Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Biography of Johan Anton "August" Menke

Known as August, Johan Anton August Menke was born November 25, 1864 in Dothen, Hanover in what would eventually become Germany. His parents were Diedrich Menke and Elizabeth Geers Menke. He was baptised on November 29 in Ankum, Hanover. Witnesses were Johan Heinrich Geers from Schwagstorf, Heinrich Kolde from Druchorn and Catharina Brinker Dollman from Schwagstorf.

He had four older half-brothers, Bernard Diedrich "Duke", 18 years old, Henry, 15 years old and Herman, 10 years old, all born to Diedrich's first wife, Anna Maria Catharina Rickelman, who died in 1856 and Bernard Heinrich, 6 years old, born to his second wife, Maria Catharina Brinker, who died in 1859. He also had one older full brother, Bernard Gerhard Heinrich "George", 3 years old. Later, younger sister Johanna Josephine was born when he was two and a half and Mary Elizabeth was born when he was almost six years old.

It is unknown exactly when, but August's older half-brothers, Bernard Diederich "Duke" and Herman Menke traveled to America and settled in Lee County, Iowa. Henry settled in Nuckolls County, Nebraska.

When August was 8 years old and his youngest sister was only 2, the family boarded a sail boat named the Federal Carrier bound for New Orleans, Louisiana. The voyage took six weeks. The father, Johan Diedrich Menke, died during the voyage and was buried at sea.

Maria Elisabeth and the children along with uncle George landed in New Orleans. They came up the Mississippi by boat. The uncle, George, got off at Saint Louis, Missouri. The rest of the family was reunited with Duke and Herman and settled near Saint Paul in Lee County, Iowa.

In 1875, three years after arriving in America and when August was 11 years old, his mother married Henry Schutte and had two more daughters, Johanna and Katie.

The Henry Schutte family in the 1880 US Federal Census, including August Menke, 14 years old.

On April 22, 1890, when he was 26 years old, August married Mary Harmeyer, daughter of Joseph A. and Maria Agnes Kempker Harmeyer. The bride was 23 years old. A little more than a year later, on August 6, 1891, their first son, Aloysius Edward was born. My grandmother, Elizabeth Johanna Cecelia followed on November 22, 1893, then Joseph W. on January 20, 1896, August Diederich on July 8, 1899, Alfred John on September 11, 1903 and finally Mary on August 15, 1910.
The little boy in front is August (Gussie). Second row (L-R) August, Mary, Elizabeth.
The boy in back on the left is Aloysius(Al) and the one on the right is Joseph (Joe).

On November 11, 1913 Aloysius married Rose Mary Dingman and 10 months later, on Aug 26, 1914 Margaret Bernadine was born. 14 months later, on Oct 7, 1915 Mary Louise followed.

On February 23, 1916, Elizabeth Johanna Cecelia married Benedict Panther and 15 months later, on May 6, 1917 Urban Augustine was born. More grandchildren quickly followed. On November 18 1917 Linus A. was born to Aloysius and Rose, On April 7, 1919 Albert Edward was born to Elizabeth and Benedict. September 30, 1919 Richard R. was born to Aloysius and Rose. On July 20, 1921 Mary Veronica was born to Elizabeth and Benedict. On December 21, 1921 Clarence was born to Aloysius and Rose, followed by Ralph in 1923.

August and Mary's son, Joseph married Elizabeth Rippenkroeger in 1923 and Marcella Caroline was born May 13, 1924. Just a month later, Elizabeth died.

In 1926, Loretta Elizabeth was born to Elizabeth and Benedict and Imelda Francella was born to Aloysius and Rose.

On May 3, 1928 Joseph married Louise M. Mohrfeld.

On September 24, 1929 Rose Marie was born to Aloysius and Rose.

Robert Joseph was born to Elizabeth and Benedict on January 21, 1930 and died three months later.

August Diederich married Myrtle Agnes Steffensmeier on Oct 6, 1931.

Joseph was born to August and Myrtle on March 4, 1943 and died the same day.

August and Mary's children provided them many more grandchildren which are not listed here.
Mary and August Menke on their 59th Wedding Anniversary
On Jun 14, 1949, less than one month after celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary, August's wife Mary died and was buried in West Point.

August eventually moved in with his daughter Elizabeth and her family. My aunt, who was a child when her grandfather moved in with them, remembers hearing stories about August going out west for a gold rush. While there, he worked with many Chinese men and learned how to speak some Chinese. My aunt recalls him trying to teach her Chinese.
August Menke in about 1954
August died on March 21, 1955 and was buried next to his wife Mary in Calvary Cemetery in West Point, Lee County, Iowa.
If anyone has additional details of August's life, please let me know! Thank you!


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