Meinke Flags of Germany and the U.S.A.

Jochen Friedrick 'Fritz' Wilhelm Meinck was born in 1835 in Jesow, Mecklenburg, Germany. He was the illegitimate son of Johann Schomann and the only child of Catherina Maria Meinck. In 1844 when Fritz was nine years old his mother married Henrich Oldenburg. When Fritz was 18, the last of his grandparents died so his mother and step-father decided to emigrate. In the spring of 1853 they sailed on the "Magdalena" from Hamburg with 88 other passengers and arrived in New York in July. Their original destination was Dubuque, Iowa. By 1857, the family had moved north to the town of LaCrescent in southeastern Minnesota. In 1861 Fritz was united in marriage to Christina Ruge.

Christina Ruge was born in 1839 in Albersdorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. She was the youngest daughter of Johann Ruge and Trina Schlueter who had nine other children. When she was around five years old her family moved east to Osterstedt, Schleswig-Holstein. Her mother died there when Christina was eight and her father died six years later. In 1854, at age fourteen, Christina and her fifteen year old sister emigrated with their oldest sister and her husband. They sailed on the "George Canning" with 342 passengers. The 3,536 mile voyage from Hamburg to New York took six weeks during which time 20 passengers died en route. When they arrived in New York, their destination was Davenport, Iowa. By 1860, Christina was living with her sister and brother-in-law in LaCrescent.

The early years of the 1860's were turbulent times in Minnesota. In addition to the Civil War, the Great Sioux Uprising in 1862 took over 400 settlers lives in south western and south central Minnesota. In December 1863, Fritz volunteered to join the Civil War effort and became a member of Company A of the 2nd Minnesota Calvary. His step-father joined the same unit several days later, probably prompted by his wife who didn't want to see her only son go off to war alone. Fritz and Henrich spent a month training at Fort Snelling before their unit headed south to New Orleans, Louisiana. However, before they were out of the state their unit was recalled and diverted to join the Northwest Indian Expedition which was headed to North Dakota to fight in the Indian Wars. While crossing the plains of Minnesota and Dakota, Fritz contracted disease of the lungs from exposure, bad water and insufficient food. He would suffer from said disease for the remainder of his life. Fritz and Heinrich fought in the Battle of Killdeer Mountain in July 1864 after which their unit, Company A, was assigned to garrison the frontier at Fort Ridgley located in south central Minnesota. In October 1865 Henrich Oldenburg died there of typhoid fever. In April 1866, Fritz returned to his family and mother in LaCrescent. Click here to see a photograph of Fritz in his Civil War uniform.

In 1868 Fritz purchased farmland near New Hartford, Minnesota with his brothers-in-law who had recently emigrated. However, in 1880 he decided to move to northern Minnesota and claimed 160 acres between Osage and Park Rapids under the Homestead Act of 1862. In 1872 the Act had been amended so Union soldiers could apply their service up to four years, towards the five-year homestead residency requirement. In the spring of 1881 the family, Fritz, his mother, Christina and their seven children, traveled by covered wagon to their new home and became one of the first pioneer families in the Osage area. Shortly thereafter, Fritz began to suffer more severely from lung fever. In 1883 he applied for a military disability pension. His mother died on the family homestead in 1883 and was buried at the Osage Cemetery. His youngest daughter was born on the homestead in 1884. Fritz received his citizenship in 1884 and the land patent for his farm was issued in 1885 by president Grover Cleveland.

Although their new farm was technically in Osage township, Park Rapids was the closest town. To supplement the families income, Fritz was frequently away from home much of the time working as a carpenter. He helped build the First Baptist Church in Park Rapids. The Meinke family was quite religious and Christina would often read bible stories to the children at night after the chores were done. The two eldest daughters were the first two in the church to be baptized in the mill stream. Two weeks later the other two daughters were baptized as well. The four daughters and Christina made up five of the twelve needed for the church's charter in June 1890. The boys cut the wood and built the fires for all of the church services as Fritz was frequently ill.

Fritz and his family lived near Osage until 1893 when their homestead was foreclosed because they could not make the nine dollar a month mortgage payment on the house they had built. They moved into the town of Park Rapids where they purchased a home on the Mill Pond of Fish Hook River. Fritz died there in 1896. Two weeks later his military pension was approved and Christina began to receive benefits. She lived with her sons until her death in 1908. Both Fritz and Christina and all of their children except one, were buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Park Rapids.

Fritz and Christina had ten children including one that died in infancy.

My book "Our Meinke Ancestors", which was written in 1995, documents this Meinke family from 1744 thru 1995.
Page last updated 10/17/98.

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