Monday, August 27, 2012

The Moehnke Family Moves to the New World

By Mildred Wallace and Mariam Bluhm Martensen 

Gottfried and Anna Dorothea (Malnososki or Mollofskie) Moehnke came to the Sullivan area of Grey County, Ontario, Canada, with their family to find a better life in April 1858. Family records list several towns where they lived in Freidrichstein, Prussia, now in Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship (Province), Poland. They are all within a short distance of each other and east of Hamburg. They sailed from Hamburg and the passenger record includes the following people: Gottfried age 46, Dorothea, wife, age 45, Carl (Charles) age 17, Michael age 14, Justine age 12, Gottfried age 9, Christine age 7, Frederich age 5, Florentine age 2, and Christian 4 months. The place of origin is Friedrichstein, Prussia and his occupation is Landmann (probably farmer).1 The baptismal record of Justine, created at her baptism on June 3, 1872 in the Evangelical Lutheran Church by Pastor Zu Brank, while they were living in Sullivan, also confirms this information.2

This was the time in history when all the able bodied men were being inducted in the Prussian army to fight the many wars of the Aristocrats. Just ten years earlier there had been a revolution in Germany and many reforms had been promised to the people, but never came to pass, so the Prussian people and many other Germans left for America, the land of promise.

They settled in Guelph, Wellington County and later moved to Owen Sound, where they engaged in farming. It’s my belief that Charles Moehnke, a brother of Gottfried, and his family also came with them, as they are buried in Ten O’clock Church graveyard in Clackamas County, Oregon, where Gottfried is buried.

According to the 1861 census of Canada, they lived in Guelph, Wellington County and the family included Gottfried and Anna Mink, both born in about 1812, Charles, Michael, Justine, Gottfried, Christena, Fred, Flora and Christian. They were all born in Prussia and practiced the Lutheran religion, as did many others in this community.  The men worked as laborers. This accounts for all of the children except for Caroline who died in Germany and Louise who was married April 19, 1858 to Michael Schwertz. The next household, is Fred and Justine Mink with a baby Charles, relationship to them is unknown.3 Michael and Louise Schurtz (Schwertz) are also in Guelf, with children: Albert, Louise, Fritz and Charles.4

By the 1871 census of Canada the family was living in Sullivan, Grey County and those listed are Gotfried, Dorothe (Anna), Frederick, Florentiene and Christian. Here Gotfried is a farmer. Charles and Justina Moehnke are listed with children: Charles, Mary, Gusta, Elizabeth, Frederick, and Christian.5

They moved to the United States in 1877, just three years after Grandma Marie Moehnke Heft, granddaughter of Gottfried and Anna was born. Gottfried settled ten miles east of Oregon City, where he bought one hundred acres of land in the woods, which he improved and where he died. His third son Frederick inherited this property.

Gottfried was born May 26, 1812 and died December 14, 1889 at age 77. Anna Dorothea was born December 20, 1812 and died September 25, 1890. Gottfried and Anna Dorothea Moehnke were married on April 19, 1836 in Germany. Aunt Flora Fisher (sister-in-law to Grandpa John Heft by his half brother Alfred Fisher) remembered Dorothea bringing lumps of brown sugar wrapped in a hanky for her grand children. 

There were ten children in the family of Gottfried and Anna Dorothea Moehnke who were all born in Germany.

Karolina Moehnke, born August 29, 1834, died as a young child in Germany.

Louise Moehnke, born May 14, 1836 and died March 27, 1928 in Portland, married Michael Schwertz on April 19, 1858. They had eleven children: Louise, Albert, Fredrick C. (Fritz), Charles, Flora, Augustina Grossmueller, Mary Schwichienberg, Michael William, John, David, and Christian.

Charles (Carl or Karl) Moehnke, born March 31, 1840 and died January 1, 1922 in Portland. He married Justina Hettman after they both immigrated to Canada. She died December 31, 1921 after caring for him through an extended illness. They had ten children: Louisa LaDeau, John Alfred, Albertine, Mary Gustina France (Graham), Flora M. Dickey, Charles F. W., William and August C. B. Charles operated the first Beavercreek Post Office and Store. He served as Clackamas County Commissioner from 1888-1892 and was elected Justice of the Peace at Beavercreek 1886. He was one of the first exponents of permanent roads, which met with considerable opposition. In order to demonstrate his theory he built what is believed to be one of the first experimental roads in the west. On a stretch a mile long from Mountain View to the crossing of the Highland road, he constructed a pavement by laying large rocks and filling in with screening gravel. The road is still in use forty years later.6

Michael Moehnke, born October 3, 1842 and died June 1926, married Caroline Fisher on October 14, 1868 in Preston, Waterloo, Ontario. Their marriage record lists Marienwerder, Prussia as their place of birth.7 They had nine children: Flora Frazier, Augusta Jones, Marie Meyers, William Michael, John Gottfried, Christian, David F., Otto E., and Bertha Hibbs. Caroline died in 1888 and he married Katherine McKennett in 1894. Michael died June 2, 1926, and Katherine died July 23, 1935.

