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.

MUSIC AND THE FAMILIES

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.

ERNST SR. AS A HOMESTEADER, FARMER AND STORE KEEPER

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.

EDUCATION AND THE HUMBKES

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 AND THE HUMBKES

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’S CHARACTER

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.

WILL OF ERNST’S DIETRICH FRIEDRICH HUMBKE SR.

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 rogerhumbke@hotmail.com

 

 

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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.

MARY HUMBKE LEAVES GERMANY IN 1902 for a HOMESTEAD near Wetaskiwin, Alberta, CANADA

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.

Tapeworm

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.

1902 MARY WESTENFELD MARRIES ERNEST HUMBKE IN DUHAMEL

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.

ERNEST SR AND MARY MOVE FROM THE HOMESTEAD TO A NEW FARM IN 1907

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

HUMBKE FAMILY MOVES TO EDMONTON IN 1912 AND OPENS A GENERAL STORE.

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.

MARY’S LIFE IN CANADA

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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GREAT GRANDMOTHER SOPHIE LOUISE HUMBKE (SCHNEPEL) BRINGS HER FAMILY FROM WODEN, IOWA TO 3 HOMESTEADS 14 MILES EAST OF WETASKIWIN, ALBERTA IN APRIL, 1901.

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” www.artofmanliness.com.

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.”

memoryismoral-1

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.

steamtrains
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.”

alberta-hotel-where-humbkes-stayed-upon-arrival-in-wetaskiwin
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.

homesteading-week-2-b
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-virgin-soil
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.

 

dscf6174
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 rogerhumbke@hotmail.com

inventory-of-beneficiries
Appendix of survivors of Louise Humbke (Schnepel).
louise-will-dec-22-1923
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!”

marie-loouise-schnepel-humbke-wetaskiwin-county
Sophie ‘Louise’ Humbke (Schnepel)
marie-louise-schnepel-humbke-wetaskwin
Louise Humbke’s tombstone at Wetaskiwin City Cemetery
obituary-louise-humbke-1930
OBITUARY in Weaskiwin Times for Louise Humbke

 

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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.

conrad-and-della-conradi-vitit-lawrence-humbke-in-alberta-1956
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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FAMILY HISTORY BLOG #1 – May 4, 2016 Ernst Dietrick Christian HUMBKE (1845 Windheim, Germany to 1899 Hancock County, Iowa, USA)

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Ernst Dietrick Christian HUMBKE (1845 Windheim, Germany to 1899 Hancock County, Iowa, USA)

 In 1883 Ernst Dietrich Christian HUMBKE (referred to as Dietrich throughout this post), the oldest of 6 children of DietrichIETRICH (1821-1866) and Sophie Louise (WIEBKE) HUMBKE (1819-1866), 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” (iron hull, 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 younger brother (Christian) had arrived in South Dakota in 1879. Dietrich‘s oldest child, Ernest Dietrich Friedrich HUMBKE Sr at age 16, had arrived in May of 1883 and was with his uncle Christian in 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 b. Sep. 11, 1843 Dohren, Windheim d. Nov. 24, 1930 Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada

Children:

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.

 

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