Besalke Family Collection #5.002


*Due to the date range of this photo collection, not all of the photos will be added to this site. Please contact the Local History Room for more information.*

This collection features materials from the Besalke family.

William Besalke was born in Europe in 1879 to Daniel and Caroline Besalke, and came to the United States in 1894. He married Augusta Bomball on February 8, 1900 in Decatur. Mr. Besalke worked as a coal miner at the Decatur Coal Company until he was seriously injured in an accident in 1923. He was one of five men on a mine elevator cage the plummeted 100 feet to the bottom of No. 2 mine shaft. The men were trapped in the elevator for 6 hours before machinery was repaired, and the men could be brought back to the surface. Mr. Besalke suffered a broken leg. William Besalke retired from the Wabash Railroad in 1945 after working for 46 years as a blacksmith welder. He passed away on April 11, 1954 at the age of 74.

William and Augusta had 6 children: Carl W., Arthur H., Herman (Swede) W., Ruth, Margaret, and an unknown daughter. Herman W. “Swede” Besalke was born on March 17, 1907 in Decatur. He married Laecilia (Lucille) Wittke on July 14, 1926. Together, they had two children: Edward A. Besalke and Dorothy Besalke Hale. Herman worked as the building superintendent for the Decatur Herald and Review for 19 years. Before that, he worked as a boilermaker at the Wabash Railroad. He passed away on July 18, 1968.

This collection contains photographs, letters, news articles, Christmas cards, and memorial cards from the Besalke family. The collection is .5 linear foot, and includes biographical information on the family.
The collection was donated by David and Karen Frahlman. There was no apparent order to the collection, so it was organized with the researcher in mind.


  • Herman W. "Swede" Besalke, William Besalke, Augusta Besalke, Besalke family

Collection Items

Fred Wittke Clan in Cedar Rapids, IA
Photograph of the Fred Wittke family clan in Cedar Rapids, IA on August 26, 1950. Swede and Lucille Besalke can be seen in the photo.

Besalke Family Reunion 1949
Photograph of 6 unknown men sitting on a blanket in a field with a radio at a family reunion.

Besalke Family Reunion 1946
Photograph of the Besalke Family at a family reunion in 1946
View all 237 items