Justine Moehnke born September 19, 1844 in Klein Tromnan, Tochlers Westprussia, Prussia, Germany and died July 27, 1875 in Owen Sound. She married Fred Heft, as his second wife, on November 20, 1862 in Owen Sound. He was born in 1837 in Prussia, Germany, and he died in Grey County, Canada in August 18, 1869.8 They had four children: Mary, John, Fred, and Lenna. Her second husband was Karl Fisher. They had Alfred Fisher who married Aunt Flora Bluhm.

Gottfried Moehnke, born June 20, 1847 and died March 11, 1928. He married Mary Zetas, born February 21, 1846 and died December 31, 1930. They had ten children: Albert, Lizzie Bluhm, Robert, John G., Carl (Charles) August, Fred W. (married to Tina Moehnke, Grandma Heft’s sister, who died shortly after marriage), Flora Benson, Lena Priester, Rosa Douglas, and Aguste Reigler (May).

Christena Moehnke, born November 6, 1849 and died February 1, 1927. She married Fredrick (Fritz) Bluhm, born January 19, 1849 and died April 9, 1910. They had nine children: Flora Fisher (married to Grandpa Heft’s half brother Alfred), August, John, Christ G. aka Chris (married to Grandma Heft’s sister Minnie), William F., Arthur G., Cathleen, Elsie, and Della Fisher.

Frederick Moehnke, aka “Fritz”, born March 2, 1852 and died July 22, 1926.6 He married Caroline Slomske, born September 17, 18 and died December 26, 1907. They had ten children: Marie Heft, Amelia Shockley, Herman, John D. Minnie Bluhm, Louise (Lizzie) Kloebe (Koellermeir), Henry, Vina Staben (Koellermeir), Tina Moehnke, and Eva Grover. Fritz’s second wife was Hulda Meibs (nee Fuerstenanau), born August 30, 1872 and died April 11, 1956.9 They married on 11 November 1906. They had three children: Ervin F., Gerhart J., and Walter R.

Flora Moehnke, born December 24, 1854 and died July 2, 1935.10 She married Christian Fisher born and died in 1914. They had six sons: John of La Grande, Joseph of Wallowa, Ben of Brownsville, Otto of Redland, Chris of Beavercreek and Arnold of Oakland.

Christian Moehnke, born December 24, 1857 and died July 28, 1933. He married Mary Heft (grandpa John Heft’s sister), born January 1, 1864 and died 14 May 1894. She left three children which Aunt Lena Heft, her sister, helped to raise. The children were Nora Klinger, Irene Rauch, and Edna Moehnke who was crippled and died at age fifteen.

The above family history contains information gathered over many years by various family members, unless otherwise noted. By 1880, five of their children lived in Oregon and by 1900; all eight living children were here. Gottfried and Anna Dorothea had seventy-four known grandchildren.

Getting to know my family has been a wonderful journey that I’m still on. I’ve found some wonderful friends who also happen to be family. Several years ago I was working as a bank teller, when a young woman at my window said, “I know you, but from where?” I looked at her and replied, “I’m sorry but you don’t look familiar to me.” As we continued with the banking she suddenly said, “ You’re in an album in my grandma’s front room.” Startled I asked, “Who is your grandma?” She replied, “Leona Wallace.” Leona is my mother’s cousin and attended a family reunion I attended a couple of years before, where she took the picture. So be careful how you treat people, you never know, they might be a member of your tribe!

Let’s continue with more information about the family.

The 1880 US Census shows the Moehnke family members living in Beaver Creek, Clackamas County, Oregon. The parents and families of six of their children listed are:

Michael, a farmer, and his wife Caroline, with children Flora, Augustina, Mary, William, John, Christian, and David.

Gottfried and his wife Anna. (the parents), he is listed as “does chores on farm.”

Fred, a farmer, and his wife Caroline, with children Fredric, Maria, Amelia, Harmon, John, and Minna.

Charles, a farmer, and his wife Gustina, with children Louisa, John Alfred, Albertine, Mary Gustina, Flora M., Charles F. W., and August C. B.

