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Rev Heinrich J. Dirks

  • Birth 20 May 1808 Ukraine
  • Death 1 Mar 1893 Pawnee Rock, Barton County, Kansas, USA
  • Burial Pawnee Rock, Barton County, Kansas, USA
  • Memorial ID 71678202

Heinrich J. (Dircks) Dirks was one of the Ministers for the villages around Karolswalde on the Ukraine/Russian border, from the 1860's to 1874 until the immigration to America. Heinrich continued as Minister for the Bergthal Mennonite Church in Pawnee Rock, Kansas after their migrations to America in 1874. Heinrich J. Dircks was one of the organizers who worked hard to bring our ancestors to America. There doesn't appear to be headstones for either Heinrich or his wife Susanna, and it is believed they are buried in unmarked graves in the old part of the cemetery, or possibly in the old part of the Dundee Valley Cemetery at Pawnee Rock, Kansas. They sailed into New York harbor on November 18, 1874 on the SS City of London with many of their 14 children and their families. Several families remained in the Belleville area of Pennsylvania to work off their passages, while others continued to Marion, South Dakota and others on to the Pawnee Rock, Kansas area.

Heinrich was born May 20, 1808 in the village of Jadwonin, Ukraine to Johann and Ancke Dircks. From the few records available, Heinrich was one of 5 siblings. (Rev.Benjamin J., Rev. Heinrich J., Liscke, Karl, and Tobias) Heinrich J. passed later than his wife Susanna as a family diary has indicated. Apparently Susanna died as a result of her injuries after some how falling from a moving train. Mentioned in the diary of Maria Dirks Koehn of Galva, Kansas, grand daughter to Heinrich J. Dircks, that Heinrich came to visit his other children in Kansas and South Dakota after Susanna passed. The author ( G. G. G. grandson) R. G. (Bob) Dirks was fortunate to have 3 generations on the same ship SS City of London when they landed in New York harbor in 1874. (Heinrich J. Dirks) (Heinrich H. Dirks) and (Benjamin Dirks) They were processed through what was then known as Garden Castle, located in Battery Park on the Hudson river in New York. I was fortunate enough to have visited the area in October 2000 and found the former fortress still in tact and in use today as a museum, with a large display of our ancestors immigration in to New York harbor.

It is believed that Heinrich J. Dircks had other siblings but at this stage can not be proven.

Children missing from the list below are;

1/ Karl Dirks died in 1864 at Karolswalde, Russia He married Helena Isaak. They had 4 children together.

2/ Johann Dirks died about 1885 in Rush County, Kansas He married Eva Boese. They had 7 children together.

3/ Eva Dirks died in 1841 at Karolswalde, Russia She was 2 years old.

4/ Maria Dirks died in 1881 in Kansas. She married a Heinrich T. Jantz. They had no children.

From my many years of research I was unsuccessful in locating any head stones for our g.g.g. grand parents
Rev. Heinrich J. and Susanna Dirks Heinrich J. was minister in the Bergthal Mennonite church at Pawnee Rock, Kansas for some years after their arrival in America, until his son Rev. Peter H. Dirks replaced him.

Why was there no head stone to mark their place of burial? After all Heinrich was a very active minister in the
Karolswalde region and the surrounding villages, as well as here in Pawnee Rock, Kansas

Over the years I had several people make attempts in Pawnee Rock, to locate them and we concluded they were buried in unmarked graves in the old part of the cemetery. One can only speculate why. Was it money, poor timing, tornadoes, illnesses, etc. Several times I came across Churches that were destroyed in tornadoes or fires and record books were lost forever.

The interesting thing about the obituary is that it doesn't mention that Heinrich predeceased Susanna into death.
It says Susanna lived 60 years in married state. However when you do the math and if the date of marriage is
correct as April 1824 plus 60 equals 1884 not 1887. However the first recorded child was born in April 1828
so I am suspect that the marriage date should be 1827 not 1824.

The obituary reads:- DIRKS on April 26, by Pawnee Rock, Barton co. Kansas Spouse of the here immigrated
Heinrich Dirks, Minister of the Mennonites at Karolswalde, Poland, Russia, at the age of 77 years and 6 months.
Four of her children preceded her into the beyond, and ten are still living, who are all family heads. It would be
too hard to count all the grandchildren, because one family is still in South Russia. 4 by Pawnee Rock, 2 in McPherson co., and 2 in Dakota. Descendants are many. Could go up to 75 or more persons. The deceased was highly respected from her youth to the grave by young and old.
She has lived 60 years in married state.

So it is interesting to see that not once does it mention that Heinrich has survived her or preceded her into death.

Rumor or fact from an old story that I came across some years ago while doing my research with Loanie Koehn
in Galva, Kansas in the 1980's (Grand daughter to Heinrich and Susanna Dirks ) Loanie's mother Maria Dirks was born in 1872 and she would have been a young girl when these events took place in 1887 or later. Apparently Heinrich or just Susanna Dirks fell off a moving train while it was either pulling into a station or pulling out and died as a result of their injuries. That is why their death dates have always been the same in any biographies until recently when I moved Heinrich's date forward a few years. Apparently Loanie Koehn mentions that in her mothers diary she wrote that Heinrich came to visit them and other siblings in Marion, SD after Susanna's passing.

It is written in the Barton Country Democrat newspaper on March 9, 1893 newspaper that MR. DIRKS died Wednesday night March 1, aged 84 years.

As far as Henry K. Dirks grandson to Heinrich and Susanna. He came with them on the SS CITY OF LONDON into New York and lived with them on the farm in Pawnee Rock, Kansas. I have never been able to find anything further on his whereabouts over the years.

Bob Dirks

Family Members





  • Created by: Bob Dirks
  • Added: 20 Jun 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 71678202
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev Heinrich J. Dirks (20 May 1808–1 Mar 1893), Find A Grave Memorial no. 71678202, citing Bergthal Mennonite Cemetery, Pawnee Rock, Barton County, Kansas, USA ; Maintained by Bob Dirks (contributor 47536832) .