Tricounty News

A history of the arrival of Ferdinand Mielke Sr.

to America, then Stearns County

Reprinted from the March 7, 2002, Tri-County News

Ferdinand Mielke, a prominent farmer of Maine Prairie Township, was born in Pomer, Germany, on Dec. 13, 1843. He was the son of Ferdinand and Marie (Lodewick) Mielke, who spent the span of their years on a farm in Germany.

Ferdinand, the subject of this sketch, was reared in his native Germany. He was married on 
July 20, 1864, to Amelia Bretzke, who was born in Karlsthal, Germany, on Oct. 27, 1844.

In 1868, the family came to America. In the party were Ferdinand Mielke with his wife and their two children - William, age 2, and Emilie, age 7 weeks - and Ferdinand Bretzke and his family. Twenty-eight days were spent on the water, in the sailing vessel named after its captain, “Schmidt”.

The party landed in New York and started for St. Paul, Minn. They became separated, and endured many hardships before reaching their destination. The inability to speak the English language often made it difficult for them to obtain food and attention. At last they were united in Carver, Minn.

On May 13, 1869, Mielke came to Stearns County. He was taken through Maine Prairie Township by an early pioneer. A different trip, through the wild country, discouraged him from making another attempt to establish a homestead; he and his companions suffered severely from cold, rain, snow, exhaustion and hunger. He secured a position on a steamboat at $50 a month.

In the meantime, Mielke’s father-in-law, Ferdinand Bretzke, secured a claim in Section 14 of Maine Prairie and he induced Mielke to locate there. Along with his family and an ox, Mielke did just that. There were no buildings on the tract, and no roads leading to it. Their first home consisted of a hole dug into the ground with the wagon box for cover. later, a small log cabin was erected. A single pane of glass, purchased for
35 cents, was the only window; this was the only cash expenditure on the home.

After living there for five years, the family moved to a tract of 160 acres in Section 3, which Mielke purchased for $6 an acre. Here he erected a story-and-a-half log cabin, with the kitchen in the rear. This was a substantial structure in those days. Mielke had no money, so he went to St. Cloud in order to secure lumber from N.P. Clark on credit. On this trip, he met John Zapp, a local banker, with whom he established a confidential financial relationship that has since continued.

Mielke continued to live on the farm in Section 3. He had a good place, with excellent buildings and well-tilled soil. He was school treasurer for 10 years, and served in other local positions.

Mielke and his family were adherents of the Evangelical Church. They had 12 children: Otilie, William, Emil, Helena, Mathilda, Theodore, Herman, Ferdinand, Amelia, Julius, Arthur and Clara.

This week’s story and photograph are courtesy of Orville Mielke of Sauk Rapids, grandson of Emil and Ida Mielke, and son of Percy Mielke.

As one of our favorite times of the year, we are reminded of the traditions of food, carols and worship. We thank each reader of this column, each volunteer of history collecting and especially the Tri-County News for their generous gift of space in this newspaper, making the “History matters” column possible.

You may take pride in the accomplishments you have helped us achieve again over this past year. And we thank you for resolving to continue to help us meet the challenges of next year through 2013 renewal of memberships or your new one.

If you have a family story and photos to share, please send to the Kimball Area Historical Society at Box 55, Kimball MN 55353, so your story can be included in our archive collection. Please include photos, if you have them. All originals will be returned unless you specify otherwise. Letters to the editor are also appreciated. Thank you.

All-school-reunion yearbooks are still available! The Kimball Area Historical Society meets at 7 p.m. in Kimball’s City Hall the fourth Tuesday of February, April, June, September, October, and the annual Holiday Potluck social November 19, 2013. Plus, a Community Expo April 6, Old Settlers Exhibit June 29, Supper In The Park Aug. 9, together with Kimball Days history exhibit all weekend. Always watch for details right here in this column, or phone (320)
398-5743, or 5250, or 5902, and e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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126 years of Kimball memories,

156 years of Maine Prairie memories