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A word of warning, never open a door unless you know what may lie behind it. So here is a bit of advice. If you are looking for a gem, go to a jeweler; if you are looking for a banquet, go to the Hilton; if you are looking for gossip, go down to the local cafe. But if your desire is for an ordinary "meat and pataters" meal, then you're welcome to stay and enjoy the contents of this book.

How the writing of this book came into fruition lies largely with John Nelson. John and his mother, Millie, were visiting us last summer and my mother, in her usual fashion, was rattling off one story after another of past events. John said, "You should write a book!" Ma was flabbergasted, to say the least. At age 94 to write a book? Well, the winter months are slow in Minnesota and I began to mull over the possibilities of such an undertaking. But as is usually the case, I procrastinated from week to week. The Lenten Season was approaching and I thought this season of perseverance and penance could provide the necessary impetus "to get the ball rolling. " Ma was enthused with the idea too! I also became acutely aware of the circumstances here and that one never knows "how much fuel is left in the tank. " So I began assembling the material and ideas for what I thought would be a monumental task, but instead it proved to be a labor of love. Much credit is due to John Nelson for his excellent and careful sleuthing of the early history of the Hockert and Wilken families. John lives in Alexandria, Virginia and works for the U. S. Government. Because he lives there and is a student of history, he had access to records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the US Census, and the Library of Congress. So heaps of thanks ,John! Mother was a great storer of past obituaries, news clippings and retaining old copies of "The St. Cloud Register," our former diocesan newspaper. I wrote most of this material during a four week span. This I say, not to boast or as an excuse, because if errors are discovered, my mea culpa to anyone slighted. I wished to record as much of the past ancestral history of our family so that the reader may have a better and more complete knowledge as to who we are and where are our roots.

Adeline Wilken Brozek wrote me a few years ago requesting information about Grandpa and Grandma Wilken her grandson needed for a class project. I'm grateful that his younger generation is being exposed to past family history. History is only interesting when it can be connected with the present.

The first part of this book is factual material gleaned from John's findings. The history of William and Bertha, the aunts and uncles and other relatives relies on my mother's interpretation as she remembers her mother's (Bertha) and father's (William) accounts of events. The years from 1902 onward are true to and written in mother's idiom so that her nieces and nephews can actually hear her telling these stories and events as if they were sitting beside her on the sofa in our living room.

I had some difficulty with the German expressions. Some of our German has become Americanized which makes the translation even more challenging. Then too, the syntax splinters during the process. It becomes "The farmer threw the cow over the fence some hay. " Father Strasser called this Stearns County German.

There are nine generations of Hockerts either mentioned in the body itself or in the listing in the back of the book. I'm providing four pages for notes at the end of this edition for you to, perhaps, add memories of your own or to extend the family tree to include the present generation in each individual family. I know the number of offspring are humungous. Charles and LaVerle Wilken had a reunion a few years ago of the descendants of his parents, Carl and Annie, and there were over eighty present.

I wish to thank my mother for repeating to me the stories of her parents and her own personal life's experiences. Because I had heard these stories on numerous occasions, I was able "to wing" them down without bothering her for each detail. I'm most honored that my mother has carried on the tradition of the storyteller, a noble profession throughout the history of human kind and popularized in more recent times by such notables as Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm brothers. And finally, I also wish to thank all my cousins for their contributions and sometimes humorous antics you have provided me to write about. So have fun and good reading to all!

Sincerely yours, James William Roers dated March, 1994


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