Herman Gerken (1819-1875)
Henry Gerken (1855-1914)
Ewald Gerken (1895-1956)
Joan (Gerken) Larson (1926-1994)
Thomas Larson (1962-)
Researched and written by
|Henry Gerken, my great-grandfather, was born at New Vienna, Iowa, in 1855 to Herman and M. Catherine (Schulte) Gerken. In 1878, he married Anna Winter, at New Vienna, and they lived out their lives there with Henry working as a carpenter. Anna was born in 1861 at Dubuque, Iowa, to John Peter and Anna Mary (Ickenroth) Winter. Henry Gerken died in an auto accident in 1914, and Anna (Winter) Gerken followed him to the grave two years later. T.L.
Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken
Heinrich "Henry" Gerken was born on September 2, 1855, to Herman and Mary Catherine (Schulte) Gerken on their farm south of New Vienna, Iowa. He was the fourth of eight children; his siblings were Mary, Margaret, William, Caroline, Herman, Sophia, and Louis.
Henry's education and trade.
He received his education in the parochial and rural schools of New Vienna, and after completing his studies assisted his father on the farm. Later he took up the carpenter and cabinetmaking trades, which he followed for his entire life. His father Herman had willed him one complete set of carpenter's tools, as well as one thousand dollars.
Marriage of Henry Gerken and Anna Winter.
|The Henry and Anna Gerken home at New Vienna, Iowa. Standing in front are Anna Gerken (at left) with her daughters Minnie (middle) and Irma (at right).|
Henry married Anna Winter at St. Boniface Catholic Church in New Vienna, Iowa, on February 19, 1878, with the Reverend Father Conrad L. Schulte officiating. Anna Winter was born on June 1, 1861, to John Peter and Anna Mary (Ickenroth) Winter at Dubuque, Iowa. Her parents had come to the United States in 1854, to Dubuque, Iowa. In 1864, the Winter family moved to New Vienna, Iowa.
The Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken family at New Vienna.
After their marriage in 1878, Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken resided with her parents, John P. and Anna M. Winter, in New Vienna, Iowa. The 1880 U.S. Census has the household consisting of John Peter Winter, age 64, stone mason; his wife Anny Mary, age 55, keeping house; Henry Gerken, age 26, carpenter; and Anny Gerken, age 19, assistant in housework.
Five years later, the 1885 Iowa State Census has the household consisting of John P. Winter, age 68; his wife Anna M. Winter, age 60; Henry Gerken, age 29; Henry's wife Anna Gerken, age 23; and their firstborn children, Alois [Louis], age 4; Mary, age 2; and George, age 0.
Image from the 1885 Iowa State Census:
Notes about the 1895 census: 1. Irma's name was incorrectly listed as Emma; 2. The two columns with x's indicate gender; 3. The next columns show marital status: (S)ingle, (M)arried, and (W)idowed; 4. The next columns shows place of birth, incorrectly indicating John Winter was born in Dubuque County; and then indicates whether the person's father and mother were (N)ative or (F)oreign born; and 5. The last columns shown give the person's occupation and religion, indicating Catholic for all in the household.
Image from the 1895 Iowa State Census:|
A personal history written by Sister M. Ewalda, née Zita Gerken, the youngest child of Henry and Anna, states that the family home at New Vienna was her mother's inheritance and was the home in which her mother had lived since she was four years old. Anna Mary Winter died in 1888, and John Peter Winter died in 1896. The Winter/Gerken family home was located at the northwest corner at Harrison and Washington streets in New Vienna, Lots 115 and 116, with the house located on the corner lot, 115.
Sister Ewalda also wrote that being "poor and having children to support, my parents had no means to remodel the home until the older children were able to earn money. I, being the youngest, did not feel the poverty that the older ones did. Although poor, our family was blessed with good health."
Henry and Anna Gerken had nine children, born from 1880 to 1898 and all born in New Vienna: Louis, Mary, George, Hubert, Wilhelmina, Irma, Alphonse, Ewald, and Zita.
