHARKY b. 27SEP1894 in Rudolph, Wisconsin, USA d. 25MAY1973. They had 6 boys and 6 girls.

Hulda (16 yrs), Algot, Henry and Eda Wickland
Hulda (16 yrs), Algot, Henry and Eda Wickland

Henry Fredrick WICKLAND b. 06MAR1899 in Wetaskiwin AB. d. 25OCT1977 in Camrose Catholic Cemetery, AB. Married o7NOV1928 in Wetaskiwin, AB to Wilhelmena (Minnie) Teresa BADRY b. 03MAR1907 in Camrose, AB d. 25DEC1958 Camrose Catholic Cemetery, AB. They had one boy and one girl.

The Andrew and Hulda WICKLAND family was not well off, but they were generous with what they had. The quote indicating Hulda’s generosity, in making sure no one left her home empty handed, was learned from her mother’s example. Like Kristina WICKLAND, Mary HUMBKE (Hulda’s sister in law) also had Indians visiting her home because she invited them in.

Hulda (16 yrs), Algot, Henry and Eda Wickland
Hulda (16 yrs), Algot, Henry and Eda Wickland

“A band of Indians used to camp at Hay Lakes , on their trips through the woods to  Pigeon Lake they used to stop at the WICKLAND’s home. The indians never knocked on the door, they would make several trips around the house stamping their feet to let Mrs. WICKLAND know that they were cold. She would invite them in to get warmed up and made them a cup of coffee and lunch. They always carried a little sack with them and would ask for a loaf of bread when they were ready to leave. The never went away empty-handed.” Taken from TREASURED MEMORIES Gwynne and District.

The elder WICKLANDs were to eventually spend there last years on the lot in Wetaskiwin where Dick and Hulda had their home.

The two WICKLAND girls (Hulda and Eda) were prolific and between them they raise 22 children – 10 HUMBKEs and 12 SHARKEYs.

Dick & Hulda’s marriage

Registration of marriage for Dick HUMBKE & Hulda WICKLAND on 24APR1907 in Wetaskiwin, Alberta
Registration of marriage for Dick HUMBKE & Hulda WICKLAND on 24APR1907 in Wetaskiwin, Alberta

Dick & Hulda (Wickland) Humbke marriage on 24APR1907 at Swedish Lutheran Church in Wetaskiwin, AB
Dick (25yrs) & Hulda (WICKLAND) HUMBKE marriage on 24APR1907 at Swedish Lutheran Church in Wetaskiwin, AB











1907 was a very eventful year in the life of 25 year old Dick HUMBKE as he married 17 year old Hulda WICKLAND; started a family that was to become 5 girls and 5 boys; and changed from being a homesteader to trying his hand as a Co-op Store Manager in Gwynne, Alberta

FRONT Dick & Hulda (Wickland) Humbke m. 24APR1907 Swedish Lutheran Church, Wetaskiwin; Attendants: Alfred Jerone & Emma
FRONT Dick & Hulda (WICKLAND) HUMBKE m. 24APR1907 Swedish Lutheran Church, Wetaskiwin; Attendants: Alfred JERONE & Emma Marie HUMBKE


Elsie Christine HUMBKE b. 14JU1907 Gwynne, Alberta d.02JUL1997 in Florida Hospital-Walker, Highlands County, Avon Park, Florida. Burial- New Hope Baptist Church Cemetery, Wauchula, Hardee County, Florida       m. 21OCT1928 in Owatoona, Minnesota to John Broadus WILLIAMS  b.       18MAY1899 Columbia City, Columbia County, Florida d. 29JUN1976             Hardee County, Florida,                                                                       Children: 4 girls & 3 boys.

Frederick (Fritz) Algot Christian HUMBKE b. 26MAY1910 Gwynne, Alberta d. 06MAY1982 Wetaskiwin, AB. m. 22OCT1933 in Wetaskiwin, AB to Ruth Nicolena GREENWALL b. 18JAN1910 Wetaskiwin, AB. d. 12JAN1984 Wetaskiwin, AB.                                                                                   Children: 3 boys & 3 girls.

Photo of Humbke Family 19__ in Wetaskiwin, AB B. Henry, Dorothy, Norma, Conrad, Myrtle, Florence & Fritz F. Richard, Hulda, Dick, Elsie & Gordon
Humbke Family 19?? in Wetaskiwin, AB. Back Row – Henry, Dorothy, Norma, Conrad, Myrtle, Florence, Fritz Front Row – Richard, Hulda, Dick, Elsie, Gordon Humbke


Florence Louise HUMBKE b. 19OCT1913 Haultain, AB d. 22APR 1973 New Norway, AB. Buried Nashville Cemetery, Wetaskiwin AB. m.22OCT1932 in Wetaskiwin to Henry (Hank) Carl JOHNSON b. 30MAR1913 Wetaskiwin, AB. d. 02OCT1996 in Camrose AB. Buried Nashville Cemetery, Wetaskiwin Children: 7 boys & 3 girls.

Conrad Dietrich HUMBKE b. 05MAY1915 Haultain, AB d. 19JUN2011 in Wetaskiwin m. 26APR1937 in Wetaskiwin to Alma Louise Fredarika EIKERMAN b. 26APR1911 Haultain District, Wetaskiwin, AB. d.  APR1989 in Wetaskiwin,                                                                                           Children: 1 girl                                                                                       Divorced in ???? -2nd m. at ???? in 1958 to Ann DENNIS b. ???? in BC. Divorced in ???? -3rd m. at ???? in 1980 Joan WINTERS b. ????  in ????         d. ??JAN2007 in Abbotsford, BC.

Henry August HUMBKE b. 01JUL1917 Haultain, AB d. 11MAR1993 in Haultain District, Wetaskiwin, AB. m. 23JAN1945 in Wetaskiwin to Edith Gunhild NELSON b. 13MAY1926 in Hotagens Jamtlands, Sweden.       Children: 2 boys.

