H. Henry Homfeld, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of H. Henry Homfeld

H. HENRY HOMFELD. History records that in many of the American colonies the Germans formed the advance guard of civilization. Shoulder to shoulder with the Anglo-Americans they penetrated the virgin wilds of the New World, built their cabins in the vast forests and prairies, and with infinite pains and sacrifice labored for man's progress. For fully three hundred years that nationality has entered prominently into the life of our country. As agriculturists they have been successful everywhere, and there is no community to which the thrifty German is not welcomed to citizenship. Noticeable among the good farms of Porter county, Indiana, is the property of H. Henry Homfeld, which is situated in Porter township, in the southwestern part of the county and is well known as the "Alfalfa Knolls Farm."

Mr. Homfeld was born in Hanover, Prussia, September 25, 1850, and was reared to manhood in the Fatherland. He received a good education in the excellent and thorough public schools of Germany, and at the age of fourteen became apprenticed to learn the cooper's trade. He was but five years old when his father died and from childhood was trained in a rugged school, where his character was moulded at an early age into the habits of self-reliance and determination which have characterized his whole career. After four years spent in mastering his trade, he continued another year with his employer before taking up the life of a journeyman cooper, in which manner he was employed some two years in different parts of Germany. It was his not only to receive the military discipline required of the German youth but to do so in actual warfare, entering the German army in 1870 at the time of the Franco-Prussian war and proving himself an efficient and brave soldier during three years of service. In that war he was present on some of the most noted battlefields, among them being Orleans and Le Mans, where bullets lay thick about him, and he saw the great German field marshal and military strategist, Count von Moltke, the "Iron Chancellor" Bismarck, Emperor William and the Crown Prince, Frederick Wilhelm, as well as many other of the men who attained fame in that struggle. After leaving the army Mr. Homfeld resumed his trade, at which he was employed in his native land until April, 1875, when he embarked from Hamburg in a schooner bound for the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland. The voyage was full of adventure, the vessel threading its way through icebergs for over a month and thereby being much delayed on its journey. On the coast of Labrador in the latitude of 73, Mr. Homfeld saw icebergs nine miles long, and during the three and a half years spent in that country he hunted at different times on the icebergs. In 1879 he landed at Baltimore, Maryland, and from thence came to Chicago. After working at his trade six months in the latter city he came to Valparaiso, Indiana, where he entered into business independently as a cooper, continuing two years. At the end of that period he purchased ninety-two acres of land in Porter township, his present estate. He had but a portion of the purchase price and the land was unimproved, but twelve acres of it being cleared. The occupation was not wholly new to him, for he was the son of a farmer and came of a family that had largely been agriculturists. With industry and energy he set about to reclaim the land to a successful state of cultivation, and today his fine and highly productive farm is one of the attractive homesteads of Porter county. Progressive methods have characterized his management of the place and the neatness and thrift which pervades it is an indication of the careful supervision of the owner. He erected a comfortable residence and made such other improvements as are essential to a well-equipped farm and today this fine property stands free of all incumbrance and Mr. Homfeld ranks as one of the substantial men of his locality. He is one of the farmers in his part of the county who has successfully experimented in the raising of alfalfa, and in this way his homestead has derived its name of the "Alfalfa Knolls Farm." It is located six miles from the city of Valparaiso and six miles from Boone Grove, lies on the line of Morgan and Porter townships, and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad passes through one part of it.

The parents of Mr. Homfeld were Deidrich and Matilda (Apmann) Homfeld, and of their nine children, four sons and five daughters, but two survive: H. Henry, of this review and the youngest of the family, and Deidrich, a resident of Hamburg, Germany. Both parents were natives of the Province of Hanover, Germany, and died in their native land, the demise of the father having occurred in 1855 and that of the mother in 1872. They were devout communicants of the Lutheran church.

To the marriage of Mr. Homfeld and Miss Caroline Jaeschke, solemnized on January 5, 1880, have been born three sons and three daughters, all of whom are living. Matilda, the eldest, is the wife of John Hamann, a farmer of Porter county; Mr. and Mrs. Hamann have three children -- Caroline, Eveline and Fred. Meta, the second daughter, received a common school education and is now a resident of Valparaiso. Herman and his wife, who was Miss Emma Munson, are former residents of Porter township and have one son, Harold Lee Homfeld. Minnie is a student in the Valparaiso high school and expects to take up the profession of teaching. Fred, the second son, has taken up the vocation of farming, and Albert, the youngest of the family, is now a pupil in the eighth grade of the public schools. Mrs. Homfeld was born on the Isle of Rugen, on the southern shore of the Baltic sea and off the northern coast of Germany, on August 8, 1859. At the age of eleven she immigrated to America in company with her parents, who located at Wanatah, Indiana, where her father died shortly afterward. She was educated in both English and German, and with all the proverbial thrift of the German housewife she has ably assisted her husband in his achievement of success. To her husband she has been a true helpmeet, and to her children she has devoted all the tender and watchful care of a loving mother.

In 1907, in company with their daughter Minnie, Mr. and Mrs. Homfeld took a well deserved vacation and pleasure trip to Colorado. He and his family are members of the Lutheran church at Valparaiso. He assisted in the erection of the present church edifice there and has always been a generous contributor to the support of his church and its benevolences. While he is a Democrat in his political views and in national affairs supports the candidate of the Democratic party, still he reserves tile right to vote for men of high character for office irrespective of party. He believes in education and any step to increase the efficiency of the public schools receives his warm commendation. Since taking up his residence in Porter county Mr. Homfeld has entered heartily into every movement which would promote the growth and welfare of the community, and his reputation is that of a man of good business ability, of sterling character, a courteous gentleman and a representative of the best citizenship of Porter county.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 500-502

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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