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The German Heritage of Carroll County, Iowa
by David Reineke
 

Chapter Fourteen

PAGE TWO

 

The German Press in Carroll County

 

Carroll County’s German Newspapermen

 

                   As the following biographies demonstrate, the German newspapermen of Carroll County came from a variety of backgrounds.  Some were born to rather privileged families, while others came from more modest circumstances.  

 John G. Burkhardt

                    John G. Burkhardt was the first editor of the Carroll Demokrat.  At present, very little biographical information is available concerning him.  He was 23 years old when he arrived in Carroll in 1874.  He had previously been employed at the Beobachter am Missouri, Omaha’s first German newspaper.  He was editor, and for a time publisher, of the Demokrat until he left Carroll in July 1878 to work for a new German paper established by Dr. L. Rick in Kinsley, Kansas.  He subsequently worked for other German papers in the “West” including papers in Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  Around 1900, he worked for the Gainesville Anzeiger in Cooke County, Texas, where there was a large German community, including a number of transplants from Carroll County.

 Franz Florencourt

                    Franz Florencourt was a county representative and correspondent for Der Carroll Demokrat when it was established in 1874.  He edited the paper from 1880 until 1891, and again from 1919 until his death in 1922.  He also edited Die Germania for a time during the 1890s.

                    His full name was Franz Ferdinand Chassot von Florencourt, and he was born on September 1, 1844 to an upper-class family in Naumburg, Saxony.  When he was 5 years old, the family moved to Vienna, Austria, and converted to the Catholic religion.  In 1854, the family moved to Cologne, Germany, where his father, a well-known journalist, established the Kölner Volks-Zeitung (Cologne People’s Newspaper), a leading publication of one of Germany’s political parties. 

                    Franz Florencourt attended school in Cologne, and later he was sent to a Benedictine school in Metten, Bavaria.  He then went to a naval academy in Bremen, and when he was 22 years old he entered the merchant marine as an officer.  He served one year as a volunteer in the Prussian Navy, and then served until 1870 aboard various merchant ships, traveling to many parts of the world.  When the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870, he was aboard a ship harbored in England, and by the time he returned to Germany his services were not needed.  He came to the United States in December 1870, and then sailed from New York as on officer on the American merchant ship Benefactor on a year-long trip to China and back. 

                    In 1872, he traveled to Michigan, where he met his brother Carl. In April 1872, they came together to Carroll County and purchased farmland in Wheatland Township.  Franz worked at farming for two years, and taught school for three years in Roselle (Hillsdale).  He was also with Der Carroll Demokrat as county agent and correspondent beginning in 1874.         In 1886, he married Wilhelmina Von Lück, and they had four children.

                    As noted above, he edited the Demokrat from 1880 until 1891, and also edited Die Germania during the 1890s.  He returned to the Demokrat as editor in 1919.  He died in July 1922 due to complications from an operation for appendicitis.  His funeral was at the Catholic church in Carroll. 

 Alois Becker

                    Alois Becker edited Der Carroll Demokrat from approximately 1892 to 1900.  He was born on March 9, 1854 at Calcar, near Kleve, on the lower Rhine River.  In 1856, his family moved to Essen, where Alois attended school and later trained to be a dentist.  In 1879, he married Sophie Louise Viemann, and they eventually had four children.

                    After living in Essen for about three more years, the family immigrated to America and moved to Carroll County, where Mr. Becker at first set up a dental practice.  In 1891, he was named editor and business manager of the Carroll Demokrat, and he remained with the paper until October 1899.  The family then moved to Council Bluffs, where Mr. Becker took over the Freie Presse, a Democratic weekly paper, which he edited and published until approximately 1908.