1950 Photo Wetaskiwin ABL to R - Fred 1910, Conrad1915, Henry 1917, Gordon 1919, Richard 1927 with their father Dick Humbke 1882
1950 Photo Wetaskiwin L to R – Fred 1910, Conrad 1915, Henry 1917, Gordon 1919, Richard 1927 with their father Dick Humbke 1882

Gordon Earl HUMBKE b. 18OCT1919 Haultain, AB. d. 12DEC2006 in Red Deer, AB. m. 28SEP1942 in ???? to Margaret SCHWENK b. 07JAN1926 Liebling, Romania. d.  ?????2009  in ????                                                         Children: 3 girls & 2 boys.

Norma Mary HUMBKE b. 12OCT1921 Haultain, AB. d. 05JUN2001 Wetaskiwin. m. early 1940’s in Wetaskwin, AB to John TROUT b. 18JAN1916 d. ????????? in ????.  Divorced ???? in ???????

Myrtle Eda HUMBKE b. 10JUN1923 in Zolfo Springs, Hardee County Florida. d. 12JUL2005 in Wetaskiwin, AB. m. 7OCT1948 in Wetaskiwin to Basil G. (Sully) SULLIVAN b. 06SEP1918 in Lucan, Ontario. d. 30APR1989 in Wetaskiwin.                                                                                         Children: 2 girls & 2 boy

Dorothy Hulda HUMBKE b. 04SEP1925 in Owatonna, Minnesota. m. 10SEP1949 in Wetaskiwin, AB to Donald Alfred GALLANT b. 18 NOV1920 in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. d. 18AUG2000 in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Burial Mint Hill, North Carolina.         Children: 3 girls.

1957 Wetaskiwin, AB – Photo of 5 married Humbke daughters with their Mother. L to R Dorothy Gallant, Myrtle Sullivan, Norma Trout, Florence Johnson, Elsie Williams and Hulda (Wickland) Humbke

Richard Ernest HUMBKE b. 06NOV1927 Wetaskiwin, AB. d. 21AUG2002 in Abbotsford, BC. m. ????????? in ???? to Iona M. AVERY b. ????????? in       ????. d. ????????? in ?????                                                                           Children: 2 boys & 1 girl                                                                           Divorced ???? 2nd m. ????????? in ???? to Katherine Mary KOOP b. 27NOV1938 in ????, AB.                                                                         Children: 3 girls & 1 boy.


Dick HUMBKE rented out his 160 acre homestead and moved to Gwynne in 1907 to became a store manager. The families first two additions (Elsie 1907 and Fred 1910) would be born in Gwynne. Starting in 1909, branch stores were opened in Lewisville, Bittern Lake, Wetaskiwin, Millet, Malmo, Daysland, and Calgary. The family was living in Wetaskiwin during the birth of Florence in 1913.

This Advertisement appearing in The Camrose Canadian July 7, 1910, and for several weeks thereafter.                  

                     The Farmers’ Co-operative Store Limited                                                         General Merchants                                                                           Head Office: Wetaskiwin  
                         Branch Stores at Gwynne, Lewisville (five miles                                              south of  post Office) and Bittern Lake

Stores will be started at any point where there is sufficient
shares  taken  up  to  start  a  branch  store.   Price of  each
share is $20.00, limited to ten and $2.00 membership extra
with  first  share.   Every  farmer should take an interest  in
This  co-operation.  It will be to his advantage in every  way.

     D. E. Humbke                                                               Manager

*********************************************                          In Canada, a basket of goods and services$20 CAD in 1914 would be worth $215.83 CAD in 2017  

A 1 oz Canadian Gold Coin worth $20  in 1910 was worth                                     $1,712.27 Canadian $ at 4:30 PM on May 31. 20117                       *********************************************

Business went badly for the stores and in 1913 the Gwynne Store failed with the remaining stock being bought by Gwynne merchants, Albert and Evin LEE.

Having spent 100% of my time and effort from 1980 to 1984 building a business in Saskatchewan to consist of 3 hotels in Regina, Shaunavon and Glen Ewan plus the Balloon Ranch in Del Norte, Colorado; and later another 7 years 1993 to 2000 building a chain of 7 adult Computer Training Centers in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia; and to then walk away in bankruptcy and start over was a roller coaster ride that Dick too must have ridden. The euphoria and depression can be gut wrenching to say the least. We were both dreamers that never gave up.

Haultain Farm 1914 to 1922

Haultain School, Wetaskiwin School Has been replaced by a new community hall, childrens' playground and electicity available campsite.
Original Haultain School, Wetaskiwin School Has been replaced by a new community hall, childrens’ playground and electricity available campsite.

In 1911 Dick had traded his Battle River homestead with Joe GEORGE’s  (his brother-in-law) homestead in the Haultain District. Joe was interested in sheep farming and thought Dicks land was very suitable as well as it being next door to his wife’s mother, Louise HUMBKE.  It is to this land in the Haultain District that the HUMBKE family returned to farm the land from 1914 to 1922. Children Conrad 1915, Henry 1917, Gordon 1919 and Norma 1921 would join the family in Haultain.

Their farm was a mixed farm and like Dick’s brother-in-law, William HARRIS, include the raising of foxes for their skins. The HUMBKE family was known  for their threshing crew.

Florida, Minnesota and North Dakota, USA 1922 to 1927

1924 Dick and Hulda Humbke's home in Zolof Springs, Wauchola, Florida
1924 Dick and Hulda Humbke’s home in Zolof Springs, Wauchola, Florida

1922 saw Dick and Hulda move again – this time they moved with their 7 children all the way to Zolofo Springs, Florida where they would build a home by 1924 and Dick would find a way to support the family.

Myrtle (Humbke) Johnson painting of Humbke home
Myrtle (Humbke) Johnson painting of Humbke home


Myrtle would join the family in Zolofo Springs (1923) as the first of two children that would be born in the USA.

