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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Our Uncle Fridolin Kleger the Scholar and Monk

Pater Fridolin Kleger

My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great Uncle, Fridolin Kleger, was born on 29 December 1646.  His parents were Georg Kleger and Verena Lugstenmann.  

His younger brother, Joseph Kleger (of course a Joseph) was my Eight Times Great Grandfather.

Fridolin "professed" (became a priest) in August 1670 ordained by the Bishop of Constance, and that November was given the title Professor of Grammar and Elementary Education at the Monestary at Einsiedeln, Canton Schwyz, Switzerland.  He was associated with Einsiedeln Abbey the rest of his life.

There is a record of his service accessible on-line in the archives from the monastery.  

From it we learn that his duties at Einsiedeln included included Kapellmeister (head of music) in 1671, and Professor of Theology in 1673. Pater (Father) Fridolin Kleger is sent to various places to preach and to settle disputes including: Rapperswil, Frauenthal, St. Gallen, Schwyz, Uznach, St. Gerold.  He is sent to his hometown parish Kaltbrunn in 1691 to do something about an "unfit" priest.  He taught Philosophy at one point in the Theological School at Einsiedeln and also did some service in Pfafers.

He only lived to be 50, dying in 1697, and a tribute was written in the Monastery Journal: 
(this is a translation, so not an exact quote)
     "On 31 December 1679 our pious Father Fridolin Kleger died.  His whole life was pure piety/godliness and holiness.  In all of his responsibilities, he displayed diligence, joy and meekness.  HIs whole life can be called a fast.  At choir, he was the first to come and the last to go, in short, the example of a diligent and true Religionist.  He lay fearless on his death bed, and exhorted the brothers to seek God in all things, to be humble, obedient and agreeable.  We comforted ourselves that we would have a patron saint in heaven."

We have a pious and religious uncle!!!  That should be exciting to you Kleagers who are in the ministry!

Einsiedeln Abbey

Einsiedeln Abbey is a fascinating place, and has quite a history. 

The monastery was founded in the year 934 by a small group of Benedictine monks.  

Nine hundred thirty four, as in 1,079 years ago!

File:Gabriel Bucelin Kloster Einsiedeln 1627.jpg
Einsiedeln Kloster,  drawn in 1627, about 50  years before Fridolin Kleger was there.

(Kloster Einsiedeln, Kt. Schwyz, 1627, aus: Württembergische Landesbibliothek, HB V 4 fol 201v)
(Thomas J. Stump: Mit Stift und Zirkel. Gabriel Bucelinus, 1599 - 1681, als Zeichner und Kartograph, Architekt und Kunstfreund. Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1976, ISBN 3-7995-5026-7)  In public domain because term of life of author plus 100 years has passed. 

The Monastery has a website: that is interesting to poke around.  (If you use the browser "Google Chrome", open "google translate" German to English, then go to the website above, you get a rough translation of the German).

It has many workshops where crafts such as painting, masonry, tailoring, stonemasonry, carpentry, and blacksmithing are practiced.  They have a stable and maintain horses, a large garden and even a book bindery.  The monastery has rights to some forest, and has a sawmill, lumberyard, and a heating system fueled by wood chips!  There is a nursery and gardens that is dedicated to the breeding and care of flowers, herbs and vegetables, and many of the floral decorations in the church come from the gardens.

There is at the Abbey an amazing library and archive ("Stiftsbibliothek Einsiedeln")  that maintains the tradition of "A Thousand Years of Book Culture".  The earliest document they have is a Codex of The Rule of St. Benedict which has been there since the founding in 934.  

Benedictine monks were expected to "pray, work and read", which is why monasteries became centers of the written word.  Einsiedeln also became a center of transcription, and many monks over many years worked in the scriptorium hand copying manuscripts.  That practice was discontinued in the 16th century, but in 1664 a printwork was set up and more than a thousand titles were printed.  

The monastery and it's library were sacked in 1798 by the French and plundered, but lots of items were rescued and taken to a church in Zurich.  When the Abbey was restored in 1803, the rescued items were returned.

