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

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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



Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather


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


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather


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.




Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

FAMILY HISTORY BLOG #4 – August 15, 2016

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather


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

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

FAMILY HISTORY BLOG #3 – July 15, 2016

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather


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
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

BLOG #1 – May 4, 2016 Ernst Dietrich Christian HUMBKE (b. 1845 Windheim, Germany to White Lake, South Dakota, USA d. 1899 Iowa)

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Ernst Dietrich Christian HUMBKE family immigrates Windheim, Germany to White Lake, South Dakota, USA in 1883.

 In 1883 Ernst Dietrich Christian HUMBKE (referred to as Dietrich throughout this post), boarded the “Neckar” on July 25, 1883 in Bremen, Germany and arrived in New York on Aug. 4, 1883, with his wife and four of their children. The “Neckar”, (an iron hull ship with a single screw, 1 funnel and 2 masts), was built in Scotland for North German Lloyd Line who used it from 1873-96 to transport German Immigrants from Bremen to New York and the far East.
3rd Class Steerage Accomodation
3rd Class Steerage Accommodation

His father had sent his younger brother, Christian, to South Dakota in 1879.  Dietrich‘s oldest child, Ernest Dietrich Friedrich HUMBKE Sr. (age 16) was sent next and by May, 1882 he was with his uncle Christian at White Lake, South Dakota.

Dietrich and Louise (SCHNEPEL) HUMBKE’s family was as follows:


Ernst Dietrich Christian HUMBKE b. Aug. 2, 1845 #57 Windheim, Germany d. Jul. 21, 1899 Woden, Iowa m. Oct. 27, 1867 to;

Marie Louise (SCHNEPEL) HUMBKE b. Sep. 11, 1843 Dohren, Windheim d. Nov. 24, 1930 Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada


Ernst Dietrich Friedrich HUMBKE Sr b. Oct. 30, 1867 m. Maria WESTENFELDT 

Katherine Sophie Maria HUMBKE b. Oct. 17, 1869 m. Henrich CONRADI

Sophie Wilhelmine Louise  HUMBKE b. Aug. 30, 1872 – d. Nov. 4, 1872

Sophie Louise HUMBKE b. Oct 3, 1873 – d. Feb. 13, 1878

Louise Wilhelmine Marie HUMBKE b. Jun. 17, 1876 m. Carl CALLIES

Marie Louise Lizettte HUMBKE b. Apr. 1, 1879 m. Joe GEORGE

Dietrich Friedrich Ernst HUMBKE b. Feb.21, 1882 m. Hulda WICKLAND

Alvina Maria Sophia Louise HUMBKE b. Apr 14, 1885 m. Dave FONTAINE

Emma Marie HUMBKE b. Jan. 29, 1890 m William HARRIS

Chris - White Lake SD 1999All members of the family were born in Windeheim, Westphalia, Germany with the exception of Alvina and Maria who were born in White Lake, South Dakota.

The family came from the Duchy of Prussia which was established during the Protestant Reformation in 1525 and was the first Lutheran duchy with a dominant German speaking population. It was elevated to the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701 and in 1807-1813 Napoleon Bonaparte founded the Kingdom of Westphalia. In 1815 the Province of Westphalia was formed.

Prussia lost its independence as a result of the Nazis in 1933 and became the State of North Rhine – Westphalia after World War II. It is known as the “breadbasket of Western Europe (in German – kornkammer, or grannery).

imgresFor those who have a greater interest I recommend reading the “Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947″ by Christopher Clark (2009).

Windheim is a Church District which contains 7 villages one of which is Windheim on the Weser River. The village is located 380 Kilometers North of Frankfurt or 3.5 hours by car. Population is appx. 500.


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather