Humbke-CONRADI-Callies-George-Fontaine-Harris BLOG #6 SEP2016

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PREAMBLE  In acquiring the skills to build this website and write a blog about the Humbke family in North America (1869 to the present) I thought the main benefits would be a personal awareness of my ancestors’ and relatives’ history, as well as developing the skills to eventually create an online business.

I was mistaken!

One of the main benefits is the feeling of a personal connection with my ancestors along with their trials, tribulations and triumphs. They may be long-gone and now in cemeteries across North America, but they have become a real memory and now live in my heart.  

BUT I must tell you that the greatest benefit and joy has been in meeting living relatives across North America and getting to know them as individuals. Through reunions, the internet, post and phone I have found second cousins  that I did not know existed. It is most amazing that a level of trust between total strangers can develop so quickly.

Such has been the case with the Conradi branch of the family, now

Dowsing (Water-Witching)
Dowsing (Water-Witching)

living in Bossier City, Louisiana. We connected through emails and our three SKYPE conversation lasted close to  an hour each. The memories we have shared have enriched both of our lives and now I want to go to Louisiana and meet Bernie and his family in person. I have googled his home and read the family tree/history he has developed, as well as researched dowsing (water witching) – a gift his father used to great benefits throughout his lifetime.

61 years ago Bernie, age 16 and I, age 12, did meet when he visited the Wetaskiwin area with his mom and dad. Our memories of the time are few but they sure are interesting and did spark  engaging conversation. My most vivid memory is that his mother wore a patch over one eye and had made me thinking of pirates. Now I know she had a problem with her retina at that time.

Della & Conrad Conradi with my dad, Lawrence Humbke. About 1955 in the Wetaskiwin area.


Bernie’s father  dowsed for water on many of his relatives’ farms in the Wetaskiwin area and the second water well on my parents’ farm was located  by him. Present day relatives and occupants of Humbke, Callies, George, Fontaine and Harris properties continue to benefit from Conrad’s unique gift.  

Henrich Conrad Conradi & Catherine Sophie Marie Conradi (Humbke) family of Titonka, Iowa.

Both Henrich’s (referred to as Henry C.) and Sophie’s parents were from Windheim County in Prussia.

Sophie was born in the Village of Windheim, Windheim County in Prussia on Oct 17, 1869 and arrive in America at age 14 with her parents Ernst Dietrich Christian and Marie Louise Humbke (Schnepel). The family spent their first year in Buffalo Center, Iowa and then homestead on 160 acres of land South East of White City, South Dakota. Sophie’s family suffered 7 year of little rain before they moved back to the Woden/Titonka area of Iowa were they remained until 1902.

Henrick’s parents were from the village of Nevenknick, Windheim County, Prussia and had settled in Wellsburg, Iowa where Henry C. was born on Sept 3, 1869.

Henry C. (age 22) married Sophie (age 22)  on Sept. 25, 1891 in Wellsburg.  They lived in Wellsburg where they had 3 children before moving to their farm NW of Woden Iowa:

Henrich Conrad Dietrich Conradi Jr.  b. July 8, 1892 Wellsburg d. July 18, 1892 at 20 days

Conrad Ernest Conradi  b. Aug 25, 1893 Wellsburg, Iowa      d. Jan 5, 1975 Corpus Christe, Texas  m. Mar 16, 1929 to Della Ella Arndt    Children: 2 boys (Arthur & Benard)

Louise Charlotte Sophie Conradi                                                                          b. Jan 9, 1896 Wellsburg d. Aug 31, 1970 Titonka   m. Apr 22, 1936 Nashua, Iowa to Clarence William Mechler. His first wife was Frances Mechler who died given birth to a son, Douglas Mechler on June 18, 1933. Douglas would become Louse’s adopted son.

In 1899 Henrich & Sophie Conradi would move to Woden, Iowa

Here they bought land from her older brother, Ernst Humbke Sr. The Conradi farm was one mile East of the German Luthern Church and across the road from Sophie’s parents home in Winnebago County. They would continue to farm this land until 1914 when Henrick Conradi passed away.

From 1914 to her death in 1951, Sophie would spend her life in a house in Titonka, Iowa where she lived in the basement and entertained guest on the main floor.

In 1936, brothers Ernst and Dick Humbke visited family in Florida and on there way back to Alberta, stopped to  visit their sister Sophia in Titonka, Iowa (May, 1937).

