The Extended Batke Family with Link neighbors

The Extended Batke Family with Link neighbors
Pictured in the photo: (Back row, standing, left to right) Herman Fredrick, Anna Batke, Henry Batke, Sr., Selma Batke, Henry Robert Batke, William Batke and Arthur Engler. (Front row/sitting, left to right) Donald Fredrick, Robert Fredrick, Katherine Batke Fredrick, Ruth Batke, Edwin Batke, Katherine Reck Batke, Jerald Batke, Edna Kwiatkowski Batke, Mary Batke Engler and Elaine Engler. Taken c1940, possibly to celebrate Henry and Katherine’s 30th wedding anniversary, October 22, 1940. Photo courtesy: Don Fredrick.

About Henry Batke and Katherine Reck

Heinrich Batke, the son of Martin Batke (c1848-b1912) and Anna Lock (1848-1939) was born in Chortitza, Russia on September 7, 1877. Also in Russia, Catharina Reck was born on October 14, 1890. Her parents were John Reck and Renata Shirk. Henry and Katherine married in Russia on September 22, 1910. On July 13, 1912, Henry, his wife and seven month old daughter, Katherine, sailed from the Port of Bremen, Germany on the ship Pallanza. They traveled to Quebec City, Canada arriving on July 28, 1912. They immediately left on a special Canadian Pacific Railroad train to Saskatchewan, Canada. The Batkes homesteaded in Lydiard, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan between 1913 and 1918. On October 3, 1917 Henry Batke became a citizen of Canada. Due to England's sovereignty over Canada, he became a British citizen. Finding farming in Canada difficult, on December 7, 1921 the Batke family, now also including Mary, William and Selma, left for Yellow Pine, Alabama. After the birth of Anna and much hardship in Alabama, the family moved to St. Joseph, Michigan where children Henry, Ruth and Edwin were born. Henry, a furniture maker in Russia, became a machine operator at the 1900 Corporation, a fore-runner of Whirlpool, in St. Joseph. After Henry's death on April 7, 1949, Katherine Reck Batke married Gustav Schmeichel in 1959. Katherine Reck Batke Schmeichel died at the Claremont Nursing Home in Benton, Michigan on October 28, 1979.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Photos of Chortitza, Russia

There are two sets of photos on Flickr which show views of Chortitza.  Although they were all taken in 2006, they capture the feeling of a much earlier time.  If the pictures are not full screen, click on the arrows in the lower right hand corner to enlarge the picture to full screen.  If no description of each photo is visible, click on "show info" on the top, right of the menu bar of the full screen version to bring up the description box.

Photos taken by Erwin Firesen, 2006, Chortitza Colony including several of Neuosterwick.

Photos taken by Dariva, 2006, Mennonite Sites in Ukraine, including several of Chortitza.

Press "Esc" to reduce full screen size.

The parents of Catharine Reck Batke

On July 14, 1937, Catharine Reck Batke filled out an application for a Social Security Number. She was living at 714 Vine Street in St. Joseph, Michigan and working at the Berrien Packing Company, also in St. Joseph. She stated her birthday as October 14, 1891 on the typed copy, however in the section which reads: "subject to later verification" the year is corrected to 1890. This later date is consistent with Catharine's other documents. She also notes she was born in Russia. The SS# provided her is: 367-12-0849.

Best of all, she lists her father as John Reck (you can see the correction from Rek to Reck) and her mother as Renata Shirk.

An email note received from Don Fredrick, grandson of Catherine Reck Batke, shared the following information on March 11, 2011 to Elaine Beaudoin:

In a note recently discovered from a visit to my grandmother Catherine Batke, wife of Henry Batke, by the Don Fredrick family before she died and while she was in the nursing home, we find that Renata Scherk, Shierk, Shirk was mentioned by her as the wife of her father John Reck.  We assumed at the time of the visit that John and Renata, according to Catherine, did not leave Germany to come to Canada or the US.  We wrote down on our note at the time that the spelling was Scherk, not Shirk.   Are you sure about the spelling of Renata "Shirk"?

