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

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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 <>. 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
Wetaskiwin Gravestone for Dick & Hulda (WICKLAND) HUMBKE and daughter Norma (TROUT) HUMBKE
Hulda Elizabeth (WICKLAND) HUMBKE 1947








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HUMBKE-Conradi-Callies-George-Fontaine-Harris #10 JAN2017

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Blog 10, 28 JAN 2017:  Ernst Dietrich Friedrich Humbke Sr. builds a permanent home 14 miles East of Wetaskiwin, North-West Territories, Canada (now Alberta) for his family in the New Berlin/Verdun Community of the Duhamel District.

“Ernest Sr.” was born Ernst Dietrich Friedrich Humbke Sr. on 30 OCT 1867 in  Windheim Village, Germany to Ernst Dietrich Christian Humbke b. 02 AUG 1845 & Sophie Louise Humbke (Schnepal) b. 11 SEP 1843 m. 27 OCT 1867

Ernst Dietrich Humbke Sr. 1937 Trip to Florida (probably in front of an orange tree)

Ernest Sr. was born 30 OCT 1867 (3 days after his parents’ marriage) and baptised on 17 NOV 1867 at Windheim #57, Germany. At the age of 15 he boarded the HH Meier to make the trip alone across the Atlantic. He arrived in New York on May 12, 1883 and made his way to White Lake, South Dakota where he joined his Uncle Chris on his homestead.

The rest of Ernest Sr’s family joined him at Buffalo Center, Iowa where they spent a year before settling on a Homestead in the White Lake District of South Dakota. In 1893 they moved to Woden, Iowa where they resided until 1901. In July of 1899 his father was killed while hauling logs to build a Lutheran Church.

Ernest Sr. journeyed to Edmonton, North-West Territories, Canada in 1900 and filed for 3 homesteads in the names of Louisa (mother), Ernst (himself) and  Dietrich Ernest (younger brother).

In 1901 the family, except for sister Sophie Conradi (Humbke), moved to the North-West Territories of Canada and became homesteaders 14 miles East of Wetaskiwin.

On 01 SEP 1905 the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were created out of the North-West Territories.


Most of their time was spent eking out an existence as homesteaders, but music was to provide an outlet for  social activities, recreation and finding a spouse. In the early 1900’s, the Battle River Cornet Band, consisting of four Humbkes (Dick – Leader, Ernst Sr., Alvina, and Emma), brother in law Carl Callies, Dave and Charlie Widen, Guy Suys and C. R. Wieberg, was formed. The band played at picnics and other social function in the local communities.

Dances in the Barns of local farmers, one room Schools and Community Halls were the most popular social activity.

In years to come, music and bands were to become a major social and business activity for the Humbke, Callies, George, Fontaine and Harris families in Wetaskiwin, Camrose and surrounding communities.


Upon arrival in the North West Territories of Canada, Ernst Sr lived with his mother, brother Dick and 3 sisters. Together they farms all three 160 acre homesteads.

The SE 1/4 of Section 12 Township 45 Range 22 West of the fourth was in his name and it is here that Ernst Sr. & Mary had 3 girls:

Erna Louise Humbke b. in Rosenroll (2 miles West of Bittern Lake) NWT 19JUL1903;

Elsie Sophia Marie Alvina Humbke b. on Homestead, Duhamel District, AB     08APR1905; and

Martha Emma Augusta Humbke b. on Homestead, Duhamel District, AB         11JUN1906.

Lawrence, Ernest , Martha, Elsie and Erna Humbke

In 1907 Ernst Sr. and Mary sold their 306 acres of land in Iowa, USA to Lyman and Samuel C. Hough of Grundy County, Illinois, USA for $12,800 and bought 320 acres (East 1/2 of Section 35 Township 45 Range 22 West of the 4th) across from the New Berlin one room school. It was here that two  boys were born to  complete the family.

Ernest Dietrich Humbke Jr. b. at home across from New Berlin School, Duhamel AB b. 03JUN1908; and

Lawrence Henry Humbke b. at home across from New Berlin School, Duhamel, AB 21MAY1911.

The spelling of Ernst Sr.’s name on documents fluctuated between Ernst and Ernest over the years. In the end he was referred to as Ernst in his will, but Ernest on his gravestone.

His first son, Ernest Jr., was often referred to as Ernie by his peers, but to us nephews and nieces he was always known as our friendly uncle who liked to show his love by twisting his knuckle on the top our head.

Ernst Sr. was an adventurous, risk taking, entrepreneur at heart and in 1913 took his family to Edmonton where he opened a store (confectionary or general)r. Business may have been okay, to begin with, but because of a growing animosity toward citizens of German ancestry the business was a failure and the three girls suffered from discrimination at the “North West Edmonton School” at 6902-128 Ave. Edmonton. The girls attended that school from Jan. 1913 to Mar. 19014 before returning to the New Berlin School (soon to be renamed Verdun School) to finish their elementary education.

The school close in June, 1952 and all students were bused to New Norway School in the Camrose School Division. On October 26, 2000 Verdun School was officially declared a Provincial Historic Site and is presently used  for reunions and other events.

L to R Ernest Jr., Elsie, Mary, Ernest Sr. & Lawrence Humbke
About 1930

In April 1914 the family returned to live on their farm where Ernst Sr and his boys worked hard to survive the inflation period following WW I and the depression of the 1930’s. My father, Lawrence, told that  during the 30’s the tires were taken of the car, oil was put in the cylinders, and the car sat on blocks in a shed – all because there was no money for gas.

On 16FEB1944 Mary passed away from blood poisoning  as a result of stepping on a rusty nail. For the last months of her life she was cared for by her middle daughter, Elsie Hladik (Humbke) and family.

Ernst Sr. passed away peacefully on 26SEP1947 in the family home he had built in 1907.


The New Berlin School’s name was given by Mr. and Mrs. Pehr Pehrson after the name of their previous home in Berlin, New  Hampshire. It was built in 1902 at cost of $700 and opened it door in 1903 and closed in 1952.

Mary Humbke (Mrs Ernst Humbke), age 34,  and her sister in law, age 13, (Emma Humbke) were among the first 12 students. They attended classes from 1903 to 1907 and would be followed by 45 Callies, George, Fountaine and Humbke relatives over the next 50 years.

2001. The number 578 indicates the school was the 578th school build in the North-West Territories. The addition on the right side was a result of a small teacherage, originally build to the East of the School about 1920, being added to the school in 1930. As part of a tree planting ceremony in 2001, a spruce tree was planted by Lawrence Humbke to honor the Ernst Humbke Sr. family.

As of 1907 the Ernst Humbke farm was closest to the school and a source of water, boarding for teachers, janitoring, and starting fires during the winter. The three Humbke girls (Erna, Elsie and Martha) attended there and went on to Camrose Normal School where they were trained as teachers. All three worked in one room schools in rural Alberta. Erna taught at Verdun  1923-1925 and Elsie in 1925-26. Ernest and Lawrence completed grade 8 before working full time on the farm and playing in a dance band with cousins.

In 1918 the Department of Education asked the local School Trustees to change the name, as New Berlin was offensive because of WW I. Verdun was chosen as the new name to honor the 976,000 military casualties suffered by the allies and axis in the 303 day Battle of Verdun, France.

Verdun School was the meeting and social center of the community for all activities – educational, religious, political, social (dances, box socials, films, meetings, anniversaries etc.)

June 5, 2016 Spruce trees that were planted in 2001 by Lawrence & Marvalin Humbke (Vanouck) in honor of their families.

The Verdun School is still used for gatherings. On the first Sunday in June of each year the “Annual Verdun School Strawberry Shortcake, Ice Cream & Tea Reunion” takes place. Other family reunions, picnics and camping activities are a common activity.

Raymond Keinst is the President of the Verdun Historical Committee for 2016-17.


Religion had always been a very important for the Humbke family.

Ernst Sr. and his father were founding members of the German Lutheran Church NE of Titonka Iowa. Ernst Sr. donated 3 acres of land for the church to be built on and his father was killed while hauling one of the first loads of logs to build the church. (see Post #5)

In the 1920’s the Reverend Henry Immanuel John Kuring, a Lutheran Pastor, came to the Camrose District where he held services and instructed religion classes at the Verdun School. He was a very good friend of the Ernst Humbke Sr. family and Louisa Humbke (Ernst’s mother). Reverend Kuring wrote Louisa’s will in long hand – a will in which she gave 1/3 of her assets to the Lutheran Church. He was to later marry her eldest granddaughter, Erna Humbke (age 21) on Aug 19 1924.

