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.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Memories of Olen and Selma Batke Smith

Don Fredrick, nephew of Olen and Selma Batke Smith, remembers:

"I remember well going with my family to Oklahoma for a visit as a child with Olen and Selma Smith who took Bob and I and parents to the State prison Rodeo where prisoners were given prizes for running around in the ring with bulls trying to attach ribbons to horns. At times a tragedy as inmates were gored or thrown in the air by the bulls. I was about age 8 or 9.  I understand this kind of thing is still going on annually in Oklahoma.  Nothing like visiting one of Uncle Olen's oil wells and listening to oil well stories."

Don Fredrick, December 13, 2010

In response to Don's comment, Olen and Selma's son shares his memories:

"Don, I have read, with interest, your comments about your trip to Oklahoma visiting my parents, Olen and Selma Smith.  Dad and Mother loved company, and they had just the tour to take if one is willing, and has the time.  You referred to the McCalister, Okla. prison, SE of Seminole, Okla. about 90 minutes.  Believe the "inmates" continue to entertain during select summer months, as this has been a "Crowd Pleasing/Fund Raising Event" over the years.  Dad and Mother, at one time, had over 100 oil wells.  It was financially more productive to buy select leases with producing and non-producing wells...revamp, buy better equipment, clean out the old holes...price per barrel was on the rise when they, Mom and Dad, were actively working a very successful living over the many years.  Both enjoyed being on the Oklahoma Beef Club, which provided 50 yard line seats at the Oklahoma Home Games, and they also enjoyed traveling with the Oklahoma team for many years on Chartered Flights.  Ran into Dad/Mother, in Denver, inside a large bar, with Dad standing on top of a large table leading the Oklahoma Fight Song to a crowd of Beef Club Members  playing his/Dad's "Boomer Sooner Song Box".  I had flown out to Denver and dating Jackie Sergeant, from Coloma.  Jackie was working for Frontier Airlines, and we were meeting Mother and Dad in Denver...Okla. playing Colorado that weekend.  Dad and Mother loved driving their Cadillac to select Oklahoma games with Dad pushing a button on the Cadillac playing "Boomer Sooner" and getting immediate attention from "friend and foe". 

The picture of the Heart Grave stone in Buchanan is the beautiful resting place for Olen and Selma...That location is among many of Dad's relatives.  I plan to be buried at the feet of Dad/Plot, with Judy expressing interest in being buried at the feet of Mother/Plot.  Buchanan was home for Dad, having been reared their and graduating in Buchanan High School.  Summers in Buchanan, and Winters in Florida worked for them...Mother's cancer cut her life too short.  She was anxious to spend time with her Brothers and Sisters in the Michigan all of them did visit the Oklahoma homestead, and all had fun!

Lots of fond memories of Mother and Dad.  Actually, fond memories of our entire family.  That goes for all of my Aunts/Uncles, cousins.  I loved the Christmas seasons when we would all get together going to Trinity Church, and then to a relative's home after Christmas Eve church...Wonderful times!!!

Roger Smith, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fredrick and Engler Burial Place, North Shore Memory Gardens

North Shore Memory Gardens, Front Entrance

The North Shore Memory Gardens located at 5027 Michigan (Rt.63) in Columa, Michigan was started in 1952-53.  The site had been an orchard and farmland.   Source: North Shore Memory Gardens Office.

Herman and Katherine (Batke) Fredrick and Arthur and Mary (Batke) Engler are buried here.  Both sets of graves are in the Garden of Devotion section behind a beautifully crafted stone Bible monument.

Garden of Devotion monument


Katherine Batke Fredrick (November 30, 1911 - August 10, 1997), the oldest child of Henry and Anna Batke, is buried here along side her husband, Herman Fredrick (September 20, 1906 - April 19, 1977).
They are buried in the Devotion Section, Lot 15C, Graves 1 and 2.  The GPS coordinates for the graves are: N 42° 12' 12.0"; W 086° 23' 33'.

Herman Fredrick Obituary
Herman Fredrick, 70, of 1322 Wolcott, St. Joseph, died at 11:30 A.M. Tuesday in Mercy hospital.  He was born Sept. 20, 1906, in Esk, Saskatchewan, Canada.  Mr. Fredrick was a member of Trinity Lutheran church, St. Joseph and retired in 1971 from Whirlpool corporation, where he had been employed 44 years.  He was a member of Whirlpool Old Timers club.

Surviving are his widow, Katherine; two sons, Donald W. Ypsilanti and Robert L., Salt Lake City, Utah; a daughter, Mrs. Robert (Jeanne) Hartman, Stevensville; two sisters, Mrs. Olga Schultz, Benton Harbor and Mrs. Ida Noack, Niles; a step brother, Adolph Lockman, Benton Heights and eight grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday in Trinity Lutheran church.  Burial will be in North Shore Memory Gardens.  Memorials may be made to the church.  Friends may call at the Front funeral home, Benton Harbor.

The Herald-Palladium, Benton Harbor-St. Joseph, Michigan, April 20, 1977

Katherine Batke Fredrick Obituary
See Children of Henry and Katherine Batke - Obituaries


Also in the Garden of Devotion Section of the North Shore Memory Gardens, Arthur L. Engler (May 1, 1911 - July 12, 2006) and his wife Mary Batke Engler (June 22, 1914 - July 25, 2008) are buried.  Their graves are about 50 feet away from the Fredrick graves.   

