Delk Stories

Life story of Heinrich Delk
(Great-grandfather of Clarence Seibel)
(Great-great-grandfather of Gene Seibel)

Heinrich (Henry) Delk, our dear father, was born April 24, 1846 in Kalschenafka, South Russia, where he spent his youthful years. In the month of June, 1866, he married Katharina Elisabeth Reimche. June, 1876, he migrated with his family to North America and arrived in Peabody, Kansas. Nine miles north-west of town he bought 120 acres of land among his relatives. About August 1877, he moved his family to South Dakota about 45 miles north of Yankton. There on the prairie he homesteaded and made a home with his wife and 3 children.

Shortly after their arrival in the new, wilderness home, his wife became ill and died on October 31, 1877, after several weeks of illness. Through the death of his wife he lost an indispensable help-companion and little girls, aged one through six, a mother.

On January 24, 1878, he found in Maria Katharina Reiswig a second wife and helpmate; she is now mourning at the grave. With her he accepted his only step-daughter.

At that time almost all of the land was prairie, and in the same spring, a huge fire took everything - his house, barn, seed, feed, pigs, and clothing. This wasnít all; he tried desperately to save the farm, but the storm was so intense and went over all the fire-traps, and he suffered burns on his face to the extent, that he had to stay indoors for three weeks recuperating. This occurred during, the planting season. The parents fought poverty, but through God's blessing and help soon had their success.

In 1880 at an evangelical meeting, he was inspired to think about his spiritual condition. In the evening of the 24th of December he was saved. The next morning he took the Bible and held the family devotions with his family. To their astonishment he told them that he was a new person and that he had peace with God. Since then he has held daily family devotions. In June 1881 he was baptized by elder Henry Adrian, now in Buhler, Ks., close to Parker, So. Dakota. He was accepted into membership in the M. B. church, whose faithful member he stayed till the end. At first he was a member in the Wittenberg Church which is a branch of the Parker Church, and later in the Ebenfeld M. B. Church in Kansas, the Hillsboro M.B. and finally the church in Harvey.

Friends and relatives were scattered. through the move to North Dakota, therefore he found it necessary, in 1903, to move near Peabody, Ks., where he bought half a section of land close to the place where he had lived in 1876. On this farm and home he worked with success till 1915, when he moved with mother to Hillsboro, Ks., where he could live his later days in peace, enjoyment, and fellowship. Since he lived in Kansas, he traveled frequently to North Dakota to visit his children, where he was always welcomed with his fatherly advice and materialistic help when it was needed.

Because he was getting slowly weak and helpless, his children found it good and necessary to bring the parents to North Dakota and care for them. All the children there had the parents for a period of time in their homes and cared for them. This move was a year before he died. During this time he sang many of his favorite songs, especially "Suesser Christ, der die bist". He enjoyed God's word. After he could not see, mother had to read a chapter or so every day. Even in the very last days when he wasnít able to concentrate and his speech became less, he said among other things, "It is time to pray". His last breath was Oct. 31, 1931 at 8:20 PM in the home of his oldest, daughter, Mrs. J. C. Seibel.

He fathered 18 children, five from his first marriage and thirteen from his second marriage. Ten daughters and eight sons. From his first marriage two sons died and from the second, three daughters.

Henry Delk, my grandfather, who was born in Russia was eight years old when his father died. His mother then married a man who later became a drunkard. His step-father demanded a great deal of work from him. His name was Henry Bendicks.

At about 14 years of age he had a large boil on his right knee. This was very painful and the doctor talked of amputation. He was in bed about three weeks when a man told them to use chewing tobacco as a poultice on the boil. This drew out, all the poison and healed the leg. After this he had to exercise the leg to straighten it as he had kept it drawn up because of the pain. Consequently he limped on this leg. It never kept him from hard work after it healed.

He married his first wife in Russia and two daughters were born to them there.

In 1876 they migrated to the United States and on to Kansas. He came in a group which included his sister Lotta. They homesteaded in the Ebenfeld community two and a half miles south of the church. Grandpa lived there one and a half years. Mrs. Chris Seibel, Carrie, was born here. A severe drought caused some crop failures so several families migrated north to the Dakotas and Canada. Grandpa decided to move also and a Mr. Hagan was to transact the business of selling his homestead rights for him. Mr. Hagan sold it for $150.00 but never gave it to Grandpa. Mr. Hagan went insane at about this time.

They moved to Wittenburg Township, near Olivet, So. Dakota. There they raised some grain and stored it upstairs in a wooden frame house which he had built himself. We also acquired two oxen and a horse. Suddenly a f ire swept over the prairie and burned the house and grain. Not very much later his wife died. This left him with three small girls to care for. A Mr. Seibel, no relation, helped him somewhat, to get started again. He needed the help of the neighbors to care for the children and also to lend him some seed. He worked the fields by day and built an adobe house in the evenings. Later when he related these incidents he spoke of the many nights he sat outside and wept. He was also injured in the fire and was in bed for three weeks. These times were very difficult. He bought an old wagon for $11.00 which was worth much less at that time because it was nearly worn out but he fixed it and hauled the brick for the adobe house. He made the bricks from plowing the sod then forming it into the brick shape. They also built a kitchen which was a distance from the main house.

Eventually he married his second wife. She was living at a neighbors home. She came to the U. S. with two brothers and a sister. Her father came also but he went back to Russia to live with a son named George.

All the rest of the children were born in South Dakota. In 1903 they sold everything and moved back to Kansas. By the time of the auction sale it was necessary to scoop several feet of snow from the top of the implements in order for them to be sold.

After moving back to Kansas, Lydia, a daughter, contracted scarlet fever and died. They lived 13 years on the home place (where Dallas Pauls lives now). After they moved to town in 1915, Henry Buchmillers lived on this place. He married Sarah Delk, my Dad's sister. Later on Bill Natz and family lived there and I remember visiting them and going there with mother to pick mulberries, cherries, and gooseberries. My dad farmed some of the land. We also gathered walnuts from a grove north of the buildings.

Grandma gave me a small pitcher before they moved back to No. Dakota. I still have it and treasure it very much. We went to grandpaís funeral in 1931. Grandma died in 1936 when we, my folks, Bob and I were on a trip to Oregon at Dave Delks place. We didnít go to her funeral.

(told to Betty (Delk) Hanneman by her Dad)

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