Martha Denke History

A letter from Brigetta Schott to Gay (Denke) Logan

Martha Denke was born 12/9/1834. Martha was the twin brother of Martin Denke. They were born at Danizag1(SEE WEBMASTER’S NOTE), Germany, a small village with about 120 people. Martha married Frederick Eisenbraunue born October 19,1829, they were married May 5, 1859 at Tezeu, Germany, Frederick was born at Köslin, Germany (today Koszalin, Poland) a few miles from Danizag. They were on the move as there was no peace in the country there at that time. Frederick Eisenbraunue was killed, Martha was with child, he was born after his fathers death. Martha heavy with child was taken in by George and Mary Schneider. They had a son Ferdinial Schneider, born 9/9/1829, and Martha married him when  her son Frederick was three months old. Frederick was born 11/1860. We are unable to find any record of when­ Martha married Ferdinial Schneider (born 9/9/10) It is thought to be March 7, 1861, as that date in her diary has something written every year for a long time. This date is also on a lease record in Frankfurt, Germany. Martha’s son Frederick never went by the name Eisenbraunue, he was always Frederick Schneider.

 Martha second child was Ferdinial Schneider born 12/25/1861 at Breman, Germany.

It has been told that the Martin Denkes, Martha's brother and Ferdinial Schneider were going to Russia to get free land, Martha took sick and had to be left behind, at this time she had twins Henry and Hernyetta born 3/27/1863, which must have died as there is no record that can be found. Ferdinial Schneider  then returned for Martha. It was said that Martin Denke's second wife had and a baby had died, as it was a very bad winter. The party had not successfully reached their destination in Russia. Martin Denke was a hard-headed stubborn man who forced his family to undergo many hardships. At this time they were on the Austria-Hungary border waiting for health records. Another Uncle (George Schneider) and my great Grandfather Ferdinial Schneider took their youngest sister to Martin Denke too help with the children. (Rosilie Schneider) You ask in your letter how I got the name of Rosilie Schneider, which you said was your father’s grandmother. Rosilie Schneider had been a midwife. I was told that she was going to tell him to take care of the children and to not marry again, as Rosilie was not going to marry. It was first part of March when they came to get her, she was 22 years old, and we are guessing that the trip would have taken them about six weeks as they traveled by horseback. It was a laugh in the family because she arrived and was no doubt was married right away, as her first child Edward Denke) born 2/9/76 it is thought to have been born near Szombothely, Hungary. Rosilie’s second child was born Emil Denke 6/7/1878 at Karlsnule, Russia. It has been said the trip took about ten years from what we know as Gdynia Poland (now) then Danizag, Germany1(SEE WEBMASTER’S NOTE). Martha (Denke) Schneider never heard from Ferdinial Schneider after he left with his sister Rosilie and brother George Schneider.

Martha (Denke) Schneider, with two children, again had to look for a place to stay and provide for her children, and so she started to work at a creamery that bought cream and made butter. My Great Grandmother Freda was born 5/17/1875, she was an illegitimate child, as to the knowledge of anyone her husband (Ferdinial Schneider) took his sister Rosilie to Martin Denke and there was no return. Great Grandmother Schneider was 54 years old when she died 7/1888. My Great Grandmother Freda said she never knew her father Schneider, all she ever knew for a father was the man her mother (Martha) lived with and his name was (Gustav Bovgard). He had some sons that were older then Freda. There names were Whilhelm, George, and Jacob Bovgard.

Freda Schneider went to work for Samual and Martha Heidelberg when she was thirteen years old, the Heidelberg's were bankers at Kostrrzyn, Germany. Freda married their son Emmaunal Heidelberg on May 2, 189? he had just returned from Bankers School. I don't know his birth­ day, but he was born 7/1870. They eloped, as Freda was not good enough for the Heidelberg 's. Emmaunal was able to get a job at the bank in Hannover, Germany. She was never thought of as peasant there, she worked hard in her church and community and everyone loved her. Up to this time my mothers side of the family had been " Soil Trollers" (farmers).

