Henry Gerke


HENRY GERKE, a prosperous and highly esteemed farmer of Warren Township, Jefferson County, Ohio, residing on a farm of 185 acres located in Section 30, was born June 4, 1834, in Brunswick, Germany, and is a son of Henry and Minnie (Bodey) Gerke, both of whom were natives of Germany. The father of our subject was a painter and paper hanger and died in his native country in 1855, aged forty two years. His widow subsequently came to America, where she died, aged eighty years. They were the parents of seven children: Henry, our subject; August, who is deceased, came to this country in 1861 and served in the Civil War; Charles, who resides in Germany; William, who also resides in Germany; Hannah, who came to this country with her mother, is the wife of August Merkle; and two who died young.

Henry Gerke grew to manhood in Germany, where he learned pattern and cabinet making and also was employed in the iron and steel works there. In 1856 he came to America, crossing in a sailing vessel which made the voyage in forty-two days, and after stopping at Baltimore, Md., for a couple of days, he came on to Wheeling, W. Va. On May 12, 1856, he began working in a furniture factory for John Arbenc, in whose employ he continued until the beginning of the Civil War, when he enlisted in COmpany D, 1st Virginia Cavalry, under Capt. W. C. Carman. He served over three years in the war, participating in twenty-two battles and was wounded five times, but was never out of active service. After the war, Mr. Gerke and a Mr. Schutz, of Indiana, started a furniture factory at Wheeling, of which our subject was manager, and continued in that business successfully six years, when Mr. Gerke sold his interest in same and then entered the Hamilton Foundry, where he remained four years. He wwaaas then employed at Dewey's Rolling Mill for eleven years, and during that time purchased land in Warren Township, Jefferson County, Ohio. In 1874 he erected his present house and his family took up their residence in Jefferson County. Four years later he gave up factory work and also came to the farm, where he has been highly successful and is one of the representative agriculturists of the township. He was at one time the owner of 425 acres.

Mr. Gerke was married October 28, 1857, to Minnie Hasselman, who was born in Brunswick, Germany, and died November 4, 1906 aged seventy-two years. Of their union were born the following children: Henry, who married Mary Hunter; Minnie, who is the wife of C. Merkle; William A., who married Margaret Sharp; Charles, who married Mary Merkle; Edward, who married Mary Large; Mary, who is the wife of Allen Steine; and Fred, who married Maude Sanderson. In politics, Mr. Gerke is identified with the Republican party. He is a member of the German Lutheran Church. In 1909 Mr. Gerke had the pleasure of visiting his old home and friends in Germany.

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