Elizabeth Brandt Weik is my great-grandmother and a Riley County, Kansas pioneer woman. I don’t know that much about her but she was a woman like other women in Riley County that paved the way for other women to make a difference in their community.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry Brandt and Anna Elizabeth Bedenbender of Freeport, Stephenson, Illinois and was born in January 1852. Her parents were German immigrants that traveled to the United States to seek a better life like so many Germans did during the 1880s. Her father came to America in 1848 and her mother arrived in 1850.
Germans left their native land for a combination of reasons, which included political oppression, economic depression (due to crop failures), and religious persecution. The German immigrants took jobs as skilled laborers that included jewelry makers, musical instrument manufacturers, cabinetmakers, and tailors.
The family settled in the city of Freeport because other German immigrants had made their home there as well. Immigrants sought out the same communities where other family or friends had come from the same location in Germany.
In 1852, the same year Elizabeth was born her father Henry died at only twenty-nine years old. Her mother Anna Elizabeth remarried on March 9, 1855, in Stephenson County, Illinois to John Henry Debus, Sr.
The now Debus family remained in the Freeport, Illinois area. Elizabeth meant my great-grandfather John Edward Weik and they married on April 15, 1873, in Freeport. They had their first son in Freeport in 1874, Edward John Weik. It is believed that Henry Debus had relatives in Kansas and so John, Elizabeth, Edward, and her mother and step-father traveled to Kansas to live. Following the Civil War, many settlers came to Kansas in hopes of finding inexpensive land and a better life. By 1874 many of these newly-arrived families had broken the prairie and planted their crops.
Elizabeth and John settled in Riley County, Kansas. Living was good and their family started to grow, Peter Jacob 1877, Elizabeth Katherine 1878, Susan Ann 1879, Louis Franklin 1883, Otto Richard (my grandfather) 1885, and Maude Weik 1889.
Tragedy struck when son Louis Franklin died in 1905 of consumption from lingering illness and Otto Richard died in 1926 from a horse injury in which he did not recover. Elizabeth’s husband John died of apoplexy – unconsciousness or incapacity resulting from a cerebral hemorrhage or stroke on August 1, 1927.
Elizabeth continued to carry on her life after her husband’s death in Riley County, Kansas. My father never shared very much information about her so everything I have learned is from my own research. I never knew that at the time of Elizabeth Brandt Weik’s death on March 30, 1934, she was living with my grandmother Ruby Jemina Pultz Weik for three weeks before her death of a stroke. My father was twelve years old at the time. Her birthdate is questionable sometime between 1847-1852 as her obit and/or census states. She lived in Riley County for sixty years and was loved by her family and friends.
She is buried in the Fairview Cemetery alongside her husband John in Riley County.
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