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Eberhard Kölker [Koelker], 1899 Biography

KOELKER, GOETTKEN, HAGEN, ROESNER

Posted By: David Reineke (email)
Date: 1/13/2006 at 00:23:18

I translated the following biography from Der Carroll Demokrat, a German-language newspaper published in Carroll, Iowa, between about 1874 and 1920. It was originally published in a special 25th Anniversary Edition of the paper on Friday, 20 September 1899. Information in brackets and notes at the end are my own explanations. It reads as follows:

Eberhard Kölker [Koelker]

Mr. Eberhard Kölker and his dear life’s companion, who are pictured in a photo published in the Anniversary Edition, are undoubtedly among the most respected and popular German-Americans. Papa Kölker has already lived 80 summers, but the respected old man still enjoys a mental vigor such as one seldom sees in old age. The old and friendly gentleman will be considered as the senior in Kniest Township and St. Mary’s Parish, and he is gladly paid the respect that he deserves. Mr. Eberhard Kölker was born on 29 September 1819 in the District of Fürstenau, Province of Hanover, Germany. In 1852 he emigrated to the United States of North America. At that time in this country, the German culture was not as strongly represented as it is today and, among the nativists, it was not yet granted the respect that it later gained by virtue of its numerical strength. The old man could certainly tell a few stories attesting to the fact that life for a German in those days was no bed of roses. But bravely and honestly he managed, and initially made a homestead in Clayton County, Iowa. In 1853, through the blessing of the priest, he was married to Miss Maria Elisabeth Göttken. This marriage produced five children, of which, however, only Bernhard and Elisabeth (Mrs. Frank Hagen) are still living. On 14 May 1866, he had the misfortune to lose his dear life’s companion through death. In the following year, he married Miss Matia Rösener. And this marriage produced four children, of which, however, only Louis, Joseph, and Anna are still living. In 1873, Mr. Kölker moved to Kniest Township, Carroll County, where he purchased 200 acres of land where the old man still lives with his family, respected and esteemed by all his acquaintances.

NOTES: The biography refers to the “nativists.” During the 1850’s the nativists were an anti-immigrant group active around the United States including in Iowa. They were generally anti-Catholic, opposed German and Irish immigration, and were responsible for occasional acts of violence directed against immigrants. The members were supposedly sworn to secrecy concerning the organization and were also called the “Know-Nothings.” In 1856, the nativists formed the American Party and nominated Millard Fillmore for President. In Iowa, the movement was not so harsh. The nativists and the Know-Nothings were associated with the birth of the Republican Party in Iowa in 1856 and favored temperance and longer waiting periods for citizenship. Many Germans continued to support the Republican Party, probably because of its anti-slavery platform, but most German immigrants in Iowa supported the Democratic Party.


 

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