KRUSE FAMILY HISTORY
Our Kruse Family of the old Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany
Our known Kruse Family history starts three and a half centuries ago with church records from the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Neukirchen, near Buetzow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, now the German State of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. Neukirchen is a small town, that has the church, and is located in far northeastern Germany between the larger cities of Rostock and Buetzow, or about 25 miles south of the Baltic Sea, and 100 miles northwest of Berlin. Mecklenburg-Schwerin was the name of the old grand duchy or small region of land bounded on the north by the Baltic Sea (Ostsee in German), on the west by Schleswig-Holstein, on the southwest by Hanover, on the south by Brandenburg, and on the east by West Pomerania. In 1990, along with the old Prussian Province of West Pomerania, it became the current German State of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. Mecklenburg, however, was never a part of old Prussia. Current Germany is small compared to the size of the United States and is about the same regional size of New Mexico. The church at Neukirchen was originally a Roman Catholic Church built in 1233 and became an Evangelical Lutheran Church by 1549 with the advent of Martin Luther's Lutheran Reformation. No that is not a mistake, 1233 is the actual date of the Church! See this old 1896 map of Mecklenburg showing the parishes like Neukirchen, south of the large city of Rostock. The Church records, or called Parish records in Germany, exist in old handwritten church books (Kirchenbuchs in German) starting in 1660. The older church books before 1660 were destroyed by fires and wars. The original church still stands today with Pastor Lange. (click on left church photo). This photograph is courtesy of Robert Preihs (Priess). Parish records from Neukirchen and neighboring parishes like Satow, Kirch Mulsow, and others of far northern old Mecklenburg-Schwerin are still undergoing research, and more family history will likely be recovered. Of note if you have "Google Earth" you can see northern Germany and zoom right in to the small towns and actually see the church, roads, and farmlands at Neukirchen.
German Empire 1871 showing the old Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and the K is the location of the Neukirchen Church
Kruse Family History Search Begins in 1999
My curiosity with the Kruse Family genealogy began in the summer of 1999 when my niece Katelyn asked if I could look up the meaning of Kruse on the internet for a school project. I searched for Kruse on the World Wide Web and found a plethora of genealogy links. I was fascinated with the wide range of information available on the web. I knew the Kruse side of the family had come from Germany, but never knew the town. Family and relatives were questioned, but no one knew of the exact places in Germany. There was one clue to the town of Neukirchen in an obit on Wihelmine Kruse who married a Lehmann, but there were several Neukirchen towns in Germany. Also an Aunt had an old Kruse Family Bible that told of John Kruse came from Brandenburg, and his wife Marie Sommer came from Mecklenburg. Both of these places are provinces of old Germany and not a town.
From relatives, I knew they came from Chicago, so I started by ordering microfilms of census records which gave me the immigration time frame. My family had some old photos of Lehmans, Thodes, and Schroeders who had married Kruses. Using these surnames and a time frame, a genealogist, Linda Bethke, found them together in the "Germans To America" series all on the same ship, the S.S. Allemannia from the Hamburg Port in 1869. I was totally shocked when the dates on the ship record index matched with known census information. This was only the Arrival Passenger List to New York and this did not show the town name. So I had to order the actual Hamburg Departure ship list manifest to hopefully find the town in Germany. The week I ordered the ship list from my local Family History Center in Dodge City, Kansas was the longest week I had ever lived, it seemed, as I awaited in high anticipation for the microfilm to arrive. Sure enough there was our old Kruse family, with the town listed as Vietzen in Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Vietzen is the old spelling used on the ship records and also the old spelling on some of the Neukirchen church records. Also the old way of spelling Neukirchen is Nuenkirchen. The current spelling of Vietzen is Viezen. From this I ordered the old church book records that were microfilmed by the Mormons, for Neukirchen. I spent the next 3 years going to our local Family History Center and looking at the 5 rolls of microfilmed church book records almost every Thursday. Some of these hand written church book entries by the Pastor are in the beautiful Latin script, while much of the older books in the 17th Century are in the old German Gothic Script, and looks like hens scratchings. The church books are of births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths starting in 1660.
17th Century Old Kruse Ancestors Found at Neukirchen Parish
The earliest known Kruse ancestor, Marcus Kruse, was born about 1635 in Selow and died on 3 March 1675. He was my 6th Great Grandfather. His father would have been my 7th Great Grandfather born around 1610. The baptism of Joachim Kruse on 9 November 1664 at Neukirchen, son of Marcus Kruse, is the clearest church book entry showing Marcus. Marcus had a son, Johann Kruse, my 5th Great Grandfather, and was born in January 1667 and baptised on 11 January in Selow. He married his second wife, Margaretha Moeller, on 28 May 1717 at the Neukirchen Parish. Their child, my 4th Great Grandfather, was Christian David Kruse. His birth record at Selow from the church at Neukirchen shows he was baptised on 3 February 1729. He was just recently found to have married Charlotte Elisabeth Franz at another parish at Kirch Mulsow on 19 October 1743 thanks to a family researcher Grit Ende. This marriage of his daughter, Louisa, to Johann Westphal in 1790 at Kirch Mulsow is the proof that shows Christian David Kruse was from Klein Belitz or near Selow of the Neukirchen Parish. I had been looking for a marriage to Elisabeth Juerss as one of the kids deaths showed. Charlotte's mom turned out to be Elisabeth Dorothea Juerss of Moiton. Some of the confusion in the Neukirchen Parish entries are probably due to them coming in from another parish. They had four children in the small town of Steinhagen of Kirch Mulsow Parish, then 4 others from Klein Belitz of the Neukirchen Parish. My 3rd Great Grandfather, Jacob Martin Albrecht Kruse, was baptised on 31 March 1778 in Klein Belitz. His birth record shows his father as a haecker, or small farmer from Klein Belitz. This record does not show the first name of his father which is presumed to be Christian David Kruse, however his death record shows his father was the cottager Christian Kruse of Klein Belitz. The death record for Johann Christoph, brother to Albrecht, is the only record that shows his mother as Elisabeth Juerss, which we now presume to be an error. They lived in the small town of Klein Belitz, or one quarter of a mile southeast of the church at Neukirchen.