The family now (1925?) numbering 10, moved to Owatonna, Minnesota where Dorothy would become Dick and Hulda’s 9th child (Sept. 1925).

It would appear that they might be on their way back to Canada as from Minnesota they made their way to North Dakota where it is thought HUMBKE relatives were residing.

One gets the impression that Dick was looking for a good opportunity, but failing to find one in America he returned to the Haultain Farm SouthWest of Wetaskiwin.

Return to Haultain Farm 1927 to 1949

June 2017 Looking West up the pathway to the Dick & Hulda Humbke farm at Haultain, Wetaskiwin, AB
June 2017 Looking West up pathway to the Dick & Hulda Humbke farm at Haultain, Wetaskiwin, AB – Windmill is still there

Haultain, Wetaskiwin farm home to the Humbke family of 12 plus windmill, building and car on a winter day in 1948.
Haultain, Wetaskiwin farm home to the Humbke family of 12 plus windmill, building and car on a winter day in 1948.






Upon returning to the Haultain Farm Richard Ernest was born in Nov., 1927 and the family now consisted of 5 girls and 5 boys. Elsie, the oldest girl, married (1928) in Minnesota and was to spend the rest of her life with John Broads WILLIAMS raising 7 children in Florida.

The HUMBKE children attended Haultain School which was about 1/2 a mile North. The 5 boys worked on the farm and were part of the HUMBKE threshing crew that was a common site at farms in the area. Dorothy, the youngest daughter, remembers her times fondly.

1930’s Haultain Farm – Dick and 5 (?) of his sons and daughters with the HUMBKE Steam and Gas tractors. The tractor appears to be pulling the threshing machine.

Using Pop’s  steam engine and separator.  When the separator was not in use and parked in it’s housing  I would climb up and use the top level for my playhouse –after picking some things  from our garden and in the tool box I would collect a couple or so of baby chicks —until my mother heard the cries of the chicks and said they  needed to be out and fed and watered.
So I didn’t do that anymore–Sooo I set up my playhouse in the ‘bunkhouse’.


Humbke steam threshing outfit in the 1930's and 40's consisting of machine, horse and man power. It took 6 plus teams of horses and men to keep a big threshing machine running.
Humbke steam threshing outfit in the 1930’s and 40’s consisting of machine, horse and man power. It took 6 plus teams of horses, hay racks and men to keep a big threshing machine running.

Dick also found time to be a road councillor and weed inspector for the Municipal District of Wetaskiwin and a School Trustee for Haultain School. His interests extended to politics and he was a director of the newly formed Wetaskiwin  Social Credit Constituency in 1935-36. Most farmers were staunch supporters including my parents, Lawrence and Marvalin HUMBKE.

Social Credit is a reform-oriented economic doctrine that for a time was influential in Canada. Social Credit’s principles were formulated by an English engineer, Major C.H. Douglas (1879–1952). He argued that economic hardships resulted from an inefficient capitalist economy that failed to provide people with enough purchasing power for them to enjoy the fruits of a society’s economic production.

Douglas advocated the distribution of money, or social credit, so that people might have enough income to purchase the goods and services readily produced in society.

Douglas’s doctrine had little political impact elsewhere in the world and likely would have remained relatively unknown in Canada, except that in 1932 Alberta evangelist William Aberhart became converted to it. He used his Christian radio program to encourage other Albertans to adopt Social Credit as the means of rescuing the province, and Canada, from the drastic effects of the Great Depression.

In 1935 Aberhart led the new Social Credit Party to victory in Alberta, capturing 56 of 63 provincial Legislature seats with 54 per cent of the popular vote. It became the world’s first Social Credit government. The party, first under Aberhart and then, after his death in 1943, under Ernest C. Manning, won nine successive elections and governed the province until 1971. This remarkable success resulted in part from the replacement of social credit fundamentalism, with conservative financial and social policies that even bankers could applaud. Success was also made possible by the careful use of massive oil revenues that flowed into provincial coffers after 1947.  From the “Canadian Encyclopedia”

Gathering at the Humbke farm possibly celebrating Dick & Hulda's move to Wetaskiwin in 1949.
Gathering at the HUMBKE farm possibly celebrating Dick & Hulda’s move to Wetaskiwin in 1949.

After the harvest in 1936 Dick and his older brother, Ernest Sr., drove to Florida and did not return until May, 1937.

At the Sweetgrass, AB border crossing on October 28, 1936 Dick was identified as being 5 ft. 10 in., ruddy complexion, light brown hair and carrying $100 cash. He reported being a Naturalized Canadian owning 1/2 section of land valued at $8,000 with $4,000 encumbered. His brother Ernest Sr. was 5 ft. 8 in., ruddy complexion, light brown hair and carrying $200 cash. He claimed being a Naturalized Canadian owning 1/2 section of land valued at $8,000 unencumbered.

Their destination was Elsie WILLIAMS of Sulphur Springs, Florida and the purpose given for the trip was a 6 month family visit. On their return from Florida they stopped at Titonka, Iowa in May, 1937 to visit their sister and pay respects to their fathers grave.

Moved to Wetaskiwin 1949

In 1949 Dick and Hulda left the farm and moved to Wetaskiwin where Dick worked for 5 years as a salesman for Alberta Engineering.

Florida House built in 1950's
Florida House built in Zolof Springs, Hardee County, Florida 1950’s

Dick and Hulda’s love for fresh fruit and warmer winters resulted in Dick building a house in Zolof Spring, Florida near their daughter, Elsie, to which they would go each winter. Rather than making the long drive they  would begin to fly in the !950’s.


Dick HUMBKE preparing juice from fresh oranges in Florida.
Dick HUMBKE preparing juice from fresh oranges in Florida.

