Calhoun County

1891 Biography - Justus Franke

JUSTUS FRANKE. It is always a pleasure to the biographical writer to record the history of a self-made man and to give credit where credit is due in the accumulation of property and the securing of an honorable reputation. We are glad, therefore, to be able to present to our readers the main facts in the life of Justus Franke of Richwoods Precinct, Calhoun County, one of the wealthy and substantial farmers whose prosperity is due to personal effort.

Mr. Franke is descended from old and respectable families of Hesse-Cassel, Germany, and is himself a native of that province. His grandfather, Henry Franke, entered the army when a young man, serving during the time of Napoleon's invasion. After his discharge he followed the trade of a shoemaker some years, then turned his attention to farming. Chris Franke, the father of our subject was also a soldier, but served only three years. He then ailopted the occupation of a farmer in which he busied himself until called hence. He breathed his last in 1882.

The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Minnie Thias. She was also a native of Hesse-Cassel and died there about 1855. She was the mother of five children and the father's second marriage resulted in the birth of three. But two of the family emigrated to America, our subject and his brother Henry, who lives near Batchtown.

The natal day of Justus Franke was February 4, 1846. In accordance with the custom in the German Empire, he attended school from six years old until nearly fifteen, and in the intervals of study assisted his father. He continued to reside under the parental roof until he was eighteen years of age, when he bade adieu to his native land and turned his footsteps westward, firmly believing that in the New World he would find a better opening in which to exert himself. In March. 1866, he set sail from Bremen on the steamer "Hansa" and after a voyage of thirteen days landed at New York. He went directly to Wayne County, found employment on a farm near Clyde, and worked industriously to pay off a debt of $66 which hung over him when he landed.

Two years after arriving in the States young Franke came to Calhoun County and here also be worked by the month at farm labor. He was diligent in his habits and economical in his expenditures and was therefore soon enabled to begin life for himself on rented land. His farming operations prospered and in 1876 he purchased one hundred acres of land included in his present estate. At the time of his purchase there were two log houses on the place and one of these was occupied by him as a dwelling some years. He was obliged to go in debt for a portion of his purchase money and his first endeavor was to again free himself from incumbrance.

After that was accomplished Mr. Franke made arrangements for securing one hundred and twenty acres of the Mississippi River bottom land and was soon able to pay for it and buy forty acres adjoining the home farm. After this Land was secured he turned his attention to preparing better quarters for his family, building a substantial and attractive frame house on his first purchase. Fortune has continued to smile upon the labors of Mr. Franke and he has added another tract of four hundred and thirty-seven acres to that already mentioned his present landed estate being over six hundred and ninety-seven acres, all in Richwoods Precinct.

In his efforts to secure a good home Mr. Franke has had the assistance of a faithful and devoted wife with whom he was united in marriage in 1868. To this lady, whose maiden name was Martha Dilling, has been due the wise management of household affairs which have prevented the little leaks that drain a man's finances. Mrs. Franke was born in Hesse-Cassel August 21, 1843, and in the same province Phillip and Emanuel Dilling, her father and grandfather were lifelong residents. Her father was employed in one factory from the time he was fourteen until sixty-six years of age. He breathed his last in 1884. The mother of Mrs. Franke bore the maiden name of Louisa Grasscut, and she also spent her entire life in Germany. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Dilling consists of eight children, but two of whom have come to America, Mrs. Franke, and a brother Philip, who lives in Alton.

The record of the family of Mr. and Mrs. Franke is as follows: William, born June 21, 1869; Henry, February 24, 1871; Charles, January 9, 1873; Albert, March 15, 1875; August, April 23, 1877; Fritz, July 26, 1880, Minnie, November 14, 1882. The parents belong to the Lutheran Church and are not only conscientiously endeavoring to live aright, but are rearing their children with firm principles and industrious habits. Mr. Franke was formerly a Republican, but now votes the Democratic ticket. He is a member of the School Board, and manifests a deep interest in the cause of education and in all other movements which will elevate society and improve the condition of the people.

Extracted 13 Feb 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published in 1891, pages 312-313.

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