Jacob Martin Albrecht Kruse, more commonly called Albrecht in many of the church records, became a hauswirt in Reinstorf. A hauswirt is German for a peasant landowner who leased land. A typical hauswirt leased anywhere from 12 to 50 acres of land. He married Friedricke Sophia Margaretha Koppelmann on 5 December 1800 at Neukirchen. They had nine children; Sophia, Johann, Elisabeth, Maria, Sophia, Elisabeth M., Ferdinand (my 2nd Great Grandfather), Jaspar, and Joachim Kruse. The Germans named the children after the godparents first names, and many times there were 3 godparents. They lived in the very small town of Reinstorf or one tenth of a mile southwest of Neukirchen.
My Great Great Grandfather, Ferdinand Vollrath Friedrich Kruse, was born on 18 May 1817 in Reinstorf. He probably worked for his dad Albrecht as a farm hand along with his brothers and sisters in Reinstorf. Ferdinand married Maria Sophia Dorothea Jenning on 25 October 1842 in Neukirchen. They had four children; Sophia Maria Caroline, Maria Christina Friederica, Wilhelmine Elisabeth Friedricke, and Johann Ferdinand Christian Kruse (my Great Grandfather), and were born in the very small town of Viezen, near Buetzow. Viezen (picture) is about one and one half miles southwest of Neukirchen (picture from recent trip in 2001) and currently has only 37 homes.
After Ferdinand married in 1842, he worked as a day laborer (tageloehner in German) in Viezen. A day laborer is one who worked different small jobs daily for a salary. The work day started at 5 am and ended at dusk with a 2 hour break. The typical tageloehner made one tageloehn a day which is equal to 10 shillings for men and 6 for women. 10 shillings in today's dollar is about 67 cents. He then became a Katenmann in Viezen which is a cottager who owned a very small parcel of land for animals, a small house, and a garden.
My Great Grandfather, Johann Ferdinand Christian Kruse (pictured), Ferdinand and Maria's last child, was born 27 January 1852 in Viezen. Johann's grandfather, Albrecht, died about a year later on 12 December 1852 at the age of 74 of wassersucht. Wassersucht is German for congestive heart failure or dropsy. Johann's dad, Ferdinand, then died of lungenschlag or a chest disease about three years later on 10 September 1855 at age 38. He left Johann, age 3, Johann's mom, Maria 37, and his three sisters; Sophia 12, Maria 10, and Wilhelmine 7 years old. Sophia married Ludwig Christoph Johann Schroeder nine years later in 1864 at Neukirchen, and Maria married Adolph Friederich Wilhelm Thode in 1867 at Schwaan.
According to the 1867 census in Viezen, Ludwig Schroeder and his wife Sophia Kruse Schroeder, their two children Wilhelmine and Carl, and Maria Jenning Kruse (Sophia's mom), with her teenage child Johann Kruse (my Great Grandfather), were living together. Possibly after Maria Jenning Kruse's husband, Ferdinand died in 1855, the family moved in with the Schroeders.
Kruse Relatives Immigrate to Buffalo and West Chicago DuPage County Illinois in the 1850's
These Kruses are of my 3rd great grandfather's brothers children, Joachim Heinrich Kruse. In an email from Arlene Kruse, in June 2006, she was looking for her Great Great Grandfather, Peter Kruse, for over 20 years. It turns out I had him in my Kruse Family Tree, but that linegae had not been linked to mine yet. Then Grit Ende, a good friend and avid family researcher in Rostock, found that Peter's dad was Joachim who was born in 1766 at Steinhagen of the Kirch Mulsow Parish. More importantly, his father, or my 4th great grandfather, was Christian David Kruse who married Charlotte Frantz of Kirch Mulsow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, in 1763. These new findings now link several other previously unlinked Kruse Families to my Ancestral lineage.
Peter Kruse, Joachim's son, born in 1807 at Juergenshagen, of the Neukirchen Parish, married Charlotte Schult in 1837 at Satow. They immigrated about 1853 probably through Quebec to Buffalo, New York with his 3 kids, Frederick, Sophia, and John. We presume through Quebec because we so far cannot find any immigration of them to New York or any other U.S. Port. They then migrated probably to Cottage Hill, now Elmhurst, DuPage Co., Illinois about 1856. Two of Peter's kids, Sophia and John, were confirmed at Zion Lutheran Church in Bensenville in 1856 and 1858. Peter's older brother, John and family, immigrated in 1854 and to York Center, DuPage Co. by 1860 but we cannot find Peter and family in any U.S. census. If we can find the ship and immigration from Hamburg this will answer a lot of questions.
Daughter, Sophia, then married John Dannenberg in 1860 at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church. First son, Frederick, married Laura Hilgendorf about 1867, and second son, John married Laura's sister, Sophia Hilgendorf in 1869 at First Zion Lutheran Church in Chicago. In 1869 John worked on Wells Street in Chicago as a Section Foreman. Could this be why my great grandfather, John Kruse immigrated to Chicago in 1869 and later lived in a house on Wells? They were 2nd cousins. Peter's son, John, then moved to old Turner Junction, now called West Chicago, near Wheaton, DuPage Co. and worked for the Chicago and Galena Railroad. This Railroad Company then consolidated with the Chicago and North Western Company where he retired in 1910 at age 66. He and Sophia lived in what was known as "Little Heidelberg" on the south side of Church Street.
John was a very civic minded individual. He served on the Turner Village Board for about 20 years, and was a member of the School Board for 10 years. They were among the founders of early members of Trinity Lutheran Church in West Chicago. Sophia, who came from Neuenkirchen, near Anklam, of old West Pomerania, Prussia, was employed by Dr. Madison as a Midwife. She was said to have a lovely singing voice. She was rather strict and stern and did not show much outwardly affection, but was always willing to help others in need. She died in 1919 after an illness of 7 months of myocardial exhaustion, and she was very heavy set. She was laid to rest in Glen Oak Cemetery in West Chicago. Afterward her husband, John, ailing for 3 years, died in 1924 of senile degeneration of the brain, and was buried next to Sophia. From this family, Frederick Kruse was born in 1874, and his old house was left to the West Chicago Historical Society and named the Kruse House Museum.