One of Dick’s interest in life was tinkering in his shop with mechanical devices and he had filed patents for improvements to Thresher – Separators” as early as 1921. In  the 1950’s he invented the “Alteen Bale Carrier”.


"Conveyor-Belt Straw Lifter" invention by Dick Humbke - Wetaskiwin Times Nov 12, 1958
“Conveyor-Belt Straw Lifter” one of Dick HUMBKE’s inventions – Wetaskiwin Times Nov 12, 1958

R. Humbkes Mark 60th Anniversary – Wetaskiwin Times, Wednesday, May 3rd, 1967
I was unable to include the Wetaskiwin Times Photo but it was excellent If you'd like to see it email me & I'll send you the PDF file.

One of Wetaskiwin’s pioneer businessman and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Dick Humbke celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary April 24th. The Humbkes received congratulatory messages from the Queen and Prime Minster Pearson, also scrolls from Premier Manning and Lt. Governor Dr. J. W. Grant MacEwan.

A bouquet of roses from daughter Dorothy, a floral arrangement from friends in Haultain and a three tier wedding cake, baked by Edith Humbke and decorated by Arlie Franklin made a lovely setting for the many pictures that were taken. The Orchid corsage and carnation bouttoniers worm for occasion were gifts from daughter Norma. A gift of a washer and dryer from some of their children, grandchildren and friends was greatly appreciated.

Mr. and Mrs. Humbke have 10 children, 45 grandchildren and 47 great-grandchildren. The children are Elsie (Williams) of Florida; Myrtle (Sullivan) and Fred of Wetaskiwin; Florence (Johnson) and Henry of Hautain; Conrad and Richard of B.C.; Gordon and Dorthy (Gallant) of North Carolina and Norma of Boston, Mass.

Two grandchildren, Shirley Pauley and her three children from California, and David Williams, his wife and son from Wyoming were here to attend the celebration.

Mrs. Humbke came to Wetaskiwin with her parents, Mr and Mrs. Andrew Wickland in 1894. She attended school in the Crooked Lake District.

Mr. Humbke came here in 1901. He was the founder of the first co-op store, known as the Farmers’ Store at that time.

They were married in 1907 at Wetaskiwin by Rev. Bredlow. Mrs. Ernest Harriss, sister of the groom was bridesmaid and a good friend, Alfred Jevne attended the groom.

The Humbkes farmed in Haultain district for many years and retired to Wetaskiwin in 1949. They spent many winters in Florida at first, but are not able to travel any longer, so now spend their time watching TV, listening to the radio and enjoying visits with their many friends and relatives.

Dorothy (HUMBKE) GALLANT's Copy of "The Starry Night" A Painting by Vincent van Gogh, June 1889
Dorothy (HUMBKE) GALLANT’s Copy of “The Starry Night” A
Painting by Vincent van Gogh, June 1889

Dick’s Will 1968

Dietrich Ernest Humbke's 1950 WILL (p. 2 of 2)
Dietrich Ernest Humbke’s two page WILL (2 of 2) written in 1950 as a retired farmer living in Wetaskiwin, Alberta.

Dick Humbke's two page WILL (1 of 2) written in 1950 as a retired farmer living in Wetaskiwin, Alberta.
Dietrich Ernest Humbke’s two page WILL (1 of 2) written in 1950 as a retired farmer living in Wetaskiwin, Alberta.

Dick’s two page WILL and six page PROBATE are the shortest, cleanest and, to me, the best wills I have read. His love for his wife was strong and he made sure she was well cared for in her retirement. A  common practise of this generation was to disperse land and equipment before the writing of a will.

1968 Probate of Dietrich Ernest Humbke's WILL of 1950. (p. 1 of 6)
1968 Probate of Dietrich Ernest Humbke’s WILL of 1950. (p. 1 of 6)

1968 Probate of Dietrich Ernest Humbke's WILL of 1950. (p. 2 of 6)
1968 Probate of Dietrich Ernest Humbke’s WILL of 1950. (p. 2 of 6)

1968 Probate of Dietrich Ernest Humbke's WILL of 1950. (p. 4 of 6)
1968 Probate of Dietrich Ernest Humbke’s WILL of 1950. (p. 4 of 6)




1968 Probate of Dietrich Ernest Humbke's WILL of 1950. (p. 3 of 6)
1968 Probate of Dietrich Ernest Humbke’s WILL of 1950. (p. 3 of 6)

1968 Probate of Dietrich Ernest Humbke's WILL of 1950. (p. 5 of 6)
1968 Probate of Dietrich Ernest Humbke’s WILL of 1950. (p. 5 of 6)

1968 Probate of Dietrich Ernest Humbke's WILL of 1950. (p. 6 of 6)
1968 Probate of Dietrich Ernest Humbke’s WILL of 1950. (p. 6 of 6)


1968 Schedule A of Dietrich Ernest Humbke's WILL of 1950.
1968 Schedule A of Dietrich Ernest Humbke’s WILL of 1950.

Dick’s and Hulda’s Obituaries

Dick was to pass away from Lung Cancer in 1968. Mary lived with Myrtle (HUMBKE) SULLIVAN and spent her last few years in a nursing home until her passing in 1977.

Dietrich (Dick) HUMBKE obituary

Dietrich (Dick) Frederick Ernest HUMBKE 1947

Wednesday, Jan. 17, 1968

Long-time Distric Man Passes Here

Funeral services for the late Deitrich (Dick) Humbke of Wetaskiwin were held were held from Baker Chapel Sunday, January 6. Mr Humbke passe away January 1, 1968 in the Wetaskiwin – Leduc Auxiliary Hospital here after a long illness. He would have marked his 86th birthday in February.

Mr. Humbke was born in Germany and came to Canada in 1901 after spending one year in Iowa. Until his retirement in 1949 he operated a farm in the district. Since then the Humbkes made their home in the city.

He was a life long member of the Lutheran Church.

