Family research is strange. A family is vast. Unless you do family research too, you probably honestly don’t have any idea how vast a family is. There’s the simple mathematics of it. Two parents, four grandparents, eight great-parents, etc. To get back to the original immigrants to this country on my father’s side of the family, it’s often been 12 generations. That’s 4096 ancestors at that level. That’s just the people who are directly related to you. It doesn’t include the children at every level who aren’t directly your ancestors, but are still related to you. Nor does it include the families of those people who marry into the family. Vast. To do it justice you’re probably easily talking 20,000 people.
Each of those 20,000 people has a story. They were born. Sometimes that was just about it, sadly. But usually they grew up somewhere, they got married, they had some kids, they accomplished some things, then they got older and eventually passed away and were buried. In between, if you’re lucky, they left some evidence behind that lets you get to know them. Where they were. Who they were.
So the point is that you start to know certain “pockets” of these people. Especially those of the closer generations. There seems to be some kind of mental barrier that goes along with the 3x great grandparents (great-great-great-grandparents). Anything older than that doesn’t feel as… “connected” usually. I mean… I KNEW some of my great grandparents. My 2x great grandparents were just their parents. That feels close. And the 3x? Well, they’re the sea foam from which those 2x great grandparents sprang.
And I love them all. I really do. I love the Schmidts, and the Thomases, and the Zierkes… the Cairns family, the Forrests, the Kamraths, and the McWhirters, the Cliffords, the Ponds. All of them. I love the Strehlows and they’re only related to me by marriage! There are so many families, truly different like snowflakes, yet strangely similar too.
And there are the Kruegers. My mother’s father’s family. Oh, I love them dearly too. They are Pomeranians who came to Wausau, Wisconsin in the 1880’s to escape the Kaiser’s war and crushing poverty. And they built a life for themselves and their families. And their descendant, my grandfather Lloyd Krueger, went to college and became an architect. And I knew him. And he knew Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Krueger. The first of the Krueger family to come to America. He stowed away aboard a ship to come here, as I’ve outlined before. And my grandfather also knew Bertha Augusta Wilhelmine Kamrath. Henry’s wife.
Today, my cousin Lisa sent me some new photos of Heinrich “Henry” Krueger and his bride Bertha. I’ll just post them and let Lisa’s captions tell the story:
Four generations. The family always celebrated birthdays together. Taken either 15 May for Kay’s birthday or 1 April for Agnes’ birthday. If 1 April 1945 is correct, the family would be celebrating Agnes’ 50th birthday. Henry died 31 December that year. Photo courtesy of Henry’s granddaughter, Loris Voigt.
Bertha and Henry’s son Arthur was killed in the last battle of WWI. Ironic that the son of a man who fled Prussia to escape the Kaiser’s wars was killed fighting the Kaiser’s troops. Arthur was killed in November of 1918, but we found out only recently that he wasn’t brought home to be buried until 1921. This photo is from just after his funeral.
Bertha Krueger in her garden with the flowers from her son, Arthur’s funeral. The family barn is in the background. Photo and information courtesy of Loris Voigt.
Another photo from that day, with Henry and Bertha’s grand-daughter Loris:
Three years after his death Arthur was reburied in Pine Grove Cemetery with the family holding a wake and service in their home. These were flowers from the service. The black wreath that Loris is holding may be the black mourning wreath that was hung on the door. Photo and information courtesy of Loris Voigt.
This last photo just says “Bertha in her garden.” She had lovely flowers and gardens behind the family home in Wausau.