Sunday Stories: The Winkenwerders

Excerpted from the 1891-1991 Sutherland Centennial

Bernhard Johann Friedrick Winkenwerder

Bernhard Johann Friedrich Winkenwerder was born in Heldingsdorf, Germany on April 12, 1845 to Friedrick and Sophia (Erdman) Winkenwerder. Bernhard (Barney, as he was known) lived in the area of Schwerin, Germany, where was a farmer. He married Emilie Maxhelda Engle (born December 12, 1853).

Barney and Emilie immigrated to the United States in early 1882. Their oldest son, Richard Francis, who was born February 18, 1879, accompanied them on this trip, as well as Emilie’s mother, Karoline Engle, who was then 60 years old.

The family came first to Chicago and then moved on to the Watersville, Kansas area. Barney’s younger sister, Dorothea, and a younger brother, John, had previously settled in this area in the early or mid 1870’s. Story has it that Dorothea smuggled John out of Germany in a trunk so he wouldn’t have to register for the German army.

Barney and his family lived in Kansas about one year and then moved to North Platte. During the same year they filed on a Homestead on March 31, 1883, being the Southeast Quarter of Section 14, Township 13, Range 33, located seven miles southeast of Sutherland.

They moved out to the homestead March 1, 1884, after building a house with lumber they had acquired from a building somewhere northeast of Hershey. After living on the homestead the required number of years, they received their Homestead Certificate; Number 2999, dated September 15, 1891.

Barney and Emilie had five more children after arriving in the United States: Henry, born in Kansas; Emil, Marie, Bernhard Oscar, and Ernest Arthur, all born on the homestead. Henry (Hank) lived on the homestead all of his life. He died September 2, 1965. Marie lived to an old age and died in a rest home in Wisconsin. The three boys, Emil, Bernhard and Ernest, all died in infancy. Two of them were buried in a field west of the homestead house until the Lamont Cemetery was started in the early 1890’s.
Winkenwerder family plot in the background at the Lamont Cemetery
Barney helped lay out the original townsites of both Sutherland and Hershey. He passed away October 29, 1821. Emilie died on April 23, 1918.

Richard Francis Winkenwerder

Richard Francis Winkenwerder was born February 18, 1879, in Germany and immigrated to the United States at age three with his parents and his grandmother. He grew up on his father’s homestead southeast of Sutherland.

As a child, Richard remembered going with his father in a wagon, possibly to get a load of lumber to build the house on the homestead. They had to ford the South Platte River just east of where the Hershey river bridge is now located. While fording the river he saw some carp swimming in a small pond next to the river channel with their backs sticking out of the water. He planned to look for them on the return trip, but the wind had blown the pond completely full of sand. At that time there were no trees on the river. The only tree he could remember when he was young was a small grove of cottonwoods in the river about halfway between Sutherland and Paxton, and one tree that stood at the top of O’Fallon’s Bluff, south of Sutherland.

Richard, his brother Henry, and sister, Marie, attended the Lamont School which was located about a mile and a half north of their home. The Lamont School and Cemetery were established in the early 1890’s. At that time school did not go by grades, instead they called them “READERS” and when you accomplished one, you were advanced to the next one. By the time Richard finished the Seventh Reader, he was 20 years old and he decided to quit school.

From 1909 to 1917 Richard lived on a farm halfway between Sutherland and Paxton, just south of the South Platte River. As his father advanced in years, Richard returned to the homestead to help his brother Henry, with the farming.

Richard married Amelia Miller Straub in the spring of 1921. Amelia Was born May 27, 1894 in Waterville, Kansas, to Henry and Dorothea (Winkenwerder) Miller. Amelia’s family moved to Oregon in 1908 and she married Fred Straub in 1910. Fred died during the influenza epidemic in 1918. Amelia moved to Nebraska where she married Richard.

Amelia bore 14 children, including two sets of twins (Ed and Edna and Don and Darrel):
  • Elmer Straub, who died in April 1989 at Nome, Alaska, where he had lived for 50 years.
  • Gladys Straub (Mrs. Bud Howerton) of McCook, Nebraska.
  • Grace Straub Rogers and her husband John were both killed in an automobile accident on March 7, 1978 in Missouri.
  •  Durward (Dude) Straub, who was killed January 10, 1943, near the Bermuda Triangle in a U.S. Navy airplane.
  • Irene Winkenwerder (Mrs. Ed Young) of North Platte.
  •  Edna (Mrs. Herman Dishman) who lived on the Winkenwerder homestead.
  •  Ed Winkenwerder who was killed February 8, 1975 when he fell from a railroad car while working at Farmer’s Elevator in Hershey.
  • Don Winkenwerder who died at five months of age.
  • Darrel Winkenwerder
  • Ernie Winkenwerder of Sutherland.
  • Fritz Winkenwerder of Lincoln.
  •  Ben Winkenwerder of Sutherland,.
  • Edith Winkenwerder Phetteplace of LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
  • Dotty Winkenwerder Roseberry of Dunning, Nebraska.

Richard lived on the homestead until his death on October 19, 1957. Amelia stayed on until the death of Richard’s brother Henry on September 5, 1965. She then bought a house in Sutherland and lived there until she moved to the Sutherland Nursing Home one month before her death on September 14, 1972.

Bernard Francis and Alice Winkenwerder

Bernard (Ben) was born Marcy 7, 1932 to Richard and Amelia Winkenwerder, at the homestead southeast of Sutherland, with Lydia Kautz as the midwife. He attended Kindergarten through the eighth grade at Lamont School and one semester of ninth grade in Sutherland.

In the fall of 1932 Richard and Amelia lost the homestead farm and they moved a mile south. Ben remembers riding on the back of the wagon, with some boxes full of chickens, as they moved back to the homestead in 1934. Shortly after that Richard took ben north of the house to watch a dragline that moved on rails as it dug the canal from the Sutherland Reservoir to Lake Maloney at North Platte for Platte Valley Public Power.

The family cooked and heated their home with wood and a lot of corn cobs from the corn they grew and a lot they got from the neighbors. When they would run out of cobs they would take the wagon with the bang boards and go to their neighbor, Jacob Koch and pick up cow chips. Dude (older half brother), painted on the side of the wagon the name “Heifer City Coal.”

As kids in their teens, they made their spending money by trapping skunks, selling the hides for $2.00 to $2.50 apiece. Other times they would go through the neighbors’ pastures and pick up bones or scrounge through their junk piles for scrap iron which they sold. Occasionally they would do odd jobs for neighbors.
On weekends Ben and his brothers would do a lot of walking, roaming the country. Quite often they would walk the seven miles to Sutherland to go to a movie. At that time John Townsend operated the theater and it cost ten cents admission for kids, a quarter for adults. The theater was in the east half of the building where the Longhorn Bar is now located.

Ben joined the Army in March of 1954, spending 16 months in Korea. Ben and Alice Bloomquist married on October 21, 1962. They had three children, Carol, Craig and Karen.


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