My Grandparents Heidelberg:

Emmaunal Heidelberg born 7/1870 died 7/12/1937

Freda Schneider born 5/17/1875 died 7/8/1937 Married 5/2/1891

Emmaunal and Freda Heidelberg had 12 children all of whom were born in Hannover, Germany, all of whom were baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith.

1. Emmaunal Gustav Heidelberg 3/14/1892                died in W.W.I

2. Bovgard Martin Heidelberg 10/4/1894

3. Rachel Marie Heidelberg 3/19/1896

4. George Malachi Heidelberg 7/14/1898                died in W.W.I.

5. Haggie Hildigardi Heidelberg 12/10/1899

6. Jessica Mary Heidelberg 2/27/1901

7. Samual Joshua Heidelberg 12/30/1902

8.Ruth Emilie Heidelberg 7/19/1904                died in 1936

9.Esther Martha Heidelberg 6/2/1905 died in 1937

10. Rebecca Mary Heidelberg 7/6/1912

11. Jeremiah Joel Heidelberg 4/4/1917

12. David Peter Heidelberg 10/3/1919

The twelve children all grew up to manhood and womanhood. Four died in Concentration Camps, Emmanual and George Heidelberg served in W.W. I and were taken prisoners, neither were ever married. Ruth and Esther Heidelberg were abducted one night in their sleep in the summer kitchen and taken to a concentration camp known by use as "Hitler Women Camp”. This camp was where women were forced to have children from Generals (Old Men) Retired Army men. Esther was the only one that was ever heard from after that terrible night May 4, 1935. Esther wrote a letter that told how badly they were treated and that Ruth had died having a baby in 1936, they all knew that Esther died there too. This was a terrible heartache for both Grandfather and Grandmother, they never overcame the shock, as they died four days apart.


BOVGARD MARTIN HEIDELBERG , born 10/4/1894 died 6/4/1964 married Haulda Lucia 10/4/1922 she died 6/2/1968 she was born 4/2/1900.

Their children:


1. Jacob Bovgard Heidelberg

2. John Emmanual Heidelberg

3. Joseph Halle Heidelberg

4. Jeremiah Mucus Heidelberg

 Jacob never married he was killed in W.W.II. 1944 at Berlin, Germany

 John married Bertha Wessier 6/12/55 at Berlin, Germany. They live' behind the Berlin Wall. My mother Rebecca Heidelberg O'Dell is the only one that has been able to visit them when she likes as my Father Vincent O'Dell was with the Common Control and could go there anytime.

 John and Bertha Heidelberg have seven children;

    1. Mary

    2. Emilie

    3. Lydia

    4. Louisa

    5. Kristin

    6. John

    7. Rachel

They are very poor and the conditions there are like it must have been years ago. They work for the government (farm) and are given only so much to live on. My mother tried to get them out but they have lived there so long they know no other way in life, I think Uncle John would come but most of Aunt Bertha's family is there. They have few clothes every time my mother goes she takes clothes dishes and bedding. They were not able to go to church until a few years ago. At this writing they are still there except for Emilie who made the Berlin Wall in 1972 with a friend in a sack, that was kicked and rolled by some guards, their escape was National News and T.V. -  you must have heard about it. Emilie is married to an American, Eugene Armstrong a News Reporter. They live in West Germany and have a lovely home. They were married 2/14/1978 in New York City, New York. America. Their children;

    1. Scott Allen Armstrong

    2. Mitz Lou Armstrong

RACHEL MARIE HEIDELBERG born 3/19/1896 married Franklin Kruse 4/9/1926 his birthday was 7/9/1894, she died 7/1951 he died 3/1955

Their children:

Robert Kruse married Suzanne Kost June 4, 1954

Their children:

  1. Delane Robert Kruse married Diane Rhodes 3/9/1973

Their children:

    1. Julie Kruse
    2. Judith Kruse
    3. Heather Lee Kruse
    4. Robert Franklin Kruse 9/9/1979

This family lives at Des Moines, Iowa 

  1. Deanna Margaret Kruse married Thomas Stockton 8/9/1981. They have one son named Nichoel Owen Stockton.

 MAGGIE HEIDELBERG born 12/10/1899 married Albert Eixenberger 9/9/1919 his birthday 12/1898 she died 12/19/1923, She had one daughter Sarah Eixenberger born 5/9/1923 married Carl Klyn born 2/9/1923 married 9/1946 Sarah has no children

 JESSICA MARY HEIDELBERG born 2/27/1901 married Philip Ullgrove born 12/1/1901 married 2/17/1925 they had two sons. Jessica died 5/1947 Philip died 5/2/1954.

    1. George Henry Ullgrove born 2/19/1927 he was killed in W.W.II. in 1944, also Philip was a soldier at the same time.

    2. Arron Emil Ullgrove born 5/5/1930, I am unable to get any in­formation about him as he went with Uncle Samual to Brazil in 1945.

 SAMUAL HEIDElLERG born 12/30/1902 married Lydia Zwickau 3/9/1942 they had four children He died 8/8/1958

     1. August born in Germany

    2. Mucus born in Germany

    3. Mary Martha  born in Brazil

    4. Zetha  (we have visited them they live at Salvador, Brazil, some of my fathers people moved there in the 40's to get away from Hitler's rule.

             1.        August Heidelberg married Raccia Claros 4/15/1975

            Their children:

1.        Grande August

2.        Augustia Mae born

3.        Reyes Louis


2. Mucus married Betty Lou Fraizer 2/14/1969, they live in Dallas, Texas

Their children

1. Lisa Lou Heidelberg

2. Lynette Ann Heidelberg

                          3. Mary Martha Heidelberg is not married, she is teaching school in Africa.

                         4.        Zetha Heidelberg married Timothy Rowless married 6/6/1971

Their child:

 1. Louila Rowless  They live in Cuenca. Ecuador.

 REBECCA MARY HEIDELBERG (my mother) born 7/6/1912 married Vincent O'Dell (an Irishman born at Wexford, Ireland born 2/12/1912 died 9/17/1974 married 4/8/1933 my father was a lawyer by trade. My folks met at Wilhelm Hemmelson where my mother was kitchen help for a lawyer which my father worked for, the home was a mansion that had forty-four rooms, and they had boarders of the higher class.

 Their children;

            1. Brigetta O'Dell (who wrote this account)

2. Dorothy May O'Dell

3. Roszella Anna born 9/5/1937

4. Oscar Vincent born 7/4/1941

5. Curtis Eugene born 3/14/1944


                1. Briigetta Mary O'Dell born 11/4/1935 married Royce Shott born 8/19/1931 married 7/20/1953 married at Hannover, Germany where my family has always lived. We have one daughter.

                 1. Sharon Phyllis Shott  married Scott Hoven of Cambridge, Mass. 6/9/1975.

                                Sharon met Scott at Boston, Massachusettes where she was an exchange student, she now is a College teacher, as are Royce and I. I am a Math teacher, Royce languages. Sharon and Scott taught school in Mass. America and now are at Berlin, where we get to see the grandchildren. They are American teachers. Their first two children were born at Boston, Mass. America.


