Saturday, November 3, 2012
Lensing - German Beginnings
The photo you see here is from May 1984. The occasion of the get-together was my Grandmother's funeral. Anna Heim Lensing died that year and the family was gathered in Scranton, Arkansas, to pay our respects and say goodbye to "Gram" as we grandchildren called her. At 92 years of age when she died, Gram was the Matriarch of a large and mighty family, as she became head-of-household - though not of her own choosing - in 1936 when my Grandfather Casper Lensing died of pneumonia. More on that later.
Some of us grandchildren are in this photo (I am in back row, second from left) and we are standing on the front porch of the old Lensing homestead - home of Henry and Christine Lensing, my great grandparents. During this trip I remember as we were walking around inside the old, empty, house, I ran into an angry wasp that gave me a sting on the neck I'll never forget. Also I remember seeing some pieces of the original wallpaper still hanging on a few of the walls. It was a pretty floral design with a dusty rose background. Perhaps one of the girls bedrooms??? I peeled a piece off and took it with me and still have it to this day - it was in surprisingly good shape.
On the back of the picture was written the following:
"Home of Henry and Christine Lensing in Dublin, Arkansas, May 1984, on occasion of funeral of Anna Lensing."
A cousin, who I believe took the photo, sent a copy of it to me along with a document with some historical information. It is as follows:
"SETTLEMENT OF LENSINGS IN LOGAN COUNTY ARKANSAS"
"Information provided to (my cousin) in letter dated March 15, 2007, from Fred C. Forst," (physical address and email address redacted by me)
"During the nineteenth century the U.S. Government granted large tracks of sparsely populated public lands to railroad companies with the requirement that the railroad companies construct a railroad through the area. The railroad could then sell the land to settlers to pay for the construction and simultaneously gain customers for their service. Such was the arrangement in the 1870s with the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad (LR&FSRR) that ran between these two Arkansas cities through the Arkansas River Valley north of the river through Clarksville. The LR&FSRR decided to set aside most of their land-grant to Logan County for sale to German Catholic settlers. They encouraged and aided the Benedictine religious order from St. Meinrad Abbey in Indiana, who founded New Subiaco Abbey in 1878, and the Convent of the Immaculate Conception, also in Indiana, who founded St. Scholastica Convent in the Shoal Creek community in 1879 (St. Scholastica Convent later moved to Fort Smith, AR.)
A man named Anton Hellmich, editor of Amerika, a German-language newspaper in St. Louis, bought some of this land for speculation purposes. On 5 November 1879, he sold 440 acres to Herman Lensing, a recent immigrant from Prussia (Germany). For the tract, he received $3000.00. The deed was recorded on 5 December 1879. Herman Lensing was the vanguard of the immigrants from Germany that are the concern of this story. Three of his brothers, Bernard, Henry and Johan, would follow sometime in the next two years. Joseph Buss also came with three Lensing brothers. It was Henry Lensing who would make the permanent settlement in Logan County.
Henry Lensing's parents were Johann Heinrich Lensing and Maria Adelheid Dieks of Westphalia, Prussia. This couple must have initially lived in Borken then moved to the nearby village of Burlo where they are recorded in church records as Henricus Lensing and Aleida Dickes (Dicks or Diks). Borken is west of Muenster in the modern German state of Nordheim-Westfalen, not far from the Netherlands border. The death card of Henry Lensing states that he was born in Kloester Burlo, Westphalia. "Kloester" means cloister, but I have not been able to find any information about a monastery in Burlo. Henry Lensing's birth is recorded in the baptismal register in Burlo as 14 February 1836. (Over the years, several member of the family, including Fr. Michael, General, Cooky and Nicky have visited Burlo and found this baptismal register in Burlo, a tiny potato-farming community-with outstanding beer at the local tap!! The register is presumably still there today if anyone should ever wish to see the entry.)
As best I can determine from existing county records, information from my mother, and from those unreliable parish records, three of Herman's brothers, Bernard Joseph, Johann Joseph and Johannes Henricus (Henry), came to America about 1881....Of the brothers Henry was the only one who was a long-term resident of Logan County. All who carry the name and trace their ancestry to Logan County are descended from him and his eight children, including Casper Lensing. Henry immigrated with his wife, Maria Anna Roesing, and at least one daughter. Maria Anna, his first wife died at Shoal Creek on 31 August 1881. Later, on 11 November 1884, Henry married Christine Duelmer with whom he had eight children, including Casper Lensing who would marry Anna Heim. Henry lived until 1924 and is buried in St. Scholastica Cemetery, Shoal Creek, Arkansas, as is his wife Christine. (We have visited this cemetery in Logan County during past family reunions. We have also visited the old homestead of Henry and Christine Lensing, an abandoned house, where their family was reared.)
Casper and Anna had nine children: Helen, George, William (later Fr. Michael), Dorothy, Mary Jane, Leo, James, Casper (Cap) and Thomas, all born in Scranton, Arkansas, in Logan County."
In the passage above, the names in BOLD represent the direct descendents of Johann Heinrich Lensing. Members of my family tree. So the "begats" go like this:
Johann Heinrich Lensing married Maria Adelheid Dieks, parents of
Johannes Henricus (Henry) Lensing married Christine Duelmer, parents of
Casper Martin Lensing married Anna Crescence Heim, parents of
Thomas Andrew Lensing married Emma Jean Burris, parents of
Barbara Louise Lensing (Me)
Below is a photo of Henry and Christine Lensing and their children (the family of my grandfather Casper Martin Lensing, back row, second from left) If sources are correct, here are the names: Back row: Aloise, Casper, Teresa, Herman, Henry. Front row: Joseph, Henry, Anna, Christine, Rosa. It is very possible that the house in the background is the very one that is in the photograph at the beginning of this entry - the old abandoned house that once belonged to the Henry Lensing family. (German only spoken here!)