In 1900, according to that year's U.S. Census, the Gerken household consisted of Henry, age 44, a carpenter; his wife, Anna, age 38; and their children, Aloysius [Louis], age 19, a carpenter; George, age 15, a cooper; Hubert, age 13, at school; Wilhelmina, age 11, at school; Irma, age 9, at school; Alphonse, age 7, at school; Ewald, age 4; and Zita, age 2. Their daughter Mary, age 17, was not present in the household at the time of the census.
By the time of the 1910 U.S. census, the Henry Gerken household only consisted of Henry, age 54, occupation of carpenter; Anna, his wife, age 48, and Zita C., their daughter, age 12, although it seems likely that the younger two boys, Alphonse and Ewald, only happened to be living elsewhere at the time of the census taking, perhaps in an older sibling's household for the summer to work. Both Alphonse and Ewald, as well as Zita, were still at home in 1914, according to their father's obituary that year, although Zita remembered that by 1912, she was the only one of the children remaining at home.
Children of Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken:
- Louis Peter Gerken was born on June 21, 1880, at New Vienna, Iowa, to Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken. He was elected assessor of New Vienna in 1904, 1905, and 1906. He was a carpenter. Louis married Christina "Tina" M. Lange, and they settled in Templeton, Iowa. They had eight children: Edwin, Ermin, Julius, Marie, Flora, Elmer, James, and Edgar. Louis Gerken died on July 18, 1939, at Templeton, where he was buried. Christina (Lange) Gerken died at the age of 95 years on March 8, 1978, at Denver, Colorado, and she was buried at Templeton, Iowa.
- Mary Anna Gerken was born on September 30, 1882, at New Vienna, Iowa, to Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken. Mary Gerken married Joseph Fritz on January 24, 1905, and they lived at Adrian, Minnesota, before moving to Cresco, Iowa. Joe was born on September 5, 1869. Born to them were Armella, Leo, Gilbert, Irma, Vincent, Ewald, Luella, Edna, and Sylvester. They also raised Joe's nephew Jack Fritz. Mary Anna (Gerken) Fritz died on August 3, 1925, at Cresco, Iowa, and Joseph Fritz died on December 15, 1947. They were buried at Cresco, Iowa.
- George F. Gerken was born on October 28, 1884, at New Vienna, Iowa, to Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken. He was a professor at St. Boniface School at New Vienna until 1922, and served as Recorder for the Town of New Vienna from 1920 to 1922. He married Anna M. Ruemmele on July 18, 1911, and they lived in Dubuque, Iowa, for a time before settling at Cincinnati, Ohio. They had three children: Inez, Esther, and Ivo. Anna (Ruemmele) Gerken died on November 18, 1952, and George Gerken died on February 28, 1957, at Cincinnati.
- Hubert "Hub" Herman Gerken was born on November 25, 1886, at New Vienna, Iowa, to Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken. He was a carpenter. Hubert married Rose Ann Beatrice Kramer on February 10, 1920, and they settled at Adrian, Minnesota. They had three children: Virginia, Marjorie, and Charles. Hubert Gerken died on March 4, 1950, at Adrian, and Rose (Kramer) Gerken died on October 8, 1974, and they are buried at Adrian.
- Wilhelmina "Minnie" Anna Gerken was born on February 12, 1889, at New Vienna, Iowa, to Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken. She married Peter John Winter, and they farmed at Adrian, Minnesota. They had eleven children: Alphonse, Victor, Edward, Lucille, Harold, George, Viola, Alvin, Stella, Marcella, and Ila. Peter Winter died on March 7, 1964, and Wilhelmina (Gerken) Winter died on April 3, 1967.
- Irma Lucia Gerken was born on March 15, 1891, at New Vienna, Iowa, to Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken. She married Joseph Henry Schumacher, and they lived at Dubuque, Iowa. He was born March 20, 1890, at East Dubuque, Illinois. He worked as a patternmaker for Morrison Brothers in Dubuque. They had eleven children: Sylverias "Sally," Walter, Erwin, Joseph, Marian, Doris, Charles, Francis, Joyce, David, and Louis. Irma (Gerken) Schumacher died on February 24, 1954, and Joseph Schumacher died on January 27, 1969, and they were both buried at Dubuque.
