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Denton Community
Historical Society

Tales & Trails


The Kleege Family in Denton

Taken from the June 2001 issue of Tales and Trails

The Kleege Family in Denton, Nebraska by Theodore (Ted) Kleege 1999

In 1907 and 1908, Karl Kleege and two brothers, Theodore and Herman came to the United States from Riga, Latvia, along with a neighbor and friend Karl Ulmanis.  They all went to work on the farm of Senator Charles Warner where Ted remained as foreman until 1926.

In 1913 my Father Karl Kleege sent to Riga for his fiancée, Selma Wineberg, and she also worked for the Warner's.  They were married in  Charlie Warner's front room in 1915 or 1916.  They bought a farm southeast of Denton. When they lost the farm, they rented, and remained in the area until 1937.  They had three children, Mylda, Theodore, and Robert.  The children all live in California at this time

Karl Ulmanis came to America with money my grandfather sent to him when the Russian Police were coming after him for political reasons.  Karl went to the University Agriculture College where they have many mementos of his tenure there.  When he was granted amnesty he returned to Latvia and became the President.

He kept in touch with my father Karl Kleege and finally convinced him to return to Latvia in 1937 with my mother and my younger brother Robert.  Ulmanis provided my father with a government job; something to do with the Port of Riga--with freighters coming in with goods and produce.

My sister, Mylda married a farmer (Alvin Bishop) from Iowa until the 1950's when they moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  They had three children, Elvin, Grace and Mary Kate.  She is widowed now and lives in Napa, California.  My brother, Robert stayed in Europe and worked for the Stars and Stripes where he met his wife, Margaret Brown.  They had two sons, Bruce and Nevin.  They moved to the San Diego, California, area in the late 50's and started a real estate business.  They are retired now and live in La Jolla, California.

I stayed in Lincoln most of my life. I married May Boyte, and we had four children, Joyce, Robert and twins, Richard and Roger.  After my wife died I moved to Novato, California, and became the manager of a senior's apartment complex which was built by the Novato Rotary club.  My son-in-law, Jim Seaton, was a member

It was the first such complex to be built with volunteer labor from the Rotary members, to provide affordable housing for seniors.  The complex and the Rotary club has received numerous awards including one from the President of the United States at the White House. It has become a model that Rotary Clubs all over the world had used to provide affordable housing for seniors.

the Nebraska Historical Society magazine (Summer, 1999, Vol. 80, No 2) mentions our family several times in the large article on Karl Ulmanis.

Editors note:  The 1921 Atlas of Lancaster County shows the Karl Kleege family living in Section 15, Denton Precinct.  All three attended District 66 Grade School and then went on to Rokeby High School where Mylda graduated in 1933 and Ted in 1934.  Robert returned to Latvia before he could graduate.  Mylda Kleege Bishop passed away in California on May 13, 2000.  Ted (The writer of above) died on September 29, 2001    and Robert on August 9, 2011.  Ted and Robert were members of DCHS for many years.  The article referenced by Ted can be found on the internet by doing a search for Karl Ulmanis.  It is believed that the Kleege parents were sent to prison along with Mr.Ulmanis.

Robert Kleege

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