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HENRY LUTH, SR.


H.H. Luth

Hans Hinrich Lüth (with an umlaut--two dots--over the "u") was born in Gadendorf, Germany (Prussia), a small town near Luetjenburg up toward the Baltic Sea coast in the Holstein part of Schleswig-Holstein. His birth date was recorded in church records as the 24th of June 1851. However, immediate family members say, and other records indicate, that it was the 23rd. He was christened in the Evangelical Lutheran Church on July 27, 1851. Henry attended local schools and lived with his family until 1870.

In March of that year, at the age of 18, he made his way to Hamburg, intending to sail to America. He boarded the "S. S. Saxonia," a three-masted sailing vessel, bound for New York. The "Saxonia" was built by Caird & Company in Greenock, Scotland for the Hamburg American Line and was launched in 1857. Her passenger accommodations were 60 in 1st class, 120 in 2nd class and 450 in steerage class. The "Saxonia" is pictured in Michael J. Anuta's book SHIPS OF OUR ANCESTORS (Menominee, MI: Ships of Our Ancestors, 1983), p. 300, courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, East India Square, Salem, MA 01970.

When Henry left Germany, he was following in the footsteps of his older brother Fredrick William who had immigrated to America the year before. Henry left his father Friederich Luth (with an umlaut over the "u"), a farm laborer, his mother Catharina Dorothea Dohse, two sisters Anna Catharina and Catharina Margaretha and a older brother Detlef behind in Gadendorf. It is not known whether his oldest sister Magdalena Dorothea was still alive in 1870; she died sometime before 1874.

Henry gave his occupation on the passenger list as "landmann" (farmer). It is believed he traveled alone. Henry's future wife, Maggie Ohde, sailed to America in 1870, too, but on a different ship. Henry immigrated twenty-two years too early to be one of the sixteen million immigrants who passed through the Ellis Island Immigration Center in New York Harbor. He probably came into the United States through Castle Garden in New York City, the first official receiving station in the United States devoted solely to the processing of new immigrants.

Sometime after he arrived in America, "Hinrich" became Americanized to "Henry" and the umlaut over the "u" in Luth was dropped. He settled first in Clinton County, Iowa. His brother Fredrick William Lueth (who dropped the umlaut over the "u" but retained the "e" that replaces it) was working on the railroad there and, no doubt, helped him adjust to life in America. Henry worked as a farm hand and carefully saved his money.

At age 25, on January 11, 1876, he married Margaretha (Maggie) Ohde, who was 19. The marriage was performed by Clinton County Justice of the Peace William Lake. In May of the next year, Henry "renounced all allegiance to the German Empire" so he could became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. While Henry and Margaretha lived in Clinton County, they had two boys whom they named Fred and Peter, after Henry's father and grandfather as German custom dictated.

In 1879, Henry's father Friederich immigrated to America to join Henry and his brother Fredrick William. Henry's mother Dorothea had passed away five years earlier in Germany. Friederich then alternated living with sons Fredrick William and Henry, both in Crawford County, Iowa, until his death in 1884.

By about 1880, Henry had saved sufficient money to purchase 40 acres of land in Iowa Township, Crawford County, Iowa. He later added another tract of 40 acres and continued cultivating and improving his farm for the next nine years. While in Crawford County, Anna, Henry, Jr., George and Rosa were born into the family.

In 1889, Henry sold his land in Iowa and moved his family to a 160-acre homestead that he purchased in Section 2 of Schneider Township, Buffalo County, Nebraska. Laura was the first child born to them in Nebraska and was followed by Max and then August, the ninth and last child. Henry made notable changes and improvements to his homestead and through hard work converted it into a very valuable, desirable and beautiful farm. He later purchased an additional 160 acres on Section 31 in the Garfield Township. In addition to cultivating crops best adapted to conditions in the area, Henry also specialized in raising thoroughbred Polled Hereford cattle.

Henry was not active along political lines and his political views were independent. He served as road supervisor and also as school director. He was a member of the Highlanders Lodge and he and his family were members of the Lutheran Church. When his biography appeared on page 397, Volume 2, of the HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY, NEBRASKA, published in 1916 by the S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Henry was described as having traits which "won him warm regard and the respect of those with whom he has been associated."

In 1916, Henry and Maggie left the active life of farming and moved from their farm into town (Ravenna). Their son George took over the farm. In later years, George's son Clifford bought the farm and today Henry's two great-grandsons farm the original homestead-the 4th generation of Luths on the land.

Henry's wife, Maggie, passed away in 1927. In the early 1930's Henry's health began to fail him. At the age of 82, he passed away on Saturday, September 16, 1933 in the home of his youngest son, August Luth. Henry had been a resident of Buffalo County for 44 years. Eight of his children, fourteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren survived him. Funeral services were conducted at his home with the Reverend Philip Van Luven officiating. He was buried in the Sodtown Cemetery near Ravenna, Nebraska.

Contributed by Lesley Luth - luths2@hotmail.com

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