The Henke’s from Bischofsburg

About a year ago I shared this photo on my Instagram page of a WWI-era mom with 2 children. Somehow her being captivated me, I was fascinated by her outfit details. I felt like there was a certain sadness and seriousness in her gaze. Her children probably kept  her busy, they look like a handful. I love their little hands, their slightly naughtly grins. The photo was printed in Wongrowitz in today’s Poland. But other than that, the photo held no clues, no names, there was nothing for me to search.


I did wonder why the children’s father was missing from the photo. Did he serve in WWI? Was that the reason she looked slightly worried?

And so it happens that in the current “blind” 80+ photo lot that I purchased from the same ebay seller I find this photo and I recognise her instantly!


How incredible is that?! A bit more than a decade has passed and the family has grown! The toddlers in the first photo are now proud older brothers. Fashion and hair styles have changed and time has left its mark, but behind all that you still recognise the familiar features.




And the best thing about it all is that the second photo is identified! This is the family of one Emil Henke from Bischofsburg and the photo bears the date September 12th, 1928.


Bischofsburg lies in today’s Poland and is called Biskupiec today.

Source: The city of Biskupiec

In the address book of Bischofsburg in 1939, Emil Henke is listed as a postal worker and the family was living at 30, Luisenweg.

One Otto Henke, also a postal worker, was living exactly in the same address with him. Could  this have been one of the sons?

And this is where I hit a brick wall. There is nothing else I can grasp at. The church books of Bischofsburg and Wongrowitz don’t show births from the years the children were born due to the data protection laws. I can’t find anyone with the name Henke getting married in either of the towns. Nor did anyone of that surname die in those town until 1944. There is only one address book of Bischofsburg available online and that is from 1939 which I have looked at.

The cities Wongrowitz (Wągrowiec in today’s Poland) and Bischofsburg are located almost 350 km apart. I can’t find a connection between the two cities for the Henkes. There are no addressbooks of Wongrowitz available online. 

If the Henkes were Germans, it is very likely that they had to resettle during WWII as the territories became part of Poland. But whereto?

It is also very likely that the older sons were drafted to serve in WWII, their ages would fit. But since I don’t know the sons’ names, I cannot rely on the results of my search. 

Where did the Henkes get married? Where were the children born? What were the names of the mother and the children? What happened to them after WWII?

Looks like these questions will continue to haunt me until the next stroke of luck. Perhaps some day I will be able to barge through this brick wall!

2 thoughts on “The Henke’s from Bischofsburg

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