Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 423 - 424
Johannes Burkhardt is well and favorably known to the people of Sheboygan Falls Township, where he owns a
well-improved farm on section 20, and is numbered among the thrifty German-American farmers of the locality. He was
born in Erfurt, Prussia, September 29, 1821, and was the second in order of birth in a family of three children.
His brother Henry is also a farmer by occupation, and lives in Lyndon Township.
It was in the year 1847 that our subject and his father came to America on the sailing-vessel, "Caesar and Helena,"
the trip taking nine weeks. On landing in New York City, they proceeded to Albany, from there went by canal to
Buffalo, and by way of the Great Lakes to Milwaukee. He finally obtained a position in a gristmill owned by Mr.
Cotton, where he stayed more than a year. He had learned the trade of a baker in his native land, and had followed
that calling in Leipsic, Hamburg, and other important places, and he finally secured employment as a baker in
Milwaukee. After a time he came to Sheboygan Falls Township, where his brother had purchased an eighty-acre tract
of land. He stayed on the farm while his brother went to Milwaukee to get their goods, but on returning from that
city a severe storm arose, and all their effects were lost, Mr. Burkhardt's brother being on the boat at the time.
They were practically without anything, and a good lady by the name of Mrs. Howard made shirts for them from a
bed-quilt. They remained here only a short time, clearing the farm. Afterward, going to Sheboygan, the brother
purchased a dwelling for $400, the one now owned by Mr. Eckhart, near the court house. They worked at anything they
could find to do, and the first employment obtained by our subject was with old "Uncle" A. P. Lyman, whom all the
old settlers well remember. At the end of two years the parents came from Germany and completely surprised them, as
they had not written of their intention.
On the 4th of December, 1859, Mr. Burkhardt married Miss Gusta Derbe, who was born in the Fatherland. She was one
of six children born unto Christ and Pauline (Laetsch) Derbe. She has one brother and one sister now living: Mary,
wife of Emil Mohr, a baker of Sheboygan; and Bernhardt, who is a farmer of Sheboygan Falls Township. To our worthy
subject and wife five children were born. Four of the number are living: Minnie, wife of John Holzschuh, who keeps
a livery stable in Plymouth; Albert, who lives on the old homestead; Clara, wife of Frank Bunzel, whose biography
appears elsewhere in this volume; and Herman, who carries on much of the work of the farm.
Mr. Burkhardt's journey from Milwaukee to this place was made on foot across the country, following the Indian
trails through the forests. The first home in which he and his brother lived was a rude little shanty with a shock
roof. He has watched the transformation of this almost unbroken wilderness into one of the finest counties in the
State. His present homestead was cleared and improved by him. He felled the trees and planted the first crops
raised on the place, which he has brought under good cultivation. He remembers well when the Indians used to come
on ponies to barter meat for desired supplies. Once when he was sitting in his cabin, an Indian called his attenti
on to a deer in the forest, and a second afterward a shot was heard, which, with unerring aim, hit the mark, and in
a minute the Indian returned with the deer on his shoulder. Mr. Burkhardt has also often killed deer himself, and
well recollects when wolves would howl around his dwelling at night.
Though not a member of any political organization, Mr. Burkhardt is a good citizen, and uses his franchise in
support of upright and honorable men. He is a member in good standing of the Lutheran Church, of which Rev. Anton
Karbel is pastor. Mr. and Mrs. Burkhardt, with their two sons, are now living in the old farm house, and on account
of the failing health of our subject, his dutiful children have taken off his shoulders all care and labor. The
farm is situated four and a-half miles from Sheboygan Falls and about the same distance from Plymouth, and is one of
the best in the township. The family have long held a desirable place in the friendship and esteem of the best
citizens of the neighborhood.
Copyright 1997 - 2009 by Debie Blindauer
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