 The library now holds 1,230 manuscripts, 1040 volumes of incunabula (books printed between the invention of the printing press and 1501), and about 230,000 books.  

Einsiedeln also has a deep choral tradition of Gregorian chant, musicianship and musical composition.  One of the oldest manuscripts of written music in the world is in the library, along with about 50,000 other pieces of music. 

Kloster Einsiedeln in 1900
It looks different from the first picture because it was re-built between 1704-1719.

(de.wikipedia uploaded by LosHawlos org. source:, in public domain because image made prior to 1923)

Einsiedeln is also a place of pilgrimage.  It is on the route of the Santiago de Compostela for the walking pilgrims which start in Switzerland to head to Spain.  There were annual pilgrimages from Zurich to Einsiedeln on certain feast day. Visits from walking pilgrims peaked in the 18th century, after a slump during the Reformation.  Today there are still 1000's of pilgrims each year, many arriving in large groups on buses.

Einsiedeln Abbey entrance as it looks now.

(Photo by Roland zh)

Currently, Einsiedeln has about 70 brothers in residence who live under the Rule of St. Benedict.  It can be visited anytime, and there are tours given of the archive, library and music library. There are also concerts and regular masses.  The gardens and horses can be visited, and there is a video of monastic life.  Men can go on a spiritual retreat at the monastery one day to a week.

I WANT TO VISIT THIS PLACE!! (hint Becky, David and Carrie).

The "Collegiate School", is a secondary school (day school and boarding school) boys (and now girls). Since 1620 there has been a Theological Seminary for the training of Catholic Priests.  

Our Fridolin Kleger taught in both at one time or another.  There has been a school at the Abbey for 100's of years, and we have yet another relative who attended as a boy, and there is a great story about him.  I'll tell you that in the next post ...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Kleger Coat of Arms from Kaltbrunn

Family Kleger Coat of Arms in stained glass window, Catholic Church of Kaltbrunn, St. Gallen, Switzerland.

This photo was taken by Dr. Wolf Seelentag (a medical physicist who is the head of the Department of Radiation Oncology of the Kantonsspital in St. Gallen), who happens to also be a brilliant hobby genealogist.  He has a website and forum on Swiss Genealogy, and I have recently been in contact with him by e-mail. He told me he has gone to Kaltbrunn to photograph the stained glass windows in the church, with the coats of arms of their sponsors, and sent me this picture!!!

I asked him if I could use the image on this blog, and he said yes, and requested I add a link to his forum with is about genealogy in the region.  If you click on this exact link you will see where he posted this image:

The Coat of Arms I had put on this blog previously (June 2011) was from a Kleger in Prussia.

This Coat of Arms is from the Kleger family in Kaltbrunn, Canton St. Gallen, Switzerland, which I believe really is MY ancestral family.

I have seen an outline of this Coat of Arms in an entry book I found in the Family History Library:

From book: "Historisch-Biographisches Lexikon Der Schweiz Allgemeinen Geschichtforschenden Gesellschaft Der Schweiz" by Prof. Dr. Heinrich Turler, Victor Attinger and Dr. Marcel Godet written in 1927.

It is a compilation of the known biographies of historic families of Switzerland at the time.  This entry is divided into 2 parts: the Kleger family in Canton St. Gallen - where the Coat of Arms is shown in shaded form - and the Kleger family in Canton Zurich.  Wolf Seelentag has suggested that the Zurich family Kleger would be of the Reformed Church, so probably not related to our Catholic St. Gallen Klegers.

There is a third source of this same Coat of Arms, a description from a document titled "Linth=Blatter Beilage zum,, St. Galler Volksblatt" by Johann Fah, written in 1928.