Besides his wife, Hulda, Hulda, Mr.  Humbke is survived by five sons. Fred of Wetaskiwin, Conrad of Vancouver, Henry of Wetaskiwin, Gordon of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Richard of Aldergrove, B.C. Also five daughters: Mrs. H. Johnson of Wetaskiwin; Mrs. Norma Trout of Boston, Mass.; Mrs Basi (Myrtle) Sullivan of Wetaskiwin; and Mrs. Dorothy Gallant of Charlotte, North Carolina. A sister Mrs. E. Harris of Wetaskiwin ; forty five grand children and forty nine great grand children also survive.

Funeral services were conducted by Rev. James Voigt and Mrs. Pahal as soloist,

Pallbearers  were Mr. Humbke’s grandsons: Keith and Morley Johnson; Stan and Leonard Humbke; Larry Sullivan and Brian Humbke. Internment Internment followed in the Wetaskiwin Cemetery.

Baker Funeral Chapel was in charge of funeral arrangements.


  1. Mr. HUMBKE came to the USA in 1883 and immigrated to Canada in 1901.
  2. Mrs/ John Brodaus WILLIAMS of Florida was Mr. HUMBKE’s oldest and 5th surviving daughter.
  3. Pallbearer  Larry SULLIVAN is also known as Lawrence SULLIVAN.

The more I investigated Dick’s life, the more I felt we had the same blood running in our veins . We were entrepreneurs who failed, but never gave up, always learning new skills and experiencing life to the fullest.

Painting of A Winter Night at the HUMBKE farm - Haultain District, Wetaskiwin County by Dorothy (HUMBKE) GALLANT
Painting of A Winter Night at the HUMBKE farm – Haultain District, Wetaskiwin County by Dorothy (HUMBKE) GALLANT

I must say that one big difference, that I envy Dick for, was his ability to create such a wonderful, big, cohesive family through all his moves and ventures. I do have 3 wonderful daughters and 5 grandchildren; have known 5 marriages plus many  wonderful step-children and relationships; and continue to learn new skills while exploring and enjoying life to the fullest.

Researching family member and establishing emotional ties with long gone ancestors has been very rewarding for me.

Hulda Elizabeth (WICKLAND) HUMBKE obituary

Obituary for Hulda Elizabeth (WICKLAND) HUMBKE 1977. At that time women often had calling cards. The one on the left was for her mother, Kristina, and the one on the right was for Hulda.










I can send you a copy of this obituary by email which you can download and easily enlarge with 'Windows Photo Viewer'. The resulting copy is easily read. Just email me a request at rogerhumbke@hotmail.com.

Wetaskiwin Gravestone for Dick & Hulda (WICKLAND) HUMBKE and daughter Norma (TROUT) HUMBKE

Hulda Elizabeth (WICKLAND) HUMBKE 1947








Humbke-Conradi-Callies-GEORGE-Fontaine-Harris #11 FEB2017

BR Bill, Ben, Loyd, Jim, Earl, Fred       FR Louise, Joe, Mary, Agnes

The family of Joseph ‘Joe’ Henry George b. 18JUL1880; d. 08Jan1960 and Marie ‘Mary’  Louise George (Humbke) b. 01Apr1879; m. 08JUN1903; d. 15JUN1957 consisted of 10 children:

Earl Henry George – 29FEB1904 to  02JAN2000

Elvin George – 23AUG1906 to 16APR1907

Benjamin Dietrich Ernst George – 27JUL1907 to 07MAR1998

Agnes Louise Mary George – 22FEB1910 to 06JUL1986

Frederick Conrad George – 09MAY1912 to 13AUG2000

William Joseph George – 21AUG1913 to 28JUL2003

James Christian George – 28JUL1916 to 08MAR2006

Joseph George – 11SEP1919 to 11SEP1919

Louise Emma Marie George – 11SEP1919 to 15FEB2007

Lloyd Charles George – 27JAN1921 to 20AUG2007


Born in the County of Leeds, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, July 18, 1880 – the third eldest in a family of six children (4 sons and 2 daughters) to John Hutchinson George and his wife, the former Mary Franklin – she being  a daughter of Nathaniel and Jane Franklin of the same County. 

Kinnears Mills, Quebec

Joe George, as he came to be known, lived only his first ten years with his own family – until shortly after his mother’s death. She had died while giving birth to his youngest sister, Mary Jane – the sister also later died at the age of only three months. Joseph then went to live with his maternal Grandparents, the Franklins, who likewise lived closeby the Village of Kinears Mills, Quebec. Other member so his family also left to live with various relatives at this time, since his widowed father was unable to care for all five of his remaining children – then between the ages of 3 and 14 years.

This unfortunate series of events very nearly cost this young lad the loss of all contact with his immediate family for, but a short time later, in 1893, he was moved away from these familiar surroundings in the pleasant, rolling wooded hills south of the great St. Lawrence River (and about 70 miles directly south of Quebec City), to the wide-open-spaces of the untamed West. 

Travelling with his Grandparents, who had agreed to care for him and see to his bringing-up, they were accompanied by his uncle, their second youngest son,,  James – who was, by this time, thirty five years of age. This foursome travelled first by train as far as the growing Red River settlement off Winnipeg – which had only received its charter as a city twenty years earlier, three years had passed since the execution here of Louis Riel late in 1885.

It took 3 months to go by horse and wagon from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Wetaskiwin, North West Territories in 1893

They travelled a further 1,000 miles by horse and wagon, over narrow, meandering trails that stretched out ahead of them from one horizon to the next, finally reaching their destination in the more hospitable and protective countryside of what is now Alberta. (At that time, however, this area was still a part of Canada’s North West Territories, for Alberta and Saskatchewan did not become Provinces until the year 1905). From there

They made their way to an area near the widening Battle River where they would make their new home. This found them some fourteen miles to the east of the Town of Wetaskiwin, in the District then known a Louisville (the name later being changed to become the District of Haultain). Joe George was now barely thirteen years old, in the wilds of an unfamiliar land, and separated from all his former friends and relatives. After working a few acres of land on the homestead which they found to be partially clear of trees and brush, they seeded some wheat and oats as their first crops; this would provide the flour for their own need, and see their few animals through the coming winter. Joe made several one trips over the fifty miles to Edmonton in order to have their what ground into flour. 