L to R Dick and Ernest Sr. Humbke vist sister Sophie in Titonka, Iowa in 1920

Sophie lived off the rent from the two farms she now had (her father’s farm and the one Henrich and her had bought from Ernst Sr.).

Upon Sophie’s death on Nov. 6, 1951 (age 82) the original farm of her parents went to her daughter, Louise and the original Conradi farm went to her son Conrad.

1999 – Roger Humbke at the grave of Henrich and Sophie Conradi (Humbke) at the German Luthern Church – NE of Titonka, NW of Woden and 1 mile West of their farm in Iowa.

I look forward to returning to the Conradi families in the future when I cover in more detail my dad’s and my generations. In the meantime Bernie has offered to share his family tree/history. Please contact me if you are interested.

Blog # 7 will deal with the Carl and Minnie Callies family who were also married in Iowa, but immigrated to Canada in 1902 with their 2 year old son and Great Grandmother Louisa Humbke with her remaining 5 unmarried children.


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Upon the accidental death at age 55 of his father (Dietrich), the eldest son (Ernst Sr.), age 33 and still single, becomes the family patriarch. Given that both his father and grandfather were both married in their early 20’s; 40% of the American farm population was from Germany; and his two younger sisters were already married at age 22, one can only wonder why Ernst Sr. was still a bachelor.

Ernsst Dietrick Sr. & Mary Humbke (Westenfeldt) May 22, 1902 Wetaskiwin
Ernst Dietrick Sr. & Mary Humbke (Westenfeldt)- May 22, 1902 Wetaskiwin

Rumor has it  that he eventually wrote to Widheim, Germany searching for a bride. He connected with Mary Westenfeldt, a girl from his 1880? confirmation class who had been jilted recently and welcomed the idea of leaving Germany – forever. On May 22, 1902 in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Ernst Dietrick Humbke Sr. & Mary Westenfeldt were married at age 35 and 33. At that time the average life expectancy for men was 47 years and women 50 years.

They had a family of 3 girls and 2 boys. Mary stepped on a rust mail and passed away from blood poisoning at age 75. Ernest passed away quietly at home a month before his 80th birthday.

Ernst Sr. was a hard working, stern German farmer who firmly believed in God.

Whether it was due to his upbringing, the hardships he faced in his life time, death of two young sisters or other reasons, many of his actions in the USA and Canada would indicate a strong religious faith.

In America he was:

  • an active church goer in the communities where he resided;
  • was on the German Lutheran Immanuela Church formation committee  of Hancoch  County, Iowa with his father in 1899; and
  • at a meeting when members were arguing  over the cost of land for the church Ernst Sr. stepped forward and donate 3 acres of his NW quarter of Section 6, Township 97, North of Range 26 for a church and cemetery.
Plot of Land given for Church
Plot of Land given for Church
Agreement that Land must be used for a German Lutheran Church or reverts to heirs.
Agreement that Land must be used for a German Lutheran Church or reverts to heirs.






It is interesting to  note that the 3 acres where the church was built is in Hancock County, immediately South of Winnebago County and immediately East of Fairbault County. It meant that if a marriage occurred in the church and the people were from Winnebago County (as the Dietrich Humbke family was) the wedding party would have to cross the road to the North and climb over the fence to perform vows in their respective county. Others from Fairbault County would cross the road and fence to the West and complete their vows in the field.

In Canada this commitment to religion by both Ernst Sr. and his mother Maria Humbke (Westenfeldt) would be even more evident.

Winnebago Grand Tour Class A - Diesel starting at $446,832 US
Winnebago Grand Tour Class A Diesel starting at $446,832 US

If you ever do visit the church and cemetery, be sure to also tour the  largest motorhome manufacturing facility in the world,
Winnebago Industries, Inc., in Forest City, Iowa.    It is well worth the time.

Over the years Ernst Sr. had save money.

On November 18, 1894 Ernst Sr. had bought the West 1/2 (80 acres across the road from his dad’s farm) of the NE Quarter, Section 6, Township 97, North of Range 26 from Lorna Frank (North part) and Angnes Gray (South part). On April 14, 1899 he sold this land to Henrick and Sophia Conradi (Humbke), who lived there until 1914.

On March 15, 1999 he bought the NW Quarter of Section 6, Township 97, North of Range 26 from Thomas and Susie (wife) Gray for the sum of $4,100 cash.