They are buried side-by-side in the Devotion Section, Lot 92C, Graves 1and 2.  The GPS coordinates for the graves are: N 42° 12' 12.7"; W 086° 23' 32.9".

Arthur L. Engler Obituary
Arthur L. Engler, 95 of St. Joseph died Wednesday morning, July 12, 2006, at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph.

Services will be held 10 a.m. Tuesday at Dey-Florin Chapel, Florin Funeral Services, St. Joseph, where visitation will be Monday from 5 to 8 p.m.  Burial will be in North Shore Memory Gardens.  Memorial donations in memory of Mr. Engler may be made to Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Joseph.

Mr. Engler was born May 1, 1911, in Stevensville to Lorenz and Louise (Heyn) Engler.  He retired in 1976 after 26 years of service as a security guard for Whirlpool Corporation.  He was also a member of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Joseph.

Survivors include his wife of 71 years, Mary (Batke), whom he married June 22, 1935, in St. Joseph; one daughter, Elaine Bush of St. Joseph; one son, Kenneth (Nok) Engler of Woodbridge, Va., and one brother charles Engler of St. Joseph.  Also surviving are five grand-children and three great-grand-children.  He was proceeded in death by a son, Charles Engler; five brothers and one sister.

The Herald Palladium, Benton Harbor-St. Joseph, MI, July 14, 2006, p. 5A, col. 5.

Mary Batke Engler Obituary

Smith Burial Place, Oak Ridge Cemetery

Selma Batke, daughter of Henry and Katherine Batke, married Olen Smith.  Both are buried at the Oak Ridge Cemetery.

The new Oak Ridge Cemetery on Front Street, originally 10 acres, was purchased from Warner Hamilton in 1864 for $500, to replace the first known cemetery in Buchanan, "The Old Burying Ground."  The first burials were made in 1867.  Records show that bodies were moved from "The Old Burying Ground" cemetery in Buchanan, to Oak Ridge as late as 1898. 

Oak Ridge Cemetery is located on the western edge of Buchanan, Michigan, between Terre Coupe and Front streets.  Oak Ridge Cemetery currently consists of approximately 45 acres.  There are 5 entrances: two on Front St., two on Terre Coupe, and the Polis St. entrance. Source: Oak Ridge Cemetery Buchanan, MI, Friends of Oak Ridge Cemetery, 2005.

Terre Coupe Street Entrance, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Buchanan, MI
Closest entrance to the Smith graves

Olen and Selma Batke Smith are both buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery.

On the gravestone, shaped with two hearts, is chiseled birth, marriage and death dates.  It reads:   SELMA Jan 27, 1919 - July 24, 1980; MARRIED Oct 24, 1940; OLEN June 9, 1918 - Sept. 13, 1995.

However, there are other documents, including Henry Batke's Declaration of Intention to become an American Citizen, that states Selma's birth year was 1918.

Olen Albert Smith and Selma Batke Smith are buried in Section A, Lot 317.  The GPS coordinates for the grave are: N 41° 49' 24.0"; W 086° 22' 41.9".

Olen Smith Obituary
Olen A. Smith, 77, of Boca Raton, Florida, formerly of Buchanan, Michigan, died Wednesday, September 13, 1995, at Healthwin Hospital, South Bend, Indiana.

The funeral was held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Swem Funeral Home, Buchanan.  Memorials may be made to the City of Buchanan for the Buchanan Commons or Buchanan High School Athletic Department.
Mr. Smith was born June 9, 1918, in Virginia.  He retired as the independent owner and operator of Reclamation Oil Fields after 38 years.  He was a navy veteran of World War II.

Survivors include: two daughters -- Judy Maxwell of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, and Cheryl Richeson of Decatur, Alabama; a son Roger Smith of Coloma, Michigan; three step daughters -- Polly Koenegsknect of West Bloomfield, Michigan; Christine Gardner of Noblesville, Indiana, and Linda Morrer of Charlotte, North Carolina; a stepson, John Donley of St. Joseph, Michigan; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.  He was preceded in death by his first wife, the former Selma Batke, in October 1940 (sic) and by his second wife, the former Agnes Donley, in 1981. 

Tri-City Record, Watervliet, Michigan, September 20, 1995

Selma Batke Smith Obituary
See The Children of Henry and Katherine Batke - Obituaries

Thursday, December 2, 2010

On Vine Street, St. Joe Michigan

Corner of Vine Street and Park Avenue

The Batkes and Links both lived on Vine Street in St. Joseph, Michigan.  Although they each lived at other addresses in St. Joseph, when they finally settled in, Henry Batke and his family moved into 614 Vine Street and Jacob Link and his family lived at 626 Vine Street.  Vine Street is now part of the historic area of St. Joseph.

Today, even though both original homes have been replaced with new larger homes, many older homes still remain giving Vine Street, just three blocks from Lake Michigan, the feel of the time when the Batkes and Links lived there.

The Batke home is marked with a green X and the Link home with a red X.

626 Vine Street, New Home

View looking out (west) from 626 Vine Street
down Pearl Street toward Lake Michigan

View from 626 Vine Street looking south toward 714 Vine Street

714 Vine Street, New House

Looking north from 714 towards 626 Vine Street

Silver Beach, on Lake Michigan,
just three blocks from where the Batkes and Links lived