- Alphonse Jacob Gerken was born on April 9, 1893, at New Vienna, Iowa, to Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken. He married Helena Elizabeth Lais, and they settled at Adrian, Minnesota. She was born on October 19, 1895. A.J. and Helen Gerken had four children: Wilfred, Willis, Richard, and Victoria. Alphonse Gerken died on December 28, 1967. Helena E. (Lais) Gerken, 97, died on November 17, 1992, at Adrian. They are buried in St. Adrian Catholic Cemetery, at Adrian, Minnesota.
- Ewald Francis Xavier Gerken was born on September 7, 1895, at New Vienna, Iowa, to Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken. He worked as a patternmaker at Morrison Brothers in Dubuque, Iowa, and later was a foreman in the patternmaking department at John Deere in Dubuque. Ewald married Anna Mary Schumacher, and they lived at Dubuque, Iowa. She was born on April 20, 1895, at East Dubuque, Illinois. They had eleven children: Louise, Donald, Teresa, Adrian "Butz" or "A.J.," Joan, Dolores, Ewald, Mary, William "Bill," Daniel, and Loras. Ewald Gerken died on September 1, 1956, and Anna (Schumacher) Gerken died on March 20, 1967, and they are buried at Dubuque.
- Zita Gerken was born on April 4, 1898, at New Vienna, Iowa, to Henry and Anna (Winter) Gerken. She entered the order of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration at St. Rose Covent, La Crosse, Wisconsin, and her religious name was Sister Mary Ewalda. She taught at various schools in Iowa and Wisconsin. Sister Mary Ewalda died on December 6, 1954, and is buried at La Crosse.
The Henry and Anna Gerken family picture
back, left to right: George, Hubert "Hub," Mary, Louis, Wilhelmina "Minnie"
front, left to right: Henry Gerken, Ewald, Irma, Alphonse, Zita (Sr. Ewalda), Anna Gerken
Family and community life.
Anna Gerken was a devoted mother and wife, and her kindness of heart and many noble deeds were known and felt in the family circle not only, but by her many friends and acquaintances as well, by whom she was held in highest esteem. Circa 1911, Anna suffered a fall and injured her spine, and thirteen-year-old daughter Zita did not attend school for a time so that she could stay home and help her mother who was unable to work. By the spring of 1912, according to Zita, all of her sisters and brothers had left home, leaving her alone with her mother and father. She wrote, "Father, being a carpenter, was gone from home nearly all week, so mother and I were left alone. This deprived me of many an enjoyment, for I could not leave mother alone, but I was happy to be with 'mother.' "
During their residence at New Vienna, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gerken became widely known. Henry Gerken was well-known as a contractor and builder in and around New Vienna. He took an active part in public affairs and was a man of influence in the community. Henry Gerken cast ballots in the election incorporating the town of New Vienna on May 31, 1895 (which passed 42-14), and in the first election for town officers of New Vienna on July 17, 1895. [His cousin F.X. Gerken not only served as one of the judges for these elections but also received a vote for mayor out of 55 cast (at any rate F.X. Gerken was elected treasurer and ultimately served various terms as mayor during the 1900s, the 1920s, and the 1930s).] Henry Gerken was elected to a two-year term as councilman for New Vienna in 1912. He contributed $25 to help bring a railroad line from Dyersville to New Vienna (his son Professor George Gerken gave $50), but the line failed after a short run in 1913.
Anna Gerken was keenly interested in church affairs and at one time served as president of the Altar Society, of New Vienna, for a term of five years. She also was secretary of the Rosary Society for a number of years.
Postcard from Anna Gerken to her son Ewald
Postmarked on September 6, 1913, at New Vienna, Iowa, the card contains birthday greetings from Anna to her son Ewald, whose 18th birthday was the next day. He was away from home at Adrian, Minnesota, visiting his older brothers and sisters who had previously moved there.
Ich wünsch die viel Glück
und Segen zu deinen Ge-
burtstag. Wir sind noch alle
gesund und hoffe dasselbe
von dir. Viele grüße an
alle die andere. Dein
Mutter. Anna Gerken
I wish you much joy
and blessing on your
birthday. We are still all
healthy and hope the same
of you. Many greetings to
all the others. Your
Mother. Anna Gerken
Translation by Tom Steichen
edited by Sebastian Engelstaedter
Henry's brother travels to Germany.