Sophia and John Dannenberg appeared in the 1865 Census in Addison Township, in the Cottage Hill area. More importantly the Census showed there was one male age 50 to 60 (Peter Kruse), 2 males 20 to 30 (John Dannenberg, and either Fred or John Kruse), 1 female 20 to 30 (Sophia Kruse Dannenberg), and 2 females 0 to 10 years old (Louisa and Emma Dannenberg). Then in the 1870 Census at Yellowhead Township in Kankakee Co., Illinois. John had purchased 4000 acres in Yellowhead Township, for 1000 dollars on 27 Feb 1869. John Dannenberg was said to work on the farm of Henry Nethatty (spelling?) and lived in York Township, DuPage County, with his family in 1860. Peter Kruse lived with his daughter Sophia and family in Kankakee County where he died in 1878 and was buried at St. Paul Lutheran Cemetery in Petersburg, Illinois. The birth date on the tombstone shows as born 24 March 1807. This matches his knownbirth date in Juergenshagen with the microfilmed records at Neukirchen! Sophia and John Dannenberg remained on the farm in Kankakee County for the rest of their lives. After they died the four remaining sons stayed on the family homestead until their deaths.
Very little is known of Peter's first born, Frederick Kruse, born in 1838 at Miekenhagen, parish of Satow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany. It was said he served in the Civil War and possibly with Grant at Lookout Mountain and Vicksburg. There is listed in the IL Civil War Veterans database, a Frederick Cruse who served with the 9th IL US Cavalry, F Company of Chicago. In August of 1866 he became the Godfather to his sister Sophia Dannenberg's son Friedrich and married his wife Laura Hilgendorf in 1867. They had 3 children born in Chicago from 1868 to 1871. Nothing is found of Frederick after this and we think he died about 1878. His wife then married Frederick Zuttermeister in 1881.
The later Kruse families and relatives migrated to other towns in Illinois, Wisconsin, California, Florida, and other States. Some towns are Round Lake, Bloomington, Hurley, Freeport, Aurora, Winfield, Batavia, Geneva, Milwaukee, Oak Park, St. Petersburg, Richmond, Woodstock, Burbank, Glendale, Albuquerque, Waukesha, Mattoon, St. Charles, Sandwich, Elgin, and Nashville. Welcome aboard to Arlene Kruse, my newly found 5th Cousin and all other newly found cousins since June 2006, and a big thanks to Grit!
My Kruse Ancestors Leave Their German Homeland in 1869
Between 1820 and 1890 about 250,000 people left their homes in Mecklenburg in several waves of emigration. The emigrants especially went to America or other cities in Germany, such as Hamburg and Bremen, as well as the province of Schleswig-Holstein. In North America the word was out that anyone could purchase land for very low prices.
The emigration of thousands of people from Mecklenburg belongs to the darkest chapters in the history of the region. With the annulment of serfdom in 1820 many landowners stopped caring for the poor. They decreased the number of apartments on their land and made it much harder to receive the right of abode. Even in the "Domanium" (land owned by the grand duke of Schwerin), it was hard to find work or housing. Due to the system of guilds in the cities the hope of the citizens to set themselves up in life by working hard and being economical decreased. As a result of those problems among the people of Mecklenburg a mass emigration started in the early 19th century, and about one fourth of the population left their homes. For many of them Hamburg was the last stop on German grounds.
Mass emigration is a signal for a severe social crisis in any country. The emigration wave was not limited to Mecklenburg. It also covered all other parts of the fragmented German Empire. In all several million people emigrated from Germany. The emigration movement spread to other European countries as well, but Mecklenburg was especially hit, in fact, after 1850 it was, after Ireland and Galicia, the third worst of the emigration affected region in Europe.
So in about September 1869, the remaining Kruse families and relatives, under extreme economic stress, and the hope of a new life and their own land in America left their Viezen home for the Hamburg Port to emigrate out of Germany. This group consisted of Johann Kruse (my Great Grandfather) now age 17, his mom, Maria 51 (my Great Great Grandmother), his sister, Sophia 25, with husband, Ludwig 30, and their two children, Wilhelmine 4, Carl 2; his other sister, Maria Kruse Thode 24, with her husband, Adolph Thode 37, and their infant daughter, Wilhelmina 6 months; his other unmarried sister, Wilhelmine 21, and Johann's uncle, Johann Jochim Kruse 65, with his second wife Friedricke Magdelina Sophia Lange 54, and their two children, Ferdinand Peter 20, and Maria Sophia 17. The 14 of them traveled the 105 miles from Viezen to Hamburg, probably by railroad, to board the S.S. (Steam Ship) Allemannia (pictured) at port in Hamburg.
Boarding the Steam Ship Allemannia at Hamburg in 1869
The steamship Allemannia was built by C. A. Day & Co, Southampton, for the Hamburg American Line, and launched on May 11th, 1865. It weighed 2,695 tons, its length was 315 ft, and width was 41 feet. It had a straight bow, 1 funnel, and 2 masts. It was constructed of iron with screw propulsion and had a service speed of 15 mph. The ship could accommodate 60 passengers in 1st class, 100 in 2nd class, and 600 in steerage, and had a crew of 90.
The steerage section is so called because it was located near the steering apparatus between the main or upper deck and the hold. The steerage is a section occupied by passengers paying the smallest fares and receiving inferior accommodations. Passengers traveled 1st class for luxury, 2nd class for comfort, 3rd class for economy, and steerage class was only for immigrants. There wasn't much room for the steerage passengers, less than 6 feet overhead and anywhere between 14-20 square feet of floor space, which served as sleeping quarters as well as an area for food preparation.
The S.S. Allemannia had its maiden voyage on September 1865 from Hamburg to Southampton to New York. In 1872 it was fitted with compound engines. The last voyage on the Hamburg to New York line was 5 October 1872. It was then used for Hamburg to New Orleans service for a time, then had Hamburg to West Indies service. From April to September 1880 it resumed Hamburg to New York service. In 1880 it was purchased by W. Hunter & Co, Liverpool, and renamed Oxenhole. In 1894 it was sold to A. Chapman of Liverpool. Its final voyage was 6 June 1894. It was bound to South America and was stranded near Santa Catharina, Brazil, with no loss of life.
