FREDERICK WILHELM HOMFELD 1896-1969
Frederic Wilhelm Homfeld was named after Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm (his grandfather was a secretary for the Kaiser). Fred later changed his name to Fred William. Fred was born October18, 1896.
Fred's parents were Henry and Caroline (Jaeschke) Homfeld. He had 2 brothers and 3 sisters, Matilda, Meta, Herman, Minnie and Albert.
Fred and Albert, quite a two some, got in to trouble, playing in the cornfield, after being all dressed up for a family visit to a Valparaiso photographer (clothes had to be changed).
Fred took a short course at Purdue University in "Dairy Herd Testing" and worked in Lake and Porter counties afterwards.
Fred was in the U.S. Army during World War I. He was inducted 8-26-18, at Camp Sherman, Ohio. Received his Basic training and later discharge at Ft. Zachary Taylor, Kentucky. Because of his German name,3 times, he was pulled back from boarding a ship to go to Europe (his knapsack went without him). He then became a German Interpreter for Prisoners at Camp Wadsworth, South Carolina. He was discharged 12-31-18, war was over.
Fred married Mamie Irene Black, daughter of William and Emma Black of Eagle Creek Township, Lake County, in a home wedding. The Black's had a home built in Crown Point, so Fred and Irene took over living on and farming the family farm. They were fortunate to have running water, a bathroom, and furnace heat. A Delco plant furnished electricity for house and barn. Neighbors always banned together for Threshing Days and in winter, they hand shoveled road open to #53, south of Hebron (a 3-4 mile stretch). Fred and Irene's only child, Dorothy Jean, was born 10-15-24.
A record states that land was valued at $125.00 per acre in 1925.
Back in the1930's, daughter Dorothy Jean would climb windmill and wave a white towel for father Fred to see from his field work. For message received, he would wave his straw hat. This signal could mean "Mealtime", "Company", or an important "telephone call".
During the 1920's and 1930's, Fred sometimes plowed up Indian arrowheads, on a hill on north end of farm.
During the Depression, tramps were numerous. Irene would always make them a sandwich, plus a glass of milk, and tell them to sit on the warm chimney base. Fred starting looking for a tramp sign. Sure enough, a pile of stones near driveway, along the road. People told him that was a sign for "food available here”.
Fred was honored by the State of Indiana as a Master Farmer in 1926. Fred did general, grain farming, raised Holstein and Angus cattle, Shropshire sheep and Hampshire Hogs.
Back in the 1930's, Fred served as Assistant Scout Master for the Hebron Boy Scouts. He also served as Past Commissioner of Boy Scouts in the counties of Lake, Porter & LaPorte. He was also an adult 4-H leader. The scouts camped at Sager's Mill in Porter County. He became famous for his "Bean-hole-beans", cooked underground. They were delicious.
Fred was a Deputy Sheriff, from Eagle Creek Township, during the time, fugitive John Dillinger was housed in the Crown Point jail. All County Deputies were scheduled to help guard the jail area. Fred's assignment was holding a machine gun in the front living room window of the Sheriffs house. Fred had come off duty just a few hours before he received a call that Dillinger had escaped, March 3, 1934. He fashioned a mock gun from a piece of soap, dyed it with shoe polish and used it in the famous escape.
In 1954, Fred had a private lake dug and built a picnic shelter. The shelter seated 80 people at long picnic tables. It was always a busy place in the summer, area church, clubs & reunion groups held their picnics there, free of charge. Boats and fishing was available.
Fred sponsored 13 German refugees, most of them from behind the Iron Curtain, in their new life in America. All of them became citizens of the United States.
In August 1962, Fred joined the "People to People" program. The group toured Russia, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Belgium and France. He took many pictures and afterwards became a popular entertainer, (275times showing his slides and telling about the European People he had met.
While in Berlin, Germany, he looked in the telephone book for the name, Homfeld. He found listed Irmgard Homfeld, visited her and learned her late husband, August, was a distant cousin. Later Irmgard visited in the Homfeld home in the U.S. Then another year, she brought a busload of 36 German tourists to the Homfeld farm for a days picnic.
Fred was a 50 year Farm Bureau member and belonged to the American Legion Post #190 in Hebron. He had been a Masonic Lodge member until 1957. He was also an Executive member of the Lake County Fair Board for 8 years. He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lowell.
In March of 1969, a 50th Anniversary celebration had been planned. Tragically, the day before, Fred suffered a fatal heart attack, in the barnyard, spreading gravel for the celebration. Fred died on March 8, 1969. He was buried in the Hebron Cemetery.
Note: Fred did not learn to speak English until he entered Public School.
Dorothy Jean Sorenson