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Madison County Genealogical Society

Minutes of the Meeting - November 14, 2013

The November 2013 meeting of the Madison County Genealogical Society was held at the Edwardsville Public Library on Thursday, November 14, at 7:00 pm.

President, Robert Ridenour, called the meeting to order.

The following is the Treasurer's report for the month of October:


Do you have a family member that is interested in (or even obsessed with) genealogy? A membership in the Madison County Genealogical Society would be a very thoughtful gift. A gift card will be sent to the recipient of any gift membership.

The following memberships are available:
Individual/Family Annual Membership $20.00
Patron Annual Membership $30.00
Life Membership $250.00

Contact our Secretary, Petie Hunter, at, about a gift membership.

November Meeting

On November 14, 2013, Dr. Gloria Perry presented a program titled The Story of a German Immigrant Family: Perils and Simple Pleasures from the l800's. Dr. Perry is a retired Professor Emerita from SIUE who has taken up a second career as storyteller and genealogical hobbyist since retirement. She has spent many years doing genealogy and is now speaking about stories she has uncovered.

Her story described the life of one German Immigrant family who came to St. Louis in the early l800's, and it recounted what it was like to live in the city at that time. This was an astounding tale of one family's experiences. It was woven into the historical context and revealed what was going on at the time of their existence. At this time, St. Louis was a wide-open town; there were Indians, slaves, persons who spoke Spanish (and many other languages). Steamships traveled up and down the Mississippi daily. There were massive warehouses on the riverfront.

In July of 1835, Henry Kruse, 13, from the Kingdom of Hanover, arrived in New York Harbor, on the vessel Virginia. He came to St. Louis as an apprentice to a tailor. As an apprentice, tailoring became his life. The tailor shop was on Third and Franklin, near the river. Henry lived, as well as worked, in the tailor shop; his room and board were included as part of the apprenticeship. Common practice was serving seven years as an apprentice. The tailoring business was brisk in the booming town of St. Louis.

Time passed quickly, and Henry worked hard. In time, he corresponded with his family in his old hometown. He was corresponding with Clara or Katrina back in Germany. By 1842, he had convinced her to come to St. Louis. She arrived in 1843 and Henry and Clara were married in the late spring.

Clara was amazed at the large city of St. Louis since she was from a small village in Germany. She was happy that she and Henry would be living away from the hustle and bustle of the river town on Tenth Street. They lived in a small house separated by a common wall from their German neighbors. Henry was able to walk to the tailor shop he had acquired on Franklin Avenue.

By the fall of 1843, Clara was pregnant and would give birth in the spring. Henry applied for U.S. citizenship at the local courthouse, denouncing his allegiance to the King of Hanover. In early March, Clara delivered a baby girl who they named Mary Louise. In a few weeks, Mary Louise was christened during the morning church service. In August of 1844, baby Mary Louise become feverish, and died the next day from what was known as "summer complaint." To fill the time and take her thoughts away from the loss, Clara went to work at Henry's tailor shop, doing sewing. Henry and Clara's lives continued as before, and, in 1846, they had another baby. They named him Franz Friedrich. Franz was christened a month after his birth and made it through his first summer.

Henry was very busy with new customers as well as some that knew him when he was an apprentice. At the beginning of 1847, the baby became ill. Henry fetched the doctor. The baby was suffering from some infant malady that no one understood. The very next day, the baby died. Once again, Clara went to work in the back room of Henry's tailor shop. Clara became ill in February. She had a persistent cough and could not eat. She was a victim of what was known as "galloping consumption" (tuberculosis). Clara died within six weeks and joined her two babies in the local cemetery.

Henry was bereft and about ready to give up. Things were about to get worse -in the summer of 1849, a cholera epidemic would wipe out 10% of the city's population. As a result of the epidemic, the city decided that no more burials would be conducted inside city limits. Cemeteries were to be located outside of the city limits.

Henry had stopped attending church after Clara's death, but in 1850, some of his friends got him to return. That evening, he was introduced to Mrs. Mary Niehaus, who was new to the congregation and had lost her husband to the cholera epidemic. After that night at church, Henry started keeping company with the widow Mary Niehaus. Mary, or Maggie, as she was known to her friends, had been born very close to Henry's birthplace in Hanover. They shared much from the old country and were united in marriage in April 1850.

The following spring, Maggie gave birth to her first child, Anna Caroline. Anna was a delight to her parents and gave them much joy. She went to church with them and was entered into the Cradle Roll when she was four. She was bright and learning to behave. By this time, Maggie was again pregnant, and looking forward to the new baby who would come in the fall of 1855.

That summer was very warm and Maggie was concerned when Anna would not eat and began holding her throat. By the next day, Anna was feverish and Maggie tried to keep the fever down with cool cloths. Once again the doctor came. He was grave after the examination - diphtheria, he said. He advised the parents to try to keep the fever down as best they could. That they did. The doctor came for three days and on the last day Anna died.

