Submitted by Laura Mattingly
HENRY MENKE - This publication exercises one of its most important functions when it accords tribute to those worthy pioneers who, after having contributed their full quota to the civic and industrial development and progress of Gage county, have passed from the stage of life's mortal endeavors and rest from their labors after having proved stewardship that well merits the commendation of "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Mr. Menke, who long held status as one of the representative agriculturists and stock-growers of Gage county, was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, December 4, 1832, and he was a youth at the time of the family immigration to America, his father having previously taken part in the revolutionary movement in Germany. The family home was established in Ohio, where the parents passed the remainder of their lives, as sterling pioneers of the old Buckeye state. Henry Menke was given the advantages of the schools of his native land until the time of the family removal to the United States. About the year 1880, he came to Nebraska and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land in Section 33 Clatonia township. He developed this into one of the productive and well improved farms of the county, there passed the residue of his life, and there his widow still maintains her home. He erected good buildings on the farm, set out trees and in time, by his thrift and enterprise, made it one of the model farms of Clatonia township. Here his death occurred September 20, 1915, and his name and memory are revered in the community that so long represented his home. He was a man of strong intellectuality, well fortified in his convictions concerning public policies, was a Republican in politics, and while he had no desire for official preferment he consented to serve for a number of years in the position of road over-seer in his township. He was a most earnest and devout member of the German Methodist church, as is also his venerable widow, and he gave zealous and effective service as a local preacher of this denomination. Ordering his life upon the highest plane of integrity and honor, he was essentially one of the world's productive workers during the course of a long and vigorous career.
As a young man, Mr. Menke wedded Miss Mary Niemeyer, of Ohio, she having been born in Germany and her death having occurred in Ohio, in 1861. Of the four children of this union the following brief data are available: Frederick is a merchant in the city of Portsmouth, Ohio; Mrs. Lizzie Schmidt resides at Friend, Saline county, Nebraska; Henry, Jr., is deceased, he having been a clergyman of the Presbyterian church; and Emma is the wife of William Werner, their home being near Portsmouth, Ohio.
On the 1st of January, 1865, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Menke to Miss Eliza Knapp, who was born in Germany, May 15, 1843, a daughter of Henry and Caroline (Schocke) Knapp. She was but a small child when her parents came from Germany to America on a sailing vessel, and eleven weeks elapsed ere the family disembarked in the port of New York city, whence removal was made to Ohio, the family home having been established in Lawrence county, that state, when Mrs. Menke was a child of four years and her parents having there passed the remainder of their lives, her father having been for many years employed in connection with the operation of the iron furnaces in that section of the state. Of the ten children of Mr. and Mrs. Menke two died in infancy, and of those who attained to adult age the following record is given in conclusion of this brief memoir: Caroline is the wife of Lewis Klopper, of Clatonia township; Matilda is the wife of William Daubendick, of South Bend, Iowa; Catherine is the wife of John H. Wayman, of Clatonia township, and he is individually mentioned on other pages of this work; Eliza is the wife of R. H. Kane, a merchant at Deshler, Thayer county, Nebraska; Rosa is the wife of Lewis Wayman, of Holt county, this state; Edward is a resident of Hebron, Nebraska; Nettie is the wife of Frank Steinmeyer of Grant township; and Albert remains with his widowed mother, as manager of the old home farm."