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 5 of 9


Six children were born on the prairie in Canada to Jacob and Maria.  Frieda Fredricka, born March 5, 1915, Fredrick Henry, February 4, 1916, Wilhelm or William, July 16, 1917, Raymond October 8, 1918, and Jacob the 1st, birthday unknown, but quite likely 1919, and Jacob P. Jr. February 1, 1920.  (Grandpa found the first Jacob dead in his bed upon his return from a store (the next day.)  Frieda remembered Grandpa holding the baby before he left, and little Jacob was fine!  My mother told of being born in Beechy, and  some records say she was born in Queen CenterQueen Center and Lydiard are mentioned as birthplaces of the children also.  Jacob Link’s obituary states Beechy as being his birthplace, as does Frederick’s.

(Along with some of Katharine Batke Fredrick)

In the interview of our mother, Frieda, she gives us some insights into her life in Canada.  She speaks of heating the house with a black cook stove, using straw twists and dried cow chips for fuel.  Grandpa made the straw twists and the children gathered the cow chips, which are dried manure!

She remembers a time when a herd of wild horses came into the barn and Grandpa let them stay there to eat.
She tells of a special time that she got to go to the town of Herbert by horse and wagon, with Grandpa.  She stayed on the wagon, and when he came out of the store, he had a small bag of candy for her.  This must have been a very special treat!  They did not return that day, but stayed at the home of her cousin Anne, whose parents were Friedrich and Mary (Marie) Link, for the night. 

In the cold wintertime people traveled without freezing to death by building covered sleds they called cabooses, on a sleigh with wood stoves in them, and the reins from the horses passed through an opening in  the boxed enclosures.  This gave them a maximum  range of about 15 miles in the cold of winter at (-40F).  This is according to memories of Katharine Batke Fredrick.

Mom spoke of going to school for one day, in the winter in Canada, and being met by her cousin Anne.  She could not speak English, as she only spoke German.  The teacher, who had on overalls with buckles, said to her, “Frieda, what are these?”  She could only look at him because she didn’t understand him, and he became very angry!  She never went back.  As a result, she was about 7 years old when she started school in Michigan.  Someone had to have given her the translation!

Grandpa had purchased #100 of sugar, which was supposed to last for the entire winter as Grandma did a lot of baking!  All the children got a spanking from Grandma because they had gotten into the sugar and eaten it by the mouthfuls, and also spilled a lot of it!

Grandma let a stray dog into the house, and the children would not let him out from under the daybed, and were hitting it.  They named the dog Tucek.

Uncle Fred got into trouble for walking around on the roof of the barn.  Another spanking!  This may have been the same barn that the wild horses came into.

Uncle Ray told his daughter Bonnie that the best Christmas present, when he was a young boy, was a balsa-wood airplane and an orange!

For one Christmas, each child received 1/2 of an apple.  (Their Christmas's weren't much, but a little bit was very memorable)!

We children of Raymond and Frieda remember them speaking of lard sandwiches!!! And they made them sound like they were really good!!


It seems that the Batke family along with our Grandpa Link were having great difficulty making a living as wheat farmers, one reason being that they were dealing with extremely rocky soil, so they decided to move on, and try somewhere else.  I personally cannot even imagine my grandfather as a farmer.  Don’t take me wrong, I have been a farmer’s wife for many years, and it is not an easy life.  You have to love it, and I don’t think Grandpa did.  I would have to believe that it was just not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life!  They were not alone, as we find out, as there were nine other families that left also.  Our mother said that there were other families, but we just recently found proof of it!

So a total of  44 people, nine families, 19 adults and 25 children, and a “cow” (as told to Don Frederick by his mother Katherine Batke Frederick),  left by train at Portal, N. Dakota in December 7, 1921 to Alabama by way of the Canadian Pacific Train No. 14!!!   Our mother was just six years old at the time.

Batke Manifest, Page 6, Portal, ND
Link Manifest, Page 7, Portal, ND. Click image to enlarge
They all apparently made this decision on the advice of two men who told them that things were much better in Alabama, Michigan and CaliforniaAlabama seems to have been chosen, and the two men would travel with them .   Grandpa promised to pay them for their help when they got to their destination.  So Grandpa, and I believe Mr. Batke had to borrow some money, which they did from their minister, Rev. Lucht, who was also Grandpa’s neighbor.  $100.00 was borrowed, and our Uncle Ray was adamant in stating  that they did pay the money back!  Upon their arrival in Yellow Pine, Alabama, the two men robbed them of all their money, and abandoned the families!  Grandpa found out later that these two men had committed suicide!  

She remembered a family by the name of Hultz that had been their neighbors to the East in Canada.  They had two little girls that she used to play with.  That family made the decision to go to California, I would suppose on the recommendation of the same two men.

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