In Canada, Ernst Sr. became a member of the Megiddo Mission, a very small, independent group of enthusiastic, dedicated Christians who depend on the Bible for everything they believed and practice. There is one small church in New York City where they publish the “Megiddo Message” – an inspirational religious bi-monthly focused on Bible study and application… Helping you LIVE the Christ-like life in the 21st century was the goal. It contained no advertising.

The Megiddo Church in Rochester, New York was the only Migiddo Church ever built.

Ernst Sr. only saw pictures of the church, but he faithfully read and studied all their publications, and in his will he gave half of his farm (160 acres of land) to the Megiddo Mission. Shortly after Ernst Sr.’s death, Lawrence (,his youngest son and my father) phoned them in New York and offered to buy the land at the  value stated in the will ($3,825). I believe they immediately agreed, because they had no interest in land in Alberta and probably thought that such a loyal follower would be stating the true value of his possessions upon contemplating his end, on earth. Their publications continued to arrive through our weekly rural mailbox, weather permitting, but were seldom read by anyone other than myself. I especially valued the American stamps for my collection. They played a minor part in my religious education, as I was at the same time taking  very thorough, demanding correspondence lessons in the Catholic faith.


Ernst Sr.  was a stoic who accepted his lot in life without complaint. He was a man of strong character, a religious man who saw and fulfilled his duty of making sure his family stayed out of debt and was financially secure. He was more of a deep thinker who spent his time reading and contemplating life.

He was not what would today be considered an ideal grandpa. Ernst Sr. did provide stability and support for his own family, but did not show great physical affection. His grandchildren saw him as a stern, strict grandpa who seldom talked and paid little attention to them.

Erbest Sr, and Mary Humbke 9 Westenf)
Although I believe this is a picture of Ernest Sr. and Mary Humbke, there is a discrepancy in heights and if it is their 25th anniversary (1927) they are age 59 & 69. The “look” on Grandpa’s reflects his character as I percieve it to be. Your opinion is sought!

Ernst Sr. was generous to others in need and often gave help and assistance. His good relationship with local Native Indians started back in 1901 when he spent time with a tribe of 300 Indians in the Fort Saskatchewan area while searching for a homestead. From them he learned of available land South on the Battle River.

In later years local Indians would occasionally come to his home for food if hungry. Granddaughters remember seeing Indians sitting  on the floor, against the wall of his kitchen, eating a plate of food he had given them. This relationship was continued by his sons who would hire Indian families from the Hobbema Reservation to come and pick roots.

As his grandson, I also had an interest in native people and lived on Metis Colonies and Indian Reservation where I was a teacher, coach and Boy Scout/Cub Leader. From 1993 – 1999 I lived common-in-law with a Metis wife, Dorothy Quintal, and helped raise three of her children. Dorothy taught Cree and I started a Metis Dance Group.


Chris Humbke (see blog #2), the uncle of Ernst Sr., was the first Humbke to arrive in North America in April of 1878. Chris was followed by Ernst Sr. in May, 1883. In Aug, 1883, Mary (future wife of Joe George) arrived with her & Ernst Sr’s mother and father, plus two sisters and a brother. Alvina (future wife of Dave Fontaine) & Emma (future wife of Ernest Harris) were two more sisters, both born in White Lake, South Dakota.

L to R Joe George, Ernst Humbke Sr., Chris Humbke, Dave Fontaine and William Harris at the Louise Humbke Homestead – approx. 1925

In the photo above, Chris Humbke was visiting his sister in law, nephews and nieces in the Wetaskiwin area before returning to his home in South Dakota. Joe was wearing a tie so the photo was probably taken on a Sunday after church services. Ernest Sr. appears to be the shortest and Ernest Harris  appears to be the tallest man. One of the four wives was probably taking the photo and the other three would be busy preparing a Sunday dinner.


Last years of Ernst Sr., at the age of 71 years, had the following will written on 14 JAN 1939. In it he leaves


After his wife’s death in 1945, Ernst Sr. would spend his winters with Ernest Jr. and his family. His son, a carpenter, built a cozy cabin for him on his farm which was just 1 mile South of the farm of  Ernst Sr.

Ernest Jr., his wife (Adeline “Toots” Denton) and their 3 daughters (Gerry, Donna and Barbara) took their meals with Ernst Sr.  One of the grandaughters’ main memories of Grandpa is that there were never any bones on his plate after eating fish. White fish from Pigeon Lake was a favourite delicacy, but mothers and children had a great fear of him choking on the bones. It was amazing to them that Grandpa could eat the bones with no problem whatsoever.

Most of Ernst Sr.’s time was spent in his cabin reading, thinking or talking with his son in the evenings.

Denton Ernest Humbke (son of Ernest Jr. and Toots) was born 24SEP1947, just two days before the death of his Grandpa, Ernst Humbke Sr.

In the summer Ernst Sr. would return to his own house where Marvaline (Lawrence’s wife) would prepare his meals and look after him. Their daughter, Rose Marie, would take him his meals which he usually ate alone and Lawrence would visit him in the evenings.

I remember him for the strong smell of his pipe smoke – which to me had a very pleasant aroma. He slept on a cot just inside the front door and didn’t seem to mind if I rode my tricycle in his house.

Once when he had gone to town with my parents, I played scientist and took his battery radio apart. The fear of a beating resulted in me hiding in a hay manger where I fell asleep. After much searching and hollering I was eventually found and yes I did get a spanking from my dad.

My deepest memory of Grandpa Humbke was that of a long black hearse coming up our  laneway to pick up his body for his last ride



Ernest Jr. and Lawrence were the Executors of his Estate.

Ernest Sr. is buried, next to Mary his wife, in the Wetaskiwin City Cemetery at Wetaskiwin, Alberta.

As time goes on I hope to collect more photos and document which I will be adding to these blogs. Any corrections, information, photos or documents would be very much appreciated. You can easily contact me in Edmonton AB at 780-782-6277 or



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HUMBKE-Conradi-Callies-George-Fontaine-Harris Blog#9 DEC2016

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Blog 9, 26 DEC 2016:  Mary Westenfeld becomes wife of Ernest Humbke Sr. 1902 Duhamel, Alberta

“Mary”, born Maria Louise Sophie Lesette Westenfeld, on 22 MAY 1868 at #19 Windheim Village, Germany  to Ernst Friedrich Wilhelm Westenfeld b. 15 APR 1840 & Wilhelmine Sophie Luise Westenfeld (Hothan) b. 06 JUL 1840, m. 28 NOV 1860, was one of ten children.


In 1901 (age 33) Mary was a “Spinster”, bordering on becoming an “Old Maid” living in Bremen, Germany, when a letter arrived at Windheim Village in Germany from one of the village’s sons.

Fifteen year old Ernest Humbke Sr. had left German on his own in 1872, to find his fortune and fame in the new world, but he was getting worried.

Windheim, Prussia (Germany) at the end of the 1800's
Windheim, Prussia (Germany) at the end of the 1800’s

Twenty years had passed, and he was still single at age 34. His two younger sisters were married and although he had started successful homesteads in both South Dakota and Canada, as well as bought a farm in Iowa, Ernest had yet to start his own family. In desperation he wrote home to the village asking if there was anyone from his confirmation group that would come to North America and marry him.

At that time men were often very authoritarian and Ernest Sr. was such a man. Times were hard and he was stern, demanding and made all important decisions. It may have been what was required in a family and to his credit the Humbke family survived and prospered. One story told by family is that upon meeting Mary in New York, Ernest Sr. went into a cafe and ate a meal, while leaving Mary alone on a bench outside.

Mary had her own challenges and rumour has it that the man she was to marry had either jilted her or was having an affair with another women. She had been in the same confirmation class as Ernest Sr, and for her, his letter was the answer to all her problems. She made plans to catch the first ship for America.


All was not bliss on the ocean voyage as Mary was infected by a tapeworm, around the time of her departure, and nearly died during the Atlantic crossing. When she arrived she was gaunt, 40 pounds lighter, and seriously ill. She had sent her future husband a photo and told him she would be wearing a red flower for identification. Lucky thing, as the only thing he could identify was the “flower”.

Ernest had left the North West Territories of Canada on Jan. 2, 1902 and gone by way of Iowa to met  Mary’s ship in New York. He nursed her, mainly by getting her to drink a mixture of buttermilk 3 to 4 times a day, until the tape worm was killed and she had gained enough weight to start the long trip to her new home. They arrived at their homestead 14 miles West of Wetaskiwin around April 14, 1902.


The marriage took place a month later on May 22, 1902 in Duhamel. They must have still been dizzy from the trip because on the Marriage Registration, Ernest has his father as being Frederick Humpke and his mother as Maria Flem. Not to be outdone, Mary had her father as Gustava Westenfeld and mother as Susan Klien. Witnesses were brother Ditrich Humpke, friend George Reimer and Ernest’s sisters Maria and Alwine Humpke.

