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1943: Diamond Club story continues for Lemke

Bits By Betty
Lead Summary
Betty Mann, Rock County Historian

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on July 29, 1943.
This article is continued from last week.
That fall, Mr. (Theodore) Lemke was helping his father plow. The place they were working was a considerable distance from home so they would take along enough provisions to last two or three days. They slept between some grain stacks which provided shelter for them. On October 15 that year, a rain began to fall, and the elder Mr. Lemke told his son that they had better not stay out any longer, but had better go home. They had no more than arrived home, than a blizzard struck and they were snowed in the rest of the winter. The blizzard lasted two or three days, and after the storm subsided, they went out to look for their stock. They found their oxen and hogs in an open straw shed which had been blown nearly full of snow. After much hard work and shoveling, they were able to get the animals out.
His father homesteaded on section 22, Denver township, and there they erected a frame shanty which they gave a protective covering of sod. The house was warm in winter, even though they burned nothing but twisted flax for fuel.
They enjoyed good crops those years, Mr. Lemke said. Wheat and flax produced high yields. At that time, there was no railroad into Hardwick, and all grain was hauled to Luverne. He recalls that he has hauled wheat into town when as many as 30 or 40 wagon loads were ahead of him, waiting to be emptied at the elevator.
Only perseverance and good fortune saved the Lemke cattle herd from being lost during the blizzard of 1888. The animals were about 60 or 70 rods from the barn, when Mr. Lemke, who was afoot, and his brother, who was on horseback, tried to drive them toward the barn. The stock came within about 15 or 20 rods of the buildings, and then refused to go further. Although the two boys tried to prod them along, they would not move until finally Mr. Lemke decided to walk ahead of them and call them. His idea was a success, for they followed him until they were safe inside their shelter. By that time the storm had reached such severity that they virtually had to feel their way to the house.
The first years here, they were troubled with prairie fires. Several times, the fire came within a short distance of the buildings, and the only thing that saved them was the fact that a fire break had been plowed around them. At night, one could see flames leaping all along the horizon, Mr. Lemke said.
Two years before he was married, Mr. Lemke bought a farm on section 24, Denver township. His father had first bought the land from a man by the name of Dennis Murphy. All he paid for it was 50 cents. Mr. Lemke explained that the land was mortgaged, and his father in addition to giving Mr. Murphy’s wife a half dollar, paid the mortgage on the land and obtained it that way. Mr. Lemke bought it from his father for $1,200.
On June, 26, 1893, he married Anna Helden, at Hardwick, and they made their home on their farm until 1926 when they moved to town.
“During all those years, Mr. Lemke said, “I never had a vacation. I don’t believe I was ever away from home at chore time one night when I was farming.”
Since coming to Luverne, however, Mr. Lemke has “taken life easy.” He and Mrs. Lemke traveled in the western states, making a leisurely trip by car several years ago.
They have four children, Herbert, who lives on the farm near Hardwick; Mrs. Peter (Amgard) Lynch, Luverne; Mrs. Carl (Elsie) Hoepner, and Mrs. Otto (Ruth) Lynch, both of whom live at Santa Ana, Calif. They also have nine grandchildren.
Mr. Lemke is now believed to be the oldest man holding membership in St. John’s Lutheran church here. His father helped found the German Lutheran congregation at Hardwick which church was served by the pastor of the local congregation. Mr. Lemke remembers when traveling missionaries conducted services in the Hoffelman home here, the first German Lutheran services ever conducted in this area.
Going on 79 years, Mr. Lemke states that he has enjoyed good health all his life, with the exception of several weeks last winter when he was quite seriously ill. He attributes his long life and good health to the “grace of God,” stating that “it was just God’s will that I managed to pull through alive. I was sick last Christmas.”
Of eight children in the Lemke family, Mr. Lemke is one of five still living. His brothers and sisters include Ferdinand Lemke, Los Angeles; Mrs. Will Brennan, Watertown, and Mrs. Gust Manke, Princeton, Minn.
Mr. Lemke states that he never had time to become involved in politics. The only public office he ever served was that of being member of the school board. He has held a number of offices in the church, however.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

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