Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Henry Carl Merzke, Sr.
Henry Carl Merzke was born Heinrich Carl Rudolph Märzke (Maerzke) on May Day, May 1, 1864 in Stojentin, county Stolp in the Pommern section of what was then Prussia, would later become Germany and eventually part of present day Poland. According to his marriage license, Henry was the son of Carl Märzke and Henriette Bergann. He was one of at least five children. Henry came to the United States sometime before 24 June 1887 supposedly to avoid conscription in Kaiser Wilhelm’s army. He came to Rochester, New York and likely accompanied his sister, Auguste Caroline.
Maria eventually joined Henry, and on 27 October 1888 Carl N. Conrad, pastor of the North German Evangelical Lutheran Concordia Church, married them. They were attended by August Pioch and Johanne Schutt. August, like Henry, was a stonemason and they likely worked together. Johanne was August’s girlfriend and they married about a year later.
Henry and Maria became naturalized citizens in 1891. Henry earned a good living working as a stonemason. There was always meat on the table and each child had two pairs of shoes. Henry could not work during the coldest months because he worked outdoors. He still went out each day and often went fishing.
Henry enjoyed beer, whisky and wine and he and his sons spent much of their time brewing. Many hours were spent gathering the fixings, making the home brew and tasting the fruits of their labor. Henry read the German paper, ate his peas with a knife, and chewed tobacco. There was a brown spot on the wall next to his bed made by spitting during his sleep - a force of habit. He was a member of the Williroth Lodge No. 313 of Harugari that met the 1st and 3ed Thursday of each month at 486 Clifford Ave. This was a fraternal organization that originated in Germany. It worked for the common good of German immigrants and made sure widows and orphans were cared for in case something happened to the husband.
Henry had a bad heart for years. He never complained but limited the amount of heavy lifting he would do. He died at home at 181 Weaver St. of Bronchi Pneumonia on Sunday evening, November 26, 1933. The undertaker came and took his body out in a bushel basket. It did not seem a fitting end to a well loved and respected man. Among his survivors were two brothers in Germany. Henry is buried with Maria in Mount Hope Cemetery.