Henry Balster

Henry Balster was born in Marx, Hanover, Germany on January 19, 1841. He was one of at least five children born to Johann Dirk Balsters and Catharina Borchers. Immigrating to this country in 1862, he immediately settled in Menard county. He became a citizen of the United States on October 16, 1865 at the Menard county courthouse. A widowed sister named Hilke Marie Taapken followed Henry to Menard county, along with some of her children.

Henry came to America to escape war in Europe. Soon after arriving in Menard county he enlisted in 114th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Co. K. He enlisted on August 4, 1862, agreeing to serve three years in the Union army. Henry was mustered in as a private at Camp Butler on September 18, 1862. About nine months later, his company was stationed at Vicksburg, Mississippi. It was here at Vicksburg that at least 2 fingers were shot off in action on May 19, 1863. Henry received an honorable discharge and was mustered out with his company near Vicksburg on August 3, 1865. In 1911 he was issued a pension for his military service.

On March 13, 1866 Henry married Miss Seede Luken in Petersburg, Illinois. She was also a native of Germany. Seede emigrated in 1866 just shortly before their marriage. Henry had to save money to bring her to America. Some of Henry's nephews from Germany came over and lived with the Balsters. They worked on the farm and saved up money in order to bring their family members over from Europe.

He bought a farm just outside of Tice, located in Menard county. They settled into a log cabin near the railroad tracks. All eight of their children were born in this cabin. Six of them lived to adulthood: John, Harmon, Ben, Henry (Hyne), Thomas, and Marie. Two boys died in infancy and their names are not known Both infants were buried near the house in what is known as 'Tice Cemetery'. Their bodies were later removed to Rose Hill Cemetery near Petersburg. They are buried in unmarked graves near their parents' plots.

Their son John Balster never married and stayed on the family farm his entire life. Harmon married Julia Ensley and the couple moved out of state. Ben married Nellie Snell, daughter of another Civil War veteran Arphad Snell. The couple had two children, Ermal and Emmerson. Henry married Annie King and had three children. Thomas married Katie Caldwell and had three daughters. Henry and Seede's only daughter, Marie, married Walter Kasten. The couple did not have children. A number of Henry and Seede's descendents still live in Menard county.

Henry and Seede were faithful members of the St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Petersburg. He donated the bricks used in the construction of the church. The bricks were made at Tice, Illinois, at a brick and tile factory owned by Arphad Snell.

Seede passed away on June 19, 1912. Henry would later move to Petersburg after retiring from farming. He lived to be over ninety years old and died on September 29, 1932 in Petersburg. Henry was one of the oldest men in the county when he died.

Contributed by: Matthew


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