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