 Joseph M. Dunck

                   Joseph M. Dunck was born in Iowa and raised on his parent’s farm near Maple River, and he received his early education in the public and parochial schools in Carroll County.  In 1887, he went to Teutopolis, Illinois and attended St. Joseph’s College for two years.  He then returned to work on his father’s farm, and received further tutoring from Father Roettler in Mt. Carmel.   In 1894, he obtained his B.A. degree from St. Joseph’s College in Dubuque, and five years later he obtained his M.A. from the same school. 

                    For the next 10 years, he worked as a schoolteacher.  He was then made editor of the Carroll Demokrat in 1905, and he worked at that until 1918.  He was a Demokrat and a member of the Catholic Church.  He died in 1922

 Rev. Lubke Huendling

                    Rev. Lubke Huendling was the founder of Die Ostfriesische Nachrichten, and was also the first pastor of the Wheatland Presbyterian Church near Breda.  He was born in 1854 in Holte, Ostfriesland (East Friesland), where he attended the public schools as a youth.  It is said that two of his ancestors, a father and son, were pastors in a Calvinist church in Germany and that they ministered the same church in the same little town for 105 consecutive years, from 1650 to 1755.  

                    The Huendling family immigrated to America in 1869.  After stopping for a time in Freeport, Illinois, they moved to Dubuque, Iowa.  Lubke Huendling enrolled in the German Presbyterian College there, and he graduated in 1876.  Three years later he graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.  During his summer vacation in 1878, he was invited to preach at the Wheatland Presbyterian Church near Breda.  After being ordained a minister, he served as pastor of Wheatland Presbyterian from 1879 to 1881.

                    He then accepted a position for two years as a professor of languages at the German Presbyterian College in Dubuque.  During this time, he recognized the need for a German-language newspaper as a means of maintaining connections between the East Frisian populations in the United States and their family, friends, and countrymen back in Germany.  He began publication of Die Ostfriesische Nachrichten in Dubuque in 1882. 

                    Rev. Huendling moved the operation to Carroll County in 1884, and the paper was printed on the presses at the Carroll Herald until 1898, when the paper was moved to near Breda.  As noted above, the newspaper served to connect the East Frisian immigrants in America with their countrymen back home.  In approximately 1907, Rev. Huendling hired D. B. Aden to come from East Friesland to assist in editing and publishing the paper.

                    Rev. Huendling married Nellie Daane in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin in 1880.  They eventually had seven children.  While living near Breda, Rev. Huendling was also active in community affairs and worked to modernize the quality of life in his rural area.  In the early 1900s, he advocated the installation of telephone and electrical service, as well as establishment of a rural postal route.  It is also said that he obtained the first radio in the community, and one of the first automobiles in the area around 1910 or 1911.  As a preacher, he was known to walk for miles if necessary in order to minister to the local population.  He assisted in establishing the Emmanuel Church in Carnarvon, in neighboring Sac County, where he also preached.   Rev. Huendling died in 1937.  The paper continued to be published until approximately 1971.

 Berthold Krause

                    Berthold Krause was born on January 4, 1863 in Bohemia, a German-speaking area around Prague, and now part of the Czech Republic.  After attending public school in his hometown, he continued his studies at an advanced high school in Saaz (possibly present-day Žatec), where he obtained an excellent classical and liberal arts education.  It is said that he developed a fondness for the great German playwrights, Schiller and Goethe, and that he then decided to become a stage actor.

                    He immigrated to the United States in 1883.  Without funds at first, he worked for a time in a store in Cleveland, and then as a farm hand and railroad worker.  He then went to Chicago, where he worked with a theatre company and traveled with the troupe through Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa.  He later moved to Davenport, Iowa, where he became director of his own company, the Davenport Theatre, said to be one of the best German theatres in the country.  While on a trip to Manning with his troupe, it is said that Krause greatly enjoyed the thriving little German town.  He quit the theatre and settled in Manning permanently, where he married and started a family.