In June of 1914, Henry's brother William and his wife Carolina were leaving for a tour of Germany to visit the old country. A couple days before their departure, a large going-away party was thrown for them, and Henry, as well as all in attendance, bade them farewell. Henry, however, began having misgivings, and on the night before William and Carolina were to leave, he once again rented a horse and carriage to travel from New Vienna to the William Gerken homestead east of Dyersville. Henry expressed his sudden fear to William that they would never see one another again. Their parting was tearful, and Henry's premonition came to be.
Fishing party ends in tragic accident.
On Thursday, August 13, 1914, Henry Gerken awoke early as he and three others, Adam J. Hoefer (who was a councilman and former mayor of New Vienna as well as a justice of the peace), Henry Boge, and Dr. J. L. Abeln (mayor of New Vienna), had rented a large touring car and were travelling to Guttenberg, Iowa, for a day of fishing on the Mississippi River. Their chauffeur was Jack Raymond.
After a long day on the river, the group began the ride home. Gerken, Boge, and Abeln rode in the rear seat. About 9:50 o'clock in the evening, at a spot three and a half miles north of Luxemburg, Iowa, the driver of the machine, in swinging around the curve leading down the grade, missed the center of the road and one of the front wheels struck the end of a box culvert. The car lunged over on one side, turned over, and was hurled into a small embankment alongside the road.
Henry Gerken and A.J. Hoefer instantly killed.
|Henry Gerken, in foreground, with A.J. Hoefer; these two men both died as a result of a car accident on August 13, 1914.|
Gerken, Boge, Abeln, and Raymond the driver were thrown from the car on the first turn, while Hoefer was caught underneath the machine. Raymond, the only member of the party able to get on his feet, ran back towards the John Pottebaum farm for help. He was met on the way by Mr. Pottebaum, who had heard the crash. A telephone message was sent in for a physician and asssistance. The men were taken to the Pottebaum home where they were given attention. Messrs. Gerken and Hoefer were pronounced dead by the physician when he arrived. Mr. Gerken received a bad bruise near the temple on the left side of the head, suffered a broken collarbone, and his chest was crushed. Mr. Hoefer's neck was broken, chest hurt, and he was injured internally. Of the others, Boge was the most seriously injured. His collarbone was fractured, and his jaw was broken in several places, one bad fracture being near the ear. Dr. Abeln sustained the fracture of three ribs and bruises. He was stunned by the crash and remained in a dazed condition for nearly an hour. Raymond the chauffeur, who drove the machine, had one finger mashed and received minor bruises about the body. Dr. Abeln was later taken to his home, and Boge was taken to Mercy Hospital, Dubuque. Boge and Abeln were reported to be getting along as well as could be expected. The bodies of Messrs. Gerken and Hoefer were
removed to their homes in New Vienna.
John Pottebaum Tells of Acident.
Speaking of the accident, Mr. Pottebaum told the following to a representative of the Dyersville Commercial: "I was just getting ready to retire when I heard the car go by and, a few moments later, the crash, and, rushing from the the house, I heard the cry for help. Going down the roadway, I met Raymond, who told me of the accident and asked me to telephone for a physician. A call for a doctor and for assistance was put in at once.
"When I arrived at the scene of the accident, the first man I came upon was Boge, who was lying face downward, his head in a pool of blood. He seemed to be choking, and I turned him over on his side. Beside him lay Mr. Gerken. I lifted his head and shoulders and held his head in my arms and lap. He was breathing heavily and passed away a short time later. Dr. Abeln was sitting in a crouched position, a little to the side of the road. He remained in a semi-conscious state for nearly an hour. Going over to the car, we found Mr. Hoefer lying under the machine, his head and shoulder extending from the open front of the car. A slight twitch of the body while he was being removed was the only sign of life.
"By this time, quite a number of neighbors and a doctor arrived. The doctor examined the men, saying two were dead, the others were taken to my house, up the road a short distance, where they were given attention. The coroner was notified, and he ordered us to remove the bodies to my house from where they were later taken to New Vienna. Mr. Boge's condition was quite serious, and he was taken to the hospital, in Dubuque, and Dr. Abeln was taken to his home."