The Viezen area Kruses and families must have met a farmer Carl Friedrich Lehmann, age 28, from Perniek, either on the ship or just before because he is listed just after the Kruses on the Hamburg Departure Ship list manifest. Perniek is part of the Gross Tessin parish which is about five miles southwest of Viezen.
The 15 of them boarded the steerage section of the ship along with 603 other steerage passengers, and 80 second class passengers, according to the actual ship manifest from Hamburg. Among the 618 in steerage were 324 males and 294 females. 110 of steerage were one to nine years old, and 48 were infants. So 698 total passengers and 60 crew left Hamburg port with Captain Bardua of the S.S. Allemannia on 13 October 1869. The ship would travel along the Elbe River (see bottom of map) from Hamburg, then out to the North Sea and through the English Channel.
They stopped at Le Havre port, France along the English Channel to make a second pick-up of 4 more second class and 75 first class passengers and then started the journey across the Atlantic Ocean toward North America. Sea-sickness was rampant for many, not used to the sea, for the first week. Many would be so sick they would not eat for days. Before Steam Ships were made prior to 1850, sail ships took an average of 43 days to up to 120 days to make the Atlantic journey. Before the Steam Ships many passengers died on the way over because of unsanitary conditions that caused disease and sometimes death to spread among them. If someone died during the Atlantic journey they would say a prayer and throw him overboard for burial at sea. With the advent of the steam engine the voyage would be drastically cut short to only 7 to 18 days.
Kruses Arrive In America in October 1869
After the 15th day they arrived at the New York port of immigration, Castle Garden, on 28 October 1869, shown on the arrival ship record. The famous immigration port at Ellis Island was not yet built. Ellis Island was ready to receive its first immigrants on 1 January 1892, or 23 years later.
Castle Garden was located at the Battery in lower Manhattan and was the immigration center for the Port of New York. By all accounts, the most exciting part of the journey was its end, the day of arrival, when ships made port, and at long last the weary travelers could land. New York City was the principal port of entry for immigrants, their path to America determined by well established shipping lanes across the Atlantic Ocean. New York held the nation's largest seaport since the 1820's, and was also a major railroad hub that offered access to nearly every part of the country.
Because of the waves of newcomers entering the city, New York was the first port to open an immigration depot, Castle Garden, a massive stone structure built in 1808 as a fort. It later served as an opera house until 1855, when New York State authorities transformed it into a landing station.
Castle Garden's primary purpose was not to inspect, but to protect hapless newcomers from the crooks, prostitutes, and swindlers, that prowled the piers looking for easy victims. Within Castle Garden's walls, immigrants could exchange money, purchase food and rail tickets, attend to baggage, and obtain information about boarding houses and employment. By the time it closed in 1890, the old depot, run-down and shabby from hard use, had registered over 8 million immigrants.
Immigrate to Chicago Illinois and Belle Plaine Wisconsin
From Castle Garden, New York, Johann Kruse (my Great Grandfather), his mom, Maria Jenning Kruse, (my GG Grandmother) and his two sisters and their families, his third sister Wilhelmine, and the farmer from Gross Tessin, Carl Friedrich Lehmann migrated to Chicago, Illinois. Just how they were transported to Chicago is unknown, however typically immigrants would travel by steamer up the Hudson River from New York Harbor to Albany. From Albany they could go by train to Buffalo on Lake Erie, then take a steam ship across Lake Erie to Detroit, take a train to New Buffalo on the other side of Michigan, and lastly take another Great Lakes steamer to Chicago.
Carl Lehmann and John's unmarried sister, Wilhelmine, must have fallen for each other on the way over from Hamburg to Chicago because they were married about a month and a half later on 12 December 1869 in Chicago at Trinity Lutheran Church.Johann Joachim Kruse, my Great Great Grand Uncle, and his wife Friedricke Magdelina Sophia Lange and their two children, Ferdinand Peter Friedrich, and Maria Sophia Christina Kruse probably went on to Belle Plaine, Wisconsin. Belle Plaine is the town where several of Johann's kids from his first marriage had migrated in 1866. Ferdinand Peter Friedrich Kruse married Augusta Retzlaff in 1878 in Belle Plaine, Wisconsin. The Belle Plaine Kruse family was just located in January 2002. Lisa Eschenburg, a genealogist friend, found them in the 1900 census in Belle Plaine and a death record from Shawano County verifies Ferdinand's father and mother as John Kruse and Friedricke Lange. Welcome aboard to all our newly found cousins in Wisconsin. Maria Sophia Christina Kruse (Ferdinand's sister) married Friedrich Peters in 1871, probably at Belle Plaine, and had 11 children. Ferdinand Kruse and family owned a Dairy farm on Capitol Drive in Belle Plaine and lived next to the Peters farm. They are buried at St. Martin's Lutheran Church Cemetery and some in the Friendship Cemetery. For pictures of St. Martin's Church, the Cemeteries, and Ferdinand Kruse's Dairy Farm see the St. Martin Lutheran Church Page.
John Kruse Becomes a Carpenter in Chicago in 1870
Johann Ferdinand Kruse (my Great Grandfather) was listed as John and his mom Maria Jenning Kruse (my Great Great Grandmother) was listed as Mary according to the 1870 Illinois census. They again, as in Viezen, lived with the Schroeder's (Johann's sister Sophia's family) and near the Thode and Lehmann families at Ward 6 on Chicago's south side. John is listed in the business section of the 1870 Chicago Directory as a carpenter with the company "Hepp and Schoenthaler" on 195 West Chicago Avenue. John was said to be a wagon maker in Germany.
The Great Chicago Fire occurred on 8 October 1871. It started at the O'Leary Family barn at Taylor Street near Clinton Street on Chicago's West Side just north of 12th Street. The fire spread toward downtown Chicago with strong southwest winds. The Kruses lived on 25th street, on the south side, and were about 13 blocks south of the conflagration.
