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, November 12, 2010

The Story of Jacob and Maria Link - Part 4 of 9


The Russian Civil War in the Ukraine was from 1914-1923.  With the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, Russia was thrown into bloody revolution.  The Mennonite communities of the Ukraine were the scene of the most violent uprisings and bandit raids in the history of the Russian Civil War!!!  First the anarchist, (bandits) then the Bolsheviks, lay waste to their land. `By 1918, anarchy had completely destroyed the once thriving Mennonite community.

Farms, homes, personal possessions, even life itself, felt the fist of tyranny!  Plagues of diseases such as Cholera and Typhus, along with starvation took their toll.  Suffering became a way of life!

After the bandits were turned back, the Ukraine found itself under Communist rule.  Many were sustained by their faith, but the government had no use for anyone who believed in God.

It was only a short time before WWI, which started in 1914!  At that time, the hatred of everything German reached new heights.   Grandpa and Grandma’s parents and sister Elizabeth were still there!  We don’t know what might have happened to them during this time period.  Our records show that Friedrich and Elizabeth died in Russia, and that Friedrich lived to be 91 years old, and passed away in 1943 (from Brenda Link).  But there is no record of Great Grandma!   Could she have been one of the casualties??  Much of this was taken from “A family Strives for Survival During the Russian Revolution.”


The time level that these families arrived in Canada:  the Batkes arrived  July 28, 1912, the arrival time for the Friedrich Link family was well after August of 1912,  possibly into October of  that year,  Jacob and Maria arrived  January 27, 1913, and Peter and the Knack family arrived April 3, 1913.  They still had to travel across Canada  by train to Moose Jaw and  Swift Current.  Surely there was great rejoicing upon each family’s arrival!! 

How did Friedrich and Maria accommodate so many?  They all arrived just before, or well into a Canadian winter!!  My conclusion, (only a conclusion), is that they had help from the Mennonites!   It is known that the Batke family didn’t have a history of Mennonite religion in their background, as they were Lutheran, but they did travel with, and lived among the Mennonites in Canada, and in Russia, which was heavily populated with Mennonite families, as did the Link’s!

As more settlers came to the prairies of Saskatchewan on railways, the population grew.  Saskatchewan became a Province on September 1, 1905.  The Homestead Act permitted settlers to acquire one quarter of a square mile of land.  Immigration peaked in 1910 and in spite of initial difficulties of frontier life, distance from towns, possibly sod homes,   and backbreaking labor, a prosperous (agrarian) society was established.  (An agrarian society is one that is based on agriculture as a prime means of support.)

There were rules concerning the land!  They were required to clear 10 acres of each quarter section per year and put it under cultivation the following year. 

Mr. Henry Batke broke 23 acres of new ground in 1914, cleared 21 acres in 1915 and planted 44 acres.  The house was 16x24 with 250.00 worth of lumber.  The barn was 18x30 and a granary was 12x14. Henry Batke received a Land Patent dated March 30, 1918 indicating official ownership of a quarter section of land equaling 160 acres.

As there were no, or few trees, it can be assumed that they had to buy lumber to build a house, barn and granary, possibly from the Mennonites, who were well established by then.  That is how they know the value of their houses.  Where did they live while building their houses?

Saskatchewan Homestead Map c1915; Blue-Links; Red-Batkes
On March 28, 1913 Friedrich Link applied for Homestead Patent for a quarter section of land at the age of 39.  He states that he has lived on the land continuously from that date with his wife and seven children.  In 1913 he cleared and planted 10 acres.  1914 he cleared 15 and planted 25.  1915 he cleared 5 and planted 30 acres.  And in 1916 he cleared 45 and planted 75 acres!

Saskatchewan Homestead Layout-Click image to enlarge

In a sworn statement by Heinrich Krueger for Jacob Link in reference to the application for land patent, November 22, 1917, he states that Jacob was a farmer since 1913 and that he had lived on the land continuously, with his wife and 3 children since May of 1914.  In 1914 he cleared 15 acres and cropped 8.  In 1915 he cleared 20 acres and cropped 15.  In 1916 he cleared 35 acres and planted 35.  In 1917, he cleared nil, and planted 70 acres. 

In 1914 Grandpa had 4 cattle, in 1915, 5 cattle and 1 hog.  In 1916, he had 2 cattle, 4 horses and 2 hogs, and in 1917, he had l cow, 4 horses and 6 hogs.    He also had a 14x18 frame house valued at 200.00, and 10 acres of fencing worth 35.00, a 14x20 framed barn along with a good well valued at 50.00.  Our mother described this house as having 3 rooms, but they had to be very small rooms, or partitioned off in some other way  than actual walls.         

When clearing the land is mentioned, more than likely this did not mean clearing of big trees, as one might think.  The prairie was known as the “steppe” meaning “without trees”.  Katharine Batke Fredrick remembered that the “steppes” of Canada destroyed plows because of all the rocks.  

Think about it!  When they settled on their homestead, there was nothing there! No shelter, no water, nothing!  They had arrived with only what they could carry, one would assume!  Three of the families had small children!  But they were FREE at last!

Brothers Peter, Jacob and Friedrich Link, Canada, c1913

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