August Heinrich Zierke (1881-1955) was the brother of my great-great-grandmother Ottelia Zierke. I had been thinking about him recently because he was one of the sponsors on the baptism of my great-grand-uncle William Henry Schmidt. I also have scans of postcards sent back and forth between my great-grandfather Edwin Schmidt and his uncle August Zierke, so I know that August was in close contact with my family.
I decided I really wanted to have a photograph of August, so I managed to track down one of his grandchildren, Fred Jones. Fred was quite kind and agreed to meet with me at his home. We spent a couple hours together talking family history, and he shared many great stories with me about his branch of the Zierke family. He also had a few wonderful photos which he allowed me to scan, so I thought I’d share them here.
The first is a detail from a larger picture showing Fred’s mother Helen Zierke on Christmas Day about 1914.
If you look closely behind Helen you can see this next photo on the ground. It’s a family portrait taken about 1912 right after Helen’s birth. It shows great-grandparents Bertha Zellmer Nickel & Fred Nickel, grandmother Ottilie Nickel Prochnow, mother Ella Prochnow Zierke, and Helen Zierke.
This hand-tinted photo is from Helen Zierke’s marriage to Shirley Jones, taken about 1933.
A four-generation photo. On the back was written: “Grandma Prochow, Grandma Zierke, Mom & Me”. It shows Ottilie Nickel Prochnow, Helen Zierke Jones, Ella Prochnow Zierke, and Fred’s sister Janice Jones (l to r).
My favorite of the bunch. It shows Ella Prochnow and August Zierke on their wedding day, 5 September , 1909.
Finally, one that I like because it’s so “rough and tumble” with their glowering expressions and cigarettes. All of these men are, according to Fred Jones, related, although I haven’t quite worked out how just yet. The caption on the back says: “Left to Right: Homer Stowell, John Holden, Reuben Kahl, Harold Stowell, August Zierke, Arnold Mummedor, Shirley Jones, Harold Schneider”. Fred told me an interesting story when he showed me this photo:
“That’s August right there. He looks like a tough, old guy, but he was a nice guy. He was a character. He had a neat job. He was what they called a “grain man” at the granite quarry. And his job was… he could tell by looking at the wall of granite where it would break. He had this knack. I don’t know if they taught it, or if it just came naturally, and so he would go… he would go on a ladder or in a crane and go up the wall and mark spots. Just with a piece of chalk. And then the guys would go up and drill 1-inch diameter holes in there. And he had a little tool box, with little, tiny wedges… about 1 inch square, but wedges. And he would take two or three of those wedges in each hole. He’d take the center one and pound it until it was tight, and then he’d go to the other hole, and he’d get everything into place so it was tight and pounded in. And then he would tell everybody to get out of the way… and he’d stand up there and just go “tap, tap, tap”, and then go over and give this one a “tap, tap, tap”, and TONS of granite would fall. Just like that. I used to see some of the drill marks and I wondered what that was. My grandfather had passed away, but my dad explained to me what they were and how he did it. He could tell just by going up there, “Oh. It’s going to break right here.” They had little tiny wedges and a little hammer. “Tink, tink, tink” and then “CRACK!” and this entire wall would come down.”