The car was badly damaged.
The news of the fatal accident came as a shock to the people of this vicinity, where the men are well known.
Henry Gerken's death certificate listed the official cause of death as "Fracture left temporal bone. Due to automobile accident. Immediate death." The undertaker was F. G. Abeln.
Additional details of the tragic accident.
The details as presented above came from the Dyersville, Iowa, Commercial. The Dubuque Telegraph Herald's account of the tragic accident varies a little in its details, as follows:
Gerken and Hoefer were instantly killed about 9:30 o'clock in the accident about five miles north of Luxemburg. Gerken was pinned under the car, the back of one of the seats resting squarely on his neck. Help was secured to lift the car off Gerken, but he was already dead. The Telegraph Herald has Henry Gerken pinned under the car in this account, but in actuality he was the one thrown from the vehicle.
None of the men who were in the auto and survived have any explanation of how the accident occurred or why. They all say that the car simply missed the culvert and went into the ditch with an awful jolt. Neither Boge nor Dr. Abeln attach any blame to Raymond, who was driving the car. Persons in the vicinity who saw the auto pass declare it was running at high speed, which may have contributed to the cause of the accident.
The auto, which was owned by J. T. Langman, proprietor of the garage at New Vienna, was not badly damaged, although it was unable to proceed under its own power.
Sister M. Ewalda's account.
Of that tragic day in the Gerken family, Sister Ewalda wrote, "Thus lived we happily until August 13, 1914, the memorable date when the Angel of Death knocked at our door for the first time--and in such an un-looked for manner--calling our dear father from our midst. He had left home well in the morning, and was brought home a corpse, having met his end in an auto accident."
Henry Gerken's survivors.
Henry Gerken was 58 years 11 months old at the time of his demise. He was survived by his wife, Anna, of New Vienna; his nine children, Louis (and Christina) of Dyersville; Mary (and Joseph Fritz), of Adrian, Minnesota; Professor George (and Anna) Gerken, of New Vienna; Hubert of Adrian, Minnesota; Wilhelmina (and Peter Winter), of Adrian, Minn.; Irma (and Joseph Schumacher), of Adrian, Minn.; and Alphonse, Ewald, and Zita, all at home; two brothers, William Gerken and Louis Gerken, both of Dyersville; and two sisters, Mrs. Mary Kerkhoff of Petersburg, and Mrs. Michael (Caroline) Steger, of Norcross, Minn.
Mr. Henry Gerken was a thorough Christian gentleman and his sudden and unexpected death came with keen regret to his sorrowing family and numerous friends.
The funeral of Henry Gerken.
The funeral took place Monday morning, August 17, 1914, from the family home to St. Boniface Church, at 9:30 o'clock. Rev. Father Thole celebrated requiem mass for the repose of his soul, and Rev. Father Pape, a first cousin of the deceased, officiated at the services at the grave. The funeral was very largely attended, including many from other towns being present, and was described as "a monster crowd of friends of the deceased and the family in attendance, many being unable to gain admittance to the church." The interment was in the church cemetery. The pallbearers were Mssrs. Ben Summer, Dr. F. X. Lange, Jacob Summer, Henry Kohls, Henry F. Smith and Anton "Tony" Mescher.
The members of the family had the sympathy of all in their sad bereavement.
CARD OF THANKS.
"We take this method in extending our heartfelt thanks to neighbors and friends for their kind assistance during our recent bereavement, the death of my beloved husband and our father.
Mrs. Henry Gerken and Family.
Dyersville Commercial. Friday, August 21, 1914.
Brother William receives news of Henry's death.
His brother William
was in Europe at the time of his brother's death on August 13, 1914, and he did not learn of the event until two months had gone by, on October 15, which he noted in his travel diary: "Today is the day which we have waited for so passionately, in order to board the ship to begin the trip home. When the joy was great and we met Anton Wilberding here in Rotterdam, he told us of the misfortune of my dear brother Henry, that he was killed in an auto accident north of Luxemburg (Iowa). That was very sad news to us." Henry Gerken had been right; he never did see his brother again.