Michael Schwertz, a farmer, and his wife Louisa, with children Augusta, Mary L. M., and Frederick G.

Christian Fisher, a farmer, and his wife Flora, with children John and William.11

C (Christian) Moehnk, a farm laborer, is single.12


By the 1900 census the parents had passed away, but some of their children continued to farm the land they had settled in Beaver Creek, Oregon. Their families are listed below:

Michael, a farmer, and his wife Catherine, with children Christian C., Otto E., Bertha, Ada C., Eva M., and Ellen C. His wife had ten children and seven were living. He came to the US in 1878, yet his son is listed as born in Oregon in September 1877. She came in 1887 and they have been married five years. Ada, Eva and Ellen are listed as step daughters.

Frederick, a farmer, and his wife Caroline, with children Herman, John D., Minnie D., Henry W., Vina C., and Tena H. His wife had ten children and nine were living. He came to the US in 1878.

Gottfried, farmer, and his wife Mary, with children Charles A., Frederick, Flora, and Rosa. His wife had ten children and ten were living. He came to the US in 1881.

Frederick, a farmer, and Christena Bluhm. She had nine children and they were all living. Their children living with them are Christian, William, Arthur, Adalia D., Elsie and Adiline.

Christian Fisher (indexed Tischer), a farmer, and his wife Floratene, with children Joseph F., Benjamin, Otto W. and Christian E. She had ten children and five were living. They came to the US in 1877.13

Living in West Oregon City, Chas (Charles), is a Saw Mill man, with his wife Christina (Gustina) and his brother (listed as his father) Fred, who is listed as divorced, is also a Saw Mill man. They had been married thirty-eight years and she had nine children and seven were living. Chas came to the US in 1858, Christina in 1875 and Fred in 1875.14

John Heft, a farmer (the son of Fred Heft and Justine Moehnke), was living in Highland, with his wife Mary L. (Moehnke), and their daughters Edith C. and Edna L. She had two children. He came to the US in 1885 and she came in 1877. This census record notes that his parents were born in Canada, but they actually were both born in Germany. It notes that both of her parents were born in Germany.15 This couple is the grandparents of Mildred Wallace. Their marriage, March 1, 1893, was between cousins, children of Justine Moehnke Heft and Frederick Moehnke, sister and brother. Their children born after this census were: Alfred, Earl, Walter and Emerald, Mildred’s mother.16

Living in Portland, Michael Schwertz, a druggist, and his wife Louisa, with no children. She had eleven children and two were living. They are listed as coming to the US in 1855, but probably came after 1861, as the Canadian census that year notes that all of their children were born in Prussia.17

In the 1910 census Chris, a farmer, is living in Highland. He is a widower, with his daughters Nora and Irene, who both were born in Washington. He came to the US in 1875.18

The last name Moehnke, spelled in several variations, continues to be found throughout Clackamas County. The influence of this family greatly impacted the community of Beaver Creek.  In an article found in the Enterprise, in a column named the Mink Mutterings, on January 9, 1891 there is mention of the make up of the town at that time.

“Mink is about eight miles from Oregon City on the head of Beaver Creek. It consists of post office, store, blacksmith shop, chopper, two sawmills and four churches, the last which ought to prove that the people of Mink are a peace loving people. We are also blessed with a brass band which consists of ten pieces, with John Moehnke leader.”19
The Moehnke family contributed to the establishment of the Ten O’Clock church and participated in the building of that church. It was known as St. Peter’s Church and also listed as a congregational church. This was the same name as the Lutheran church they attended in Canada. Later the family decided to build their own church on property owned by Michael Moehnke. This church was known as St. Peter’s Lutheran Church or the Moehnke Church, and is no longer there. It was adjacent to the Moehnke Cemetery, located at North of S. Lower Highland Rd. on S. Carus Rd. Many of the family members are buried there or in St. Peter’s Cemetery. For burial information check out and A good resource for early records is the Clackamas County Historical Society located in Oregon City. The Family History Society features a Research Library in the Museum of the Oregon Territory.20 Additional family information can be found on, and