At times I have wondered if our relatives had the habit of using different names to confuse government record keepers regarding conscription and relationships; translation of German names to an English version; or if it was just poor spelling by the clerks.

There no doubt was a wedding dance and celebration as brothers Dick and Ernst had already started and played in German Oompah bands. Music and dances appeared to be the main form of entertainment in the local community.


Mary was an ambitious bride and her name appears on the New Berlin School Register as the only adult student  1902 – 1907. It was no doubt an opportunity for her to learn English and assist the teacher of 27 students. As they were 2 1/2 miles to school Mary & her 12 year old sister-in-law, Emma Humbke, rode a horse or took a buggy to school.

Most common form of transportation when there was more than 1 or 2 passengers in the first decade of the 1900’s

Their original 224 sq. ft. framed house, valued at $150, was on the  SE quarter of Section 12, Township 46, Range 2,2 West of the 4th and close to her Mother-in-law’s homestead. It would be the home of Ernest Sr. and Mary and see the arrival of 3 daughters between 1903 and 1907.

In 1907 the family would purchase a farm  (NE & SE quarters of Section 35, Township 46, Range 22, West of the 4th) across from the New Berlin School.  The girls were to complete their high school education in Wetaskiwin, but the two boys (Ernie 1908 and Lawrence 1911) finished their schooling at the local school.

Siblings of Ernest Sr & Mary Humbke

Erna Louise Humbke: b. 19 Jul 1903; m. Henry Immanuel John Kuring on                                        19 AUG 1924 in Wetaskiwin.

Elsie Sophia Marie Alvina Humbke: b. 08 APR 1905; m. Daniel J. Hladik on                                                            24 JUL 1935

Martha Emma Augusta Humbke: b. 11 JUN 1906; m. Arnt Kjorlien on 08                                                               SEP 1929 in Green Court, Alberta

Ernest Jr. “Ernie” Dietrich Humbke: b.03 JUN 1908; m. Adeline “Toots”                                                                    Denton on 11 FEB 1932 in Gwynne

Lawrence Henry Humbke: b. 21 MAY 1911; m. Marvalin Catherine Vanouck                                               15 NOV 1937 in Duhamel.

L to R Ernie-69, Erna- 74, Martha-71, Elsie-72 and Lawrence-66 (Humbke Siblings) 1977


The family had moved to Edmonton in 1912 where Ernest Sr. had started a store on 118th Avenue. The older girls attended public school, but due to animosity against Germans at the time and decreasing business at the store the family returned to the farm a few years later.

Erna, the family’s first child was 9 years and in 1916 wrote about her experience while attending school in Edmonton. Her younger sisters, Elsie and Martha also contributed stories to THE GRAIN GROWER’S GUIDE published in Winnipeg and distributed throughout the prairies of Canada.

‘A Very Cruel Thing’ June 14, 1916 was an Article by Kristine Moruzi about Canadian Children & The First World War in which she referred to Erna’s writing as “… of a wartime reality that is remarkable for a girl of her age and experience.”

On Sept 20, 1916 on the subject of why she didn’t like school, Erna tells a sad story of her friendless existence at school where she was bullied by other children and was often the victim of false accusations. A short time after these events she writes;

“We moved to Edmonton but here I fared worse. The girls would                                  not play with me because I was German, altho [sic] I could not                                    help that. They always called me ‘Old Dutchy’. I remember only                                  too well the many times I cried because of this. There were other                               Germans in school, but they were better dressed and therefore                                      better treated.” YCC  20 Sept 1916: p. 24

The reference to her German ancestry, as well as the economic indicators associated with her dress, reflect the discrimination she faced as poor girl of German ancestry in wartime. Upon her return to the farm, it is unclear if she returned to the same school or wen elsewhere, but circumstances were greatly improved since.

 “I like school fine here and have agreed with all my teachers and                                 they have been good to me” YCC  2o Sept 1916: p. 24

The school she returned to was New Berlin, but the name was changed in 1917 to Verdun (after a Canadian Battlefield in WWI) for fear that the school may be burned down.

After finishing grade 8 at Verdun, Erna, Elsie and Martha Humbke would all complete their highs school in Wetaskiwin before going to Camrose Normal School and become teachers in one room schools in rural Alberta.


In talking with Mary’s grandchildren, I heard that she was a short 5′ 2″ very gentle, kind person who people had nothing but compliments for. She often invited her grandchildren to her home for tea and treats as they attended school just across the road. Mary excelled at baking bread and cooking meat for her family.

Mary Humbke (Westenfeld)

Mary had come from what at that time was a modern, cultured city in Germany to the virgin wilderness of the Canadian prairies where she spent the next 42 years building both an exemplary family and community. The isolation of the Prairies are best expressed in the the book and movie of the same name “The Homesman”. I suggest you watch the movie which took place on the American plains just South of the original Humbke homestead in South Dakota and depicts just how difficult it was for women to keep their sanity. In all my research I have not found any indication of mental illness and feel it must be because our families were large and composed of a number of adults and children who supported each other in both work and play.

In 1936-37 her husband went on a 6 month trip with his brother to visit relatives in the States and Mary stayed behind to look after the family. She never complained and rose to all challenges that came her way. Her daughters and sons in turn raise raise responsible, respectable families that were a tribute to the community. Her dream in old age was to move to a small house in the city, but fate would prove different.

On 16 Feb 1944 at the age of 75, Mary Humbke passed away in the Wetaskiwin hospital from blood poisoning as a result of stepping on a rusty nail on their farm. In later life she had become quite forgetful and was living with her daughter, Dan and Elsie Hladik and their children Jackie and Wayne.

“Gone But Not Forgotten” Mary had been a devoted wife and mother on a prairie farm for 41 years. Her sons and daughters were all married and at the time of her passing she had 19 grand children.


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HUMBKE-Conradi-Callies-George-Fontaine-Harris Blog#8 NOV2016

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Preamble: Before beginning this blog I would like to urge you to read an article by Brett & Kate McKay published Nov. 21, 2016 “Memory is Moral: Why Every Man Should Do His Genealogy”

The most meaningful two reasons for finding out about our relatives are expressed in the following two quotes which are taken from the article.

          “Along the chain of your family line, there are folks who faced hardship,                 suffered, and found the strength to continue on. Even if they weren’t perfect           people, they did do one thing well: they stayed alive — long enough to pass           on their genes, long enough to impart the blood that now runs through                   YOUR veins. They gave you the gift of life, and shaped you into who you are             today.”


Preventing the Second Death, or How Memory IRedemptive”

             Every person dies twice.

             The first death comes when their body physically expires.

             The second occurs when their name is spoken for the last time.

             For most people, their second death arrives when the last person they                      knew during their lifetime also passes from the earth. No one remains                      who knew them in the flesh, and their memory is buried along with their                bones.

             For those people whose posterity does their genealogy, however, their                      memory never dies. Their name is read and known by he who first                            compiles a family tree, and by all the individuals who come after and                        keep sacred the record.

             Viewed in this light, genealogy is an act of redemption. Through our                        family history research, we can save our ancestors — even the lowliest                      and most apt to be forgotten — from the second death.

              Memory is moral.”

Louise Humbke’s (Schnepel) Family in Germany

My Great Grandmother (some of you will refer to her as Grandmother; Great GM; Great Great GM; or Great Great Great GM) – the Matriarch of the Humbke Family in the USA and Canada, was Sophie Louise Humbke (Schnepel). This name was verified by Reverand Robert C. Greene while visiting churches in Windheim and Dohren, Germany. Reverend Bob’s wife in a 6th cousin, one removed, of my grandfather Ernest Dietrich Friedrich Humbke Sr. The Reverend lives in Georgetown Texas and as a Master Genealogist has added over a million individuals to his family tree in Nov. 2015.

On documents and during her life in North America Great Grandmother was most often referred to as Louise. On her will, written in 1923, Louise signed with a “X”, possibly because of age as she did sign with a signature on earlier occasions.

Louise was born at #38  Dohren, a small German village a few miles North of Windheim on the (East) side of the Weser River. If you go to Germdohernany a great trip would include the German Emigration Center & German Maritime Museum in Bremerhaven; plus a trip up the river by boat from there  to Windheim or the closest city the boat docks.

Louise was born on 11 Sep 1843 to Johann Fridrich Konrad Schnepel b. 24 May 1807 d. 26 Feb 1875 and Marie Luise Elizabeth Schnepel (Kaelcke) b. 15 Jan 1814. They were married 24 Dec 1833 in Dohren.

