Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 644-45.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Friedrich Wilhelm Ferdinand Hanke

In the history of the men who have been prominently associated with agricultural interests in Buena Vista county mention should be made of Friedrich Wilhelm Ferdinand Hanke, now deceased.  For a long period he carried on general farming on section 2, Newell township, and his life of industry, enterprise and honesty made his example one well worthy of emulation.  He was born in Kneltz, Germany, April 24, 1848.  His father was Fritz Hanke, also a native of Germany, whence he came to America, settling in Wausau, Wisconsin.  There he made his home with his son until his death, which occurred when he was about seventy-five years of age.  His wife, who bore the maiden name of Minnie Schrader, died at a very advanced age.  They had a large family but only two are now living:  Albert, who is a resident of Le Mars, Iowa; and Charles, whose home is in Wausau, Wisconsin.


Friedrich W. F. Hanke spent the days of his boyhood and youth in his native land and was indebted to the public-school system for the educational privileges he enjoyed.  He came to America in the year 1870, attracted by the broader business opportunities and larger advantages of the new world.  Making his way into the interior of the country he settled in Pocahontas county, where he resided until 1882, when he came to Buena Vista county.  Here he purchased forty acres of land, to which he added from time to time as his financial resources increased, until at one time he was the owner of a valuable property of three hundred and sixty acres.  He married Miss Wilhelmina Katharine Karoline Henrietta Strey, who was born in Germany, November 30, 1853.  She was not quite thirteen years of age when she came to America with her father, brother and sister.  The mother had died in Germany when Mrs. Hanke was not quite two years of age, leaving three children:  Ernestina, who was killed in a cyclone; Carl, who resides in Wausau, Wisconsin; and Mrs. Hanke.  The father married again and there was one daughter by the second union, Augusta, who is the wife of Albert Hanke, and lives in Le Mars. Iowa.


Unto Mr. and Mrs. F. W. F. Hanke were born nine children, six sons and three daughters:  Reinhold has operated the home farm since his father's death.  He wedded Martha Porath and has one daughter, Bernice.  Allie is the wife of Henry Witzke, a resident of Newell township.  She has two children, Wilma and Melvin.  Martha is the wife of August Witzke, by whom she has a son, Wilbur.  Lizzie is at home.  Herman wedded Minnie Witzke.  Samuel, Freddie and William died in childhood. James, who completes the family, is under the parental roof.


Mr. Hanke was a poor man when he came to Buena Vista county and cast in his lot with the early settlers, but by hard work and good management and a determination to succeed, he gradually worked his way upward until he became the owner of a valuable farming property of three hundred and twenty acres, so that he left his family well provided for.  In all his business dealings he was straightforward and honorable and his success came as the merited reward of his diligence, industry and integrity.  He passed away January 1, 1900, at the age of fifty-seven years and his death was deeply regretted [sic] by many friends as well as his immediate family.  He held membership in the Lutheran church and his entire life was in consistent harmony with his religious faith.  His widow, who still survives him, is also a Lutheran.  She is entitled to a good share of credit for the upbuilding of the home and she still resides on the old homestead with her sons, Reinhold and James, and her daughter Lizzie.  The farm comprises two hundred and forty acres of rich and productive land and is well managed by her son Reinhold.  The son Herman has a farm of eighty acres adjoining and these three sons are all thrifty, energetic agriculturists, following in the footsteps of their industrious parents.  The farm is a splendid property, well tilled and carefully improved, indicating in its excellent appearance the well directed labor of the former owner and the industry of the present occupants.