During my trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I was able to look at microfilm of some of the church records that he looked at. A helpful staff member was also able to help me narrow down where families that seemed to be related to the Menkes would be from.
First, here is the baptismal record for my great-grandfather, Johan Anton "August" Menke:
Next is the marriage record for his parents, my great-great-grandparents, Johan Diederich "Dirk" Menke and Maria Elizabeth Geers:
Jim Menke had gone to the Schwagstorf area of Hanover for his research and was apparently able to look at the original church books. It appears that not all of the church books have been microfilmed. This was all I could find regarding my Menke line in Salt Lake City. Given the information in the marriage record, it appears Maria Elizabeth Geers is from the same area, which makes sense. The question then becomes, what about the Harmeyers? August Menke married Mary Harmeyer, daughter of Joseph Harmeyer and Maria Agnes Kempker. Joseph was the son of Gerhardt and Mary Elizabeth Harmeyer. Maria Agnes was the daughter of Johann Heinrich Kempker and Mary A. Nichting. I don't have documented proof of these relationships. This branch is the last line of my ancestor information that I haven't been able to document myself. For this, I'm relying on what others have passed along to me.
Here is an ancestor chart for my grandmother, Elizabeth Menke. You can see the last names of some of her ancestors are Menke, Harmeyer, Kempker, Geers and Nichting.
In this map, I've highlighted the area that we know the Menke family is from. Records are found for baptisms and marriages in Ankum and Furstenau but also a few in Bippen, Mersen and Voltlage.
Using the website http://www.verwandt.de/karten/ , you can see the area of Germany a particular surname is found. Here are the maps of the various surnames found in my grandmother's ancestry:
|von der Haar|
|Menke - Much more widespread than the others|
but still a good concentration where the rest are found.
This is a good indication that all of these families likely are from the same area. We just need to gain access to their records.
Finally, here is a page from a district court case book from Lee County, Iowa in 1843. It shows that John Henry Kempker came before the court and petitioned for citizenship, which was granted.