Johann’s siblings were a. Marie Sophie Elisabeth m. to Conrad Diedrich Nurge; b. Johann Cord Diedrich m. to Christine Luise Charlotte Berning; c. Johann Diedrich Conrad m. to Marie Christine Wilhelmine Nurge; d. Marie Sophie Wilhelmine m. to Friedrich Conrad Wilhelm Lubkemann; e. Christine Luise m. to Johann Friedrich Christian Schnepel.

Luise’s siblings were a. Caroline Luise; b. Sophie Elisabeth; c. Johann Conrad Diedrich m. to Christine Wilhelmine Dammeier; d. Sophie Luise Wilhelmine m. to Johann Friedrich Konrad Kaiser; e. Marie Caroline Charlotte m. to Heinrich Wilhelm Schopman; f. Johann Friedrich Wilhelm; g. Sophie Charlotte m. to Friedrich Conrad Mertens..

Louise’s siblings were Ernest Friedrich Conrad m. to Catherine Lisette Dorette Busching and Auguste Wilhelmine Luise.

Louise Schnepel marries Ernst Humbke has 7 children in Windheim & moves to USA.

Louise was married on Oct 27, 1867 in Windheim to Ernest “Dietrich” Christian Humbke and 3 days later their son Ernest Dietrich Christian Humbke Sr. was born. During the 1800’s in Germany the birth of illegitimate children was a common occurrence and often meant the child could not inherit property. As a result, children born during the 8 month period after a marriage was a common experience.

After her son Ernest Sr.,  Katherine Sophie Marie  was born on Oct 17, 1869, and then Louise experienced the grief of losing her child-in-coffinnext two children.

Sophie Wilhelmine Louise was born on Aug 30, 1872 and died 2 months and 8 days later on Nov. 4. Another daughter, Sophie Louise followed quickly in Oct 3, 1873 and then Louise Wilhelmine Marie on Jun. 17, 1876, before the second Sophie died on Feb, 1878 at age 4 yrs. and 4 m.

“In the past, the German dead were buried by different rules. Before mortuaries and undertakers, neighbors and friends helped out. The body was washed, dressed and laid out in the parlor. People mourned their dead by wearing black. According to some practices a widow had to wear black 1-5 years (some wore it for the rest of their life). Parents and in-laws were required to wear black for 1 year, so were children. Grandchildren wore black for 6 months. Germans differentiate between “tiefe Trauer” and “stille Trauer” showing by outward signs how the death of a loved one affects them and what importance they thought they must place on the burial ritual. Most people could afford to only bury their dead without elaborate ceremonies and have the death registered in the local church book. Many of these entries consist of one line, giving very scanty information.”

One can only reflect on their names, dates and the joy the two deceased girls must have brought their parents and siblings. The memories of those two girls, plus all other still and premature deaths, should be remembered in family histories. A special church service should be held at all family reunions where the names are called out, of all ancestors who have passed away prematurely.

Dietrich and Louise Humbke arrived in the USA in 1883 and spent a year at Buffalo Centre, Iowa before going to White Lake, South Dakota where they homesteaded and added two more girls (Alvina & Emma) to their family. In 1891 the family bought and moved to a farm North West of Woden, Iowa where they settled until 1901. In 1899 Dietrich was killed in an accident and in early 1900 Ernest Sr (now patriarch)  went to Alberta, Canada were he filed for 3 homesteads. He returned to Iowa where plans were made to move to Wetaskiwin, Alberta in early 1901.

Ernest Humbke sr., Dietrich Humbke & brother-in-law, Carl Callies head for Wetaskiwin to be followed by Louise, 4 daughters & grandson, Herman Callies .

On March 16, 1901 the men left Woden, Iowa with 3 boxcars of machinery and animals to prepare homes on their Alberta homesteads. Two weeks later Louise, Minnie, Mary, Alvina, Emma and 2 yr. old  Herman leave Woden and arrive in Wetaskiwin 4 days later (April 4, 2001) on the first all passenger train running from Calgary to Edmonton.

Arriving Wetaskiwin, Alberta – April 4, 1901
Woden, Iowa
Leaving Woden, Iowa – April 1, 1901

Emma Humbke (Harris) gave the following account of their journey:

“Oh yes, I remember the trip as if it happened yesterday! We came to Calgary on a Thursday and went into the immigration office. We must have got there some time during the night, as it seems to me, because we were in a big hall with a lot of other people. We took the train the next morning from Calgary. There had been only two trains each week from Calgary to Edmonton. There were passenger cars mixed in with freight cars, but we were on the first all passenger train between Calgary and Edmonton. We arrived in Wetaskiwin the afternoon of April 4th, 1901. I was eleven years old at that time.”

Rooms cost 20cents a person and a meal was served in a large bowl at a long wooden table for 20cents.

“We stayed overnight in the Alberta Hotel. There were six of us in total so some of us had to sleep on the floor of the room. The men had arrived earlier in March and were suppose to have a house before we got there, but as the spring was so wet and there were no real roads, the house did not get built. The only roads that I can remember went from one farm to another. It took one day to get to town and then another day to get back to the farm to haul in the lumber. Even with four horses on the wagon they would get stuck most of the time. Although town was only thirteen miles West of the homestead it was a long ways around at that time. We had to go by the Reimer’s bridge which, as far as I can remember, was the only bridge across the river.”

“We hired a dray to take us out to the homestead. As the house was not yet built, we had to stay with the neighbors. The neighbors had a small house with only one room and an attic but we stayed with them for ten days while the men put up a shack and we could get out of the rain.”

Source “New Berlin | Verdun School (1902-2002) 100 Years of Memories”

HOMESTEADING on virgin land 14 miles east of wetaskiwin & preparing for winter

Since the men were hauling lumber from Wetaskiwin, their frame home would have been considered an improvement over the sod home they had in South Dakota or a common log cabin. The first shelter was small, but they would soon have a 16′ by 26′ (416 sq ft) frame house that the 4 adults and two grown children would call home.

A typical Alberta frame homestead house with a door and a window.  Horses were the means of transportation and music, dancing, playing cards and visiting were the main forms of entertainment.

On Sworn statements and Statutory Declarations in 1904, that gave Louise, Ernest Sr. and Diedrich Humbke clear title to their 160 acres each, the value of Louise’s house was $400 (approximately $11,000 in 2015 dollars). They could all live in one home from which they could look after their three connected quarters (160 acres each) of land. In 1902 Ernest Sr. would marry and build his own 320 sq  ft home and in 1903 daughter Mary would marry and move to Joe George’s (her husband) home.

Their first Canadian prairie winter would be on them in 6 months and they needed to grow a garden; prepare a fire guard; dig a well; build shelters for the animals; prepare a wood pile and put up hay for the livestock; and start breaking the land. From 1901 to 1904 Louise listed on her documents that she had constructed a stable, chicken coop, pig pens, smoke/root houses and 1 mile of barb wire fence.

Breaking the Virgin Ground was the hardest work. It seems that a team of four large oxen was best for pulling both plowing the ground and pulling out  the large stumps, but because of availability local horses were more commonly used.

The Homestead Act gave a claimant (160 acres, or 65 hectares) for free, the only cost to the farmer being a $10 administration fee. Any male farmer [Louise was one of the few women granted a homestead] who was at least 21 years of age and agreed to cultivate at least 40 acres (16 ha) of the land and build a permanent dwelling on it (within three years) qualified.

On 14 Sep. 1904 Louise received her Certificate of Naturalization as a British Subject, and is within Canada, entitled to all political and other rights, powers and privileges, and is subject to all obligations to which a natural born British subject is entitled or subject within Canada.


Family dressed up for a special Sunday occassion – fall about 1924. Back L to R 2nd-Ernest Humbke; 3rd Earl George; 5th Ernest Humbke Sr.; 8th LOUISE HUMBKE; Front 2nd boy Lawrence Humbke

Louise stayed on the homestead until around 1923/24 when she divides her 160 acre homestead, giving 80 acres to each daughter – Alvina and Emma. She moves to Gwynne and helps out in her son Dietrich’s general store. Emma also worked at the store. I have no details of who she resided with during her 6 years in Gwynne. Please advise if you have more accurate or detailed information by email to

Appendix of survivors of Louise Humbke (Schnepel).
Louise’s original will was hand written by Henry Kuring, the Luthern Pastor who was to marry her grandaughter Erna Humbke.










Louise health was fading and she may have been in Wetaskiwin a month or a year before she passed away on Nov. 24, 1930 at age 87. She was interned at the Wetaskiwin City Cemetery by the water tower. Her upright tombstone was broken sometime in the 2000’s, but has since been repaired leaving the line 1/3 up from the bottom. One can only wonder about the mental state of individuals who do such acts.

