Tricounty News

A proud legacy: the Mielkes

Ferdinand Mielke was born in Pomern, Germany, on Dec. 13, 1843, to Ferdinand and Marie (Lodewick) Mielke. He was reared on his parent's farm and at the age of 21 was married on July 20, 1864, to Amelia (Emilie) Bretzke. Amelia was born in Karlsthal, Germany, on Oct. 27, 1844. In 1868, the family came to America. In the party were Ferdinand and Amelia Mielke, their two children William, who was 2-years-old and Emil age 7 weeks, and Amelia's father Ferdinand Bretzke and his family. The trip was made in the sailing vessel "Smidt" which was named for its captain. After 28 days on the water, the ship docked at New York. The Mielke and Bretzke families started for St. Paul but became separated en route. They endured many hardships before they were reunited at Carver, Minn. Because they could not speak English, it was often difficult for them to obtain food or attention. Ferdinand Mielke came to Stearns County on May 13, 1869, and was taken through Maine Prairie Township by a pioneer. On this trip, which had taken him through wild country, he suffered so severely from cold, rain, snow, weariness and hunger, that he was discouraged from making another attempt to establish a homestead. He secured a position on a steamboat plying the Minnesota River at $50 a month. In the meantime, his father-in-law Ferdinand Bretzke, had secured a claim in Section 14, Maine Prairie. He induced Ferdinand Mielke to locate in that vicinity, so with his family and an ox team, Mr. Mielke took up his residence on Section 14, Maine Prairie Township.  There were no buildings on the tract and no roads leading to it. Their first home consisted of a hole in the ground with the wagon box for a cover. A small log cabin was later built. It had one window. The pane of glass for the window was purchased for 35 cents, the only money expenditure. After living on this tract of land for five years, the family moved to a 160-acre tract in Section 3, which Mr. Mielke purchased for $6 per acre. Here he erected a very substantial log structure. It was a story-and-a-half with a kitchen in the rear. As Mr. Mielke had no money, he went to St. Cloud for the purpose securing lumber from N.P. Clark on credit. He met John Zapp, a leading banker with whom he established a confidential financial relationship which continued for many years. Mr. Mielke continued to reside on the farm in Section 3. His farm had excellent buildings and well-tilled soil. He served as school treasurer for 14 years, as well as holding other local positions. He and his family were adherents of the Evangelical Church. Ferdinand and Amelia Mielke had 12 children - Otilia (who died in Germany), William, Emil, Helena, Matilda, Theodore, Herman, Ferdinand, Amelia, Julius, Clara and Arthur. ********** If you enjoyed our summer columns of Maine Prairie history by Duane Stanley, you'll treasure his incredible 54-page booklet entitled "Our Early Years on Maine Prairie and Pioneer Beginnings of the Kimball Community," which covers a 65-year Maine Prairie history. Available at the Sept. 19 meeting and event at Kimball Area High School and also permanently at the Kimball State Bank, these booklets can be your's for personal reading pleasure, together with several other sesquicentennial souvenirs. Great gift idea. Once these are gone, no more will be produced. See the full Sept. 19 announcement in this Tri-County News. ********** "Volunteers make history happen": Sesquicentennial volunteers deserve a huge applause for a great year of celebrations during this very "special occasion year" - 150th anniversary of Maine Prairie. ********** For your family research, your family history in this column, September event directions or information, new or renewed membership, volunteer opportunities, donations to this society, general information of this society, and city hall restoration donations (makes a perfect memorial, too), we invite you to contact The Kimball Area Historical Society, Box 100, Kimball, Minn. 55353, or call (320) 398-5743, (320) 398-5250 or (800) 252-2521 if out of area. All donations are fully tax deductible and payable to The Kimball Area Historical Society. ********** "The power of story."