Annie (Burkey) Rademacher was one of eight children. She had three brother (Aloys, Vincent and Gerard) and four sisters (Hattie, Matilda, Bertha and Mary).
The five Burkey sisters were very close and their lives were closely intertwined even beyond their childhood years.
Annie was the oldest of the five. Both she and Hattie were born while the family was living in Columbus, Nebraska. A cute story has been handed down about Hattie’s birth. She was born on October 13, 1886. The custom at the time was for the father of the child to take charge of the baptism. While mother was at home convalescing, father and baby would go to the church with the godparents to have the baby baptized. Joseph Burkey, the former Mennonite, was probably still a little shaky about all this Catholic business. When he arrived at the church and the Priest asked what name is to be given to the child, Joseph was so nervous he couldn’t remember. So the Priest consulted the calendar and saw that it was the Feast of St. Hedwig. Thus, “Hattie” got her name. The story has been confirmed – her obituary and funeral card show her real name as Hedwig, and St. Hedwig’s Feast Day was October 17th.
Hattie married Louis Kreifels, the widowed father of eight children. Annie’s oldest son Ted later married one of Hattie’s step-daughters, Elizabeth (Ted and Elizabeth are Dale’s grandparents). Don’t worry if you can’t wrap your head around this confusing double-relationship – we’ll go into it more another time!
Next in line was sister Mathilda, born in the sod house near Julesburg. She was always known as “Tillie”. Annie and Tillie were married to two best friends: Joe Rademacher and Arnold Peter. More about them next time!
Youngest sister Mary was married to Joseph Smejkal (pronounced “shmeckel”) and had two children. Mary died in 1921 at the age of 24. Her husband Joseph then married the next oldest Burkey daughter, Bertha. Bertha and Joseph had five children in addition to the two from his first marriage to Mary. The custom of a widower marrying the dead wife’s sister was common back in the day.
Here’s a photo of the family, probably taken in about 1902.