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, July 10, 2010

Eddie Batke Remembered, 2010

Eddie Batke Remembered by his Nephew
(In Response to the "Making life-long friend on the baseball diamond " Post on Eddie Batke)
Uncle Eddie Batke to me was also special. Between my 5th and 10th birthday a few memories.  He was only about 5 years older than I so he was more of a "beach kids" mentor than an uncle.  I played baseball with his permission and encouragement at his sandlot location near the Engler home and Lake Michigan on many occasions. In the winter he would loan me his ice skates (you wouldn't believe how primitive they were - I think I still have them) and we would go down to Lake Michigan to walk the ice hills, find smooth patches, and skate. The smooth ice patches were about 3 feet thick and the ice crystal clear. The ice hills were something else. They were always rough, jagged, and at the edges where we encountered lake spray, slippery and dangerous on rough and windy days.  I still shiver just a bit as I consider the possibilities for tragedy on those ventures.  It was not unlike Uncle Eddie to bring his 22 rifle along for extra adventure. 

On several occasions during my visits to Grandma Batke's house on Vine Street and for entertainment during the other three seasons of the year we would walk the rails near 714 Vine and away from the train station in St. Joe.  Imagine me at age 7 or 8 standing on the bridge over the train tracks near Vine street while a freight train with two or three smoking engines went beneath that bridge pulling 60-70 freight cars.  I would get chewed at grandma Batke's house afterwards by parents for being covered with smoke and soot from the train, and he for taking me on this kind of a jaunt. I remember Brother Bob involved in some of all of this, but he was too small for baseball and often not allowed to go along for the ice hill trips.

This type of excitement, if known by parents, would certainly not have been permitted.  Uncle Eddie was officially guilty in all this but it was my own mischief that usually got these kinds of things going as well.  

I was too small to remember Bob Rennick's face, but his tribute to Eddie Batke was right on. I do remember some of the ball players on that sandlot -- Strohscheins and Licks, perhaps Bob Rennick was one of the faces I saw but did not know.  Others were classmates at Trinity Lutheran School in the earlier grades. Only after many years of being away from St. Joe and occasional trips back home did I occasionally see Uncle Eddie as a mechanic at a Benton Harbor gas station on duty by himself. I remember the drinking.  After that time, two or three encounters with him and his wife made me realize he successfully and by the grace of God made me proud of his change to a new found faith. His wife was the prime instrument in his change, and I did not see Eddie after he moved to live with her.  I heard and appreciated greatly the rumors of his happiness and felt the distress while away from home at the news of his death. 

Don Fredrick, July 10, 2010

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