Charles Meets his Future Wife

It was in Wakarusa that Charles first met Clara Malinda Berkey. Clara was working in one of the two dry goods store there. The Berkey family was also of German descent and owned a farm one and a half miles north of Wakarusa. When a barn fire during threshing on the Berkey farm killed one of Clara's brothers, John F. Berkey, in 1875, Reverend John Metzler gave the entire funeral in German. Many area church services were given in German unless there were guests who were not of German descent.

RIGHT - George Berkey's, moustash cup, identified with his name on a yellowed piece of paper in the family collection.

Clara was born August 31, 1873* in Wakarusa and in the photo above would have been 16 or 17 if the photo is accurately dated 1890. This would have been the year before she married Charles. Clara's mother, Frances (Newcomer) Berkey, was born February 14, 1837 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. (Died October 1, 1924, Elkhart County, Indiana.) Clara's father, George Berkey was born September 25, 1830, in Paint Township, Holmes County, Ohio. (Died September 5, 1918, Elkhart County, Indiana.) Her family members in the photograph include Mary Elizabeth, Jess, Uriah, William, Matilda, and Samuel on the upper row she is to the far right of. In the lower row are father George, a young brother Hugh, and mother Frances.  

The Berkeys and Links shared a staunch support for the Republican Party. Edna Link (Jones) remembered C.U. describing what it was like to be a young Republican supporter during the election of 1884.

"Young people then were very enthusiastic and had good times on election years. There were great rallies and parades," she said, "with decorated wagons."

"The girls, dressed in white, rode in the wagons. The men wore hats denoting their party. After the election there was a big bonfire and the hats of the defeated party were burned."

"Mother was able to save my father's hat during the election campaign for Blaine and Logan vs. Cleveland and Hendrick. This helped them become friends."

Politics were intense in the 1884 election, according to C.U.'s story.  Edna Jones wrote, when Clara was still living, about a recollection of her mother illustrating the rivalry.

"Mother remembers one Democrat lady who tried to prevent her Republican husband from voting by locking him upstairs. But he got out through the window and went to town and voted." 

Charles Ulysses Link and Clara Malinda Berkey were married on January 18, 1891, and lived on the Link family farm. They started their family at the farm and had six children. One, Mabel Ruth, died in infancy at just six months. Her birth records are from the town of Elkhart proper, some distance for that time period, so perhaps the birth was difficult at the start to take them away from home.

The first child born to the family, on September 3, 1891, was Forest Elmer Link.

Forest Elmer Link - 1891

Edna Frances Link - 1893

Oscar Ray Link - 1895

Elden Wallace Link - 1897

Mabel Ruth Link - 1901

Mary Elizabeth Link - 1904

As children were once again being raised on the farm, life became busier for everyone. Clara did cooking, baking and canning at home, as well as the milking and washing. C.U. now managed the farming operations.

RIGHT - Edna Frances (left) with brother Forest in a portrait taken in Goshen, IN, 1894.

BELOW -Oscar, Edna, Elden and Mary Link (in the highchair), in 1905, along the side of the Link farm house. The foundation and lap siding, built by Jacob, are of the same style as the Holdeman Mennonite Church's building of 1875. Jacob served as the head carpenter for that building, which was a house of worship for 99 years before being replaced. (Information on construction from Holdeman Mennonite Church 150th anniversary celebration program and history. Courtesy of the Church through Lowell Nunemaker.)

Rick Link

Richard Link is a website strategist and marketing specialist assisting small business and companies to improve communication and increase revenue.