HENRY GERKE, JR., a well known agriculturilst of Warren Township, residing on a farm of 147 1/2 acres located about three miles west of Rayland in Section 14, was born March 15, 1858, in Wheeling, W. Va., and is a son of Henry and Minnie (Hasselman) Gerke.
Henry Gerke, father of our subject, was born June 4, 1834, in Brunswick, Germany, where he learned the cabinet and pattern making trade, and in 1857 came to America, locating first at Wheeling, W. Va. There he worked at cabinetmaking until 1861, when he enlisted in the army and served three years under Captain Carman in the 1st Virginia Cavalry. After the close of the Civil War he returned to Wheeling, where, with Mr. Arbenze and Mr. Shust, he opened a furniture factory and engaged in the manufacture of coffins, and all kinds of furniture with the exception of chairs. Mr. Gerke was manager of the factory, the company employing about one hundred men, but later withdrew his interest in same and with Mr. Lindeman took the contract for building the River Side Nail Mill at Wheeling, W. Va. he was then employed fifteen years in the mill as a nail plate shearman, and during this time, purchased 130 acres of land in Warren Township, Jefferson County, Ohio. About 1878 he gave up factory work and joined his family on the farm in Warren Township, where he still lives. Here he subsequently purchased more land, first buying a tract of sixty-two acres, and later 227 1/2 acres, all of which ws farmed by his sons under his direction. he married Minnie Hasselman in Wheeling, who was born February 13, 1835, in Brunswick, Germany, and died November 4, 1906. They made the trip to this country on the same boat and were married one year later, their union resulting in the following issue: Henry, subject of this record; Minnie, who married Christ Merkle; William; Charles; Edward; Mary, who married Allen Stine; and Fred.
Henry Gerke was just a boy when his parents came to Warren Township, where he was reared, and his education was obtained in the German schools at Wheeling and the night schools, which he attended three years. He remained on the home farm until the time of his marriage, after which he rented the farm of 227 1/2 acres from his father for thirteen years. In 1898 he purchased from Mrs. Kelly his present farm, which is the old Martin Becket farm, and has since followed general farming and makes a specialty of wintering horses from the city. The house which the family resides in was erected in 1844, but all of the other buildings were built by Mr. Gerke, inclusing the large barn, which is one of the best in the township and is 35 by 60 feet in dimensions.
Mr. Gerke was married April 28, 1885, to Mary Hunter, who is a daughter of John C. and Ruth (Burriss) Hunter, and they have two children, Roy H., and Loraine, who attended college at Ada, O., and has been teaching for the past two years in the Hopewell school. Mr. Gerke is politically a Republican, and is at present president of the township school board, of which he has been a member for several years. The religious connection of the family is with the Presbyterian Church of Rayland.