July 1872, Ratibor, Germany (now Racibórz, Poland).

July 15, 1904, of cerebrospinal meningitis, in the Presbyterian Hospital, New York City.

Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery, Middle Village, New York.

Son of a Po­lish father and French mother, Ben­ke emigrated to Amer­i­ca at age 21.

His story was as stirring as a romance, and a great deal has been written about him. His father was a musician and gave his two sons a thorough musical education. Vic­tor also trained to be a civil engineer. He came to the United States after his parents’ death with his share of the family fortune which he soon spent. After his money was gone, unable to find employment, he drifted into the Bow­ery [New York City], and managed to earn his bread by playing the piano in all sorts of disreputable resorts. Like others of his class he began to frequent the Bow­ery Mission for shelter and warmth. One Sunday morning Mrs. Sar­ah Bird, the leader, announced that there could be no accompaniment to the singing unless someone would volunteer to play, as the pianist was absent.

Victor Ben­ke, dirty, unkempt, and half drunk, staggered to the piano in spite of the efforts of several men to restrain him. Glancing at the hymn he played the accompaniment as no one had ever heard it played before. From that time Vic­tor Benke quit his old haunts. Mrs. Bird became his faithful friend, and made a permanent place for him, and he became one of the most successful mission evangelists. He was organist for Dwight L. Moo­dy during his last visits to New York, and frequently went with him to neighboring cities.

The Advance, Chicago, Illinois
Volume 48, Number 2021, August 4, 1904, page 119

  1. Alhambra
  2. Anchorage
  3. Benke
  4. Cádiz
  5. Eskişehir
  6. Girded for Battle
  7. God Bless Our School Today
  8. He Has Promised
  9. How Can I Look on Calvary’s Cross?
  10. Is There Something I Can Do?
  11. Just for Today
  12. Keep on Watching
  13. On Joyful Wings
  14. Our Sunday School
  15. Sing Praise to Jesus

Benke’s full name