We think nothing of a trip of that distance today, butt in Joe’s time this was a considerably trying and hazardous venture. The journey to Edmonton and back would take him at least three or four days with his wagon-load of grain. The team of horses he drove were not quite as tame as they might have been either and with coyotes, wolves, bears and even cougars frequenting the area. Joe told of having to sleep beside the wagon with a rope tied to the horses, and held in his hands, in case the horses became frightened and bolted off during the night. 

Bittern Lake Mill – Grinding & Cleaning Grain

It was several years later before this lengthy journey was finally reduced to one of less than a quarter this distance, after an English milling family settled near Bittern Lake and there set up a grinding mill. They had brought their huge, round mill-stones with them and before long had a thriving business, and gratitude of all who lived in the area. 

In those days, life in the West, or anywhere away from the larger urban centres for that matter, was not only difficult – as those of us in these later generations have so often been told, – but it could also even be very harsh. It is said that Nathaniel, Joe’s Grandfather, had been “a good natured old Englishman”, (his father incidentally, in the early 1800’s had worked at gardening for the uncle of the famous Charles Dickens*), and surely this love of life and ability to overcome hardship must have influenced Young Joseph in his later years. Nathaniel, at various times, earned his and his family’s living by butchering and peddling meat, peddling clothing and carry the mail. Joe sometimes accompanied him on these rounds when he could be spared from the farm. 

Since Jim Franklin had already gained his own farm and  the Franklins had promised to raise young Joseph and provide for him, Nathaniel willed that Joe should inherit the homestead. These were now very trying and lonely times for Joe. He left the farm for a time and worked in and around Wetaskiwin, trying to determine his strength and find a sense of purpose. 

Enough of the land had soon been cleared to support them and before long, Jim Franklin had married and moved to a nearby farm of his own.

When the crops were in and Joe wasn’t urgently need on the farm he would go into Wetaskiwin and hire himself our for a few weeks at a time driving a dray-wagon and busy himself hauling freight. This area of the country was now beginning to open up at a rapidly increasing rate and every available man was needed to accomplish it. He soon became known as a strong, hardy young man who was very adept at breaking wild horses (these were often herded up from Montana country) to be trained and used for saddle and work horses throughout the district. 

But things never seemed to go well for long, for within two years of their leaving Quebec, his Grandmother (nee Jane Cook), died of dropsey, – two days after Christmas, 1895. And barely two years after that, his Grandfather, Nathaniel, also died – in the spring of 1897 at the age of 77. Joseph was now left on his own, no yet having reached his 17th birthday. 

NOTES:  Nathaniel Franklin and Jane Cook were married September 30th, 1842 at Inverness in the County of Megantic, Province of Quebec by the Reverend Mr. Ingls.

Recollections of an incident have been passed down relating to an occasion when Nathaniel Franklin’s father was apprehended by the local Gamekeeper for snaring two rabbits. This necessitated obtaining bail money from Charles Dickens’ uncle, his employer, who paid the fine.

Jane Cook, Nathaniel’s wife, had had no easy life either. She had been orphaned at an early age and was first put in a Catholic Orphanage. Later, her older brothers and sisters, being concerned  for her well-being had her place instead in a Protestant Institution. She nevertheless maintained that she “had a wonderful bringing-up”.

He had seldom heard any word from his father and the others left behind in Quebec. He even showed some resentment towards them for their allowing him to be taken away and separated by such a great distance from the other members of his family. At first, he had intended that he would someday go back to rejoin them ‘back East’, but now he determined otherwise, deciding instead that he would make his name and become a man out in this new frontier – where a fellow with ambition and strength had room to grow – to expand, and acquire as much land as he wanted and could handle, and perhaps even become rich in the process. He knew he had the courage and determination needed to tame his share of it; he would stay with the West and the promise it held. As it turned out, he would not return to his birthplace until some 60 years later, in the summer of 1958.

Thus, Joe set about making a new life for himself. He returned to the farm he had inherited and there, with the help of a few neighbors, they built a fine new home, – set a bit further back from the edge of his land than the first house had been, overlooking the brow of a low hill near a clump of sturdy trees and brush for protection from the cold, North winter winds. It was just a small house at first, and it had a good deep cellar. Later, after he married, he could build other rooms onto it to make it a good and sturdy home. In fact, the original section of this house is still standing at the time of this writing, and although it is deserted and open to the elements, it can be seen that it was built very well indeed to last these many years. 

The young lady he was soon to marry would prove herself an equally strong and resourceful partner for her future husband. Joe had been batching on this thriving farm of his for about two years when, one hot summer afternoon as a great, boiling thunderstorm could be seen approaching from the West, two young sisters came by on their way home from visiting some friends who  lived a few miles past Joe’s farm. They had hoped to reach home before the storm stuck, but the fury of the storm was so great that they barely had time to cover a couple of miles before it was upon them. Although they were a first reluctant to accept the hospitality of this handsome young bachelor, Joe finally convinced them that unless they  quickly got themselves into his house they would soon be drenches. So it was that Joseph met his future wife, Maria Humbke, and her sister, Alvina. 


Marriage Certificate for 23 year old Joseph George and 24 year old Mary Humbke, Witnesses were Heinrich Layernaum and Alvina Humbke. Place of marriage is Louise Humbke’s home (mother of the bride).



After a brief courtship, Joseph and Mary (as she was more frequently called) were married on the 8th of June, 1903. Together, they added another room to the 2-room house Joe had built, – it was already complete with a cozy upstairs for their bedroom, but they had pans for a pioneer-sized family, and the sooner they started making preparations the better. 




