Granddad Ufkes was one of those Germans with four names: a first name, two middle names, and his surname. Granddad was the oldest in his family and the only child to get a German name. He was named for his Grandfather Ufkes, who had the exact same name as he did. Both grandfather's Anglicized first names were John, but the Ufkes grandfather had a High German name (Johann) and his maternal grandfather had a low-German name (Jans). To the Ostfriesen ethnic community Johann and Jans were different.
Granddad's younger siblings were all given "English names." Born in 1917, he was arrived before the First World War brought an end to the use of the German and Platt names that had been passed down for generations.
|Baptismal entry for Johann Heinrich Friederich Ufkes, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Basco, Hancock County, Illinois; digital image, Archves.com.|
Granddad's brother's baptism is recorded a few years later in 1923 and that's the last entry for the family in the Immanuel Lutheran Church record book. His three younger siblings are not there. The reason they are not there is simple, but it took longer than it should have for the reason to dawn on me.
It was one of those things that never made sense, but was never questioned. My grandparents lived on the Ufkes "homeplace," west of Basco and maybe a half a mile from Immanuel Lutheran Church where Granddad was baptized in 1917. Yet my Grandparents didn't attend the rural church. They, Grandad's mother, and my family attended the Lutheran church several miles north in Carthage. I always thought it odd that despite their proximity to the "south church," they went to church in town. Granddad's mother lived in Carthage my whole life and I lived north of Carthage, so it going there for us made perfect sense to me.
The story, which I learned sometime later, was that Fred Ufkes wanted his children to learn English, which was spoken in the town church while the south church continued to have services in German.
When I remembered that story, I knew exactly why the younger children were not listed in the records of the south church. They were born after the family had transferred their membership to the town church. I had it in my head that the transfer happened during the First World War, but it did not as my uncle was born in 1923.
The timing of the family's transfer probably was not the war. It most likely was the fact that Johann Ufkes, Fred's father, died in 1924. There are no entries for the Fred Ufkes family after that time. Johann was an early council member of the south church and it was where all his children were baptized and confirmed and it was in that church cemetery where Johann's wife Noentje and infant son were buried. It seems more reasonable that there was a wait to leave the church until the grandfather passed away in 1924.