Ten days later on March 25, 1999 he bought the SW Quarter of Section 6, Township 97, North of Range 26 from B.G. & Martha (wife) Clark and Moses & G.C. (wife) Donelson for the sum of $3,937 cash; assumption of one mortgage of $2,000 at 7% annually; and Rail Road tax against the said land for 1998.



On April 12, 1906 these two  quarters were sold to Lyman and Samuel Roger on Grandfathers land in IowaHough. The deed specifying details was not located, but proceeds were probably used by Ernst Sr. to purchase additional 14 miles land West of Wetaskiwin.


For an accurate version of the farm life that the Humbke family lived in the 1890’s go to “HISTORY OF IOWA” written by Dorothy Schwieder, professor of history, Iowa State


Here is an excerpt from the above

The Family Farm

……By the 1870s, farms and small towns blanketed the entire state. Also in that decade, Iowa farmers established definite production patterns, which led to considerable prosperity. During the Civil War, Iowa farmers had raised considerable wheat. After the war, however, prominent Iowa farmers like “Tama Jim” Wilson, later to be national secretary of agriculture for 16 years, urged farmers to diversify their production, raise corn rather than wheat, and convert that corn into pork, beef, and wool whenever possible. For many generations, Iowa farmers have followed Wilson’s advice.

Even though farmers changed their agricultural production, farm work continued to be dictated by the seasons. Wintertime meant butchering, fence mending, ice cutting, and wood chopping. In the spring, farmers prepared and planted their fields. Summertime brought sheep shearing, haying, and threshing. In the fall, farmers picked corn, the most difficult farm task of all.

Farm women’s work also progressed according to the seasons. During the winter, women did their sewing and mending, and helped with butchering. Spring brought the greatest activity. Then women had to hatch and care for chickens, plant gardens, and do spring housekeeping. During the summer, women canned large amounts of vegetables and fruit. Canning often extended into the fall. Foods like apples and potatoes were stored for winter use. Throughout all the seasons, there were many constants in farm women’s routines. Every-day meals had to be prepared, children cared for, and housekeeping done. With gardens to tend and chickens to feed and water, farm women had both indoor and outdoor work. Through their activities however, women produced most of their families’ food supply.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, social activities for farm families were limited. Most families made few trips to town. Some Iowans remember that even in the 1920s, they went to town only on Saturday night. Family members looked to each other for companionship and socializing. Moreover, the country church and the country school were important social centers. Families gathered at neighborhood schools several times each year for Christmas programs, spelling bees, and annual end-of-the-year picnics.

Pioneer families faced additional hardships in their early years in Iowa. Constructing a farmstead was hard work in itself. Families not only had to build their homes, but often they had to construct the furniture used. Newcomers were often lonely for friends and relatives. Pioneers frequently contracted communicable diseases such as scarlet fever. Fever and ague, which consisted of alternating fevers and chills, was a constant complaint. Later generations would learn that fever and ague was a form of malaria, but pioneers thought that it was caused by gas emitted from the newly turned sod. Moreover, pioneers had few ways to relieve even common colds or toothaches.

Ernst Sr. joins a group of Indians East of Edmonton and goes South to the Battle River where he files for 3 homesteads.

Ernst Sr.’s father, Dietrich, had been killed in an accident on July 19, 1899 hauling logs to build a church in Hancoch County, Iowa and on July 17, 1900 Ernst Sr. was in the Dominion Lands Office, Edmonton, Alberta signing “A Claim For A Homestead Entry” and “An Application For A Homestead Entry” for 160 acres directly East of Wetaskiwin, Alberta.


Fourteens days later on July 31, 1900 Ernst Sr. was back at the Dominion Lands Office in Edmonton signing two  “Application(s) For A Homestead Entry By An Agent”. Those two homesteads were for 160 acres each 14 miles directly East of Wetaskiwin, Alberta on the South bank of the Battle River in the names of:



Ernst Humbke – Duhamel, Alberta – age 33 – SE Quarter                                                                                          Section 12, 46 Township, 22 Range

Louisa Humbke (Schnepel) of Woden, Iowa – age 56 – NW Quarter of                                                                      Section 12, 46 Township, 22 Range

Dietrich Humbke – Woden, Iowa – age 18 – NE Quarter of                                                                                        Section 12, 46 Township, 22 Range

You may be wondering about the proper spelling of of the name Ernst Sr.. On most document he himself signs his name as Ernst whereas most government officials in North America spell it as Ernest. On his grave stone his name is spelt Ernest and from now on I will refer to him as Ernest Sr., as the name of his oldest son is also Ernest.




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