Henry Ortel, one of the leading agriculturists and representative citizens of this county, was born on April 15, 1851, in Sugar Creek township, Hancock county, Indiana, and is the son of Frederick and Louisa (Deerburg) Ortel, both natives of Germany. Frederick Ortel was born in 1809 and was the son of Charles Ortel, also a native of Germany. His marriage to Louisa Deerburg was solemnized in his native land and the two immigrated to America after the birth of their second born, Christian. That was in 1843. The voyage required seven weeks and was spent aboard a sailing vessel from which they disembarked at New York. The journey to this county was made by boat to Cincinnati, Ohio, and thence by wagon overland to their destination. Forty acres of virgin soil was purchased, under the homestead law, in the east half of the northeast quarter of section 18, in Sugar Grove township, and here they established a permanent home. The first buildings were of logs which were later replaced by buildings also of logs but hewn. After many years of hardship as a pioneer, Frederick Ortel died in 1891 at the advanced age of eighty-two years. His wife survived him about ten years, dying in 1901. They were the parents of ten children whose names follow: Christian, was served in Company D, of the Seventy-ninth Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and lost his life in the battle of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Louisa, Frederick, deceased; Henry, Christina, deceased; Anton, Chris F. William, August, Benjamin and Charles. The parents of these children were members of the German Lutheran church, and in politics the father was a stanch Democrat.
Henry Ortel was reared and educated in Sugar Creek township, Hancock county, Indiana, his first teacher being Rev. J. G. Kunz, of the German school. He assisted his father with the work on the home place until twenty-one years of age, and for the following ten years became an assistant on the neighboring farms. On April 16, 1882, Henry Ortel and Christina A. M. Breir were united in marriage and to them have been born these children: Louis, married Mary Schweir and they are the parents of one child, Olga; Edward, John, George and Julius. Another child, their first born, died at birth. Christina A. M. (Breir) Ortel was a native of Sugar Creek township, Hancock county, Indiana, and a daughter of William and Christina (Rosener) Breir, who were the parents of ten children: William, Charles, Christina, deceased; Dena, deceased; Henry, deceased; Henry, Mary, Emma, Annie and Benjamin. Christina A. M. (Breir) Ortel was born on January 27, 1860, and after many years of loving and faithful service passed away on August 11,1913. She was a member of the German Lutheran church, as was also her husband who has served twice as church trustee.
Subsequent to his marriage Henry Ortel rented land and thus continued for sixteen years, since when he has farmed for himself. In the fall of 1897 he purchased ninety acres of land in the northwest quarter of section 17, known as the old McNamee homestead, for which he paid the sum of $66.66 per acre. Two years later he added twenty-six acres on the south, for which he paid the sum of $50 per acre. This place has been the permanent home of the family and is improved with fine buildings and a beautiful grove. One hundred and thirteen acres have been added to the previous purchase of one hundred and sixteen acres, and for this last property, which lies in the north half of section 7, and was known as the Knoop farm, he paid $135 per acre. The principal profits are procured from the raising of grain and hogs, although about ten head of cattle and four head of horses are continually kept on the place. In his political relations, Henry Ortel is a stanch member of the Democratic party and shows great interest in all elections.
Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Page 1069-1070.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI November 8, 2001.
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