Siefke Bohlken & Margaret Willms Bohlken

Married March 2, 1872, Jones County, Iowa

Dick Bohlken, of Bohlken Brothers, conducted an up-to-date livery and feed barn at Akron.  He was born in Plymouth county October 19, 1882, to Siefke and Margaret (Willms) Bohlken, both natives of Germany.  His parents were married in Germany, where they resided until about 1867, when they came to Iowa and settled in Jones county, where Mr. Bohlken worked as a farm hand until 1870.

They came to Plymouth county and settled in Preston township, where Siefke Bohlken engaged in farming, and soon took a homestead of 160 acres of wild prairie land.  He built a small sod house, began the task of breaking the ground and in a short time had the greater part of his farm ready for cultivation.

He later purchased 40 acres of railroad land, which he broke and put under cultivation.  He engaged in general farming and stock raising, and also bought and sold much land.  In addition to his farm in Plymouth county, he owned 160 acres of land in North Dakota, as well as much other property. 

~Excerpt Our Life 1882-1982 Akron, Iowa, DICK BOHLKEN bio, page 164

LeMars Globe-Post
Monday, January 5, 1931

Siefke Bohlken Had Many Thrilling Experiences Pioneering

Siefke Bohlken, of 115 4th Ave. S.W., passed away at his home on New Year’s
Day at the age of 84 years, 11 months and 18 days, after a sickness of a few

Siefke Bohlken was born Jan. 14, 1846, at Rupssholt, Germany, a son of Mr.
and Mrs. William Bohlken. He came to America in 1868 and worked at Jones
county, Iowa, and came to Plymouth county in 1869. He worked for Schneider
and Hells at Melbourne, now Hinton, Iowa. After that he homesteaded 160
acres in section 22, Preston township, of which he sold one-half to Fred
Jacobs. He went back to Jones county and married to Margaret Wilms (sic) in
the spring of 1871. They came back to Plymouth and went to farming on the
homestead. The same year he bought 40 acres of railroad land. He at once
built a small sod house and began the tasks of breaking the ground and in
short time had the greater part of his land ready for cultivating.

He engaged in general farming and stock raising and also bought and sold
much land, as well as much other property. For many years he has been
recognized as one of the substantial and influential men of the township.
He took much interest in civic life of the community and many of the
important affairs of the township.

The great blizzard of the early days left impression upon the minds of the
pioneers that time could never efface and were of such fierceness and
duration as to seem sure to discourage the settlement of even the bravest of
the brave pioneer families. The homesteaders had their first taste of the
genuine article in the way of a blizzard on March 14, 1870, and stayed with
them in all its blinding, handing fury for three days and three nights only
slightly less severe was the winter of 1873, climaxing a bright sunshiny
morning, with more than ten foot of snow over mother earth and in less time
than it takes to write it the wind whipped into the northwest and blew at
the rate of 60 to 80 miles an hour, the heavens overcast, the snow falling
thick and fast while that all ready on the ground is lifted and mingled with
it. The snow was so thick in the air that you could not see the length of
your arm from you. If you were out in the storm, you got to shelter if you
could, and if you were in you would stay.

The houses were made of sods and dirt and the roofs were made of grass,
covered with dirt and for windows they had holes cut in the walls in this
structure. All in one room the family lived and did their cooking and
sleeping and entertaining.

During those early days the cold and storms were not the only draw back.
The grasshopper and the prairie fires were more dread than the blizzard and
called for utmost exertion of everyone to save life and property. Teams of
every description would be rushed into harness and hitched to plows to make
fire lands. Others with grain sacks or bedding or anything they had to whip
out the rolling waves of fire.

Some gave their own life in the struggle. Many people were overtaken by
these fires while traveling. Sometimes they had to run their horses for
miles until a patch of plowing or breaking could be reached. People
sometimes saved themselves by backfiring and getting onto the bunt before
the fire got a start. People soon learned to carry matches with them for
this special purpose. While the prairie fires were so much dreaded, they
were beautiful to behold, especially at a distance and provided a scene
never to be forgotten by anyone who viewed it from place of safety.

At the time when the James Bros. were roaming the country as bad men, Mr.
Bohlken gave dinner to them, thinking it was the officers who were trying to
capture them.

Mr. Bohlken was confirmed in the Lutheran faith at Rupsholt at the age of
13. He was one of 13 who helped to build the first Lutheran church in Grant
township, Plymouth county. He was the last surviving member of that

Mr. and Mrs. Bohlken joined the Methodist church at Rosback, in Plymouth
county, Iowa, in the year 1882. Later was member of the St. Paul Methodist
church of LeMars and for the last 27 years, which he has been a faithful
member to the end.

His wife died in 1902. In 1903 he moved to LeMars on a farm west of town.
In 1908 he retired and moved to town until his death.

Thirteen children were born to them. Five children and his wife preceded him
in death. Eight children are living, who are: Mrs. Sophia Alhrichs and Mrs.
I. A. Solberg, of LeMars; John, of Ireton; George, of Estelline, S.D.;
Albert, of Lisbon, N.D.; Mrs. Mert Gabel, Will and Dick, of Akron, Iowa.
One brother and sister still live in Germany. Mr. Bohlken is also survived
by 26 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.



Margaretha (Mother) holding young Lydia


Photograph of Siefke Bohlken & his grandson, Alfred Ahlrichs--circa 1917


Children of Siefke & Margaret:

Wilhelm, died infancy abt 1872-1873

Sophia, b. 06 Mar 1874; d. 25 Aug 1953; married Ed Ahlrich-28 Aug 1896
John Willms, b. 30 Sep 1875; d. 07 Aug 1946; married Dora Beulow; farmed in Preston Township
Maria Louise "Mary," b. 14 Aug 1878; d. 06 Feb 1926; married Garrett Luschen, of Pipestone, Minn.

~Above: Anna & Martha Bohlken

Martha, b. 20 Jan 1879; d. 23 Dec 1917; married Chris Braun of Moville, Iowa **Martha's Obituary
Anna Margaretha, b. 03 Dec 1880; d. 22 Sep 1965; married Merton William Gabel, Preston Township**Anna's Obituary
Diedrich "Dick", b. 19 Oct 1882; d. 31 Jul 1944; twin of Will, married Mary M. Gabel

Wilhelm "Will", b. 19 Oct 1882; d. 19 Aug 1946; twin of Dick; married Fern Trumbo
George Gerhardt, b. 12 Dec 1884; d. 25 May 1957; married Mathilda Eilers; engaged in farming & stock raising on old homestead
Margaretha Johanna "Maggie", b. 24 Feb 1887; d. 17 Sep 1927; married Will Gaudian, of LeMars, Iowa

Heinrich "Henry", b. 10 Apr 1889; d. 17 May 1909; died at the age of 20 while living in Texas
Lydia Clara, b. 12 Sep 1891; d. 14 Apr 1968; married Isaac Annar Salberg
Albert Fredrick, b. 10 Feb 1896; d. 09 Jan 1972; served in the Army on the Mexican Border & Rainbow Division France WWI; married Jessie L. Colson

**Click on underlined links for related family history pages


~Above: Lydia & Albert Bohlken

Young lady, Lydia Bohlken



Gerd Siefken "Siefke" Bohlken
b. 14 Jan 1846, Germany
d. 01 Jan 1931, LeMars, Iowa

His Obituary


Margaret Willms Bohlken
b. 18 Oct 1849, Germany
d. 12 Aug 1902, Plymouth Co., Iowa

Her Obituary

**Family information and photos submitted by family descendant, Glenna Rice



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