Until more proof is provided, all the spellings -- Scherk, Shierk and Shirk -- should be researched.   Thanks Don for the note.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grosse Île, Canada video

Although this video is intended to honor the Irish who died at Grosse Île, Canada when emigrating to North America, it gives a glimpse of what the Batkes might have seen when the ship Pallanza arrived on September 28, 1912. 

Port of Quebec, Grosse Île

The Batkes entered the Port of Québec on July 28, 1912.  The receiving station for the Port of Québec was Grosse Île at the time.  An excerpt about Grosse Île follows:

"The quarantine station on Grosse Île, an island located in the middle of the St. Lawrence river, 48 km downstream from Québec, was established by colonial authorities in 1832, in response to reports that new immigrants had various contagious diseases. With cholera outbreaks in 1832 and 1834, and a deadly typhus epidemic in 1847-1848, thousands of new immigrants were quarantined on the island, with thousands eventually perishing. The victims of the latter epidemic were mainly Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine. This period of virulent epidemics came to an end only after another outbreak of cholera in 1854.

"At the time of Confederation in 1867, the Canadian government formulated a comprehensive policy on immigration and settlement, requiring the establishment of a reliable, efficient quarantine station. Dr. Frederick Montizambert was in charge of establishing modern facilities at the Grosse Île quarantine station, where he acted as medical superintendent from 1869 to 1899.  As fewer people immigrated to Canada as a result of the First World War (1914-1918) and the Great Depression (1930s), and knowledge of microbiology and the treatment of contagious diseases was advanced, the hospital on Grosse Île was reduced to treating minor childhood infections such as diphtheria, chicken pox and measles. New international health agreements stated that people infected with these diseases no longer had to be quarantined and serious infections such as cholera, typhus and smallpox could be successfully treated at the Parc Savard Hospital in Quebec, founded in 1907. The quarantine station on Grosse Île was closed in 1937."

Quarantine And Public Health: The Changing Role of Grosse Île, by André Sévigny, Historian, September 1995.

Pallanza Manifest, 1912

This is the first of three pages of the Pallanza Manifest which is the steamer the Batkes sailed on from Bremen, Germany to Quebec, Canada, July 14 - July 28, 1912. The Pallanza left Hamburg, Germany on July 13, stopping at Bremen on July 14 where the Batkes embarked on the ship. The last stop of the Pallanza in Europe was at Rotterdam, The Netherlands, on July 15 before sailing across the ocean and arriving 13 days later in Quebec, Canada. Including the Batkes, there were 378 adults and 104 children who made the trip across the ocean. In Quebec, steerage medical inspection occurred at 9:00 a.m. and was completed at 11:00 a.m on July 28. Only three individuals were detained. The manifest notes that there was a "special" Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) train which left at Noon. Supposedly, the Batkes were on that train.
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Pallanza Manifest, page 15

On page 15 of the Pallanza passenger list it shows Batkes on lines 27 - 29.
Line 27: $580(?) in cash, Batke, Johan, age 35
Line 28: Batke, Anna, age 65
Line 29: Batke, Anna, age 11
The Batkes state they can read and write; their country of birth is Russia and their race is German. Their destination is Ernfold, Saskatchewan. Johan states he was a farmer in Russia and plans to be a farmer in Canada. They say they plan to "always" stay in Canada and declare their religion as Evangelical.  They note they will be traveling inland on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pallanza Manifest, page 16

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Listed on page 16 of the Pallanza manifest for July 13-28, 1912 are several more of the Batke family.
Line 1: $160 in cash; Batke, Heinrich, age 34
Line 2: Batke, Catarina, age 22
Line 3: Batke, Catarina, age 2/12
Line 4: $50 in cash; Batke, Karl, age 29
Line 5: Batke, Frederika, age 24
Line 6: Batke, Anna, age 2
The information for these Batkes is the same as for those on page 15.  The adults state they can read and write and plan to stay in Canada permanently.  They declare their country of birth as Russia, race as German and their destination as Ernfold, Saskatchewan.  The male adults say they were farmers in Russia and that they plan to be farmers in Canada.  They also state their religious denomination as Evangelical.  And, they plan to travel, once they land, on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Batke/Link Homesteads, Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Homestead Index is a file locator database to the homestead files at the Saskatchewan Archives. It contains 360,000 references to those men and women who, from 1872 to 1930, under the terms of the Dominion Lands Act, took part in the homestead process in the area now known as Saskatchewan.
On its website Saskatchewan Homestead Index, the Batke and Link homesteads are listed.

