This story posted features the JANICKE surname. This man known as "Johnnycake" --was a LeMars legend.

Yester Year Stories, Backed with Today's Research



LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel
Tuesday, August 2, 1910

Wife Says Her Hubby in Frenzy of Rage, Smashed Window Lights and Tore Down Clothes Line, Stamping Clean Linen in Dirt.

Because her husband drove her from their house, threatened to kill her with a butcher knife and told her he was tired of her are the reasons given by Mary Janicke for commencing suit in the district court of Plymouth County asking for an absolute divorce from her husband, William A. Janicke.

The petitioner states that she was married to Janicke on December 20, 1906, and lived with him in Lincoln township from March 1, 1907 to March 1, 1910, when they moved to Grant township. She states his abuse of her started soon after marriage when he began to call her opprobrious names and repeatedly accused her of being intimate with hired man on the place.

The petitioner further relates that he always spoke in praise of other women in the neighborhood and disparagingly of her. On one occasion less than a year after their marriage she says in a fit of rage, he tore down the line on which the washing was hung out to dry, threw the clean linen on the ground, stamped on it, broke several window lights with his fist and beat her, striking her on the head. On July 22 last, she says he drove her from the house, threatening to kill her and she took refuge with a neighbor for the night. Her health has been injured by his treatment. One child named John, two years old, was born to them and she states she will soon become a mother again.

Mrs. Janicke in her petition says when she married Janicke she gave him $300, her savings, and her father gave her $300, which she also gave to her husband.

She as about $100 and a little furniture and has no means of livelihood except working as a domestic and in her present condition is not able to do so and therefore asks temporary alimony to the amount of $250, $100 for attorney fees and $2,500 permanent alimony. She states her husband has eight horses and four colts reasonably valued at $1500, twenty-four head of cattle valued at $720, hay $300, machinery $300, and crops to the amount of $2500, and has no debts to speak of other than $1280 for rent. She asks custody of the children and absolute divorce.

A writ of attachment was issued against Janicke’s property pending the trial of the suit at the next term of court.

LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel
August 9, 1910


W. A. Janicke, of Grant township, swore out a warrant against his hired man, Albert Jacobine, on Thursday alleging assault and battery. The case was heard before Justice Jones on Friday and Jacobine settled the matter by paying the costs. Jacobine swore out a warrant charging Janicke with threatening to shoot him but later the case was dismissed. The trouble originated over the divorce suit which Janicke’s wife instituted against him last week in which she alleges extreme cruelty.

LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel
May 16, 1911

Henry Meins Is Wanted by Several Parties, Who Are More or Less Interested in His Stunts to Obtain Devil Wagon Without Cost

Henry Meins, a young man who gained notoriety as a star witness in a recent breach of promise and seduction case, tried in the Plymouth county court, in which he did not in accordance with ancient usage shield the honor of the fair plaintiff, is again in the limelight.  At least certain transactions of his are, as it is reasonable to suppose Meins is keeping very much in the dark and is a much wanted man at present.

Meins, who is a young fellow not much over twenty years of age, and who has worked on farms in the northwest part of the county, got a hankering to become owner of an automobile.  The fact that he did not have the price was not a deterrent to him in his desire to possess a swift moving machine so he came to town and attempted to buy one on credit.  He looked over some machines at the Plymouth Auto county garage and finally he picked on a machine which he decided suited him.  He wanted to get the machine on credit, but the automobile dealers wanted the cash and refused to let the machine go out of the shop on credit.  No wise abrashed by his non-success, Meins tried a second time  to get a machine on credit, but again failed.  Finally he decided to buy a second hand machine and bought one from W. A. Janicke, residing near Brunsville.  A price of $498 was agreed upon and Meins gave a check for the amount on the Bank of Chatsworth.  Janicke endorsed the check and presented it at the Bank of Brunsville, where it was cashed.  The check in the course of business found its way to the German-American Savings Bank of this city, then to Sioux City and then to Chatsworth, where the check was dishonored and marked, “no funds.”

Young Meins in the meantime had been enjoying a number of automobile rides.  He had borrowed $20 from another bank and this bank attached the machine and later the other bank took out a second attachment.  Meins was attached to automobile riding, but attached more importance to his self preservation from the strong arm of the law and jumped out leaving the machine behind him.  Suit was filed last Saturday in the district court in the matter under the caption of Bank of Brunsville vs. Henry Meins and W. A. Janicke.

