Kremlin Homesteader Jacob Gomke, 1916

This history of Kremlin Homesteader Jacob Gomke was written by his grandson's wife, Judi Holsapple Gomke (Mrs. Melvin Gomke) in 2011.

Kremlin Homesteader Jacob Gomke was among the earliest arriving
Kremlin area homesteaders around 1916.

Jacob Gomke and his wife Justina came to Kremlin around 1916 from North Dakota following their immigration from Russia in 1905. Jacob was born September 20, 1862 in Beresina, Bessarabia, Russia and his wife Justina Gjerke (Jerke) was born March 22, 1866 in Russia to John Jerke and Caroline Mentz.

They were descended from Germans who had been allowed by Czar Alexander to settle in Russia when the Ukraine and Moldova were obtained from Turkey in 1812.

The Germans were considered better farmers than the Russians. German settlers to Russia were given free land, promised freedom of religion, and exempted from military service. In time some of those advantages were being eroded and as a result many of the decedents of the first settlers emigrated to Canada, South America and the United States.

Jacob and Justina emigrated to America on the German ship, Pretoria, by way of New York with seven of their children in 1905. Four of their older children remained in Russia and they never saw them again. Two more children, Olga and Mathilda, were born in North Dakota.

Four of the children who immigrated to the United States with Jacob and Justina settled in North Dakota and Canada and did not move on to Kremlin: Reinholdt and Rosalia settled in Medicine Hat, Alberta; and Johann (John) and Olga settled in North Dakota.

Arrival at Kremlin

Edward (Ed), Christian (Christ) and Bertha Gomke, came to Kremlin with their parents, Kremlin Homesteader Jacob Gomke and his wife Justina, and settled around 1916. For a time they lived on the Lee Place, southeast of Kremlin, a farm homesteaded by Thomas Lee and later sold to Charles and Ivy Rolston and then to Wilbur Rolston.

    Christ Gomke on the farm, 1941    (click photo to enlarge)
Christ Gomke on farm, 1941

In 1916 Jacob acquired land nearby the Lee place, NW 1/4 of section 17, and NE 1/4 of section 18, in Township 32N, Range 13E, from Charles M. Benson, who had originally homesteaded and received patent on the land. (See 1917 map, upper right)

Jacob later sold the land to his son, Christ, who in turn sold it to his son, Donald W. Gomke. Jacob Gomke was interred Aug. 15, 1929 at Highland Cemetery. Justina was interred there June 8, 1937.

Jacob and Justine's daughter Bertha died of injuries sustained in a fall from a hay wagon at Fairfield, Montana. Her husband, Sam Becker, later died when he fell through the ice on Bynum Reservoir.

Christ Gomke Family

Christ and Ed both married and stayed in Kremlin. Christ married Hilda Stephans who died having their daughter Annie Pauline on March 11, 1925. They also had a son previously that died at birth.

Christ then married on October 2, 1925, Leontina (Leona) Kramlich, (sister to Emma Howser) born March 15, 1906, in North Dakota to Wilhelm Kramlich and Dorothea Stoecker.

To that marriage seven children were born: Frances Ione, Alma Helen, Irene May, Ellanora (Red) Louise, William, Melvin Arthur and Donald Wayne.

Christ died in Havre on October 30, 1973 and Leona died in Gt. Falls on May 5, 1995.

Ed Gomke Family

Edward Gomke married married Sept. 17, 1932, Bertha Fischer, 26, of Kremlin, born in South Dakota to Adam and Grace Dina Fischer.

Ed worked on a farm south of the Rolston place and they had animals there. They later moved to town when Ed worked for the Great Northern Railroad. He was always known as a hard worker.

They had 12 children: Stan, Agnes, Lorraine, Clarence (Blackie), Freddie (Fritz), Norman, Rueben, Shirley, Robert, Jimmy, Patty and Mike. Both Ed and Bertha have passed away and are buried in Havre, Montana.

  Christ Gomke Family, about 1946
Irene, Annie, Alma, Frances;   Christ, Melvin, Ellenora "Red", Donnie, Leona.

  Photo courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. (Judi) Melvin Gomke.
Christ Gomke Family, about 1946

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