1 Hamburg Passenger List, Direct Index, Band 2, 28 February 1857-30 November 1858, pg. 51,, accessed 14 April 2011. The original from microfilm
2 Baptismal record of Justine Moehnke in possession of Mildred Wallace.
3 1861 Canada Census, Guelph, Wellington, Canada West, pgs. 10-11, image 457-458,, accessed 8 February 2011.
4 1861 Canada Census, Guelph, Wellington, Canada West, pg. 15, image 462,, accessed 8 February 2011.
5 1871 Canada Census, Sullivan, North Grey County, Ontario, pgs. 17 and 20,, accessed 8 February 2011.
6 Clackamas County History, Portrait and Biographical Record, pg. 485, actual reference unknown.
7 Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1857-1926, Family History microfilm 1030067,, accessed 4 March 2010. Newspaper articles about Michael Moehnke’s death, Oregon City Enterprise, Reel 17, 4 June 1926, pg. 1. 
8 Copy of Newspaper article in possession of Mildred Wallace. No identification of publication provided.
9 Oregon Death Index, Clackamas County, Certificate 4635,, accessed 14 April 2011
10 Oregon Death Index, Clackamas County, Certificate 265,, accessed 14 April 2011.
11 1880 US Census, Beaver Creek, Clackamas, Oregon, pgs. 10, 11,, accessed 14 April 2011.
12 1880 US Census, Clackamas, Oregon, pg. 22,, accessed 14 April 2011
13 1900 US Census, Beaver Creek, Clackamas, Oregon, images 7 and 8,, accessed 14 April 2011.
14 1900 US Census, West Oregon City, District 89, Clackamas, Oregon, pg. 13,, accessed 14 April 2011. This census record is very confusing and not indexed properly. Fred would seem to be Charles brother, and Fred also showed up in the census for Beaver Creek, still married.
15 1900 US Census, Highland, District 33, Clackamas, Oregon, pg. 6,, accessed 14 April 2011.
16 Family information provided by Mildred Wallace. Clackamas Legacy, Vol. 11, No. 1, The Enterprise, 17 March 1893, the Mink Mutterings, Clackamas County Historical Society.
17 1900 US Census, Portland, Multnomah, Oregon, image 40,, accessed 14 April 2011.
18 1910 US Census, Highland, District 33, Clackamas, Oregon, pg. 6,, accessed 14 April 2011.
19 Clackamas Legacy, Vol. 11, No. 1, The Enterprise, 9 January 1891, the Mink Mutterings, Clackamas County Historical Society.
20 Clackamas County Historical Society,, accessed 14 April 2011.
Originally published in The Bulletin, Genealogical Forum of Oregon, June 2011. I assisted the authors in compiling their story and have permission to reprint it here. They have in their possession other documents, pictures and family keepsakes.


  1. Thank you for posting this.. Walter Roland Moehnke was my great grandfather.

  2. Hi Susan: My Great-Great Grandmother is Augusta Moehnke, b 1839 in Prussia, married William Rutherford in 1858 in Ontario, Canada, and died near Beavercreek, Clackamas County, Oregon. Do you know if there is any connection to this family? The places and dates are all so closely related, it is hard to believe there is no connection.

  3. I have prepared a map of historic schools in Clackamas County; also photos. Schuebel School is one of the schools that we have mapped. Can you clarify your comment about Mink? I have seen reference to a Mink School District, but am confused about exactly where it was. Apparently, there was a community of Mink. Was the community near the Moehnke Cemetery that is also referred to as Mink Cemetery? Schuebel School is near there. I think the Mink School be the same as Schuebel School, but that is only a guess. Do you have any clarifying information?

    1. I am not familiar with the places you mentioned. Maybe if you call Schuebel School they can advise you on this. The spelling is slightly different so I don't know.

  4. Hello: May I use this write up as the biography for Gottfried Moehnke's Find-a-Grave memorial?

    Also, the Charles Moehnke listed above as Gottfried's brother is my 3xGreat Grandfather. They did move to Ontario, but their daughter, Augusta, was married there in 1858, so it's possible Charles' family came before Gottfried's.

    Augusta's son, also Charles, wrote that his older brother, Robert Rutherford, came to Oregon in 1887 to scout out the area. Either Gottfried's family was already here, or moved at the same time. Augusta's family arrived in Oregon in May, 1888.

    1. It is fine for you to use it. I am sorry I just saw your comment.

  5. hello, my 4xGreat grandparents were Gottfried and Anna Dorothea Moehnke, as Michael was my 3x great grandfather. Thank you so much for posting. Do you happen to know how to get ahold of the original author? or can they some how get ahold of me? I am curious to know more.

  6. Regarding the surname Mink, was this a phonetic spelling based on the name Moehnke? If so, who were the Mink folks mentioned in the history>

  7. Hello relatives! I am Courtney (Moehnke) Hohnholt, daughter of Marsha and David (d.1979) [son of Helen and Leray (d. 1989)] {son of Emma and John Moehnke}