In her will Louise’s assets were valued at $4,189.19 ($57,604 value in 2016 dollar)s. One third $1,396 (2016 $19,197) was given to the Lutheran Church and two thirds $2,793 (2016 $38,407) was divided evenly between her seven children.

The greatest joy I have gotten so far, from pursuing an interest in knowing more about my ancestors, has come from the feeling I now know my great grand mother as a person. Research over a longer period of time; visiting her grave site a number of times; talking with others about her life; finding out who her parents were; and realizing the trials, tribulations and triumphs she experience during her life have all resulted in me being able to say “I Love You Great Grandma Louise. I hold proud memories of you in my heart!”

Sophie ‘Louise’ Humbke (Schnepel)
Louise Humbke’s tombstone at Wetaskiwin City Cemetery
OBITUARY in Weaskiwin Times for Louise Humbke


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Humbke-Conradi-CALLIES-George-Fontaine-Harris BLOG#7 OCT2016

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Charles (Carl) Ludwig Callies, Louise (Mina) Wilhelmine Marie Callies (Humbke) & 2 year old son (Herman) emigrate from Iowa, USA to Wetaskiwin County, Alberta, Canada.

Preamble: Researching a family history continues to amaze me! On Oct. 10, 2016 I chatted twice on the phone with Sandra Pundyk, a great-great-granddaughter of Ernst Dietrick Christian and Marie Louise Humbke (Schnepel), the sister of Ernst Humbke Sr. (my grandfather). Thus Sandra is my 2nd cousin once removed and her mother, Marion Eloise Firth (nee McShane, nee Callies), who lives in White Rock British Columbia,  is my 2nd cousin. What was AMAZING was that Sandra is the first Callies blood relative I have ever talked to in 73 years. What was even MORE AMAZING was the degree of openness and trust present when I met Sandra and her husband in Edmonton. It was truly wonderful to at last establish a connection with the Callies – Humbke bloodline thru conversations with their grandchildren and great grandchildren living in BC and AB.

Minnie is buried in the Wetaskiwin cemetery next to my grandparents and her grandmother. So I have now contacted a new bloodline and already see similarities between myself and ancestors/relatives that, just the day before, I didn’t know as individuals. It is fascinating and makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end! I feel like an explorer of old who has just discovered a new continent. 

Louise “Minnie” Wilhelmine Marie Callies (Humbke)

My history of the Callies family begins with the marriage of my Great Aunt, Louise “Minnie” Wilhelmine Marie Humbke to Charles “Carl” Ludwig Callies on 19 Jan. 1898 in German Valley, Hancock County, Iowa (a few miles West of the Humbke farm of Minnie’s family).

Minnie was the fifth child born on 17 Jun 1876 to Ernst Dietrick Christian Humbke and Marie Louise Humbke (Schnepel) in Windheim Village, Windheim Church District, Westphalia, Prussia. Her older brother (Ernst Sr.) was already in America, her older sister (Catherine Sophie) accompanied her, and her two previous sisters (Sophie Wilhelmine – d. 2months and Sophie Louise – d. 5 years) were buried in Windheim.

Minnie arrived in New York at age 7 aboard the SS. Neckar on 4 Aug 1883. She lived with her family at Buffalo Center, Iowa for a  year; moved to the family homestead near White Lake, South Dakota for the next 7 years; and then returned with her family to a farm near Woden in 1901 where she lived until her marriage to Carl in 1898.

Carl and Minnie had their first son Hermann Dietrich Ferdinand Callies b. 09 Jan 1899 on their farm near German Valley, Kossuth County, Iowa. Hermann was to become very interested in academics and writing. Two  other sons: Frederick b. Nov 1903 and Edward b. Jan 1906 also wrote about their families. One son, Carl, a twin b. 17 Jan 1915 died at 7 months and I could find little written by the 7 daughters. Minnie appears to have only spoken German among the family and I  have yet to find any German correspondence from the females of the family.

Account of Carl and Minnie Callies life as written by their eldest son Herman Callies for the Treasured Memories, Gwynne and District By Gwynne Historical Society Book – 1977 (available at 3 locations in Edmonton and in Wetaskiwin).

**********************************************************“Having heard good news about Western Canada, Carl Callies decided to move. During the winter of 1900-1901 preparation was made by selling the 91 acre farm in Iowa for forty-four dollars per acre. This money provided enough for immigration and for purchasing land.

In March the box car was loaded with two horses, a cow, a crate of chickens, hay and feed for a week, a two-horse corn cultivator, walking plow (in those days called a foo burner) a six foot binder, a high wheeled , narrow tired wagon, wagon box, shoe drill, mower, rake, six-foot disc and tools common to a farmer. When the immigrant cvar was coupled to the train, Carl Callies was enroute from Titonka, Iowa, U.S.A. to Wetaskiwin. It took four days.

Mrs. Minnie Callies and son Herman, rode in the immigrant coach. This coach contained a stove to heat and to cook on, a table, benches to sit on, water in a barrel and cooking utensil, mugs and tin dishes. Bedding was supplied by the immigrants. 

Arriving on March 20, 1901 at Wetaskiwin, the train was pulled into a siding  where they  were welcomed by the pioneers. All nature seemed to be balmy as it was the spring. The snow was all gone and the ground seemed warm and dry, except for the sloughs and creek.

Unloading, application for locations, maps and directions were obtained in Wetaskiwin. They travelled ten miles south-east, fording the Battle River at what was known as the Carpenter crossing, then wen northeast for six or seven mils to open land. 

A Homesteaders Log Home reconstructed at the Camrose Museum
A Homesteaders Log Home reconstructed at the Camrose Museum, Camrose, Alberta

As there were no homesteads available in the area, Carl Callies bought land from the  Canadian Pacific Railway and Hudson Bay companies at three dollars per acre, with a ten percent payment made. Cut lines and iron stakes indicate the boundaries. This land was located on North half section 5, township 46, range 22, W4. A two room shack 12 x 20 feet was built on some high ground near a slough. There were two windows and a door. 

A well of seepage water was dug near the slough. The building of a barn followed. Some twenty acres were broken for feed oats. Hail took a toll, otherwise feed was plentiful. Another fifty acres were broken with the aid of a borrowed horse. The three horses were tethered and the cow stayed close to  the home place.

In 1902 farming was the order of the day. There were some horse powered threshers in the country. They were hand fed, hand bagged and straw carrier designed. In this year Carl Callies and his brother-in-law, Dick Humbke, bought a steam threshing rig.  Threshing was a winter’s job and continued in that year into the next February. It was stack threshing, chiefly oats. Charges for threshing were 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cents per bushel of forty-bour pounds. Such names as Amos Doupe, Ernest Switzer, Tom Cherrington and J. Reimer were  customers on the records of 1902-3.

Display of Threshing at Camrose Museum

Young men were eager to work on the thresher, and wages were seventy-five cents to a dollar a day.
The steamer burned straw for fuel. 

In 1904 a purchase of a half section of land was made, located south of Bittern Lake and bordered the river. In 1907 this land was sold to J. Pelter for twelve work horses and cash at ten dollars per acre. With more horses, greater crop acreage was available. 

In 1908, Mr Callies bought 480 acres of the land owned by the Waterous Machine Company. This was bought for nine dollars per acre. Mr. Callies was now farming about four hundred acres. He had mixed farming, grain, hogs and cattle. In the spring the hog prices hit the bottom. People were killing the young pigs and selling the dry sows for as low as two cents per pound. Mr. Callies now had about three hundred and fifty pigs, but when Gus Suys planned to kill the small pigs, Mr Callies bought ten sows for seventy dollars and got the seventy-three young pigs as a bonus. 

At this time a shortage of pork was realized by the hog trade. Swift Canadian Company needed pork. Mr. Callies loaded twenty-three wagons and hauled them to Bittern Lake from where they were shipped to Edmonton. Te sold 140 heavy weight pigs at 8 1/4 cents per pound live weight which netted near $4,000.00. This paid for the 480 acres of land purchase.

In 1916 Mr Callies purchased another section of land at $7.00 per acres. He now owned seventeen quarters of land. With World War I on, prices went up  and this purchase of land was paid for by 1920….

At time of writing, I (Herman) am the only one farming.”

Submitted by Herman Callies    [appx. 1976]                                                                         *******************************************************My father, Carl L. Callies, moved from Titonka, Iowa, U.S.A in March 1901 to Wetaskiwin, Alberta and settled on the SE1/4-8-46-22-W4. There were no roads in the country just trails. There was no place to live so Mother and Father stayed at John Reidels and Luttermans until Father built a house to live in.

