I want to share this information with all the Kirste family who are on this site. Some of you have seen it before.
My Kirste Family in America
The Kirste family has been a joy to research. During the research process became acquainted with two living Kirste relatives, Heidi Kirste in Germany and Karen Kirste Lindblom in Palm Springs, California. Heidi came to America during the summer of 2006 and we got to meet her and her two sons, Bjorn and Yannick. What a memorable meeting it was, to actually meet, chat with and come to know a relative from the “old country.” The three of us, Karen, Heidi and myself have become well acquainted with each other through the Internet. I had hoped to meet Karen in California in April of 2006 but my plans did not materialize. Next time! Through the combined efforts of us three Kirste relatives, we have done a pretty thorough job of researching our Kirste family. One of the first things I found out from Heidi is that the name is pronounced Kiersta. In English we have always pronounced it as Kurstee.
My great grandparent Kirste’s immigrated to America from Germany (West Prussia) in the middle 1800’s, the Kaforke’s in 1866 and the Kirste’s in 1873. They came to central Illinois then to Nebraska. MY Grandmother, Ida, was born in Illinois, her siblings in Webster and Furnas Counties Nebraska. My Mom’s mother was Ida Kirste Yates. She was the first child of Ernst Kirste and Helena Kaforke Kirste.
In searching the old German church records I had exceptionally good luck in finding the Kirste family records dating back to around the middle 1700’s. Bobby and Burdella Martin have the Kirste family bible. The births, marriages and deaths are listed in the bible. In the Kirste family bible, the given names are written in that beautiful German dialect. Finally, with help from cousin Heidi Kirste I was able to validate some of the information written by my great grandparents. What follows is our Kirste family history as I have found it.
Christian Kirste was born sometime between 1747 and 1752 in Lissa, Posen, Prussia. He married Maria Elisabeth Kasuncke some time between 1771 and 1776 in Lissa. Maria was born about 1751 in Lissa. To this marriage was born four children, Johann Gottlieb, born 21 January, 1772, Johann Christian, born 31 March, 1773, Samuel Gottlob, born 15 January, 1775 and Benjamin Traugott, born 6 October, 1778. All of the children were born in Lissa. That three-year period between Samuel Gottlob’s birth and Benjamin Traugott’s birth opens the possibility that there was another her birth in between. My direct line is through the youngest son, Benjamin Traugott.
Benjamin Traugott married Elizabeth Rennwanz some time before 22 September 1805. Two girls were born to this union, Dorothea Gottleb Elisabet, born 22 September 1805 and Karoline Wilhelmine, born in May of 1807. Both of these children were born in Rossgarten, Thorn, West Prussia. Dorothea married Johann Christian Kruger on 25 November 1828 in Rossgarten. I don‘t know what happened to Elizabeth Rennwanz Kirste but Benjamin Traugott married Euphrofina Finger in February of 1808. They had ten children including my great great grandfather Friedrick August.
Friedrick August married Anne Lau Duwe on December 13, 1836. As far as I know they had no children. Friedrick married Regine Willhelmine Krampitz on October 11, 1840. Their family of seven included my great grandfather, Ernst Reinhold Kirste. All of the children of Friedrick and Regine were born in Rossgarten, Thorn, West Prussia, and later Germany, now Poland.
I wish I had known great grandfather Ernst Kirste. He came to America in 1873, arriving February 3 to be exact. From what I can determine he came with a cousin, Christian Kirste and Christian’s wife, Louise, Ernst’s sister. It was not unusual to marry within the family in those days. Also onboard were Wilhelmena, listed as Ernst’s wife, two sons, William and Albert. Wilhelmena was actually Ernst’s oldest sibling, a sister born in 1841. She had married Ludwig Mueller in 1862. I assume he died. They lived in Chicago for a while before moving west to central Illinois.
Born in 1848, Ernst Kirste was baptized at age 14. In 1863 he joined the German navy and stayed in the navy until 1868. From 1869 to1872 he was a soldier during Germany’s war with Poland. Gail Sims, a cousin who also researched the family wrote that Ernst was in Bismarck’s army, composed of the tallest and best physical specimens. As a youngster, Gail thought great grandpa Kirste was tall. Actually he was only 5’ 9.” In 1873, after the war, he came to America. He tore up his discharge papers while on board ship to make certain they could not make him return to Germany. While in Illinois he married my great grandmother, Helena Fricteri Wilhemine Kaforke. He was 29 and she was 16. She stated later that that was too young to get married. They had nine children, six girls and two boys. It was said that the Kirste girls were the best looking girls in Furnas County. The oldest child, Ida Wilhemina Vironika, was my grandmother. She was a very attractive lady and unfortunately, died of tuberculosis at age, 29. My mother was only three. After two years in central Illinois they moved to Webster County, near Blue Hill, Nebraska. I believe the Kaforke family had already moved there. Four of the Kirste children were born in Webster County and three in Furnas County near Hendley.
Bits and pieces that I have picked up during my research are that they homesteaded in Furnas County and lived first in a dug out then in a soddy. It was considered one of the nicest soddys in the country. In 1903 they build a frame house. They hauled lumber from Holdrege with a team and wagon. Each trip took two weeks. The house still stands today. My aunt, Elsie Kirste Sims, remembered that in the summer, snakes would crawl down through the sod and twines themselves around the rafters to escape the heat and would drop on the bed. She had a terrible fear of snakes. Ernst had a terrific temper. While living in Webster County waiting for their homestead to become available, great grandma Kirste became worried that her husband might become an alcoholic. She hadn’t grown up in Germany where it was customary to go to the beer hall and drink beer all night. Neva Martin whose mother was Louise Kirste states that the family moved to Furnas County in a covered wagon, bringing their cows, horses and all their belongings. My step-grandmother, Emma and my Aunt Minnie said that one winter all they lived on was corn mill, milk and eggs. Until they died, Emma did not care for eggs and Minnie could not abide milk.
They never saw any Indians but had an old buffalo around 1880. When he first came to America, Ernst could not speak English so he went to school to learn to read and write. He was in a class with beginners but although he was a grown man he didn’t mind, as he wanted to learn the ways of his new country. Grandpa Kirste was very fond of music and singing. For several winters he conducted a singing school class at the Good Hope School House, going a distance of five and a half miles on horse and buggy or on horseback. In August of 1904 he was hauled into court on a charge of assault and battery. He had assaulted one of his son’s in law, Thomas Lally. I understand that Thomas Lally was a little hard to get along with. When they still lived in Webster County, one of his neighbors was killed and robbed by a hired man. After the man was captured he was put in jail in Blue Hill. A posse formed and took him from jail with the idea of hanging him. Ernst was the one who put the rope around the killer’s neck and had raised him off the ground when officers arrived and cut the rope. As I said, I wish I would have known him. He was a character!
Neva Martin wrote in her autobiography written January 12, 1934, “my great grandfather on my mother’s side, Friedrick August Kirste…was born in the north eastern part of Germany.” “My great grandmother…was Wilhelmene Fridereka Krampelz.” “After their marriage they lived on a small island on the Vistula River until an ice blockade dammed up the river and swept away their home losing all they owned.” My cousin Heidi Kirste verified this information when she researched the Gurske church records in what is now Poland.