Meins has worked in Dakota and came back from that place last year to be a witness in the court case spoken of in the first paragraph, when he was a witness for the defendant. Witnesses in rebuttal to Meins’ testimony testified that he was no white robed angel. The defendant lost the case.

LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel
October 31, 1911

Young Man Who Originally Bought It Jumped the Country

A sheriff’s sale was held at the Star livery barn yesterday morning when Sheriff Arendt put up an automobile for sale.  The automobile has a history.  It was bought some months ago by a young man, Henry Meins, who cut a small swath around the northwest part of the county as a would be sport, and also gained notoriety as a star witness for the defense in an unsavory seduction suit.  Meins purchased the car for $500 from W. A. Janicke, giving him a check for the amount.  The check was presented the Bank of Brunsville, which cashed it.  The check proved worthless and Meins had skipped the country before authorities could call on him to explain. The automobile was sold yesterday to satisfy the claim and was bought by Nic Willer, of Preston township, for $275.

LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel,  December 12, 1911


The Bank of Brunsville vs. Henry Meins et al. was the outcome of an automobile deal made by the defendant, Henry Meins, who left the country between two days.  Meins bought an automobile from W. A. Janicke and gave the latter a check on the Bank of Chatsworth.  Janicke went to the bank with Meins and the cashier on the representation of Meins that he had money in the bank at Chatsworth and on Janicke’s endorsement cashed the check. A verdict was returned in favor of the bank for $342.93. The automobile was attached and sold a few weeks ago and the original owner of the machine is out both his automobile and cash.

LeMars Daily Sentinel, February 16, 1965

William Janicke Found Dead in Burning House   
Gasoline Explodes Stove

The Two-Room House is where William Janicke made his home alone. Furniture, tools and other household articles in deep snow around the house. (Photo provided with the news article.)

William Janicke, 78, longtime resident of Plymouth County,  died of burns Monday afternoon when a pot-bellied stove exploded in his 2-room house.

He was pronounced dead at the scene by Dr. Sherman Lindell, county medical examiner.

Mr. Janicke lived alone at 201 Seventh Ave. SW.  A neighbor, W. E. Ebrecht, noticed smoke coming from the Janicke house and called firemen at 4:20 p.m.

When firemen arrived they found the badly burned body on top of a cob pile on the west side of the room. Smoke poured from broken windows.

Dr. Lindell said Mr. Janicke evidently was blown down by the explosion.  Firemen reported the odor of gasoline soaked cobs.

Firemen extinguished the flames in the house.

Mr. Janicke was a partial cripple and in recent years drove a self-propelled lawn mower for transportation around town.

He was a friend of the Herman and Clarence Lang families for many years and ate his noon meal with the family almost every day, Clarence Lang said.  He added Mr. Janicke drove his mower to the Lang farm last Sunday for his daily visit and left about 4 o’clock.  Mr. Lang reported he didn’t come Monday.

Mr. Janicke, known as “Johnnycake” by many, was a LeMars legend. Back in the 1940s, he would visit taverns and entertain customers with his glass-eating.  He would not actually swallow the glass, Mr. Lang said, but would chew it up and then let it flow back into the beverage as he put the full glass to his lips.  Many thought he had actually swallowed the glass.

Several years ago Mr. Janicke sustained a hip injury and since then has suffered from arthritis. He got around on two crutches, and drove his little vehicle to grocery stores and to neighbors for visits.

Mr. Janicke was born April 20, 1885, in Sioux City.  He married Marie Johanna Onken Dec. 20, 1906, in LeMars. They farmed in Grant township until 1915, when he moved to Crystal Lake where he lived until 1927. He moved back to Plymouth County and farmed until retiring to LeMars in 1946.

Funeral services were held at 3 p.m. at Mauer Funeral Home. Burial was in LeMars Memorial Cemetery.  Rev. L. L. Belk and Rev. Robert Floy officiated.

Survivors are a son, John Janicke, Grove City, Minn.; a daughter, Elsie Janicke, LeMars; three grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; three half-sisters, Mrs. Tony Meier, and Emma Jean Rentel, both of Sioux City, and Mrs. Earl Layson, Seattle, Wash.; a step-brother, Frank Rentel, Sioux City, and two step-sisters, Mrs. Pauline Svenosen and Mrs. Anna Howard, both of Sioux City.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Richard; a half-sister, Marie Rentel, and a step-brother, Herman Rentel.