                    Krause soon decided to start a German newspaper to serve his new hometown, and the first edition of Der Manning Herold appeared on February 2, 1894. His new business faced many challenges in the first few years.  At first, he created his type sets out of cigar boxes, and a fire virtually destroyed the business in its early days.  At first he published the paper in the Ruhden building, and in 1897 he moved into the second floor of the Carpenter building.  Through his hard work and dedication, the paper prospered and expanded.  By 1900, circulation was approximately 650, rising to 800 by 1910, and to 950 by 1915.

                    In addition to the newspaper, Krause also published the Manning city directories, and in 1900 he published a hardback History of Manning, which had been complied by J. L. Robb.  Krause was also a member of the school board, and it is said that he worked hard to ensure that German was taught in the local school system.

                    Berthold Krause died on June 15, 1907, at the age of 42.  After his death, the paper was taken over by Peter Rix, a German farmer who was motivated to carry on the paper because of his friendship to Krause as well as love for his native German culture. 

 Peter Rix

                     He was born Hans Peter Rix on November 15, 1870 in the north German town of Stakendorf, near Kiel and the Baltic Sea.  He arrived in New York on July 21, 1887 aboard the Thingvalla, sailing from Denmark.  He worked for a time as a farm hand, and he continued in farming after he arrived in Manning.  He married Wilhelmina Baak, a native of Schleswig-Holstein, in 1895.

                    Mr. Rix became publisher of the Manning Herold upon the death of the former owner, Berthold Krause, in 1907.  Rix was said to be motivated in carrying on the business due to his friendship for Krause, as well as his love for his native German language and culture.

                    After approximately three years, in 1910, Rix sold the Herold to Paul Werner and Carl Hasselman.  Rix was appointed postmaster in 1915 and served until 1925.  In 1919, shortly after the end of World War I, Rix purchased an English-language paper called the Manning Monitor.  The Herold was then merged into the Monitor, and thereafter Rix and Paul Werner published the paper together.  The loss of the town’s only German paper was a sad blow to many German residents of Manning.   Peter Rix retired from publishing the paper in 1945, and her died in 1951.   

 Clemence A. Bohnenkamp

                    Clemence A. Bohnenkamp ran the Breda Watchman from 1894 to 1909.  He was born in Breda on February 23, 1877, the eldest son of John H. and Caroline Bohnenkamp.   He attended public school and graduated in 1891.  He learned the art of typesetting as an employee at the Breda Watchman, an English-language newspaper started in 1890 by J. J. McMahon.  Bohnenkamp became manager of the paper and eventually purchased the business in 1894.  He married Christina Ricke in 1898.  The Watchman went out of business in 1909 when Bohnenkamp moved to Duncomb, Iowa to start a new paper.

 William Langenfeld

                              William Langenfeld was an editor at Der Carroll Demokrat from 1901 to 1904.  He was born November 24, 1855 at Rübhausen, in the Rhine Province of Germany.  He attended school there until he immigrated to America with his parents in 1869.  The family settled first near Mendota, Illinois.  In 1874, the family moved to Carroll County, Iowa, where they farmed about a mile north of where Halbur is now located.

                     William became a teacher in 1878, and during the winter months he taught school in Roselle (Hillsdale) and Washington Townships and later took over a school in Roselle.  In 1883, he married Gertrude Rohlmann, a native of Germany who had come to America with her family in the 1870s.  In 1888, he moved to Arkansas for approximately three years, and then he returned to Carroll County in 1891. 

                    Upon his return, he worked as the station agent in Halbur for approximately nine years.  He then moved to Carroll, where he edited Der Carroll Demokrat from 1901 to 1904.  In early 1904, he became deputy county treasurer, and he was elected county treasurer in 1908.  He belonged to the Democratic Party, and he and his wife were Catholics.     

 

CONCLUSION

                    As seen above, Carroll County’s German newspapers prospered during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The Carroll Demokrat and the Manning Herold together probably had over 2000 subscribers prior to World War I.  Both papers, however, went out of business shortly after the war ended in 1918—the Herold in 1919, and the Demokrat in 1922.  Only the Ostfriesische Nachrichten, with its greater circulation around the country, managed to survive.      