Anna Gerken's health fails.
Anna Gerken succumbed to Bright's disease shortly after the hard trial of her husband's tragic demise. She suffered from a complication of diseases for almost two years and during her long illness bore her suffering with the greatest patience and staunch in her religious belief, resigned to the will of God. At the time of the 1915 Iowa State Census, only her daughter Zita remained in the household with Anna to tend to her needs.
Images of the 1915 Iowa State Census cards for Anna Gerken:
Anna Gerken dies.
On Thursday, September 21, 1916, Henry's wife,
Anna (Winter) Gerken, a highly respected resident of New Vienna, Iowa, was called to her reward at the family home in New Vienna at 3:10 o'clock in the afternoon. Deceased was 55 years 3 months and 20 days old at the time of her death. The cause of death, which was listed as uremic poisoning, chronic parenchymatous nephritis, indicates that she had severe problems with her kidneys.
The funeral of Anna Gerken.
The funeral was held Monday morning, from the family home to St. Boniface Church at 9:30 o'clock and was largely attended. After the usual ceremonies at the home by Rev. Father Thole, the body was escorted to the church by members of the Altar Society. The requiem mass was celebrated by Rev. A. J. Thole, and present in the sanctuary were Rev. Father Pape and Rev. Father Kunkel, the latter officiated at the services at the grave. The pallbearers were Messrs. Jac. Summers, Ben Summers, John Lies, Henry VonLemden, Henry and Anton Mescher.
The remains of Anna Gerken were laid to rest in St. Boniface Cemetery beside those of her husband, Mr. Henry Gerken, who had preceded her to the grave two years earlier.
Anna Gerken's survivors.
Anna Gerken was survived by nine children, Louis (and Anna), of Dyersville; Mary (and Joseph Fritz), of Adrian, Minn.;
Professor George (and Anna) Gerken, of New Vienna; Hubert, Wilhelmina (and Peter Winter), Irma (and Joseph Schumacher), Alphonse, and Ewald, all of Adrian, Minn.; and Zita at home.
Funeral largely attended.
Many relatives and friends from other towns were present at the funeral. Relatives in attendance included Joseph Sturm and John Rubel, of Springbrook, Iowa; Mr. Louis Gerken, Sr., Mr. Wilhelm Gerken and family, Mr. Frank Kunkel and family, Mr. Edw. Ament and family, Mr. Dominic Keffeler and family, Mr. John B. H. Gerken and wife, Mr. Hubert Huberty, Messrs. George and Henry Huberty, Mrs. Jos. Loes, all of Dyersville, Iowa; Rev. Father Kunkel, of Raymond, Iowa; Mrs. Mary Kerkhoff and daughter, Mr. Alphonse Kerkhoff and wife, Mr. Gerhard Tegeler and wife, of Petersburg, Iowa; Mr. John Link and two daughters, of Garnavillo, Iowa; Mrs. Henry Hentges, of Dubuque, Iowa; Mr. Frank Wilhelm and wife and children, Mr. Xavier Gerken and wife, Mr. Peter Smith of New Vienna. All the children were present, except Mrs. Joseph Schumacher. Friends from out of town who were present included Mr. and Mrs. Frank Steger, Miss Leanilla Steger, Miss Magdalena Lange, Mr. Theo Steger, Mrs. Jos. Luther, Mr. Henry Tegeler, Mrs. Barney Tegeler, Mr. and Mrs. A. Ruemmele, all of Dyersville; and Mrs. Baptist Thoshl, of Dubuque, Iowa.
Gerken home sold.
In 1919 the Children of Henry and Anna Gerken sold the home and Lots 115 and 116 in New Vienna, Iowa, for $3900 to Bernard H. Pasker.
K G K Orchestra
standing, right: Louis Gerken
sitting, middle: Hubert Gerken
sitting, right: George Gerken
back (l to r): Alphonse Gerken, Louis Gerken, George Gerken
front (l to r): Ewald Gerken, Hubert Gerken
l to r: George Gerken, Hubert Gerken, Louis Gerken, Alphonse Gerken
Click here for the Gerken family history contents page.
Last revised March 27, 2016.
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