By the 1880 Illinois census they are in Ward 5 on 164 Kossuth Street, near the corner at Hanover Street. This is probably the same location they were in 1870 because Ward 6 in 1870 is the same as Ward 5 in 1880. John, age 28, and his mom Maria Jenning Kruse, age 63, were still living with the Schroeder's and their five children. In 1883 the street was changed from Kossuth to 25th Place. John's sister's family, the Thode's, were living next door at 168 Kossuth with four children and John's other sister's family, the Lehmann's, were nearby at 202 Kossuth with their three children. Of note also the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Louis Lochner and family, were living at the corner of old Kossuth and Hanover, now on the current location of W. 25th Place and S. Canal Street (near I-90/94 and I-55), probably in the church parsonage and Trinity Lutheran itself at the corner lot. See the 1876 street map of Chicago.John's sister, Maria Thode, died at age 36 on 18 April 1881 in Chicago. Her husband, Adolph Thode, re-married. Also in 1881 the Lehmann's moved to Reedsburg, Wisconsin to farm land. John and his mom probably visited the Lehmann's in Reedsburg from time to time in the early 1880's and at sometime, around 1882, John met his wife to be, Marie A. Sommer. Later in 1915, the Lehmann's purchased 60 acres from an Adolph and Louise Sommers in Ironton Township, Sauk County, Wisconsin. We still do not know if these Sommers are related to Marie Sommer? John's sister Wilhelmine "Minnie" Lehmann gave birth to Wilhelm "Will" Lehmann on 2 April 1884 in Reedsburg, Wisconsin.
More Kruse Relatives Migrate to Des Plaines Illinois in 1884
Joachim Kruse (my Great Granduncle), brother of my Great Great Grandfather, Ferdinand Kruse, married Elisabeth Wichmann in 1852 at Neukirchen. They had 7 children born in Wokrent. Joachim died in 1876 and 8 years later, Elisabeth and family emigrated to America on the Steamship (S.S.) Lessing on 10 November 1884. They arrived at Castle Garden, the New York Port, and then migrated to Des Plaines, Maine Township, Cook County, Illinois. See the Arrival Passenger List. Catharina Kruse, the first born, married John Hintz in 1877 and the family with kids, Fred, Carl, and Wilhelm also were on this ship. Carl (Charles) Hintz had a child, Arthur Hintz, and he was the Chief of Police in Des Plaines. Elisabeth Kruse's last son, John Kruse married Minnie Bruescher in 1895 at Des Plaines. Two of their children, George and Arthur Kruse, owned one of the oldest Standard Dealers in Cook County, Kruse Brothers Service Station, founded in 1929. This location was at 1215 Manheim at Manheim and Algonquin Avenue. See the Des Plaines' Kruse relatives at RootsWeb WorldConnect Project. Many of these relatives are buried at the Maine Cemetery in Des Plaines.
The Mystery of Marie Sommer Kruse
Now the hunt was on to solve the mystery of Marie Sommer, where did she come from, when, who were her parents, did she come alone on the ship, and what church did John and Marie Sommer Kruse marry in? I posted this mystery to my website front page and the Ancestry.com and Genealogy.com message boards, hoping that someone might be able to give me some clues.
Marie Sommer, from family stories, was supposedly a nurse maid for relatives in Wisconsin. She was said to come to America by herself at a very young age of around 14 and was supposed to be from Mecklenburg. I searched for the ship in the "Germans To America" series CD's that I had purchased from Family Tree Maker and found several Sommers and Sommer families that could be her based on what we knew about her history. One was a Sommer family on the "Konprinz Friedrich Wilhelm" that arrived in 1882 from the Bremen Port. This showed a Marie Sommer, age 21, with her uncles family, August and Emilie Sommer and children. So I had to put this on the back burner until more info came to light.
Esther Bozeman contacted me in November 2002 from my message on the Cook County message board on Ancestry.com and she also wrote to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Marvin Huggins of the Concordia Historical Institute responded and a few months later I got an email from their research department on the 2 churches I was looking for, St. Peter's, and Trinity Lutheran of Chicago. They said to contact John Hallman, the Northern Illinois District Archivist, for more info on St. Peter's. Meanwhile, Carolyn Hermann, a good friend who lives near Chicago, was also helping me find the church, then wrote a message to John. He said there is a Trinity Lutheran Church on 31st and Lowe, now known as First Lutheran Church of the Trinity and Louis Lochner used to be the Pastor. Ok, this is what I needed because I knew the Kruses lived next to the Lochner family on 25th place (Kossuth) and Louis Lochner signed John and Marie Sommer Kruse's marriage license. John said the original Trinity Lutheran Church had moved (see 1876 Chicago Map) from the corner of W. 25th Place (old Kossuth) and S. Canal Street (old Hanover) to its current location at 643 W. 31st Street and Lowe, and the Trinity Lutheran Church Book records are available at the new church. Now with the mystery of the church almost solved, and with much excitement, I contacted Carolyn and she agreed to visit the First Lutheran Church of the Trinity.
Marie Sommer Found in Wilhelmine Brandenburg Prussia
So Carolyn went to the First Lutheran Church of the Trinity on 6 December 2003 and found lots of Kruse family entries in the old church books. She called me that evening and told me of all the records, and I wrote it all down with much anticipation as she dictated the entries. One of them was the marriage of John Kruse and Marie Sommer (my Great Grandparents) with the town listed as Wilhelmien, Prussia. I frantically went on the internet to try to find this town, and must have spent the whole night thinking about it without hardly any sleep. Carol made copies of these church book entries and mailed them to me. I could not believe all this was happening, the town of Marie Sommer, and the old church has been found! The image below is the Trinity Marriage Register.
Marriage Register (Trau in German) of the Marriage entry in the Church book at the old Trinity Lutheran Church
Sure enough the marriage register showed that on 9th September 1884 they were married as Johann Kruse of Vietzen, Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Marie Sommer of Wilhelmien, Prussia. Eureka!! This was the big breakthrough we were looking for! The town of Marie Sommer finally is seen for the first time and now we know the church they were married in! I was in complete shock, that after the past 4 years of searching for her town in Germany and looking for the church, that I was staring at the town! But now where is this town? I contacted several internet friends, Jeff, Robert Albert, and Robert T., who were all familiar with German language and towns. They helped me locate several candidates in old Prussia, but which one of these is it? Jeff made a breakthrough and found a family on the internet from Australia with Sommer family from Willmine, Uckermark, Brandenburg, Prussia. I ordered the church records for Willmine and with another shock there she was, my Great Grandmother's, Marie Sommer's, birth entry! So I am very grateful for such great help from all my friends, I could not have done this without you guys. Thanks is just not enough! Below is the actual church book entry of Marie Sommer birth and her parents.
