Monday, September 19, 2016

100 Bucks for Fred and Ernestine

Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Mecan, WI (known by some as the Big Mecan church) celebrated their 150th anniversary this past Sunday (September 18, 2016). It was a good day. Beautiful weather. Excellent worship service. Fellowship lunch. Well done all the way around.

So over the past weeks and months we've been poking around the cemetery. Dad Mateske knew that his great grandparents were out there somewhere, and so we went looking for them. Pretty easy to find, although the grave marker is getting harder and harder to read and has some of the usual old gravestone growth on it. Johann Friedrich (Fred) Mateske and his Frau, Ernestine Wilhelmine Theresia Mateske nee Pockrandt are the only Mateske names in Big Mecan cemetary. (*see note at end)

Dad wanted to make a special anniversary offering for  the special day and so $100 was given in honor of  his great grandparents. That's worth a blog post. And that gift gave me my title.

From the picture below you can see the location in relation to the back of  the church. The grave is just south of the road that goes through the middle of the  cemetery. You can't miss it.

The Johann is left off Friedrich's name, and he was know just as Fred. One early census must have had a real 'Merican enumerator as he spelled the last name Mateskey. That's no doubt what he heard. 
Ernestine's engraving is a bit less weathered, and it's a good thing she didn't want her whole name put on there. They would have needed a bigger monument!


So  what's their story. Fred and Ernestine came from the old country in the late 1860s from two little towns in Posen, Prussia, Germany. That is in the northwestern part of what is now Poland. They came via the port of Quebec, Canada. They had four children: Rudolph (that's our branch), Richard, Gustoph and Emma. He was a farmer according to all the census reports. However, one other person who  has done some research on the Mateske/Pockrandt name also said that he was a carpenter and later a blacksmith. Don't know about that, or where that came form, but I suppose he could have been all three.

Fortunately somebody saved Ernestine's obituary, and that is as good a way as there is to tell you about them. So let's just let that do the talking. It will tell you something about their life and their faith. It's still hard, but good stuff.

Cleaning  up old gravestones can be tricky business and a rubbing should probably be made of the engraving before it disappears all together. We'll get on that. And I don't know where  the Mateske homestead is exactly. We'll have to check that out too.

Anyway, next time you get out to Mecan, look them up.

* About the asterick - There is another Mateske out there but she is in the Dahlke plot and the Mateske name is not on the marker. Bertha Mateske married a Dahlke. She is a niece of Fred and Ernestine.


  1. It's kinda funny because Grampa had taken us out there to look for the marker last year, but we couldn't find it. We were looking for one of those smaller old white markers. He was amazed when Dad discovered the pictures of the markers and we went to look. We were surprised that the marker was so big. How could we have missed it last year??