From information on this website, I have drawn out Kelstern, Township 14 of Range 6, 3W and noted who originally homesteaded in this Township. I have also added the section of Township 13, where Jacob Link had his homestead, so one could see how close they all lived together.   A full Township, e.g., Township 14, consists of 36 sections and is approximately six miles square in size.

The Homestead file number, homesteader's name and the land survey description for each of the yellow squares are as follows:

- #2887368, Mrs. Anna Batke, Part SW, Section 23, Township 14, Range 6, Meridian W3
- #0784874, Henry Batke, Part SE, Section 22, Township 14, Range 6, Meridian W3
- #2834533, Johan Batke, Part NW, Section 23, Township 14, Range 6, Meridian W3
- #2603054, Karl Batke, Part NW, Section 1, Township 14, Range 6, Meridian W3
- #2451684, Friedrich Link, Part NW, Section 7, Township 14, Range 6, Meridian W3
- #2025984, Jacob Link, Part NE, Section 34, Township 13, Range 6, Meridian W3
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fredrick House, 1937


Taken March 14, 1937 at the Fredrick House in Benton Harbor, Michigan. From left to right: Katherine Batke Frederick, Frieda Byron, Mary Batke Engler, Lydia Lachman, Adolf Lachman, Selma Batke Smith, Ida Noack, Katherine Reck Batke, Fred Link, Arthur Engler, Glen Noack with baby Gordon Noack, Bill Batke (in back of Glen), Henry Batke Jr. (to Glen's left). On the steps in back: Eddie Fredrick and Henry Batke Sr. Photo courtesy: Don Fredrick
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Henry Batke & Family, 1930 US Census

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In 1930, the Batkes were renting at 914 Vine Street, St. Joseph, Michigan. Their six children were living with them. Note the census states the older children were "speaking German at home". This may be because the mother, Katherine, states that she does not speak English, even though the rest of the household does. The census also shows that those not born in the US are listed as "Al" or alien. They had not yet applied for citizenship even though they had been in the US for 9 years at this time.

Batke Inspection card, 1912

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This card was given to Catarina Batke at the time the Batkes left Bremen on their voyage to Quebec sailing on the Pallanza. Note besides being stamped upon arrival in Quebec, it is also stamped on August 13, 1912 in Winnipeg, Canada. Image courtesy: Don Fredrick

Pallanza/Chancellor 1891

The ship the Batkes traveled on from Bremen to Quebec in 1912 was the Pallanza. The following description of the ship is provided on The Ships List.

"4,606 gross tons, length 398.6 ft x beam 47.1 ft, one funnel, three masts, single screw and a speed of 12 knots. There was accomodation for 850-3rd class passengers. Built by C. S. Swan & Hunter, Wallsend-on-Tyne, she was launched as the Chancellor for T. & J. Harrison of Liverpool on 11th of May 1891. Sold to Sloman Line of Hamburg in 1901, she was renamed Pallanza and started her first Hamburg - New York voyage on 25th Jul. 1902. Chartered by the Hamburg-American Line in May 1903, she was purchased by this company on 9th Jan. 1907. On 16th Jan. 1907 she started her first Hamburg - Philadelphia sailing and on 17th May 1912 commenced her first Hamburg - Quebec - Montreal sailing. Her last voyage on this service stared on 12th June 1914 and she arrived back at Hamburg on 21st Jul. 1914. Used as a German Naval Auxiliary, she was sunk by a mine near Borkum on 11th Nov. 1915. Source: North Atlantic Seaway by N. R. P. Bonsor, vol. 1, p.409"

From the Batke Pallanza passenger list, it notes the ship had 378 adults and 104 children, or 482 individuals, on their July, 1912 voyage. It states the voyage started in Hamburg on July 13, departed Bremen on July 14 and finally departed Rotterdam on July 15. Its last port of call was Quebec, arriving on July 28, 1912.

