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Friday, May 6, 2016

Russian immigrants settle in Culbertson

Friday, November 16, 2012

Susan Doak

SW Nebraska Genealogy Society

This family story comes from excerpts of a family history provided to me by a great- great- great grand-daughter of George Heinrich Hock, Kathy Pearson Kinkade. This history is attributed to Molly Hock as told to and recorded by LaVaughn (Hock) Fries. Molly Hock was the granddaughter of George H. Hock, and was born (1900) to Henry and Katherine (Lenhartdt) Hock in a sod house built on the family farm.

George Heinrich Hock was born in Frank, Russia in 1868 and as was typical for the old country, he lived in the village and drove to his farm each day. After his first wife died (Alice Eurich), he married Marie (Bernhardt) Walker whose husband had also passed. George and Marie had two children together:, Henry and Mabel Barbara Hock.

It was customary in the old country that a wife upon marriage would move into the home of the husband's family. When Henry married Katherine Lenhartdt, she was thrilled because he was the only son in the home and that meant only four people living together! Things had been far different in her childhood home because she had older brothers. By the time she left home, all the brothers had married and she was sharing her childhood home with three sisters-in-law who were not always kind to the young Katherine! The living arrangements had become so untenable that Katherine actually chose to move out and work for a family as a seamstress prior to her marriage.

Henry and Katherine shared their wedding day in a double ceremony with his sister, Mabel Barbara, who married George Wagner. Mabel and George immediately immigrated to the United States and settled in Culbertson. George arrived in Culbertson first, while Mabel stayed behind in New York, washing dishes to earn her train fare to join him.

The four Hocks (George, Alice, Henry and Katherine) remained in Russia and Henry's son, George John was born there in 1891. Six months later, the four Hocks plus baby George J. packed their bags and headed to the United States, arriving in New York City. The following is an excerpt from LaVaughn's writing:

"The day that they arrived in the states, and in the process of going through customs, having to open luggage, etc. my grandmother (Katherine) laid her baby George, who was six months old, on a nice place since he was sleeping, to take care of some of her things. Later she went to get him and he was gone! She was petrified with fear. Here they were in a new and strange country, couldn't speak a word of the language, fearful of all the strange and new country customs, etc., to find her baby gone! She was just sure someone had kidnapped him. But, shortly she found a woman holding him. He had awakened and started to cry so she had just picked him up to comfort him and was walking to stop his crying!"

The George H. and Henry Hock families arrived in Culbertson by train on Jan. 29, 1892. Henry was employed by the railroad and after two years, they moved to Colorado but returned to Culbertson in 1899, buying the farm north of town and living there until Henry retired from farming. George H. and his wife lived with Henry and Katherine until their deaths.

So goes the story of the beginnings of the Henry Hock family in Southwest Nebraska. Henry became a naturalized citizen (and thereby naturalizing both Katherine and their son, George J.) on Dec. 14, 1908, as recorded at the Hitchcock County District Court in Trenton, Nebraska. Henry had several relatives settle in the area; Katherine's family, but one, remained in Russia. Her brother, George Lenhardt, came to the US, and settled in California. Katherine and Henry traveled by train to see him one time. In this day and age, leaving your family, never to see them again is a strange thought but when our relatives were settling this country, it was a way of life.

SW Nebraska Genealogy Society can help you put together your family history. Visit our website at: SWNGS.NEGS.ORG to search our records or obtain a membership form.

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