Gross Fredenwalde Church book entry showing birth of Marie Emilie Sommer of Willmine
This church book was a duplicate of the original church book of Gross Fredenwalde and filmed by the Mormons. There she was, Marie Emilie (Amalie) Sommer, from Willmine, also known as Wilhelmine, born on 17 June 1860 (the exact month and day on her death record), and parents of Christian Sommer and Friedrike Weber of Willmine. Holy Cow!! The mystery of Marie Sommer solved and now I know my new Great Great Grandparents! It turns out that the Family Bible showing John Kruse from Brandenburg and Marie Sommer from Mecklenburg had it reversed, and John was from Mecklenburg and Marie from Brandenburg. Willmine is about 50 miles northeast of Berlin in the province of Brandenburg of old Prussia. These duplicate parish records for Gross Fredenwalde are from 1845 to 1873, so I am currently trying to locate previous years. See the Marie Sommer Kruse History Page for current info and images of the church records from Trinity Lutheran and of Gross Fredenwalde.
This new info now also verified that I had the correct ship of Marie Sommer, the "Konprinz Friedrich Wilhelm". This ship arrived on 21 March 1882 from the Bremen Port, Germany. Marie's age of 21 shown on the ship matches with her birth date in 1860 and the other Sommer relatives on this ship were listed as Godparents in several Kruse births at Trinity Lutheran. The census in Chicago also verifies these families.
John Kruse and Marie Sommer are Married in 1884
So now we know that John married Marie Sommer at Trinity Lutheran Church on 9 September 1884. John was 32 years old and Marie was 24 on their wedding day. (Pictured left at Trinity) They were married by Louis Lochner, an Evangelical Lutheran Pastor, who also lived next door to them in Chicago. This photo given to me by Aunt Phyllis is may favorite old photograph.
On 4 July 1885 John and Marie had their first child, a daughter born in Chicago, Sophia Caroline. Walter Lewis was then born on 22 July 1886. John Charles "Jack" was born 10 May 1888. Marie A. was born on 16 September 1889. Nellie Augusta was born on January 1892. These children were all baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church. John's mom Maria then died that summer on 29 July 1892, at age 73, listed as paralysis on the death certificate. William Christopher was later born on 23 August 1893. Carl "Charles" was born on 15 November 1895 and tragically died 2 days later on the 17th. Anna Bess "Bessie" was born on 25 October 1896 and George Frederick was born on 17 March 1899. These last children were baptized at St. Peter's Lutheran Church. See the link for some old pictures of the kids at St. Peter's School on Princeton and 46th Street.
John must have made some good money working as a carpenter since coming to America in 1869. They moved 12 blocks south from 25th and bought a big house or 4 plex apartment building at 3648 5th Avenue, at the corner of 37th Street, sometime around 1893 after John's mom, Maria Jenning Kruse, died. According to the 1900 Illinois census they lived in this apartment building with their 8 children; Sophia age 14, Walter 13, John 12, Mary 9, Nellie 8, William 6, Annie 3, and baby George 1 year old. The residence was listed as owned and mortgaged by John Kruse.
Also at the same address were three other families and a cook that were renting. The house must have been a four family apartment building. The three other families were; the Jacobsen's from Denmark, the Vandenberg's from Holland, and the Walshe's from Ireland. Minnie Reynolds age 30 was listed as a cook. A total of 23 people were listed at this address on 3648 5th Avenue. It is possible that John, being a carpenter, may have helped build this apartment, or added on to the original single family house.
My Grandfather Fred Kruse Born in 1903
Minnie Ruth, their 10th child, was born on 17 January 1902 in Chicago. Ferdinand Karl Friedrich Kruse (Frederick Charles Kruse), our 10th generation ancestor, my Grandfather, was born on 14 July 1903, and the final child, a daughter to John and Marie was Florence born 19 August 1906. John was listed as a carpenter/contractor since 1889 in Chicago. He was said to have helped to build a church, and this was probably the Saint Peter's Evangelical Lutheran German Church located at 3918 Dearborn Street. See Map of Chicago 1876. This church was the St. Peter's Lutheran Church, and is where the last kids were baptized, and was only 7 blocks to the southeast of their home on South 5th Avenue now Wells Street. This address is currently the location (see current map) of the Chicago White Sox Stadium parking lot at Comiskey Park now U.S. Cellular Field !
The 1889 Chicago business directory showed Adolph Thode working at a milk depot on 168 25th Place. This is the same address as his residence. One of my old pictures shows a man, Adolph or Ludwig Schroeder, with a horse drawn milk carriage. The carriage shows the title of "Jersey Dairy" on the left panel and L. Schroeder Depot on the right. (pictured) We know the John Kruse family had a horse called Franky or possibly Willie. Is this the same dappled horse? Did Ludwig Schroeder own the operation and did Adolph Thode work for him? Is this him in front of his house? We do not know at this time. This picture (to the right) is a great old photo of the era. Click on it for an enlarged view.
The Kruse's had a goat out in the backyard for baby Florence. Apparently Florence had a digestive problem with regular cows milk and goats milk was all she could drink. When Marie, her mom, would go out to get the milk from the goat it would always run after her and head butt her. The children got a big kick out of watching their mom scurrying about the yard being chased by the goat. When Sunday came the whole family would pile into the buggy to go to church at St. Peter's only 3 blocks away and being pulled by "Franky or Willie" the horse. The kids Sunday shoes were all lined up on the stairway steps inside the house. John was characterized as a strict but kind father. These little stories were related to me by my Aunt Romaine.
