This report provides preliminary family history information on four related families. In the case of the Hartke and Kroepel families, the relationship dates back to a time before the families immigrated to the U.S. The Knoke and Walldorf families originated in different parts of Germany and the families became related after arrival in the U.S.
Information provided here has been collected from census records, ship passenger lists, church records (in Pomerania and in St. Louis), probate records, land sale records, and records from the state archives or vital records. Even with all of this there are large gaps and unanswered questions. Information assumed to be correct in the census or other records may turn out to be incorrect. This family history will be changed or corrected as more information becomes available.
HARTKE (Hardtke) - from Kerschkow, Kreis Lauenburg, Pomerania , Prussia, Germany
KNOKE - from Hanover, Germany
KROEPEL (Kröpel) - from Chottschewke, Kreis Lauenburg, Pomerania, Prussia, Germany
WALLDORF (Waldorf or Walldorff) - from Barlemheim, Hesse Darmstadt, Germany
Much of this family history was provided by various family members. George Luebbers provided much of the Knoke family information. Clarence Kroepel provided the most significant clues to locating the Hartke and Kroepel families in Pomerania.
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Wilhelm and Karoline (Kroepel) Hartke immigrated to the U.S. in April of 1882, arriving in New York City on April 8, 1882 on the ship SS Main. They sailed from the port of Bremen and probably stopped at South Hampton in England before making the Atlantic crossing. The couple brought three young children with them:
August Hartke, age 15 Emilie Hartke, age 4 and Hermina Hartke, age 3.
At the time of their arrival, Wilhelm was 46 and Karoline was 37. There were also two other Hartkes on the same ship -- a younger Wilhelm Hartke, age 24, and a girl, Auguste Hartke, age 18. Presumably, these were older children of the elder Wilhelm from an earlier marriage. It is likely that the son, August, was also from this earlier marriage. I believe that the girl, Auguste, accompanied her father to St. Louis and married Wilhelm Mohninger and lived as a neighbor to the Hartke family on Pennsylvania St. There was another daughter by this first marriage named Ernestine Hartke who may have come to the U.S. a few years earlier. She later married a Mr. Ubinger and also lived in the same Carondolet neighborhood in St. Louis.
The Hartke family traveled in steerage class. Wilhelm is listed as a shoemaker on the passenger list. Karoline was pregnant at the time of the passage, which must have been a major challenge. Ships at this time were steam powered but also had masts and sails to provide additional power. The passengers would have been processed through an immigration station at Castle Garden in New York City since they arrived prior to the opening of Ellis Island. (Source - Germans to America and the passenger list of the SS Main in the U.S. Archives.)
U.S. census records show that the Hartke family originated in a region of Germany (or Prussia) called Pommern or Pomerania. Pommern lies along the Baltic Sea coast east of the Oder River in what is now Poland. Poland took over most of the area after WW-II and most, if not all, former German residents were expelled. Much of the German culture and heritage has been expunged from the area. Pommern has a long history of changing hands through warfare. The area has been owned or dominated by the Teutonic Knights (a military/religious order), Germany, Prussia, Poland, Sweden and Russia at various time over the past 500 years. Several hundred years ago German settlers were invited to come to the area and it is likely that the Hartke ancestors arrived at about that time as settlers from northern Germany. In the 1800s the Hartke or Hardtke name existed in several areas of Pommern as well as in Hanover and Westphalia. In Pomeranian parish and civil records it is not uncommon to see the name spelled "Hartke" and "Hardtke" in the same person’s record.
In Pommern, Hartke families appear in Lutheran church and civil records in towns and villages from the middle of Pommern to the extreme east section. This includes towns of Manow, Seidel, Grunhof (in Koslin), Zewelin, Bresin, Lanz, Stemnitz, Leba, Sassin, Bismark and Kerschkow. These last few towns are in Kreis Lauenburg, the easternmost county (Kreis) located a little to the west of Danzig (present Gdansk). We have a birth record for Hermina Hartke showing the family was living in Kerschkow in 1879. The parish register for Garzigar has Hartke marriages dating back to 1766. A parish death record from the year 1780 shows that Hartke families were living in Labehn in 1709.
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Henry Knoke came to the U.S. from Hanover in Germany. He was born around 1810 and came to the U.S. probably around 1840. Hanover is both a region and a city so we don't know precisely where he originated. Whether he was married before he came over or married once he arrived in the U.S. is not known.
There are other Knoke families in Iowa and in Canada that trace their family back to Hanover but family relationships have not been established.
Henry and his wife, Sophie, had several children including Henry, Maria, Christian, Friedrich, and Herman.
Herman and Christian are later listed in the census records for Jefferson County, Mo. Herman is shown as an apprentice blacksmith in 1880. The marriage license issued in Jefferson County shows him living in Rock Township.
There are a number of other Knoke names showing up in St. Louis City and County marriage records and in some census records. How (or if) these families are related is unknown. Spelling of family names was not a precise practice and some of these families may spell the name differently today. Herman Knoke's last name was spelled Knocke in the census records for 1910 and 1900.
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Wilhelm Hartke married Karoline Kroepel in Pomerania before coming to the United States. Based on information recorded in Pomeranian civil records, Karoline's father was Carl Kroepel and her mother was Caroline Kroose (or Knoose). This information is based on a marriage record from 1876 for Karoline’s brother Johann Kroepel and Henriette Behnke. In the 1880s, Johann moved to St. Louis and lived near Wilhelm and Karoline Hartke and attended St. Trinity Church. Based on this information, Carl and Caroline (Kroose) Kroepel are the earliest documented ancestors found for either the Hartke or Kroepel families. Carl Kroepel would have been born sometime before 1840 – probably in the period 1820 to 1830.
The Kroepel name was most often spelled Kröpel in the Pomeranian records but it occasionally appears as Krepel or Kropel. Carl Kroepel was living in Chottschewke in 1876. Johann Kroepel was living in Bismark at the same time. These are very small villages that appear to be no more than a dozen houses on the old maps of the area.
Clarence Kroepel (a cousin) was able to supply location clues and a few names for his family that made it possible to locate them in original German records. All of the Kreis Lauenburg towns mentioned for both the Hartke and Kroepel families were close together and there appeared to be constant contact and movement between these villages. At this time there were only three or four church parishes for the whole NE section of Kreis Lauenburg. The map shows a highly developed network of roads and a railroad line passing through the area in 1882.
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Herman Knoke married Minnie Waldorf in 1887 in Carondolet. Minnie's family was a fairly established farming family in Mattese Missouri. Her grandfather, Philip Waldorf, came to the U.S. in the 1840s and by 1847 he was purchasing land in the Mattese area . Federal land sale records show that he purchased 80 acres that year.
Philip Waldorf came from Hesse-Darmstadt, probably from the town of Barlemheim. He married in Germany and several of his children were born there. Philip had two wives. The name of the first wife is unknown but the second wife was Katharina Gertenbach Matthis. There are six children know to have survived to adulthood. Probably the last two are from the second marriage.
Philip's 1875 probate record is recorded in St. Louis and provides the names of his son-in-laws. One was Jacob Kerth who later became somewhat prominent in real estate and civic affairs.
Philip's son, Philip Christian Waldorf was the father of Minnie (Waldorf) Knoke. The 1870 census shows he was a saloon operator in St. Louis. Philip Christian was the executor of his father's will. Philip Christian Waldorf served very briefly in the Union army – never leaving St. Louis.
Some members of the family moved to the Jefferson and St. Francois County area and later to California. The Waldorf name has been spelled Walldorf and Walldorff in various records.
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