Ernest and Dick Humbke came at the same time and brought three carloads of machinery and horses. Father lost three of his heavy horses from swamp fever the first year….”

Submitted by Frederick Callies  [appx. 1976]                                                         *********************************************************

Carl & Minnie Callies Family Portrait (about 1927) Standing: Amanda, Fred, Edward, Herman Sitting: Bertha, Dorothy Minnie, Carl, Wilhelmina, Alvina, & Esther

Karl Dietrich Callies (in Canada most often referred to as Charles “Carl” Ludwig Callies) was born 27 Jan 1873 in Lankow, Pommern, Prussia to Ferdinand and Paulina Callies (Dalke). At this time in history individuals often changes the spelling of their name and/or birth date, possibly to avoid being conscripted. Changing names from German to English also resulted in different spelling and to make matters more challenging the same names were used by different members of the family over the years.

Louise “Minnie” Wilhelmine Marie Humbke arrived at Ellis Island, New York in 1883 and must have been dressed in the clothes of a boy as the immigration official checked her off as being a male. Descendants describe her as being an outgoing, strong willed, hard working person. She must have been to have survived youth on homesteads in South Dakota and Iowa before moving to the unbroken Prairies of Alberta where she would have 10 children and raise 9 to adulthood from 1901 to the 1940’s.


Children of Carl and Minnie Callies

Hermann Dietrich Ferdinand Callies b. 09 Jan 1899 Woden, Iowa                                                                              d. 22 May 1997 Wetaskiwin – age 98

Alvinia Louise Callies b. 26 Jan 1901 Woden, Iowa                                                                               d. 06 Oct 1997 Wetaskiwin – age 96

Frederick Richard Callies b. 03 Nov 1903 Family Farm, Wetaskiwin County                                           d. 01 Oct 1987 Wetaskiwin – age 83

Edward Otto Callies b. 16 Jun 1906 Family Farm, Wetaskiwin County                                            d. 18 July 1987 New Norway, AB – age 81                                                                                   Buried – Wetaskiwin

Ester Mary Callies b. 20 Dec 1907 Family Farm, Wetaskiwin County                                            d.  ___  1978 Wetaskiwin – age 71

Bertha Margaret Callies b. 09 Sep 1910 Family Farm, Wetaskiwin County                                             d. 11 Jan 1993  Wetaskiwin – age 82

Amanda “Penny” Callies b. 27 Jan 1913 Family Farm, Wetaskiwin County                                               d. Unkown

Carl Callies (twin) b. 17 Jan 1915 Wetaskiwin Hospital                                                                    d.  __  Aug 1915 Wetaskiwin – age 7 months

Wilhelmina “Billie” Callies (twin) b. 17 Jan 1915 Wetaskiwin Hospital                                                             d. ___  1941 Tranquille Hospital, Kamloops                                                       Burial – Kelowna Memorial Park

Dorothy Alverna Callies b. 18 May 1921  Family Farm, Wetaskiwin County                                           d. Unkown

Most of the children were born at the farm home, unless otherwise stated. Dates of birth, death and location of burials will  be added as they become available.

Birth Certificates, Church Records, Immigration Papers, Education Documents, Military Service, Divorces, Land Titles, Death Records and Wills all help to present an accurate picture of what happens in an individual’s life

Will of Carl L Callies

Carl’s lived a very active, energetic life and appears to have been a risk taker like myself. At one time his oldest son, Herman, indicated he had 17 quarters of land, circumstances changed, his health failed and the dirty 30’s arrived. Indications were that he could have had Multiple Sclerosis during his last years and was confined to bed. On March 15, 1932 Carl prepared his last will and 7 1/2 month later on Oct. 30, 1932 he pass away at the age of 59.

After the passage of a certain number of years wills and documents that were once considered private, become public knowledge. If you would like to read the actual document please send me a request. I have placed some of them at  If you want to enlarge the documents so they are easily read, you  can do it on this pinterest site.

We need to realize that everyone has ups and downs given the circumstances that they face and the nature of their health, character and gifts. Hopefully we have empathy for others and learn from our own past as well as the past of others.

According to a two page presentation made by Charles Homer Russell, Barrister-at-law for the Bank of Montreal on April 13, 1937, Carl was indebted to the bank for approximately $7,000 Part of the lawyer’s presentation read:

      “After consulting with me, and with her family, and giving                                              the matter a good deal of consideration, the said Wilhelmina                                          Callies decided that the Estate of the said Carl L. Callies was                                            insolvent, and she  decided that she would not put any                                                      money up for the purpose of having the said will probated,                                              as there would be nothing in the Estate for her, or her family.”

John MacGregor Thom, Public Administrator, for the Judicial District of Wetaskiwin submitted his final report on June 7, 1937 in which nil value was placed on all belongings, Promissory Notes, Land Mortgages and Real Estate and the will was probated by the Provincial Court.

It is my understanding that the funeral expenses of $180 (equivalent of $2,916 in 2016 dollars) was paid  to Moore & Kellner Funeral Home by Herman.

Will of Wilhelmina “Minnie” Callies (Humbke)


Wilhelmina’s died on Sept. 9, 1961 (29 years after her husband) and was buried in the Wetaskiwin cemetery on Sept 12. Dr. Bell stated the immediate cause was a sudden Coronary and that he last saw her alive on Sept. 9, 1961.

Wilhelmina’s will was made on March 11, 1957 and a Codicil was added on Jan. 25,, 1960 which removed Guy Woodyard, leaving daughters Alvina (Alvinia?) Waller and Bertha Callies as executors. Her three youngest living daughters at the time of her passing, received the bulk of her estate which consisted of $4,000 in Canada Saving and Dominion of Canada Bonds. Minne had lived and worked with Bertha, Amanda and Dorothy in their beauty salons in Vancouver and Wetaskiwin during her last years.










How Wilhelmina’s will allocated oil points on lands, originally owned by Carl, has been a matter of contention over the past years.



The more I read about my great Uncle Carl/Aunt Millie, and meet and talk with my Callies relatives the more I admire their accomplishments. It is with the greatest awe, respect and admiration that I have followed the growth of a young married couple and their young son from Iowa to the wilds of the Alberta Prairies East of Wetaskiwin. They experienced the ups and downs of life, accepting the good and bad as it came their way. I just wish I could have been there for some of their barn dances and celebrations!

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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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FAMILY HISTORY BLOG #4 – August 15, 2016

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Titonka, Iowa – a few miles South West of the HUMBKE farm and burial site of the HUMBKE Patriarch in America.

While spending 1884 to 1891 in South Dakota, Dietrich HUMBKE and family:

  • acquired United States of America citizenship on February 26, 1889;
  • added two daughters to their family (Alvina on April 14, 1885 and Emma on  January 29, 1890);
  • sold the South Dakota homestead that they had bought for $14 in administrative fees, for $1,000 on April 12, 1892;
  • suffered through 7 years of very little rain; and
  • saw Dietrich’s brother, Chris, marry Maria DIRKS on Nov, 26, 1889. Maria gave birth to their first American cousin, Louise HUMBKE on April 13, 1890.


The family (now 8) moved by wagon, herding their animals 252 miles directly East to Buffalo Center, Iowa and then another 15 miles South. Their new home was 80 acres of the SW Quarter of Section 32, Township 9, North of Range 26, West of the 5th Meridian in Winnebago County, Iowa.

Original tree that grew next to the HUMBKE home in Iowa.
1999 photo of the original tree that grew next to the HUMBKE home in Titonka/Woden, Iowa.

Site of HUMBKE Farm Home in Iowa in 1999. Today (2016) only continuous fields of corn and other crops remain. It is easy to goggle the Farm’s location; the Lutheran Church and Cemetery; Woden; and Titonka.

My trip in 1999 to South Dakota & Iowa with common-in-law wife Dorothy and Tabitha, Kelly and Cletus (Quintal)

In July of 1999, I finally found the German Lutheran cemetery where my great grandfather Dietrich HUMBKE was buried. I arrived the day after the congregation and community had celebrated the 100th anniversary of the building of the German Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Church.

Roger with Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church - July 1999We were warmly welcomed by the Minister as the first descendants (of the HUMBKE family that had left 98 years ago) to return to visit the church cemetery. A Mrs. Roger (Neoma) BOYKEN and Debra BOYKEN provided me with the following information which describes life as it was experienced by the HUMBKEs from 1892 to 1902 in Iowa.

Roger with Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church – July 1999


“The Iowa territory was abundantly filled with all forms of wild game. By 1892 the buffalo  had

World’s Largest Bullhead – Crystal Lake, Iowa

nearly been exterminated in Iowa, but wild fowl were in supply in marshy areas. The settlers had easy hunting of game and fishing in the  rivers and lakes.”