John Kruse Passes Away in 1909
John Kruse (my Great Grandfather) then died, only 3 years after their last child, Florence (born 1906), at age 57, in Chicago on Monday, November 29th, 1909. The obituary from the Chicago Daily News on Tuesday, November 30th reads:
Krause.---- John Christian, November 29th, 1909, aged 50 years 10 months 29 days beloved husband of Mary Krause(nee Sommer). Funeral from late residence 3648 5th Ave, Friday at 10 am to St.Petri Church, Rev. Merbitz burial at Concordia.
The newspaper made a few mistakes. It should have read Kruse, not Krause, and the age should have read 57 years 10 months 2 days. According to the church records at Neukirchen he was born as Johann Ferdinand Christian Kruse on January 27th, 1852 in Viezen. St. Petri was the German name for St. Peter's.
In 1909 John left behind his wife, Marie, age 49, called Mary, with 11 children. According to the 1910 Illinois census, they are still in the residence at 3648 5th Ave. Mary was 50 years old, a widow, with Sophia, age 24; Walter, 23, is a carpenter listed at the house address; John Jr., 21, listed separately at the house; Mary, 20, working as a clerk on State Street; Nellie, age 18, working as an inspector at the house address; William, 16, as an auto operator; Anna 14, George 12, Minnie 10, (pictured left) Ferdinand 7 and little Florence, age 3. Daughter Mary married Louis Hafner about 1910. In 1911 the house address street was changed to 3648 South 5th Ave. (added South)
Since John died it looked as if some of the kids were taking over the business of carpenter-contractor with Walter listed as a carpenter and Nellie as an inspector. Walter had married Genevieve "Gennie" and John Jr. "Jack" had married Mildred Dane. Since Walter and Jack are listed separately at 3648 South 5th Avenue it looks like these two new families have taken over two of the three other rooms of the four room apartment building.
Some tragic years follow John's death of 1909. On 23 June 1911, Florence died at an early age of 4 missing her 5th birthday by 2 months. John's sister, Sophia Schroeder, (photo) died on 15 November 1911 at 68. John Schroeder, Sophia's son, died 11 September 1912 at age 35. John's sister, Wilhelmine "Minnie" Lehman, died 31 March 1914 of pneumonia, at age 66, in Reedsburg. Mary and daughter, Sophie Kruse, attended the funeral in Reedsburg. (see copy of obituary) In 1916 Ludwig Schroeder died in Chicago, he was John's sister Sophia's husband.
On 16 April 1916, Ferdinand Karl Friedrich Kruse "Frederick", my grandfather, was confirmed at age 13 at Saint Peter's Church, 3918 Dearborn St., in Chicago by Reverend F. P. Merbitz. This is the same Church and Pastor of Ferdinand's dads funeral, and was possibly the same Church that his dad, John, had helped build.
According to the Chicago directories, Mary and John Jr., still have the house or apartment building at 3648 South 5th Avenue, at the corner of 37th and 5th, through 1915. The old Comiskey Park was built just north of them, at 35th and Shields, and started the first ball games in 1910. By the 1920 Illinois Census they moved to 6004 South Marshfield Avenue in Chicago. Listed were Mary age 59, Sophie 34, William 26, George 20, Minnie 17, and Ferdinand 16 years old. Walter and his wife Genevieve were not at the house and Jack and his wife Mildred were also not listed there. John Kruse Jr. and Mildred "Millie" were listed at 11809 State Street with two children, James age 5, and Adair 3.
Nellie married Albert Block (pictured) about 1913 and had three children, Dorothy, Robert, and Ruth. Anna Bess married William Andrew Lorimer about 1916 and had one girl Romaine. William "Uncle Dick" married Bertha Kaiser about 1920. Uncle Dick owned an auto shop, shown on a photograph, called "Dependon Motor Company", or called Wm. C. Kruse Motor Sales, on 3821 Michigan Avenue around 1917, and his secretary was his wife, Bertha. Minnie married Glen "Boz" Boswell about 1923 in Chicago. George died at age 29 on 28 April 1928. George had sustained 2 serious head injuries and had epileptic seizures because of them. Nellie died after 1930.
Sophie never married and worked for "Marshall Field Company" at State and Washington Street, as a well paid seamstress. Her application for Social Security was on 30 November 1936. She was a designer for the wealthy at Shop 28, part of "Marshall Fields" where she worked for over 30 years. By the 1930 Census, Sophie bought her own house on 8443 South Oglesby Avenue with her own money. (See Chicago map of the house location) Her younger sisters Nellie and Mary, and her younger brother, William (Uncle Dick), ( pictured at confirmation) and her mom, Mary, lived with her at the house for a time.
I remember the family visiting Aunt Sophie and Uncle Dick many times at the old red brick house in Chicago in the 60's. I was shocked at my first visit to see how close together the houses were on Oglesby Ave. You could almost reach out the window and touch the other house next door. There was a piano we would play and drive everybody crazy. I think Sophie and Uncle would sprout out a few swear words in German that we could not understand. I remember sitting in the kitchen while Sophie would feed us kids milk and cookies. Sophia Caroline, affectionately known as Aunt Sophie, later died on 31 October 1969 at age 84. For a picture of the house see the Marie Sommer Kruse page near the bottom.
Fred Kruse Marries Annabelle Vercruysse of Belgium in 1930
Frederick Kruse was the last child of John and Mary to be married. He married Gabriella Angela "Annabelle" Vercruysse on 1 July 1930 in Chicago. Frederick was 26 and Annabelle was 21 years old. (see photo of them near marriage time) Fred's mom Mary Sommer Kruse died about 5 years later on 25 April 1934 at 74 years of age. Fred, Glen "Boz" Boswell, and his wife Minnie Kruse Boswell, enjoyed fishing together. (photo left)
Frederick and Annabelle moved around the country while he was a representative for Oldsmobile. They went from Chicago to Des Moines, Pueblo, Milwaukee, Merrill, and finally to Baraboo, Wisconsin around 1949. It was one of Fred's dreams to acquire his own dealership. His dream came true when he and his brother, William C. , went into partnership and purchased the auto dealership at 515 Broadway from Joy E. Prothero in April 1949 in Baraboo. Fred became the General Manager of the business "Kruse Motor Sales". Eleven years later Fred passed away from prostate cancer on 14 March 1960 at the age of 56, leaving behind his wife Annabelle and his 3 children, Phyllis, Fred Jr., and Robert. See photo of Annabelle and two of her children, my father, Frederick Kruse Jr. and Robert William Kruse, his brother. Robert died on 26 July 1995 of cancer at the age of 55.
