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.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gojeck Faces Contempt Charge, March 2, 1955 Front Page Article

In an earlier posting on this Blog, a letter from Henry Batke, dated March 5, 1955, to the Editor of The Herald-Press, appeared.  At the time of the previous posting, the article referred to in the letter to the editor could not be located.  It has now been found and appears below.  Although Henry Batke, Jr., is not mentioned in the front page article, the accompanying photo, by placement next to the article, implies those pictured might have some relationship to the Communist Party.  Again, remember this is the time of McCarthyism.

The text under the photo reads:
TARGET OF ATTACK-- Man identified by IUE publicity agent, Ray Hansen, as Alec Leith, a one-time writer for the Communist newspaper, The Daily Worker, is shown above standing at right on the steps of UE local 931 office in St. Joseph.  Hansen charged over WHFB last night that Leith was formerly known as Alex Goldmann and that he wrote a "greeting" in the booklet entitled: "Two Decades of the Communist Party in New York State."  Leith, said Hansen, is handling UE publicity during the local struggle to retain bargaining rights at Whirlpool.  Standing on steps with Leith is Robert Mounsey, route 2, Eau Claire, one of the UE's most ardent local supporters.  Man with back to camera is identified as Henry Batke, who took a trip to Soviet Russia three years ago.

If you wish to enlarge photo, double click on image. To read Henry Batke's March 5, 1955 response to the photo and the following article, click on letter-to-the-editor.

The following article adjoined the photo on page one of The Herald-Press, March 2, 1955.


Probers Hold UE Leader's
Quiz Stand In Contempt
Of Congress

A contempt of congress citation for United Electrical' workers official John T. Gojack seemed virtually certain today in the wake of a house un-American activities subcommittee vote to cite him, the Associated Press reported from Washington D. C.

The impending citation against Gojack comes on the day when Local 931 of the UE, St. Joseph, puts its fate on the line in an NLRB election to determine a bargaining agent for the Whirlpool corporation's 2,400 production and maintenance workers. Chairman Walter (D-Pa) of the full committee said the group would approve the unanimous recommendation against Gojack. The house, which has the final vote on committee contempt citations, has always followed such recommendations in recent years.

Vote To Cite Gojack
The three-man subcommittee, headed by Rep. Moulder (D-Mo), voted to cite Gojack in open session late Tuesday at the climax of a two day tussle with the 38-year-old UE vice president. Gojack, who is president of the UE's District 9, hotly declared, "It is time that more people in the country challenge this committee."  Gojack had wriggled, evaded questions and defied the committee throughout his two days in the witness chair. His testimony followed that of Miss Julia Jacobs, 34-year old secretary of Local 931 in St. Joseph.  Throughout his testimony, Gojack invoked the first amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech—in refusing to answer the Red-hunter questions.

Refuse 21 Times
Monday afternoon, Gojack refused 21 times to deny that he was, or is a member of the Communist party, in the face of a series of direct questions from subcommittee members and Counsel Frank Tavenner.  Committee sources emphasized what they considered an important difference between Gojack's refusal to answer questions on his alleged Communist connections and the position taken by Miss Jacobs, who declined to answer 122 questions on Monday, pleading the fifth amendment, which protects witnesses from having to give testimony that might be harmful to themselves. Gojack's lawyer, Frank Donner of New York, said the contempt citation against Gojack would provide a clear cut court test of the use of the first amendment as ground for refusing to answer questions of congressional probers.

UE's national secretary-treasurer, Julius Emspak, used the first amendment before a congressional committee on Dec. 5, 1949. He subsequently was cited for contempt and a District of Columbia court sentenced him to serve six months and to pay a $500 fine after he was convicted of the charge on Feb. 26, 1951.

Emspak's conviction was upheld by the United States court of appeals for the District of Columbia on Dec. 19, 1952. Emspak's final appeal is now pending before the Supreme court. Gojack was active in St. Joseph in 1953 when the UE was challenged by the IUE and IAM, but retained its bargaining right in two NLRB elections at Whirlpool. IUE and IAM again are the challenging unions in today's vote at the St. Joseph corporation, the world's largest manufacturer of home laundry appliances and the UE's largest remaining stronghold.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Trinity Lutheran Church and School

The Batkes and the Links were very involved with their church in St. Joseph, Michigan. 

Family stories tell about how an anonymous parishioner of the Trinity Lutheran Church funded the Batke's and Link's travel from Alabama to St. Joe Michigan in the 1920s.  Most of the Batke children attended Trinity Lutheran School and many of the Batke and Link women were married at the Church.  Also, Batke and Link family members, including Henry Batke, were buried from this church.

Location of Trinity Lutheran Church and School, St. Joe, Michigan

As you can see on this map (double click on the image to enlarge), the Church and school were only a few blocks from the Batke and Link homes on Vine Street.

The Church and School are still going strong.  For current information click on Trinity Lutheran Church.