Gottlieb Torke, who lives retired upon his farm in Sherman township, Sheboygan county, was born in Germany, February 14, 1835, a son of Gottlieb and Rosena (Knecht) Torke, natives of Germany.
The father, who was a farmer, left his native land on the 27th of March, 1855, and with his family set out for the United States upon a sailing vessel which completed the voyage to New York in thirty-four days after a rough passage. The journey to Sheboygan county was continued by way of the Hudson river to Albany, down the Erie canal to Buffalo and then by way of the Great Lakes to Chicago. From that point the travelers proceeded to Sheboygan county, where they arrived on the 29th of September, 1855. The father purchased a farm of eighty acres upon which a brush house, thirty feet by twelve feet was erected for immediate occupancy until a log house of more commodious proportions could be constructed by the combined efforts of the father and his son Gottlieb.
The next task was that of clearing the land and breaking and planting it, and to all of this labor Gottlieb Torke applied himself unremittingly. The father passed away in 1887, at the age of eighty-seven years. Gottlieb Torke is one of five children born to his parents and his brother William resides on a farm adjoining his.
Following his marriage in 1860 Gottlieb Torke purchased for the sum of eight hundred dollars a farm of eighty acres upon which he erected a log cabin having but one door and one window, and in this house the family lived for seven years. During this period, in 1864, Gottlieb Torke enlisted in Company E, Sixth Wisconsin Regiment, under Captain H. T. Garfield, whose command proceeded to the south at once to join Grant's army which was confronting Lee's army in the battle of Hatchie's Run, in which engagement the object for which the Union army was fighting was attained.
Mr. Torke was wounded in the head by a bullet and was retired from service for a month being laid up in the hospital. He was able, however, to participate in the Grand Review held in Washington at the close of the war, after which he went to Louisville, Kentucky, where for a month he was in the hospital. Later he went to Madison, Wisconsin, and on July 14, 1865, was mustered out of the service, hostilities having ceased and the nation's need for her soldiers having ended.
As soon as he was able to accomplish the journey Mr. Torke returned to his home but some time elapsed before he was sufficiently restored to health to resume the active work of his farm. He added more land to his original property and at one time owned two hundred and forty acres. He has since sold forty acres of this and the remaining tract of two hundred acres comprises what may well be termed a model farm, on which he has resided for more than fifty-two years, and is cultivated by his three sons, Herman, Emil and Ernest.
On October 7, 186o, Mr. Torke was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Gotter, whose birth occurred in Germany on February 17, 1843. She was one of the seven children of Frederick and Hannah (Schoepke) Gotter, and with her parents came to the United States in 1859. Mr. and Mrs. Torke have been the parents of eleven children, all but two of whom are living. They are as follows: Amelia, who married Fred Harmon and passed away October 10, 1896; William F., who died March 21, 1897, at the age of twenty-six years; Elizabeth, who married Robert Stolper, of this county; Martha, who married Herman Kruschke, also of this county; John, a farmer of Lyndon township; Anna, who married George Gersmehl, of Sheboygan; Herman, living in Plymouth; and Emil, Ernest, Bertha and Emma, who reside at home. Mr. and Mrs. Torke are also the grandparents of twenty-eight children of the third generation and the great grandparents of five children of the fourth generation. They are numbered among the few remaining old settlers of the county and their memories are storehouses of interesting reminiscences. Mr. Torke is seventy-seven and his wife nearly seventy years of age.
To the republican party Mr. Torke gives his support, a comprehensive knowledge of its policies and history convincing him that it stands for what he deems to be the best interests of the country. Since their marriage he and his wife have been members of St. John's Lutheran church and their honesty of purpose and sincerity in their faith commend them to the confidence and high regard of all. During Mr. Torke's long residence in Sheboygan county he has been a witness of many events which to the younger generation are matters of history, and his labors have brought him the substantial reward and rest which he has so well earned and richly deserves.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL