1864 — 1940
The Late Chris Hopken
Chris Hopken was born May 26, 1894, at Strusekhausen [sic], near Altendorf in Oldenburg, Germany, a child of pious and good Christian parents. He was baptized and confirmed in the Evangelical Lutheran church at Strusekhausen [sic] and grew to manhood there. 1
As a young man he served in the army in infantry regiment No. 91, Company 11, from 1884 to 1887. After three years in Oldenburg, Germany, he was united in holy wedlock with Miss Anna Helen Oellien April 23, 1889, in the same church in which he was baptized and confirmed at Strusekhausen [sic]. This union God blessed with twelve children, five sons and seven daughters. One daughter died in infancy and one, Frieda, at the age of eleven. 2 Ten children survive.
In 1889, the year of his marriage, he emigrated with his wife to America and came direct to Fillmore county, Nebraska, to the home of his uncle, Henry Hopken, near Ohiowa. He worked for his uncle until 1891, when he rented land near farm near [sic] Bruning that he became the owner of, then to his present home on the Strang rural route, where he lived until his death. 3
April 23, 1939, he was privileged to celebrate his golden wedding anniversary in the presence of all of his children, grandchildren and many friends.
Mr. Hopken always enjoyed good health, although fourteen years ago he suffered a light stroke caused by high blood pressure. He rallied and felt better again until three months ago he became very ill, suffering from complications, a rupture, dropsy and heart trouble, that finally caused his death. Knowing death was near, he was well prepared to meet the Lord. Monday evening he called his pastor, receiving once more the holy communion, together with his beloved wife, who joined him in the holy communion with the Lord Jesus.
He passed away at 4 a. m., April 23, 1940, on his wedding anniversary day. He closed his eyes in a quiet and peaceful death and his soul went his [sic] to his creator. He was 75 years, 11 months and 3 days of age. 4
Funeral services were held Thursday afternoon, April 25, with a short home service prior to the service at the South Lutheran church. Rev. V. R. Pietzko officiated, speaking in both languages. His sermon text in both English and German was taken from Isaiah 35,17: Behold for peace I had great bitterness; but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption; for thou hast cast all my sins behind the back.
A young people's mixed quartet, Bernice Rippe, Darlene Weber, Wesley Cradduck and Orville Schroeder, had charge of the music, with Mrs. V. R. Pietzko at the organ. Mrs. Pietzko and Henry Molthan sang a duet in German. The five sons and a son-in-law, Fred Schroeder, were pallbearers, with three grandchildren taking care of the floral tokens. The church was filled with sorrowing friends. Interment was in the church cemetery, where the quartet sang again. 5
Mr. Hopken is survived by his wife, Anna, ten children, Lizzie, Mrs. Fred Schroeder of Geneva, Anna, Mrs. Fred Heinrichs of Bruning, Martha, Mrs. Vern DuBois of Strang, Alma, Mrs. Herman Ohnesorge of Strang, Elsie, Mrs. Ernest Reinsch of Strang, Henry of Bruning, Christ, at home, John of Bruning, Bernard of Martland 6 and William of Wymore, Neb., one brother, Bernard Hopken of Strusekhausen [sic], Oldenburg, Germany, twenty-one grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, besides many other relatives and close friends.
Source: Obituary published in an unidentified and undated newspaper. Copy of obituary provided by Sandra S. (Hopken) Miller.
Some sources report that Chritian was born in Norderhofschlag, which, I believe, was a community within Strückhausen, a town in the Wesermarsch region of the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg (Großherzogtum Oldenburg ).
Today, the town is not far from the cities of Brake and Ovelgönne, in the state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen ), in the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland ).
Frieda Maria Johanna Hopken, Christian and Anna's tenth child, was born on 21 September 1907 and died on 18 August 1916, just short of her ninth birthday.
Sailing aboard the S.S. Rhein, Christian and his new wife, Anna, departed Bremen, Germany on 15 May 1889 and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on 30 May. On the passenger list, Christian was identified as a 25 year old merchant and Anna was 23 years old. They shared a single piece of baggage.
Traveling by train from Baltimore, they arrived at Fairmont, Nebraska in early June and continued on to Ohiowa, Fillmore County, Nebraska where they located on a small farm southeast of Ohiowa owned by Christian's uncle, Henry Hopken, who had immigrated to Nebraska in 1868.
His age at death may actually have been 75 years, 10 months, 28 days.
Christian was buried in the cemetery of St. John's German Lutheran Church, about two miles south of Ohiowa, Franklin Township, Fillmore County, Nebraska. The church had been founded in 1887 by 15 German pioneer families. In 1945, services in the German language ceased and the congregation dropped "German" from the name, becoming St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1954, the church re-organized and took the name Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Christian and Anna's fifth child has been referred to in documents as both Bernard or Benjamin.