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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Gottlieb Torke

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 264 - 265

Gottlieb Torke is a prominent farmer of Sherman Township, residing in section 5, and with pleasure we present to our readers this record of his life work. Of German birth, he is a native of Prussia, born on the 14th of February, 1835. His parents, Gottlieb and Effa Rosena {Knecht} Torke, has a family of five children, of whom three are now living. The father was a farmer by occupation, and followed that pursuit throughout his entire life. In 1855 he determined to seek a home in America, and, bidding adieu to friends and native land, he started for the New World, embarking on the 27th of March, at Hamburg, on the sailing vessel "Deutschland." The voyage consumed thirty-four days and was a very tempestuous one; masts were broken, and in the angry sea it seemed that the vessel would be wrecked, but on the 10th of May they landed safely in New York Harbor.

The family went up the Hudson River to Albany, thence by canal to Buffalo, and by the Lakes to Chicago, which was just then becoming a city of any importance. After one night spent in Milwaukee they proceeded to Washington County, and on the 29th of September, 1855, came to Sheboygan County, where the father purchased eighty acres of raw land. There a brush house, thirty feet long and twelve feet wide, was built. Their first crop was one of winter wheat, which our subject took to mill and had ground into flour. There were no roads save the Indians' trails, and the work of progress and civilization had scarcely begun. After a time a log cabin was built. Gottlieb aiding in its erection. It still stands as a memento of the pioneer days.

Mr. Torke whose name heads this record shared with the family in all the privations and hardships of pioneer life, and was reared in the usual manner of farmer lads, save that he had not the privileges which are afforded the youth of today. On the 7th of October, 1860, he married Miss Elizabeth Gotter, who was also born in Germany, and is one of seven children, whose parents, Frederick and Hannah {Schoepke} Gotter, bought their family to America in 1859. The young couple began their domestic life upon a farm, which Mr. Torke had purchased for $800, but as his capital was only $200, he had to go in debt for the remainder. A cabin was erected, in which they lived for seven years. It was a rude structure with only one window and one door, but those were among the happiest days of their lives.

In October, 1864, Mr. Torke left home, joining Company E of the Sixth Wisconsin Infantry, under Capt. Henry T. Garfield. They went at once to the South; joined Grant's command, and aided in the capture of Lee. At the battle of Hatchie's Run, Mr. Torke was wounded, being shot in the head by a bullet, which caused him to retire from the service for about four weeks. He participated in the Grand Review at Washington, and then went to Louisville, Ky., and was in the hospital for about a month. He afterward made his way to Madison, where he received an honorable discharge July 14, 1865. As soon as possible he returned home, but it was some time before he could resume work in the fields.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Torke have been born eleven children, all of whom are still living: Amelia, wife of Fritz Harman, who is employed in Mattoon's factory; Elizabeth, wife of Robert Stolper, a farmer in Sherman Township; Martha, wife of Herman Kruschke, a farmer in Lyndon Township; John, a carpenter; William, who follows carpentering in Milwaukee; Anna, who is living in Milwaukee; Bertha, Herman, Emil, Ernest and Emma, all of whom are under the parental roof.

Our subject exercises his right to franchise in support of the Republican party, and in religious belief is a Lutheran. His farm now compromises one hundred and sixty acres of land, which is under a high state of cultivation and well improved. He has erected a commodious and beautiful residence, and has built two large barns for his hay and stock. There are other improvements of a model farm upon this place, and the well-tilled fields attest the busy and thrifty life of the owner, who is numbered among the leading and substantial agriculturists of the county.

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