WILLIAM G. ONKEN.
One of the best-known and most successful farmers of the last generation in Audubon county, Iowa, was the late William George Onken, who passed away at the age of sixty-five, October 27, 1913. Born in Schleswig, Germany, April 13, 1848, he was the son of Hoegh and Mary Onken, both natives of Germany, where the former was a farmer and where both lived and died.|
The German schools have always been known for their thoroughness and particularly for the skill with which they master local problems. It is the rule in this country that young men who expect to be farmers will be educated in those things which will best fit them for their vocation. It was in the German schools that William George Onken received his education and he was therefore well equipped for farming when he had completed his school days. After leaving school, he worked with his father on the farm until he came to America.
After arriving in this new country, the late William George Onken located in Marne, Iowa, remaining with his uncle on a farm near that place for two years. Coming to Audubon county in 1873, at a time when there were very few settlers in the county, he purchased two hundred and eighty acres of land on Buck creek and farmed there for sixteen years; when he sold out, purchasing two hundred acres of land near Brayton, Iowa, where he was engaged in farming until two years before his death. He then retired, having accumulated a substantial competence, and moved to Brayton, where he died.
On August 22, 1874, William George Onken was married to Elizabeth Hardwick, who was born on February 12, 1856, a daughter of George and Mary (Beech) Hardwick, both natives of England, where they lived and died. Elizabeth Hardwick came to America with her brother and located on Buck creek, in Audobon county.
To Mr. and Mrs. William George Onken were born nine children: Mary, Anna, Amelia, Bertha, William, Henry, Kate, Fred and Lillie. Mary married Peter Leander and had six children; George, Minnie, Clarence, Harry, Bessie and Mabel, the latter two deceased. Anna married George Astings and has one child, Pearl. Amelia became the wife of John Kracck and has two children, Carl and Donald. Bertha is the wife of Henry Bell and has two children, Henry and Glynn. William married Anna Anderson and has two children, Walter and Ethel. Henry married Lena Anderson. Kate is the wife of Asa Brewer and has one child, Gerald. Fred married Dorothy Anderson and has one child, Mildred. Lillie married George Anderson and has one child, Harry.
William George Onken was a Democrat and held several offices of local importance. He served many years as road supervisor, and was also a school director and served as president of the Oakfield creamery one year. The Onken family are all members of the Lutheran church.
At the time of his death, William George Onken had a host of friends in Audobon county and today, now that he is gone, his memory is revered, not only by his loving sons and daughters, but by those friends who knew him for his worth as a neighbor and citizen. He was a man of generous and kindly impulses, a friend to the poor and charitable to a fault. He took a keen interest in his family and his home, and at his death his children were well provided with the comforts of life.
Transcribed from History of Audubon County, Iowa Its People, Industries and Institutions With Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families, by H. F. Andrews, editor, Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1915, pp. 741-744.