It was almost more than the young couple could face. They had no choice but to carry on. Maggie put Anna's clothes away, out of sight. She busied herself with preparations for the new baby that would arrive in September. Early one morning in the middle of September, a new baby girl arrived, crying lustily. Henry wanted to name her Clara and Maggie readily agreed. The baby was christened Clara Anna. The new baby was strong and healthy from the outset. From the time she could walk, she enjoyed following Maggie everywhere. She had strong legs and an outgoing temperament like her mother.

By the time Clara was four Maggie had had two miscarriages. Maggie found herself pregnant again in 1861. Henry had recently joined the Missouri Militia. The Civil War had just begun. Henry's unit was never called up and, eventually, he dropped out. The new baby, a boy, arrived on the first day of October 1861 and was named Herman Henry. Henry was ecstatic and regaled his customers with tales of his newborn son. The boy was strong and healthy and provided much entertainment for his older sister, Clara, now six years old.

In July 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, Maggie became ill. Clara's godmother, Mrs. Niehaus, cared for Maggie while Henry worked. The doctor came too, but he was now retired and walked with a cane. It was difficult to get a doctor. Nearly all of the able-bodied doctors were attached to the war effort. The doctor seemed baffled by Maggie's illness; she had always been so healthy. She was only 32 years old and she and Henry had been married for 14 years. The women from the church came, in turn, and offered help. At the end of the week, Maggie died from her weakened condition. The cause of death was listed as "anoritis."

Henry was devastated. Maggie was buried in the new St. Peter's Cemetery outside of the city. Henry had his first wife, Clara, moved to St. Peter's as well. After the funeral, Henry was as if he were in a bad dream with no awakening. His two children, Clara and Henry, were 9 and 2, respectively. Mrs. Niehaus watched the children during the day. At night, the children offered some solace to Henry, but continued to ask for their mother. In truth, they were all bereft and rudderless. They drifted along that way until fall finally provided some relief from the summer heat.

Henry knew a cadre of fellow small shop owners in the Franklin Avenue area. One of the men was named Henry Brock. He had come over from Hesse-Darmstadt a number of years earlier. He and his wife had no children. In 1864, they were boarding their niece, who was 19. Her family was going west and the girl did not want to go and begged to remain in St. Louis.

Henry was very busy at the tailor shop. With the war raging, the need for garments was very high. Parents wanted to outfit their sons with extra warmth for the battles ahead. Henry could hardly keep an apprentice - everybody was off to the war. Henry asked Mr. Brock if the young woman in his charge would be interested in helping out with the sewing. Brock said he would ask. The next week, Mr. Brock showed up with his niece, Margaret Anna, who everyone called Annie, in tow. She allowed as how she could sew well enough to help out. Henry put her to work in the back room of his shop that very day. The arrangement worked out rather well. She came with her uncle each morning and returned home with him each evening.

Henry was glad for the help sewing provided by Annie. Mrs. Niehaus continued to look after Henry's children. Miss Brock asked about the children and all about Henry's life. What he told her, made her know that he had more than a few rough spots and he was still grieving for his wife.

Annie had been born in Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. She understood German but preferred to speak English. Henry understood English and Annie encouraged him to try speaking it. She said it would be good for business - the old ways were changing. Henry enjoyed talking to this young woman. She was 20 years younger than he. She was so different from anyone he had encountered at the shop or at church. He asked if she would like to go the park nearby on Sunday for a picnic. She said she would ask her uncle to bring her in the buggy, and she would prepare a lunch.

The next Sunday found them at the park with a basket of good things to eat. They talked and discovered their lives had been quite different. He was as German as the day he arrived and she was an American citizen with no direct knowledge of Germany - a strange combination, to be sure. But sometimes opposites attract.

Henry was desperate for a mother for his two young children. He and Annie were married the week before Christmas, 1864. Annie moved to the little house and baby Henry gravitated to her hip at once. He had just turned three and he adapted to his new mother very well. He clung to her; he was in need of mothering. Clara took more time to adapt to her new mother. Clara remembered her real mother Maggie very well and her new mother was only about ten years older than Clara.

After the day that Annie arrived on the scene, Henry's life was never the same. Annie was strong, rather serious, and bent on her children getting ahead in life. Babies came like clockwork now, about every two years. The first was a son, Augustus, born in 1866, just after the war was over. The second son (Dr. Perry's grandfather), Julius, was born in January 1868. Edward arrived in 1870. Then Minnie, Ida, Alma, Ella, Jessie, and Anna who was born in 1885. The last baby was a stillborn in 1887.

Annie knew that the church was very dear to Henry. So she put up with the christening of Augustus and Julius at St. Peter's German Evangelical Church. After that, all christenings disappeared - at least from that church. But then, Henry had moved his family to a larger house further away from St. Peter's. All of Henry and Annie's children attended public school and lived long and productive lives. Henry died suddenly in 1898 of a common kidney ailment. Annie carried on for another 23 years, dying in 1921. Of all Henry's eleven children, only Julius had any offspring.
This presentation was very well received by the audience and generated much discussion and several questions.