1. Shawee Elmer Hoven

2. Estelle Emily Hoven

3. Cheryl Ellen Hoven

4. Norma Ellie Hoven


2.        Dorotha May O'Dell married William Curtis 6/27/1951

Their children:


1. Clinton Curtis married NoraJoyce Bowar 9/1/1974


1. Joanna Keck Curtis

2. Jeanne Blide Curtis

3. Guynne Dollie Curtis

4. Grady Era Curtis

3.        Rossella Anna O'Dell married James Keck 2/2/1965

Their children:


1. Mary Jean Keck

2. Martha Anne Keck married Glen Rodriquez 8/2/1982

3. Patricia Alaine Keck

4. Anthany James Keck      

5.        LeAnn Lynn Keck

6.        Renee Margie Keck

4.        Oscar Vincent O’Dell married Elma Hiller 6/27/1965

Their children:


1. Wilbur Oscar O'Dell

2. Homer Vincent O'Dell

3. Kathaleen K O'Dell


5.        Curtis Eugene O’Dell born married Ethyl Wright 7/5/1968

Their children:


1.Vernon Vincent O'Dell

2.Alvin Eugene O'Dell

3. Yvonne Mary O'Dell

4. Roszella Shea O'Dell


We the O'Dell's all had a very good education; all went to college at Hannover. We always had it pretty easy, nearly can say we had what we wanted times have been good since 1948 and that was when we were old enough to remember. We had cousins that lived in southern Germany or near Berlin that had it rough. In the W.W.II. they still tell us how they had to hide for months at a time during the war. Some were killed and others injuried that was a mark on them all there lives. I know I haven't done this as you had done yours, but did want to explain as I went along, as we all enjoyed your history at my sister's Christmas, but we all wished that you had explained a little more about the early days in America. You can change it as you like.


Your friend Donald Kruse, is a nephew of my Uncle Franklin Kruse. Donald's family moved to Rock Rapids, Iowa, America in about 1923 or 1924. Donald and I taught school at Berlin, I taught 3 years, Donald taught about 16 years, I always enjoyed Donald, he was a very good teacher. When our daughter Sharon was at Cambridge, Mass. America, we flew to Sioux Falls, S.D. America and were met by Donald in 1974, you have a very pretty state. Everything was green every where you looked.


I want to mention one more thing in some of Great Grandmother Freda Schneider Heidelberg, there was a letter from Mrs. Johann Denke telling that they had another baby (Edwin) and that August and family had come to America and now have four sons.


Royce and I plan to come to America in 1984 and we plan to visit you even if you have to met us in Sioux Falls, S.D. America, as we will visit in Iowa, we both feel we know you, please write again and tell us more, and how you are getting along with the history. There are others that no doubt feel as I did at first that we were not related, until I did some research, and I was surprised, I have really enjoyed this surprise, as I told you before; I felt my family was SCHNEIDER. Thanks again for everything.


Your friend in Germany,



 Webmaster’s notes:

 1. Denzig, Germany should not to be confused with Danzig. Although both towns are now in Poland, Danzig is now Gdansk (Gydnia, referred to above is near Gdansk, and was considered part of Danzig) and was already a quite large city by the time of Martin Denke’s birth. Denzig, on the other hand was a very small town in the province of Pommern, Germany. It is now known as Debsko and is currently in Poland. It is 60 km in the east of Stargard (today Szczecinsky) and about 120 km in the south of Köslin (today Koszalin). It is very close to the Polish town Kalisz Pomorski, formerly Callies. Since Brigetta Schott refers to “Danizag” (I have been unable to find any other references using this spelling) as a small town of  about 120 people, this fact seems to eliminate Danzig as a birth place of Martin & Martha Denke. Koszalin, Poland – mentioned in the story above as the birthplace of Frederick Eisenbraunue is roughly equi-distant from Denzig and Danzig. If anyone is able to come up with a likely modern name for Tezeu, mentioned above, I would be interested.

It seems clear to me that the birth place of Martin and Martha Denke was Denzig, and not Danzig. This is not to say that no Denkes ever lived in Danzig. In fact, Gay Logan refers to documents in her book that show that Johann Denke, father of Martin Denke lived in Danzig. I haven't seen these documents nor do I know whether they still exist or not, as in Gay's last letter to me she told me that many of her older records had been destroyed as they were copied from the original German documents on an old copier and the paper did not hold up.