“The German farmers brought the true spirit of the pioneers with them. They had a knowledge of hard work and the desire for the possession of property and home. They were God fearing, industrious people and their efforts have been blessed with many future successes.”

“Once the German farmer had his sod house in place to shelter his family and some form of shelter for his animals he could begin work on his fields.”

Winnebego County, Iowa - Humbke Homestead
An older shed and a newer barn on the HUMBKE Farm 3 miles NW of Woden, Iowa in July 1999

“In the spring he either broke the sod by hand or used a walking plow pulled by either a team of oxen or stout horses. The virgin soil sometimes had numerous large rocks that had to be remove by hand or with the use of the animals again.”

“When planting time came holes were chopped in the sod with an ax and seeds were dropped in one at a time. Cultivation was done with a hoe by hand or with a one row single shovel walking plows.”

“Harvesting time was again done by hand with the help of the entire family and neighbors. Corn was picked one ear at a time and husked the same way. The wheat and straw were cut with a scythe, then raked and bound by hand into bundles to be later picked up and pitched onto wagons.”

“When wood for fuel was scarce they sometimes twisted hay into small bundles for fuel. Butter was churned and cream was separated for various other uses. Women made the laundry soap and entertained the children with taffy pulls.”

“Cooking was done over open fires until the cookstoves could be installed in the houses.”

Kelly and Cletus QUINTAL exploring the remains of the HUMBKE farm home in Iowa in 1999
Kelly and Cletus QUINTAL exploring the remains of the HUMBKE farm home in Iowa in 1999

“During the winter months the men whittled out wooden pegs for there use as nails for the buildings to be built. Harnesses were made and mended during the winter. The children often attended a one room schoolhouse where they were all taught by one teacher.”

“During the spring, when travel became possible again, the wheels of their lumber wagons often had to be dug out of the mud. The wheels had to be cleaned out each time.”

“Sometimes when the summer’s hot, dry days came, water was hauled from as far away as seven miles”.

The photos were taken in July of 1999. If you  goggle the location  you can clearly see the Church and Cemetery, but there is no longer any trace of where the Humbke family home and  buildings were.


There was much more rain at their new home (to the extent that hoof root of cows was common), but it also resulted in great crops, more prosperous time and some money could be saved..

The marriage of Sophie, the oldest daugher of 21 years, to a good German farm boy, Henrich Conrad Conradi, on Sept. 25, 1891 had resulted in her moving to Wellsburg, Iowa (115 miles SE of Titonka, Iowa).

The whole community, young and old, enjoyed wedding dances.

In 1898 Minnie, the second oldest daughter, marries at age 21 in Woden on Jan. 19, 1998 to 25 year old Titonka German store owner, Charles (Carl) Ludwig Callies.

Musical skills run strong in the Humbke blood line and there were surely robust wedding dances for both girls. There would be the best  of food and beer at a celebration where great  fun was had by all.

As a young man man growing up in the 1950’s in a rural Wetaskiwin the height of enjoyment was attending a Saturday  night dance at a rural dance hall. Every small village had a dance hall. It was where most courting took place and one could hardly wait for the “Supper Waltz”!


The Humbke family members were devoted German Lutherans and regular church goers. They had to travel 5 miles straight West to the closest Lutheran Church in German Valley for their first 8 years in Iowa.

Man on far right with hands crossed is Ernest Sr.; to the left of him is his dad, Dietrich; and next to him is Sophia’s husband, Heinrich Conradi. A picture of the planned church is used as a background.

On January 3o, 1899 twenty one charter members (including Dietrich Humbke, his son Ernst Sr. age 32, and his son-in-law Henrick Conradi age 30) plus 100+ supporters pledged $1,020 to build a local church.


In 1899 just as everything seems to be going well for the Humbke family- (a church was being built, 2 daughters were happily married, and Ernest Sr. has been able to purchase 3 different local farms immediately South and East of the church) – tragedy struck. While hauling logs for the new church 53 year old Dietrich Humbke had a run-a-way with his horses. Dietrich fell off the wagon and died of brain injuries within the next 24 hours (July 19, 1899).

Oct. 4, 1899 Declaration of heirs and land of Dietrick Humbke estate

Dietrich Humbke died with no will and his wife (Louisa) was made the Executor on Oct. 4, 1899. At the time of his death his surviving children were Ernst Sr. 31 yrs, Sophia (Conradi) 29 yrs, Minnie (Callies) 24 yrs, Mary 21 yrs, Diedrich 17 yrs, Alvina 14 yrs & Emma 9 yrs.

Chattel Property of Dietrick Humbke Estate

Chattle Property included 4 horses two of which were called Jerry and Prince; 6 cows of which two were called Sarah and Noudles; 20 pigs; 1 lamb, various equipment & wagons.

One can only assume the Humbke family was  grief stricken at losing their patriarch. Life continued and it was decided that Ernst Sr. would make a trip to Alberta, Canada in the summer of 1900. He would be looking for homesteads where the family could once more start a new life.

Rumor has it that Ernst Sr. joined up with an Indian Band East of Edmonton, Alberta and went South to the Battle River Valley where he found suitable homesteads available.

He returned to Woden and in March of 1901 with his mother, Louise, brother Dietrich, sisters Mary Alvina and Emma, plus  Carl & Minnie Callies with their 2 year old son (Herman) left Woden for Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada.

Henrich and Sophia Conradi had 2 children by this time – Conrad 8 yrs. and Louise 5 yrs. Their first son, Henry, had died at 20 days old.  Henrich and Sophia had their own farm across the road from the Humbke farm and are both buried in the same cemetery as Sophia’s dad, Diedrich Humbke,

The next 2 blogs will be about Ernest Sr.’s  life in Iowa;  and Henrich and Sophia Conradi.

Roger HUMBKE – 2nd Generation German-Canadian

Please point out any spelling mistakes or other errors in order that I may correct them. I have edited the first 3 blogs once again in an attempt to correct grammar and factual mistakes. My biggest challenge is to make the photos as clear  as possible and all documents readable. Please assist me by way of suggestions. Right now I am taking photos of photos and documents and uploading them to this site in digital form. Perhaps I need a better camera!

The general layout on my desk monitor looks not too bad, but I am scared to look at what appears on an iphone. I understand that is very quickly becoming the main way individuals access the internet.  Any suggestions?

Another challenge I need help with is research. My personal knowledge of Carl & Minnie Callies and their descendents is very limited. All I have is a document showing that Ernest Sr. and Carl  jointly signed a $2,000 bond guaranteeing that Louisa would carry out her duties as executor of the estate, before she could leave Iowa.

If you are a Callies please call me at 780-782-6277 or email me at

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FAMILY HISTORY BLOG #3 – July 15, 2016

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Roasted Pheasant in South Dakota
HUMBKE’s Sunday Dinner in South Dakota – Pheasant and Potatoes


Although Germans immigrated to North America for political, religious and conscription reasons, it seems that the availability of land and the opportunity to prosper as farmers were the main reasons. Industrialization was increasing in Europe and the rural way of life was disappearing as people were forced to move to cities.

The HUMBKE brothers Dietrich and Chris left Windheim, Germany for the free farm land available in America and to avoid compulsory Prussian military service for themselves and their sons.

After landing in New York on Aug 4th, 1883 Dietrich, Louise and 4 children had intended to go to White Lake, South Dakota where brother Chris had already settled in  1879. Plans changed and they settled in Buffalo Centre, Iowa for a year. In 1884 they continued on  to White Lake, South Dakota where they homesteaded for the next 7 years.

H.H. Meier
Passengers from Europe to America and Cattle from America to Europe!

Dietrich’s oldests son (15 yr. old Ernest Sr.) had crossed the Atlantic alone (3rd class) on the H.H. Meier, arriving in New York on May 12, 1883.  The H.H. Meier carried 84 1st class, 32 2nd class and 1,000 3rd. class passengers.  A third class ticket cost about $30 (equivalent to about $600 US in 2016) was called “steerage” because before returning to Europe, the facilities for passengers were removed to make room for a cargo of cattle (steers) to be sold in Europe. You can imagine the smell after a 17 day trip!

Sept., 19, 1883 Declaration by Dietrick Humbke in SD to become a USA citizen
Declaration by Dietrich HUMBKE to become a citizen of the USA – Sept. 19, 1883

On September 19, 1883 in Davidson, South Dakota, Dietrick  filed for intention to become a US citizen and, for $10, applied to homestead the SW 1/4 of Section 15, Township 102N, Range 65W (7 m. S. & 5 m. E of White Lake).