Their first child, a son, was due to arrive the following March, and without discrediting even his present day reputation of being a “stickler for accuracy”, and still less his slight tendency towards impatience, Earl Henry George 

would undoubtedly, and with unerring timing, have arrived on the very first day of the prescribed month. However, no one had advised him that it had been decreed back in the day of Julius Caesar the the year 1904 would have one extra day, and so it was that baby Earl arrived on the 29th day of February – a LEAP YEAR lad! This was a good omen – their very first child, and already they had a celebrity in the family!

During the next six years that they would spend on this farm raising their cattle and sheep, and beginnings of their family, Mary and Joe would be blessed with first two more sons and then a daughter. As fate would have it, however, their second son, Elvin, would not survive his first harsh, prairie winter and died after contracting measles compounded with pneumonia, – after only a brief eight months of life. Their next son, Benjamin, followed soon afterwards, and his arrival helped to relieve the of their grief. 

Next to arrive was Agnes, the first of only two daughters. Soon after passing her first birthday, and young Earl’s completion of Grade One at the nearby Haultain School, a somewhat extraordinary change in the normal flow of events was to come about. 

After some preliminary exchanges, it was found that Mary’s younger brother, Dick Humbke, was very much attracted to Joe’s quarter-section of land and its prospects for productive grain farming. Joe, on the other hand, felt that Dick’s land, some six mile to  North and East along the broad, open valley of the Battle River, would be ideally suited to sheep ranching, which he hoped to make his speciality. And so, in the summer of 1910, without further discussion, the two families decided to swap farms even-up, – homes, fences, corrals and outbuilding included! This would also allow Mary to be in closer contact with her mother and her younger sisters who lived on the farm adjoining her brother Dick’s quarter section. 

At the same time, Joe managed to buy another half-section of land – the East 1/2 of section 11 – perhaps after giving some thought to the possible folly of living too closely to one’s in-laws! They then had the-house-that Dick-built moved to this newly acquired land 1 1/2 miles to the Southwest. This location later came to be more commonly thought of as “The George home-place”, for it was here that the other six member of their family of ten children were to be born, raised and grow to maturity.

In the ensuing years as their family grew and the children gained their Primary education at the Verdun District School, one mile to the South, more and more of their land was cleared for farming. This was accomplished initially by use of oxen. The powerful strength of 5 of these huge beasts along with their owner, Gus Syes, were hired to  pull the stumps and roots left from the first clearing, and then to draw the heavy breaking-plow which would turn up the rich, black to soil for the very first time. 

As the older sons finished their schooling, other adjoining tracts of land were acquired, and process begun anew. Some of the land was bought outright, other portions, under restricted ownership agreements, were merely leased – either from the CPR, Hudson’s Bay Co. or in some cases (on what is referred to as School-land) from the local Municipality. Eventually, there would be up to ten quarter-sections of land owned &/or leased by either Joe George or his sons. Earl, the eldest of the children, was first to leave the home-place and make a home of his own on one of the nearby parcels of land following his marriage in 1927. The others followed soon after.

Georges’ Band plays at Verdun in 1973 – the school all the children attended

By this time also, realizing they had spawned a proliferous (and still growing) group of musicians, and being in need of some respite from the din of their enthusiasm, the bungalow, a small one-room house had been built about 30 yards away, over the spot where they had previously located their root-cellar. (I have often wondered whether it had been built far enough away, – can you imagine seven members of one family, and probably a few of their friends and relatives as well, all practicing their instruments at the same time in a 12′ X 12′ room? Included would be a piano, organ, set of drums, two violins, banjo & saxophone – one or more of these alternated with odd trumpet, trombone, clarinet or guitar, etc. etc.)

Soon afterward, another half-section of land was bought, this time on the Northern side of the river, nearer to Bittern Lake Village, and in 1932 Mary and Joseph moved to this new location where a large modern home had been built for them and the younger members of their family. By 1937, five more of their children had married and were settled on farms of their own, leaving only the youngest son, Lloyd, living with his parents. Together they had raised a fine prodigious family, and Mary and Joe could take pride in themselves for a life well spent. Not that didn’t each have a good many more years still ahead of them, but now at long last they could enjoy the fruits of their labors, so to speak, and begin to take a well-earned rest. 











Joe George and his untiring bride were still the focal point of the entire family group until their deaths, – as those of us who recall the frequent regular get-togethers out a Grandma and Grandpa’s will always remember, – whether it was for their annual anniversary or that of one of their children, or Christmas, New Year’s. or whatever. 

Joseph ‘Joe’ and Mary (Humbke) George 1950

June the 8th, 1953 saw their GOLDEN 50th Anniversary, but for this occasion, knowing their fine home would be no match for the anticipated crowds of well-wishers, the spacious Gwynne Curling Arena was retained. And luckily so, for before long even this great building was filled to near capacity with friends and relatives, some of whom had come nearly half-way across the country to pay their respect to them on this great day. It was truly a fitting celebration for such a grand couple!

On June 15, 1957 Joseph was predeceased by his wife, Maria, who died one week after their 54th Anniversary. He was by now living in the City of Wetaskiwin at the home of his youngest daughter, Louise, where he would spend his remaining years.

The following year, in August of 1958, after Joe’s son Benjamin had made the trip East, the summer before, to renew the family ties. Joseph accompanied by his daughter, Agnes, went back to the Eastern Townships to visit with his brother Benjamin Franklin George, (his son’s namesake) and his many nieces and nephews and their families, none of whom he had ever seen before. However, he soon  again grew lonely for the West, and after a few weeks they both returned to his beloved Alberta.


Joe & Mary George’s sons (Earl and Ben) also liked to write and the following quotes are taken from articles they wrote for family histories. You will hear more from each of them when I do a blogs on their individual family.

