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(Born ca Nov 1844 Virginia, died after about 1987 most likely in San Antonio, Texas) The oldest son of Joseph Macke was with his first wife Hannah Taylor. All documentation refers to him as “Henry,” but in the oral histories from different lines he was always called “Ben.” From these facts, we should suppose that his name was most likely Henry Ben Macke, but he was called by his middle name as his father was. It is very possible that he was named after his uncle Heinrich Macke who was close with his father. While “Bernard” was a common family name on the Macke side, it is more likely that the name Ben would have come from the Taylor family if it were a family name. Other possibilities were that he was called Ben after a family friend, a notable person such as Ben Franklin, or that the couple just liked the name. The first Macke of our family born in the New World was the only one born in Virginia. All oral histories and documentation corroborate this fact. Unfortunately, we have not been able to locate exactly where in Virginia (and must consider that presentday West Virginia was then part of Virginia). The oral histories of some lines have pointed to Richmond, but research there has turned up no Taylor or Macke matches. Other lines have said that the Taylors were from an area in southern Virginia near Boxwood; there is indeed a prominent Methodist family of Taylors there, but no direct connection to Hannah has been made yet. The plantations of the area seem likely candidates to draw the immigrant laborer father. The exact birthdate of Ben is unknown, but there are enough clues from oral histories and documented facts to put his birth in late 1844. The Lost Inheritance oral history says that the Macke family came from Virginia in 1845 and that Henry was born there. His mother Hannah Taylor Macke died on October 31st, 1848 when Henry “Ben” would have been about three going on four years old. Hannah died two weeks after giving birth to his only full sibling Mary Macke. Since Mary Macke did not know that the woman who raised them was her step mother, it is unlikely that her brother Ben would have remembered those hectic days of his sister’s birth on October 18th, her baptism on the 23rd and their mother’s death on the 31st. A young woman from the town, Maria Theresa Myerweassel, then came to care for the young children while Joseph managed the farm and dealt with the grief of losing his wife. Later, Theresa and Joseph would marry and give Ben five halfsiblings in addition to Mary. By all
accounts, Theresa treated all the children well and with much love and devotion. In the 1850 US Census taken on December 5th for Ray Township, Franklin County, Indiana, Henry is listed as six years old and born in Virginia. If, and it is a big if, the census is exactly right, then he would have been born between December 5th, 1843 and December 5th, 1844. According to Holy Family Parish records in Oldenburg, Indiana, Henry Macke made his first Communion on 3 May 1857 at age twelve and onehalf. That would put his birthday between the last part of 1844 and the first part of 1845. These records then all point to his birth at the end of 1844 before December 5th of that year. Since he made his First Communion in the Roman Catholic Church in Oldenburg and was not baptized there, we can reasonably speculate that he was baptized somewhere in Virginia in late 1844 or early 1845. We do not yet know if he were baptized as a Catholic as his father certainly would have preferred or possibly as Methodist in his mother’s denomination which might have been necessary under the circumstances. The last documented record of Henry “Ben” Macke was in the 1860 US Census (Ray Township, Franklin County, Indiana Census, Roll 259, Book 1, page 394 and 395). Henry is still listed in the Oldenburg Macke household as 16 years old and a laborer. Like father, like son, Ben left the farm soon after that census was taken. According to the “Lost Inheritance” oral history, young Ben “became bored with the unending labor of farm work, and he tired of the meager monetary return for all his toil. So he solved his own problem by leaving home in secret. The saddened parents waited for word from their wandering son in vain. Many years later came word from San Antonio, Texas, that he was well and working for a railroad.” San Antonio was a booming town with German settlements surrounding it. A book on the era, History of San Antonio and the Early Days of Texas (Published by St. Joseph’s Society, complied by Robert Sturmberg, Press of the Standard Printing Co., San Antonio, Texas, 1920, http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/FH25&CISOPTR=75356&REC =3 pp. 114, 1223), explains, “Shortly before the Civil War our city was in the first stages of a metamorphosis from a Mexican village into a modem city. Already in '57 the onestory, flatroofed houses of Mexican origin had begun to disappear, and if the Mexican style of architecture still was dominant, the newer buildings bore the unmistakable type of the modern American or
European architecture. The principal building material was a soft lime rock, which is found abundantly in quarries north of our city. Wood was scarce in those days, and few wooden buildings were erected: the wood had to be hauled by freighters from Bastrop, and freighting with mules and oxen was very expensive. “A great number of immigrants had arrived here, among them quite a few German colonists, whose original intention had been to settle either in Castroville or New Braunfels. Their habits of thrift, neatness and order had a very beneficial influence in our city. Their neat, if humble, homes surrounded by fertile gardens and blooming flowers, added materially to the attractiveness of our city and constituted a pleasing contrast to the forlorn and careless impression made by the Mexican jakals. In all justice it must be said that the homes of these Germans were the first step towards our city beautiful of today. Our population, at this time, may be classified as consisting of onethird Americans, one third Germans and onethird Mexicans. “Until 1877 San Antonio was connected with other cities—with the various points at the frontier and in Mexico—in fact with the whole outside world, only by the slow and lumbering stage coach, by the cumbersome "prairieschooner" and by the burro or horse carrying a "pack." Even with the primitive methods of these conveyances the trade of our city was considerable—as we found occasion to state in preceding chapters.San Antonio always was and always will be a trading center. But, since in February, 1877, the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railroad, otherwise known as the "Sunset," and recently as the "Southern Pacific" Railroad; and in January, 1881, the International and Great Northern, were completed to San Antonio, a boom began which has constantly grown from year to year and continues to be growing. San Antonio, since the advent of the railroads, has grown by such leaps and bounds that it is almost impossible to write a story about it which will convey a correct picture to the stranger. Residents of San Antonio, telling about their homesteads, rental property or other real estate investments, nowadays invariably start their story with: "I can well remember when this was nothing but a mesquite brush, and I used to come here to hunt rabbits and doves," etc.—thus proving unwittingly that within the life of one generation San Antonio has progressed from the status of a border town to a modem city of first magnitude.” Other relatives followed Ben’s example and would also leave the farms of Oldenburg for the work on the Texas railroads. Ben’s younger halfbrother John Henry Macke also ran away to Texas to become a locomotive engineer and settled in what was then called Goose Creek (now Baytown), Texas, and stayed in contact with relatives in Oldenburg and Cincinnati, according to
Mary Macke Walker. Ben’s nephew Henry Vogelsang also ran away to Texas in about 1891 at age 14 and became a railroad engineer but sometimes returned to visit the family in Indiana, according to Edna Bedel. In the same story, we learn that when Mary Macke Jansen went back to Oldenburg after the death of her stepmother Theresa Myerweassel Macke in 1897, Mary’s sisterinlaw said that the riding crop with the silver handle from Hannah Taylor should go to Ben because he was the oldest and that she had sent it to him in San Antonio, Texas. Given the circumstances of the exchange, readers should take some caution about the veracity of the claim; however, that they knew then that he was in San Antonio as late as 1897 when he would have been about 52 years old is more believable. So far, we have not uncovered whether he married or had children, if he fought in the Civil War/War Between the States, when he died or if he remained in Texas. We have not found him in any Texas census searches. Hopefully the writing and sharing of this biography of him will prompt more information.
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