From the Portrait and biographical record of Hancock, McDonough and Henderson counties, Illinois : containing
biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county (1894)
May, 1894. Lake City Publishing Co.
JOSEPH HURKA is a well-known farmer of Henderson County, residing on section 24, township 11 north, range 5
west. Here he has lived since 1866, and his farm of ninety-one acres is now under a high state of cultivation, and
well improved with all modern accessories and conveniences. He is a native of Schwehau, Bohemia, his birth having
occurred on the 1st of April, 1836. His father, Ignatz Hurka, was born in the same locality, and was a weaver by
occupation. His mother bore the maiden name of Mary Loyda. In the family were seven children, five of whom are yet
living: Joseph, whose name heads this record; Annie, at home; Jacob, who is living in St. Genevieve, Mo.; Ignatz,
still living in Schwehan; and Maggie, wife of Franz Byer, of Vienna, Austria.
In the common schools of his native land our subject acquired his education, and there remained until fifteen
years of age, when, in 1852, he sailed for America. The voyage consumed seven weeks, but at length he landed in New
Orleans, and made his way up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, where he remained for two years, learning his
trade of cigar-making. In 1854 he came to Oquawka, where he followed that business for a period of seven years, and
then entered the Union army.
Opposed to slavery and to secession, Mr. Hurka responded to the country's call for troops, enlisting in October,
1861, as a musician of the Tenth Illinois Infantry; but when regimental bands were dispensed with, he was mustered
out, on the 1st of January, 1862. He then returned to his home in Oquawka, where he remained for about a year, and
in 1863 went to Muscatine, Iowa, where he spent two years, working at his trade. In 1865 he became a resident of
Burlington, where he again engaged in cigar-making until 1866, when, his health preventing him from working longer
at his trade, he returned to Henderson County. Here he purchased a farm of thirty acres, and has since made his
home thereon, but its boundaries he has since extended until ninety-one acres of land now pay tribute to his care
On the 21st of November, 1860, Mr. Hurka was united in marriage with Gertrude Kessel, a daughter of Joseph
Kessel, of Burlington, Iowa. She died December 13, 1886. By that union were born four sons and five daughters, and
eight of the number are now living: Josephine, wife of A. Boden, a farmer of Oquawka; Annie, at home; Carrie, wife
of Henry Johnson, an agriculturist of Oquawka; Lottie, wife of Charles Knox, who carries on farming in Rozetta,
Ill.; John, of Oquawka; and William A., Robert and Luzetta B., at home. Joseph, the third child, is deceased. By
his first Presidential vote, Mr. Hurka supported Abraham Lincoln, and has since been a warm advocate of the
Republican party and its principles, but has never sought or desired political preferment for himself. He is a
member of Ellsworth Post No. 172, G. A. R., and has filled a number of its offices. He is now successfully engaged
in farming, and is recognized as one of the leading and enterprising citizens of the community. He need never have
occasion to regret that he left his native land for America, for here he has met with prosperity, and has gained a
pleasant home and many friends.