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Francis W. Schenk was born in Sauk Center, Minnesota, on October 25,1899. In 1906 his family moved to Wetaskiwin, and in 1909 his father passed away, leaving a wife and five children of which Francis was the youngest. The Schenks moved to Edmonton where Francis finished his schooling at the Queen Alexandria School. In the spring of 1916, Francis and his mother came to Grande Prairie where she married Herman Ellert, whom she had known in Sauk Centre. He had walked into Grande Prairie over the edson Trail in 1911 and homesteaded one mile straight east of Grande Prairie. Francis Schenk proved up a homestead four miles east and one mile south of Grande Prairie and sold it for $1000 after he started to work for the railway. When he had a job that paid twice a month, he decided it was better than land. He hired on with the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway in 1923, and in November 1924 locomotive foreman Bill (Sledgehammer) Henderson, Billy Bates and Francis Schenk moved the equipment to the new engine house at Wembley. The town had built up during the summer. Francis was married to Christine Dolemo on December 19, 1925 in a double wedding with Jack Mantle and Anna Dolemo at the Dolemo home. Christine Dolemo was born in Anndal, Norway on November 7, 1900. In 1907 her family emigrated and settled in Erie, Minnesota where they homesteaded. In 1917 they arrived in Grande Prairie and settled in the Valhalla district. Francis was promoted to locomotive forman and had to move to McLennon. In 1929 he was moved to Rycroft and became the first locomotive foreman there, and in 1957 he transferred to Dawson Creek and was the last locomotive fireman there. He retired November 1, 1964. Francis and Christine's first son, Francis "Junior", was born at Wembley in 1926. He married Ella Olson from Wanham and lived in Rycroft until 1961, where he was employed as a locomotive fireman and engineer. Shortly after he began working for the Alberta Forest Service in Rycroft, he was promoted to District Ranger at New Fish Creek and later to Valleyview. He passed away as the result of a shooting accident at the age of fourty-three. They have seven children: Miles, Linda, Wade, Sandra, Jay, Brenda and Christine. Francis and Christine's second son, David Edson, was born in Grande Prairie and worked on the Northern Alberta Railway as a watchman and locomotive fireman, living at home until 1956. In April of that year, David moved to Grande Prairie where he was employed with the Alberta Forest Service as Assistant Ranger working throughout the entire Grande Prairie forest. In the summer of 1957 he was promoted to District Ranger at Woking, and in December 1958 he transferred to the South Wapiti District. He married Melba (Bunny) Day on November 5, 1960 and they have three children: Carlin (1960), Glenda (1964), and Laura (1968). In July 1977 David moved his family to Edson where he worked for the Land Management Dept. of the Alberta Forest Service. Dave retired in 1987 and the family moved back to the Grovedale area. Francis and Christine's third child, daughter Celia-Marie, was born in Grande Prairie and took all her schooling at Rycroft. She worked for several years as a stenographer for Inter-Provincial Precast Concrete in Edmonton and Calgary which took her throughout the province, including local projects such as bridges at Burnt River, Watino and Beaton River. She married Chris Raaen at Dawson Creek and they have three children: Cheryl, Caryn and Curtis. She passed away at the age of fourty-three years.
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South Peace Regional Archives