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Family Biography

Emil Franz Herrmann b. 03/10/1851 d. 23/12/1911

In Germany 1866 there was the ‘Seven Weeks War’ also called ‘Austro-Prussian War,’ which was between Prussia on the one side and Austria, Bavaria, Saxony, Hannover, and certain minor German states on the other. Because of superior weapon technology of the period, it ended in a Prussian victory, which meant the exclusion of Austria from Germany. A Prussian detachment, known as the army of the Main, meanwhile dealt with the forces of Bavaria and other German states that had sided with Austria. Germany’s breach loading rifles vs. Austria’s mussel loading rifles gave Germany the victory.  

 In 1870 there was the Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German conflict between France and Prussia that signaled the rise of German military power and imperialism. It was provoked by Otto von Bismarck (the Prussian chancellor) as part of his plan to create a unified German Empire. The war was fought from 1870 to 1871.

Emil Franz Herrmann was between the ages of 19 and 20 years old during the Franco-Prussian conflict. The country had been in upheaval for a period of years. It is believed that Emil Franz Herrmann left Germany after King Wilhelm I assumed power of the unified Germany 18 January 1871. It is believed that he may have potentially served in the Königreich Preußen military unit.

There were many factions within Germany that did not want to see a Prussian takeover of the country develop. Some of those provinces that opposed King Wilhelm I were centered in Prussian territories, such as Saxony, Hannover and other minor states. Provinces that once sided with Austria just 4-5 years before were now forced to join the newly appointed Kaiser. This left those who were in the military of the Austrian sided provinces in a precarious situation. This was the beginning of the 1st Reich.

According to Emil Franz Herrmann naturalization application he states that he first entered the United States on or about 08 September 1874. This would have made him nearly 23 years old when he first stepped foot on American soil. Family stories state that Emil Franz Herrmann fled Germany by way of going through the black forest region of southern Germany’s province of Baden or the imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine and then made his way to North Africa where he found passage on a ship heading to South America. He then made his way to the United States and eventually on to Minnesota. The Kaiser had appointed troops to reinforce the front in Alsace-Lorraine to ensure that the French would not retake it back. This is how Emil left through "Der Schwarzwald" (The Black Forest) as it is believed he was stationed there as part of the military front to protect it from the French.

 "Christian Heinrich Reinking b. 1835 d. 1911"

St. Johns Lutheran Church was co-founded by ten men, one being Christian Heinrich Reinking. Christian married Katharina Hagemann, the daughter of Christian Hagemann. Christian Heinrich Reinking and Katharina Hagemann both came from Germany. Christian came from  Evangelisch, Preußisch-Ströhen, Westfalen, Pruessen where the Reinking farm is still in operation to this very day. Katharina Hagemann says she came from Württemberg, Germany in the 1860 census and she says she came from Oldenburg, Germany in the Minnesota State census of 1875. They are at opposite ends of Germany one being due north and the other being due south. This still requires more investigation to determine the exact location of her birth. Christian and Katharina had 10 children and they both immigrated in 1859. It is not known whether they were already married or whether they met in the United States and married.

Christian came to the United States with his brother Hermann Reinking. Per family story they left their parents and some siblings in the Luxembourg-Flanders area where they moved from Preußisch-Ströhen and came to the United States to make a new life.

After Christian came to Minnesota he and Katharina had three children when the U.S. Army drafted him into duty for the Civil War. Christian was wounded and received a pension from the military. The U.S. Army renamed him from the German Reinking to the English version of Rankin. He received his pension under the name Rankin. It was not uncommon for German immigrants to endure various persecution including name changing. The family could not understand why the military would do this.

Emil Franz Herrmann met Wilhelmine Christinne Catharine Reinking at St. Johns Lutheran and after approximately 4 to 5 years they married. She was the third child of Christian Heinrich Reinking and Katharina Hagemann. After marrying, Emil and Wilhelmine lived in the Corcoran area and had 2-3 children. Later they moved to the Anoka area where they homesteaded and had another 11-12 children. Nearly all of the Herrmann children were baptized at St. Johns Lutheran.

Emil was a farmer in Anoka and also served as truant officer for the city of Anoka. Emil and Wilhelmine lived in Anoka until after Emil’s death which was 23 December 1911. Wilhelmine then moved from the farm into Minneapolis where she became a professional cook for a well known railroad tycoon in Minneapolis.

The children of Emil and Wilhelmine spread throughout the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area raising their own families as recorded in this account.

In 1911, Wilhelmine lost her husband Emil Franz and both of her parents, Christian and Katharina, who both died 2-3 months apart. She was left with at least 6 children still at home when Emil died. 

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Last updated: March 26, 2023