Life on the South Dakota homestead was extremely rough. Everything was moved by a pitchfork or scoop and required a tremendous amount of hard physical labor. First a sod home with a fire break was built and land was broken for a garden patch. Luise and the 3 older girls (Sophie,Wilhelmine and Mary) looked after the garden and helped the men.  Dietrich and his teenage son (Ernest Sr.) built their sod home; created a fire break; dug a well by hand; look after the animals; and begin breaking land for the growing corn or wheat.

HUMBKE Homestead, Plankinton, South Dakota

I am not sure how the family felt, but in July of 1999 when I stood on what was left of where they had lived, a total sense of desolation came over me and the realization, that the thought I would have had was, ‘I had made a great mistake bringing my family here‘. It was flat with few, if any, trees and resembled a swamp. After talking with locals I found out its highest value was for hunting pheasants and that rich Eastern American hunters would buy the land for just that purpose for years to come.

Despite this, the HUMBKE family built a sod house on the rocks that still outline where structures once stood, and eked out a living by way of a large garden, corn or wheat crops, some pigs, cows, horses, chickens and of course wild pheasants. ‘The family bent like the willows and grew roots for 6 year’s.

Each homesteader could register to buy 160 acres of land for $10. In return for establishing some kind of home on the land; putting in a few acres of crops; living there for five years; and paying another $4; the land was theirs. I believe they wanted to sell it and move 270 miles East to the Woden/Titonka area of Iowa.

Aug. 11, 1890 Dietrick Humbke paid $4 for 160 acres in South Dakota
Aug 11 , 1890 Dietrich paid an additional $4 and received clear title. Now he can sell it!

In 1891 the County paid him $12 for acre on which to build a school, but there is no evidence that a school was ever built. On Apr. 12, 1892 he sold the other 159 acres of his homestead to Nicholas SCHALTES and Charles WINTERS of Kossuth, Iowa for $1,000.

There is  evidence that the family went to the Buffalo Centre and German Valley areas in Iowa (270 miles straight East of White Lake)  on a number of occasions and socialized with other Germans there. There was an active German Lutheran Church at German Valley, and both the land and climate were much better for growing corn and wheat.

During their 7 years in South Dakota there was very little rain and the closest was 3 miles away. The driving of the cows and horses to water each day was just one of the many tasks necessary to survive.

Activities indicate that Diedrich’s family move from South Dakota back to Iowa at the earliest opportunity in 1891. Chris remained in White City with his wife Marie and their daughter, Louise HUMBKE.

Diedrich and Louise had two more girls who were born at  White Lake – Alvina on April 14, 1885 and Emma on January 29, 1890.

The next blog will cover the family’s life in Iowa until 1902.

Pheasant Hunting in South Dakota
Pheasant Hunting in South Dakota
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FAMILY HISTORY BLOG #2- June 21, 2016

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Conrad Dietrich Christian Dominicus HUMBKE (1857-1938) Windheim, Germany to South Dakota, USA in 1879

In 1879 Conrad Dietrich Christian Dominicus HUMBKE (referred to as Chris throughout this blog) arrived in the USA from Windheim, Germany and settled in the White Lake – Plankinton area of SW South Dakota.

Chris - White Lake SD 1999
White City in 1999 when I (Roger HUMBKE) first visited there. Population was 372 in 2010

Chris was the 6th of seven children in the family of: Ernst Dietrich Christian HUMBKE b. Jan. 31, 1821. d. Nov. 6, 1866 Windheim, Germany m. Mar. 11, 1845 to Sophie Louise WIEBKE b. Jan. 30, 1819 #22 Holge, Germany d. Nov. 6, 1866 #57 Windheim, Germany. I have no confirmation of the cause of death of the mother and father on Nov. 6, 1866 but it could have been suicide.

Children of Ernst Dietrich Christian and Sophie Louise (WIEBKE) HUMBKE:

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. 24NOV1920 Wetaskiwin, Alberta. 9 children (7 girls & 2 boys) 2 girls died in childhood

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.

Immigration to the United States from Germany

From 1820 to 1996 more people of German ancestry immigrated to the United States than from any other country: Germany – 7 million; Mexico – 5.5 m.; Italy – 5.3 m.; Great Britain – 5.1 m.; and Ireland – 5.1 m.

Germans choose the best farmland and in 1890, 40% of the farmland was owned by German Americans.

Cities also had a high number of German immigrants: Milwaukee 70%; Cincinnati 54%; St. Louis 45%; Buffalo 43%; Detroit 41%; Cleveland 38%; Chicago 35%;  and New York 32%.

In 2000 the actual number of German-Americans is approximately 25% of the population of the USA.

In the early 1880's Railroads were just being build into South Dakota and Chris most likely walked, rode a horse or travelled by train & wagon from New York to South Dakota.
In the early 1880’s Railroads were just being build into South Dakota and Chris most likely walked, rode a horse or travelled by train & wagon from New York to South Dakota.

Chris, at age 22, was sent by the Humbke family to America to find cheap farm land where they could settle. He arrived in New York by ship in April, 1879 and went West to Iowa and South Dakota. Ernst Sr., Chris’s nephew and eldest son of brother Dietrich, arrived on May 12, 1883.

Dietrich, his wife and the other 4 children, followed in August, 1883. They probably took an immigrant train from New York to Buffalo Center, Iowa where they stayed one year before settling in South Dakota in 1884

NW Railroad Ad for homesteadersIt appears that from 1879 to 1938 Chris lived on his homestead, farmed land and was a laborer, primarily in the White Lake/Plankinton region of South Dakota. His brother Dietrich and his family joined  him there from 1884 to 1891 when they moved to the Tionka/Woden region of Iowa. There were many other German settlers in that area of Iowa and a strong German Lutheran Church had been established.

Chris HUMBKE arrived in New York, April, 1879 and became an American Citizen on Oct. 7, 1884

Chris's 160 acre homestead SE of White City as seen in 1999 as seen by his brother's great grandson, Roger Humbke
Chris’s 160 acre homestead 4m. S & 6m. E of White Lake or 3m. S & 6m. W of Plankiton, South Dakota as seen in 1999 by his brother’s great grandson, Roger HUMBKE

Not much in known about the activities of Chris other than he lost his homestead for non-payment of taxes; married a German girl, Maria DIRKS, on Nov. 26, 1889; and had a daughter, Louise HUMBKE, on April 13, 1990.

Chris - Wedding Certificate

Marriage License of Christian HUMBKE and Mary DIRKS dated 12 noon, Nov. 26,1889, White Lake, South Dakota in the presence of witnesses his nephew, Ernst HUMBKE Sr. and niece, Sophie HUMBKE.

Upon receiving a homestead the first three tasks were to build a home of mud mixed with grass, that had a window and door; dig an earth fire guard around the house to prevent destruction of the home from a prairie fire; and prepare & plant a garden for food. Then the land was broken for seeding corn or wheat.

Sod House
Sod Homes with one window and a door were built on a stone foundation and surrounded by an earth fire-break.
A large garden, wild game (pheasants) and domestic animals were the source of food.
A large garden, wild game (pheasants) and domestic animals were the source of food.

In researching the lives of the two brothers who came from a family of eight and settled in North America; Dietrich’s own family totaled eleven and provided him with 46 grandchildren whereas Chris had a wife, one daughter, and one known grandchild. I could not help but feel a certain sadness for Chris, mainly because I could find so little information about him and have not found where he is buried in South Dakota.

A few contributions of Geman Culture to life in America

German men enjoying mugs of beer
German men enjoying mugs of beer

Family events surrounding Christmas Trees, Santa Claus and New Year’s Eve were all introduced in America by German Americans. They also created a more relaxed, less puritan attitude towards Sunday. For them it was also a day of rest, relaxation and enjoyment with the family.

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As I read more about my grandfather, great grandfather, their wives and families, I realize the great trials and tribulations they went through to provide the life of convenience and luxury that we live today. They left a tremendous legacy we can all be proud of.

Your thoughts and questions are encouraged. I would appreciate any suggestions as to how to find more information about Chris – where he is buried in South Dakota and the NAMES & LOCATIONS of any passed or living descendant of:

  • Chris and Mary (DIRKS) HUMBKE & daughter Louise HUMBKE
  • Alex and Louise (HUMBKE) DIRKS & daughter Violet DIRKS

Unconfirmed information indicate Louise HUMBKE married Alex DIRKS b. July 20, 1884 in Syria. Louise died May 12, 1973 and Alex passed away Oct. 15,1974. They are both buried at Hill of Rest Memorial Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. According to the 1940 census daughters Violet was born in 1917 and Verena in 1919.

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