The trip from Bremen, the port from which the Batkes departed, to Quebec was 14 days in all.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Henry Batke Visa, 1912 Image

A translation of this Imperial German Consulate document follows in the next post. Image courtesy: Don Fredrick.
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Henry Batke Visa, 1912 Translation

The Imperial German Consulate
Asks hereby all civilian and military authorities that the presenter of this German Reich visa, Heinrich Badtke, a furniture maker, he, himself, in the company of his wife Katharina, born Reck, and daughter Katharina, be given permission to travel to Germany and return to Russia freely and unhindered, and if necessary, be given aid(protection).

 Charkow, the 25 June 1912 the Imperial Consul

(An unreadable signature)

Executed per law, paragraph #1136    B124

Valid for one year

Description of the Passport Holder
Age   born 7 Sept 1877
Hair   dark blond
Eyes   blue
Nose/ Mouth -- regular
Beard/ (blank)
Stature (can’t read handwriting)
Special marks: None
Religion: Evangelical Lutheran

Signature of the passport holder (the document is unsigned by Henry Batke)
(Translated March 13, 2010, by Elaine M. Beaudoin)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why did the Batkes go to Yellow Pine, Alabama? 1921

In a February 18 post, I uploaded the passenger list that shows the Batkes entering the U.S. and traveling to Yellow Pine, Alabama.  Here is more of the story.

The Batkes, Henry and wife Katherine, their children, brother John and their mother Anna and a niece Anna emigrated to the United States on December 7, 1921.  They left from Ernfold, Canada (a Canadian Pacific railway station due north of Lydiard) crossing the US-Canadian border at Portal North Dakota.  They were on board the Canadian Pacific Train 14.  Their destination was Yellow Pine, Alabama which is on the Alabama-Mississippi border.  The Links are listed on the next page of the passenger list.

In a document entitled: "The Story of Jacob and Maria Link" written by a Link grandchild, Darlene Byron Milbocker, in June 2009, a possible answer to "Why did they go?" is provided.  She reports that her mother, Frieda Link Byron, who was also on that train remembers:

"They were having difficulty making a living as wheat farmers, so about this time another man, by the name of Henry Batke, and Grandpa and Grandma were told by two men that things were better in Alabama, Michigan and California and they would travel with them to Alabama.  So on December 7, 1922 (sic), when my mother was six years old, the Link and Batke families crossed the border from Canada into the United States, at Portal, North Dakota.  They continued on to Yellow Pine, Alabama by the Canadian Pacific Train No. 14.  Upon their arrival in Alabama, the two men robbed them of all their money, and abandoned the two families....

"After being so cruelly robbed and deceived, Grandpa and Mr. Batke made their way to St. Joe, Michigan by train, to make enough money to bring their families there.  The women and children were left behind.  How they survived, financially, is not known.  Somehow Grandpa and Mr. Batke met up with the minister of the Trinity Lutheran Church who mentioned in his Sunday service that these families needed help.  A woman anonymously donated the train fare for the women and children to take the train to Michigan.  They never found out who this dear woman was!

"Mom and Grandma were walking along a path going into a village, when a rider came along with a letter for Grandma, and it had money in it!  That was the first time Mom had seen her mother smile in a long time! So Grandma, the children, Mrs. Batke and her children, took the train on July 3, 1922 to Michigan.  They didn't have any trunks or suitcases, so they wrapped everything in sheets or whatever they had."

Thank you Sharon Byron Lampros for interviewing your Mother and preserving this amazing and heartbreaking story.