                    Anti-German sentiment caused by the war undoubtedly played a role in the demise of both papers.  During and shortly after the war, there was a great deal of hostility directed at the German population in Iowa, and  Germans were denounced by many politicians and newspapers around the state.  In May 1918, Governor Harding had even gone as far as issuing a proclamation totally outlawing the use of all foreign languages in public—this included things like telephone conversations and even church services.  On numerous occasions, this hostility also resulted in acts of vandalism against German property and violence against persons of German descent.  People were assaulted, and homes and business were attacked.  Many “patriots” adopted the practice of dousing German homes and business with yellow paint.  As seen above, this once happened to the building housing the Manning Herold.  Similar episodes also took place in Carroll, as noted in the following short article printed in the English-language Ruthven Free Press in August 1918:

                    Splattered with three batches of yellow paint, the sign on the German Savings Bank at Carroll, stands as mute testimony of that community’s growing ire against those who control this institution.  This bank is a festering sore in Carroll.  Its stubborn refusal to change its name is arousing countrywide feeling.  This is the third application.

                    In essence, during and even after the War, public displays of “Germanness” were unpopular and even dangerous. Numerous German papers in Iowa, and throughout the United States, either went out of business or changed to English-language publications during this time.

                    Another reason for the decline of the German press was the fact that the number of German-born residents was declining.  By 1920, many of the early German settlers who had come to Carroll County between the late 1860s and 1880s had passed away.  A comparison of the Carroll County census figures for 1900 and 1920 indicates that the number of people actually born in Germany had declined dramatically during this period.  This undoubtedly also led to a drop in the demand for German-language publications.

                    For nearly half a century, however, Carroll County’s German papers served to inform, entertain, and unite the Germans residents in Carroll County.  During their day, they played a major role in fostering and preserving the German culture and language.  They fulfilled the role of the German press, as described in 1900 by Joseph Eiboeck, editor of the Iowa Staats Anzeiger in Des Moines:

 

The newspaper, whether daily or weekly, delivers the up to date information of events and information of the present.  It is the public observation of the day.  It strives to bring everything before the reader in as true and reliable a manner as the prevailing circumstances a permit the editor and publisher to present.  It brings the reader a picture of life, how it is, and also how it could and should be.  It grieves with the family when a member passes away or when pain or misfortune strikes.  It offers congratulations at the arrival of a new baby, and strews roses on the path of the newlyweds.  It furthers German clubs, German churches, German schools, and goes to battle for many a German candidate in politics.  It strives greatly for the well-being of its patrons, as well as for that of the town and the state.

 

 

NOTES AND SOURCES FOR CHAPTER FOURTEEN:

Much of the information contained in this chapter is taken from various issues of Der Carroll Demokrat.  The general county and Iowa histories used in previous chapters were also used here.  Eventually, I would like to expand the sections dealing with the other papers.  Hopefully, additional issues of all of these papers will eventually be discovered.  Information on the Ostfriesische Nachrichten was obtained in the Breda centennial book and from the Wheatland Presbyterian Church centennial book.  Information about the Manning Herold was obtained from the Manning centennial book and from J.L. Robb, History of Manning (Manning 1900).   The outstanding web site maintained by David Kusel of Manning was also extremely helpful: <davidkusel.com>. Information on the Demokrat, the Monitor, and some German newspapermen was also obtained from Joseph Eiboeck, Die Deutschen von Iowa und deren Errungenschaften [The Germans of Iowa and their Achievements] (Des Moines 1900).  Dates and statistics for these papers were obtained from Karl Arndt and May Olson, Deutsch-Amerikanische Zeitungen und Zeitschriften 1732-1955 [German-American Newspapers and Journals 1732-1955] (New York and London 1955 Reprint).

 

 

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