Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Henry Menke from Germany to Nebraska

That opening paragraph from a biography of my Great-great Grandfather, Henry Menke,
is a pretty impressive introduction.  Just so it won't bug you, the cut off sentence there goes on to say "one of the representative agriculturists and stock-growers of Gage county..."  It's from the book "The History of Gage County, Nebraska", by Hugh J. Dobbs, published in 1918.  He was born in Hanover, Germany December 4, 1832 and died in Clatonia, Nebraska September 21, 1915.  I believe he came with his parents, but I have yet to determine who they were.  This book is one source I have.  I don't know how Mr. Dobbs got the information for his biography.  It says that "he was a youth at the time of the family immigration to America, his father having previously taken part in the revolutionary movement in Germany.  The family home was established in Ohio, where the parents passed the remainder of their lives, as sterling pioneers of the old Buckeye state."  Sure sounds like they died in Ohio, so there must be some record of them there. 

This may be his family from the 1860 Ward 11, Cincinnati, Hamilton Co., OH census:
Menke, Henry, age 32, Laborer, born Hanover
Menke, Mary, age 33, born Oldenburg
Menke, Lina, age 4, born Ohio  (Emma or Ellen)
Menke, Frederick, age 1 4/12, born Ohio
Wanstrole, Joseph, age 13, born Ohio  (no idea of any connection)

The second house away is a possible choice for his parents:
Menke, John H, age 62, born Hanover
Menke, Angeline, age 60, born Hanover
Menke, Louisa, age 18, Seamstress, born Hanover

Most likely they were not in America in 1850 and I haven't found John & Angeline in 1870. From the biography, Henry married "Miss Mary Niemeyer of Ohio, she having been born in Germany".  Henry and Mary had 4 children, Emma or Ellen (1856-1929), John Frederick (1859-1938), Henry Jr (1862-1912) and Lizzie (1865-1924).  Mary died in 1866.  I've heard there was a cholera epidemic in Cincinnati about that time.  I want to find her death record and burial.  In an obituary for Henry from the DeWitt TImes-News, Henry married Maria Neuhaus in 1856, doesn't say where, but it says he came to American in 1859 and settled at Harrison Furnass Scioto County, Ohio.  It also says they had 5 children.  No mention of his parents and his children are not listed. 

More information comes from the obituary of his son John Frederick Menke.  It says he was born in Hanover, Germany in 1859 and that he came to the US when six months of age.  His mother's name was Mary Niehaus and she died when he was seven years old - 1866.  An article from the Portsmouth Daily Times about John Frederick's grocery business says that he was born in Germany and they "landed in Baltimore, having been on the ocean for 11 weeks and 3 days".  With so much detail I would believe John Frederick was born in Germany, so do I have the wrong family in the 1860 census?  I'm not sure they were ever in Cincinnati.  They should have landed in Baltimore in about October 1859, but I have had no luck with passenger lists.

Henry married Eliza KNAPP January 13, 1867 in Scioto Co., Ohio.  They had 11 children:

Ann Caroline (1868-1946) married Louis Kloepper
John (1869-1869) 
Mary (1870-1889)
Matilda (1872-1969) married William H. Daubendiek
Katherina (1874-1943) married John H Wayman 
Eliza Jane (1877-1974) married Richard Kiene
Rosa (1879-1948) married Lewis Wayman
George Edward (1881-1941) married Kathryn Detmer
Nettie (1883-1962) married Franklin Steinmeyer
Lewis (1885-1885)
Charles Albert (1886-1965) - my Great Grandfather 

If he really used the name John twice, I think it's a good possibility that his father's name was John.  

In 1870, Henry and family are in Lawrence Co., Ohio.  By 1880 they had moved to Clatonia, Gage Co., Nebraska where he lived out his life.  The biography by Dodd says "He was a man of strong intellectuality, well fortified in his convictions concerning public policies, was a Republican in politics, and while he had no desire for official preferment he consented to serve for a number of years in the position of road overseer in his township. He was a most earnest and devout member of the German Methodist church, as is also his venerable widow, and he gave zealous and effective service as a local preacher of this denomination.  Ordering his life upon the highest plane of integrity and honor, he was essentially one of the world's productive workers during the course of a long and vigorous career"  He owned 160 acres in Section 33 of Clatonia township.  I'm looking forward to the Nebraska land patents records becoming available online at the Bureau of Land Management website since it takes a vacation day to go to a court house to do land records research.  Darn job.

It's interesting, the obit says "His funeral text and songs were arranged by him in advance." Those things must have been important to him.  This little clipping from the Clatonia Observer is kinda funny.  I'm sure he wasn't boasting, just letting it be known what he thought!

This is Henry's signature from his will.  I wish it was common practice for a person to divulge their personal history in their wills!  I also have the marriage certificate of Henry and Eliza.  So I need to find death records for the 1860's in Ohio.  Most of what I've seen seems to be from Catholic church records.  Also I want to find the passenger list hoping to find him listed with parents. Whenever I find a copy of the book "History of Gage County, Nebraska", I will put it in my old trunk in the attic.

Director Alexander Payne has just filmed a movie I'm anxious to see called "Nebraska". He's a fellow Nebraskan and I think the movie will be realistic in depicting Nebraska's people.  I am proud to be a 4th generation Nebraskan, proud to be interested in my family history and proud to be a descendant of Henry Menke.

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