Reverend Carl August Penski
By El Penski, October 2013
Carl August Penski as a Prussian Soldier with his Bible and helmet
Carl August Penski as a Prussian Soldier with his Bible and helmet. The metal helmet came down from
medieval knights -- armoured horse mounted warriors.

Carl August Penski was born December 15, 1830, in Mohrungen, East Prussia, Germany (Poland now). He had two brothers living in 1871 Ė Wilhelm and Rudolf. Wilhelm and Rudolf were in the Prussian Navy and Army, respectively. After Carl had completed his studies for the ministry he was forced to serve as a cavalry officer for one year in the Prussian Army and called into service in 1870, shortly before the surprise decisive defeat of the French at Sedan where the Prussian Army under Bismarck captured the whole French army including Napoleon III..

Carl was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1860 after which he served the congregation at Hohenkirch until April 1877. He then was transferred to Danzig where he served the parishioners until May 1889. After visiting the United States in 1886 he was called to The First Baptist Church in Fells Point, Baltimore (1889-1891). In 1891 he was called to Eureka, South Dakota, where hundreds of his former parishioners from the old country now lived. He served that congregation until his death on October 23, 1893. During his ministry, he wrote and edited books for Onckenís publishing house in Hamburg, Germany. Onckenís was the agent of British Christians who wanted to spread Christianity in Europe and who had contacts with North American Baptists.

Eleanore Gehrke, the daughter of a schoolmaster, was an orphan when Carl August Penski married her in January 1856. She was born in Saalfeld on January 21, 1827. She gave birth to Julius Herman, born November 25, 1856 at Saalfeld, Regierungsbezirk Marienwerder; Martha (Mrs. August Rodemann) was born September 12, 1860 in Himmelpfort, near Saalfeld in East Prussia; Johannes (John) was born November 13, 1862 in Hohenkirch and married to Martha Greil, January 28, 1891; Stephen Paul was born April 12, 1864 in Hohenkirch and married Frances Phillipp, October 15, 1889; and Lydia (Mrs. Paul Otto) was born March 12, 1866 in Hohenkirch and married November 28, 1889. Eleanore died of pneumonia in Hohenkirch January 19, 1869.

Carl August Penski was married again to Pauline Bartig, who was born at Nakel, province of Posen, Germany, November 28, 1841. Maria Elizabeth (Mrs. Edward Neher) was born at Hohenkirch, September 30, 1870; August Emil was born at Hohenkirch, April 12, 1872 ; Otto Edward was born at Hohenkirch, January 25, 1876; Gertrude Johanna (Mrs. George Bisch) was born at Danzig, November 14, 1877; Heinrich Ludwig was born at Danzig, March 31, 1881; and Fredagunde Eva (Mrs. Rupert Weetman) was born October 12, 1883 at Danzig. Pauline died April 19, 1915 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Thus, Carl August had eleven children, two of which were El Penski's grandparents. Maria was my mother's mother, and John was my father's father. Martha was the match maker.

Carl died of typhoid-pneumonia. Carlís funeral at Eureka, South Dakota, on October 26, 1893 was the largest the little town had ever known. His casket was carried one-half mile to the cemetery by six of the faithful members of this church. The line of mourners was fully a quarter of a mile in length.

Picture of Carl August Penski
Carl August Penski

Carl August Penski was the great grandfather of Elwin Carl Penski who repaired the photograph and frame which dates from the late 1800s. He worked on the restoration over a period of 60 years. El started with a damaged frame and a badly pealing picture as teenager. For decades El thought he had ruined it by putting a coat of inexpensive linseed oil on it to keep it from falling into pieces. As a result it darkened the picture almost completely, but El did not throw it out. He finally completed the restoration of the picture electronically and was surprised that it turned out so good.

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