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.

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.

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