My grandmother, Annabelle, was a very kind hearted lady. She was born as Gabriella Angela Vercruysse in the small town of Lichtervelde, in the province of West Flanders, Belgium. Lichtervelde is located in far western Belgium about 15 miles north of Roeselare or 15 miles from the North Sea coast. She was born on 27 December 1908. Her father was Leon Clement Vercruysse, from Torhout, and her mother was Alida Maria Boussauw, from Lichtervelde. The Vercruysse family (one of my favorite pictures) first came to America in 1912 and lived in Detroit. They were scheduled to take the Titanic, but at the last minute they changed to a different ship. This would have been a fateful mistake. This was the Titanic's last journey as it hit an iceberg near New Foundland on 15 April 1912. Leon later died in 1915 of a motorcycle accident in Detroit. Alida with Annabelle, age 7, moved back to Belgium with two of Annabelle's siblings, baby Leona and Camiel age 3. Then on 31 May 1920 Alida and Annabelle left Belgium to return to Detroit. They left the port at Antwerp on the ship called the "Kroonland". They left behind Leona and Camiel. Alida married Theodule Fruy in 1921 and they lived at 103 Louis Avenue in Detroit. Annabelle and her step dad Theodule did not get along. He was very mean to her and killed her kitty cat. Alida and Theodule then moved back to Belgium in 1925 leaving behind Annabelle. At some point Annabelle moved to Chicago and worked at a Tea Room, possibly the old South Grill room in Marshal Field's Depatment Store. The South Grill had one of the earliest tea rooms. In fact around 1920 Field's had not one tea room, but six. The South Grill (now the Walnut Room) was one of those that served afternoon tea, on wicker tables and chairs clustered around the fountain. Wicker furniture was extremely popular in the Teens, and the tables and chairs borrow from the styles of the Arts & Crafts movement. Among the many items on Field's afternoon tea menu were a basket of assorted sandwiches, orange straws, chicken salad with thin bread & butter, sliced pineapple and cheese salad, and fig sandwiches. This is where we think she met her husband to be, Frederick Kruse, around 1928. They were married in 1 July of 1930 in Chicago and finally moved to Baraboo in 1949. Annabelle never saw sister Leona again since she left on the Kroonland in 1920. Camiel, her brother, came to Baraboo to visit about 1982. Annabelle, affectionately called Grandma A, enjoyed living in the small town of Baraboo and worked for "The Chocolate Shop" in downtown Baraboo. She later died peacefully in her sleep on 24 November 1983 of heart disease at the age of 74. Her sister, Leona Adrienna Vercruysse died 20 November 2001 in Roeselare, Belgium at the age of 86. Her brother Camiel died in Tourhout on 18 Feb 2006 at age 93. Ivan Beernaert, a Belgium genealogist, sent me a pedigree chart of our Vercruysse ancestors back to the 17th Century, so be sure to look at the on-line Kruse Family Tree for all of these new ancestors some dating back to 1492.
Trip to Belgium and Germany in 2001
On our trip to Belgium in September 2001 we learned of a very touching and sad story about Annabelle's dad, Leon. When he was going to the hospital in Detroit to see his newly born daughter, Leona, a bus apparently went through a stop sign and ran over Leon on his motorcycle and he was killed. At Leon's funeral they showed him his daughter for the first time at his casket. Needless to say, many tears were shed when we heard of the story from Leona.
This trip to Belgium and Germany in 2001 was the first time my Dad and I set foot in Europe. We arrived at Dusseldorf Airport where we picked up a rental car and met our old Belgium relatives. We visited Torhout, West Flanders, and spent sometime touring Annabelle's birth place in Lichtervelde and talking with Annabelle's sister Leona, and her brother, Camille. The Belgium chocolate truffles are amazing. Then we went to Hamburg and saw the old port of our Kruse Ancestors. The next day we drove to into Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, and to Neukirchen, the old church of our Kruse ancestors built in 1233. This day was both joyous and filled with sadness all at once. We first laid eyes on Neukirchen on 11 September 2001, at the same time the planes were smashing into the Trade Center at New York. We did not learn of the American tragedy until we got back to the Hotel room and turned on the TV. We thought we were watching a TV movie and were shocked to realize it was no movie!
We then started are trip back and drove to Berlin and toured the old Berlin Wall and the Berlin gate called Brandenburger Tor. Then to Lutherstadt Wittenberg, home of Martin Luther, and visited the old Castle Church where the 95 Theses were nailed to the church door. We went to a church service and part of the service was given in English. We sang my favorite hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" and they gave a very touching tribute to America on its recent tragedy. Finally got back to Dusseldorf and contacted the Airline and we were amazed that our plane was scheduled to take off on time. For more stories and pictures of our trip make sure to visit Belgium and Germany 2001 Highlights and our Germany 2001 Photo Gallery pages.
Kruses Love the Green Bay Packers
From the 1960's many Kruses stayed in Chicago while others moved to California and Wisconsin. From here history is still being made, with Kruses marrying and moving about the country. A major event happened for family in Wisconsin, the Green Bay Packers won the first Super Bowl in 1966 beating Kansas City 35-10. Bart Starr, famous quarterback for Green Bay, became a household celebrity, and the family would go up to Green Bay to see the Packers practice and get autographs. The famous Ray Nitschke, the Packers legendary defensive linebacker, even came to Baraboo to sign autographs and show off his gigantic Superbowl ring. So the Green Bay team is like family to the Kruses. Just mention the Green Bay Packers and you're immediate friends. Since Bart Starr, old Green Bay quarterback, Brett Favre, has become a favorite along with the Packers new QB Aaron Rodgers. So if you see a person on the street dressed in green and gold, ask if they are a Kruse, and you will probably be surprised at the answer. Also if anyone has anymore of the old Kruse history, stories, pictures, any memorabilia, or can add to or correct any information, please contact me. Thanks!
Updated 2 November 2012
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