FAMILY HISTORY BLOG #2- June 21, 2016


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 South Dakota.

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

Chris was the 5th of six 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:

Ernst Dietrich Christian HUMBKE (exact same name as his father – used the name Dietrich on government documents) – b. Aug 2, 1845, d. Jul 21, 1899, m. Marie Louis SCHNEPEL Immigrated to USA in 1883 – 9 children (7 girls & 2 boys) 2 girls died in childhood

Wilhelmine Louise Charlotte HUMBKE b. Jan 30, 1848, m. Johan Dietrich Ausust BUSHORN – no children

Louise Sophie Charlotte HUMBKE b. Sep. 2, 1852, m. Carl Friedrich August HANKE – no children

Ernst Heinrich Christian HUMBKE b. Aug. 31, 1854, m. Johanne Charlotte Sophie ROEMBKE – 5 children (2 girls & 3 boys).

*(Chris)  Conrad Dietrich Christian Dominicus HUMBKE b. Jan. 4, 1857, d. 1938, m. Nov. 26, 1889 Marie DIRKS in White Lake, South Dakota – 1 child (girl)

Conrad Dietrich Fredrick HUMBKE b. May 7, 1859, m. Louise Kusette Dorothea DAVID

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.

For further reading check out:

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.





Author: Roger Humbke

I am multifarious, educator/facilitator/entrepreneur who has become more focused on learning new knowledge and skills required to research and write on my family's history. My goals also include developing new attitudes towards a senior's life and on-line business

4 thoughts on “FAMILY HISTORY BLOG #2- June 21, 2016”

  1. Jay Humbke says:
    July 7, 2016 at 4:51 pm
    Wow another part of the Humbke history comes to light. Never thought it was so diverse. Ties in very well with the work Dan has done. Looking forward to more info.

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