Earl George:  “Our religious bringing up was in the home.  Mother had an organ which she could play very well and on Sundays we would have Church service in the  home with the Missionary doing the preaching and some of the neighbors joining in. My Mother taught me music on the organ at the age of 4 years, an education that has done wonders for me and my family…”

“All of us children were brought into  this world by midwives. Fina Cook was the midwife for us four children who were born in the Haultain District. Fina was Joseph Cook’ sister who lived with them. The Cooks lived a mile Northeast of our place.”

     “Wild duck and goose feathers were saved and made into pillows and feather ticks that were very warm. We certainly needed them in the winter for none of the houses were insulated and in the winter the bed clothes were frozen against the wall and frost around our faces in the morning. Wood was the only heat we had and when the fire went out it was as cold in the house as it was outside. You had no rugs to stand on in the morning while you dressed. Just the cold board floor. The water in the tea kettle on the stove was frozen almost solid. Very few had cellars under their houses because you couldn’t keep vegetables from freezing.”

   “Most of the settlers made root houses. Our root house was about twelve feet square and about seven fee deep with heavy beams across the top, then small brush and a thick layer of hay or straw and then a mound of earth five or six feet high rounded off so it would shed water in the spring. A stairway was built into the pit with steps dug into the soil on a slope filled full of hay to keep the frost out. In there we would store all our vegetable and they would keep till the middle of summer. We had no fridges or deep freezers to keep our butter and milk from spoiling so  we dug a ten feet deep hole and cribbed the walls with poles or boards to keep the walls from caving in. During the winter we would cut ice in square blocks on the lakes and filled the hole almost full and cover the ice with about two feet of either saw-dust or real damp straw. We made a little roof over it to keep the rain out otherwise it would melt the ice, and there we would keep our butter, milk, cream , and eggs. The ice would last till fall, and no cost for refrigeration. 

     “For recreation we would go  to basket socials, pie socials, and have house and card parties. One of my uncles “Dave Fountain”, who was a French Canadian, married my  mother’s sister, Alvina. He was a very good violin player and played at all the parties. In the summer time we got together and played Horse Shoes. My dad wa a very good boxer, and on Sundays all the young boys would come over and practise boxing with dad as instructor, for you  see he had a boxing instruction book by Tommy Burns who

Tommy Burns – only Canadian heavy weight world boxing champion 1906-1908

was World Champion at that time. Such young lads as the  Eikerman, Reimer boys and many more from the Verdun DistrictDistrict would come over and they would have lots of fun.  [Tommy Burns, born 17JUN1881 as Noah Brusso, was the 12th of 13 children in an impoverished German-Canadian family living in Ontario. At 5ft. 7in. and 175 lbs, Tommy was the only Canadian to  become Heavy Weight Boxing Champion of the World. He won the title in 1906 and successfully defended it 11 times in the next 2 years against challengers of all colors and nationalities. He lost in a 1908 fight in Sydney, Australia to Jack Johnson, an American Negro.]


Today when I look back over 70 years of life, I admire the immigrants that built this Province and they should be admired for their courage and hope, by all of us descendants and other who came late to  the Haultain District.

Ben George:     “…Joe had come with very few possessions, but one of his belongings was a black tom cat, blind in one eye. Tommy was a good mouser and rabbit catcher. Joe would make a hole in the haystack and sit there with Tommy and when a rabbit came close enough to catch, Joe would let the cat go. Often the rabbit would be caught and would be rabbit stew the next day.”

     “Because Joe was known for his helpful nature here is a little story to show how his willingness really paid off. One day, when he was just a boy, a Cattle- buyer came to the farm to rest and have a meal. Joe prepared his meal and looked after his horses so well that the grateful cattle-buyer gave Joe a pony all his own. This poney he named Dolly. He and Dolly were inseparable for many years to come. On one occasion Joe rode the many miles to town for medicine, for a neighboring family. It wasn’t only work and errands for Joe and Dolly, for they had their time for fun too. During the long snowy winters, he and the other neighbors would get on their saddle ponies and chase coyotes. Coyotes were plentiful and their skins were valuable. Thus their sport in the winter was turned into profit. Coyote hides were worth about .50 cents each, but it helped to keep them in tea, sugar, flour, salt and yeast cakes”.

” By now Joe and Mary George had accumulated 10 quarters of land. Mary George was known as the family gardener and their root cellar was always well stocked. There was always a box of cucumbers or carrots or a head of cabbage to give to family and friends. She had a green thumb if ever anyone had one. We will never forget her and her yard full of beautiful flowers. Joe and Mary move to Wetaskiwin about 1954.”


Page 2 of Will

Page 1 of Will

According to the will the boys had all been provided for during his life time and all other assets and amount owing him were to be divided by his two surviving daughters.

The Inventory and Valuation Documents were as follows:

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Page 4

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According to Alberta Registrations of Death:

Mary George (Humbke): place of death was the Wetaskiwin Hospital and the condition directly leading to death was a blood clot in the brain caused by hardening and narrowing of the arteries plus congestive heart failure. She had also suffered a fractured thigh bone.

Joseph George: place of death was the St. Mary’s Hospital, Camrose and  the condition directly leading to death was Heart Failure . At the time he was suffering from senile dementia.

Marie “Mary” Louise Lizette GEORGE (Humbke) and Joesph Henry GEORGE are buried in the Wetaskiwin City Cemetery by the water tower.

Many rewarding hours were spent researching the George family in the Alberta Archives, Edmonton Genealogy Society, Wetaskiwin Archives, libraries, museums, cemeteries and online. It has all resulted in a strong feeling that the family is rightly very proud of George and Mary, the family accomplishments, and their strong support for each other.

Individual members of the family came alive for me and I deeply regret not attending funerals when I could of paid my respects and celebrated their life.

I understand that George cousins meet on a regular basis in Wetaskiwin and hope one day to attend one of their meetings.