I paid someone to translate that document, and his translation is: "The Klegers of Kaltbrunn feature a three-leaf clover in their Coat of Arms.  This clover is set on a blue, and sometimes red background.  The clover leaf is typically portrayed in all of the Kleger family's seals [or signets] This seal is still affixed today to a number of documents/deeds and liens (Urkunden und Pfandverschreibungen).  The fact that the coat of arms symbol of the cloverleaf never went through any change leads to the suggestion that these people understood a different meaning for the word Kleger.  Otherwise, they would not have placed a cloverleaf in their coat of arms [he is suggesting here that to the ancient family, Kleger might have meant something similar to clover]. The earlier pronounced presumption/suggestion that Kleger may be a derivative of Klegower may perhaps not be erroneous, though to date it also hasn't been possible to directly prove that the Klegers descended from the Klegowers.  The transcription/inscription on the Kleger signets/seals of 1545-1725 always appears as 'Kleger'.  The word Kleger is there fore historically correct when spelled 'Kleger'.  Let us leave it at that.  Let us also leave it to the representatives of this family to take care, that its old and honorable/venerable reputation may be preserved.                                  Joh. Faeh"

Friday, January 11, 2013

Exciting Finds in 2012


My brother Lou Kleager has badgered me for years to find where the Kleager name came from, and I kept trying to brush him off because I thought it was impossible to find them.  I knew about this illiterate “Joseph” (as you know, one of many Joseph’s) who immigrated in 1847, but I did not know much!  I worked finding his hometown "across the pond" in the early 80’s, again in the early 90’s, even went to Franklin County, Missouri last summer … just no clues.

Several things happened at once last summer, 2012.  Some like to call it genealogy serendipity, others say; “that ancestor wants to be found and remembered”.  I personally attribute a spiritual aspect to finding out about one’s ancestors.  I believe that our ancestor still live, that we will meet them some day, and that we are eternally connected to them.  

However one labels it, last summer a series of miracles I never thought would never happen allowed us to find our ancestors in Switzerland.

Last spring I sent out about a dozen e-mails to any Swiss professional or archive that I could find on the web that might be able to help me in Switzerland. I got 2 responses and sent them both a check, a packet of about 200 pages of copies of every document I had ever found about Joseph Kleger in Missouri, and asked them to try to find “my Joseph”.

Then Lou and his wife Carmen were in Germany, and e-mailed me that they and their son Brian were going to go Switzerland to look for the Kleagers, and could I send them what I knew?  They were leaving in 2 days!  I thought they were crazy, there was no way they could find this needle in a haystack.  But, I hastily made a summary of where they might try to look, and what I knew.

AND THEY FOUND THINGS!!!  And they thought to document where they went and what they found out at each place!!  They were brilliant!  Besides some hints about where information was and wasn’t, they found a newspaper supplement written in 1928 by a local historian of about 5 pages in length titled (in German of course) “Local History Memoranda: The Klegers”.

THE SAME WEEK the 2 professional researchers in Switzerland ran into each other on the trail (and got mad at me for sending them both on the same errand), and one of them turned the whole thing over to the other WHO FOUND OUR JOSEPH MAGNUS KLEGER!  

Same week.  It was amazing.  They located him in Kaltbrunn, Canton St. Gallen , Switzerland. 

Another miracle, the Catholic church records in Kaltbrunn (of which the researcher got to look in the original – turning the pages of these 500-600 year old books) have been microfilmed by the Family History Library and are here in Salt Lake, and I can access the church records!

Other miracle, those church records directly correlate to the newspaper supplement that Lou, Carm and Brian found!!!  It’s the same family and I am absolutely sure it is our guy and our family.

I feel badly I have not shared more of this as I’m finding it, and with this blog post I am re-commiting to start blogging again.

In the meantime, I have hired a fellow that can read the old German handwritten script that I cannot read that is on the microfilm.  We meet together for 3 hours about every other week and he reads the microfilmed church records, we discuss how the person fits into the family,  and I enter the information into my genealogy software database on my laptop.  We still have a lot left to do!  There are dozens of Klegers in the Kaltbrunn Catholic Church records!!  And, just to make it interesting, there are 55 more Kleger families from near by towns of Benken, Wattwil, Ruschlikon, Nesslan and Kappel and I haven't even started looking at those records.

I also paid another guy to translate the newspaper supplement that Lou found and it is fascinating!!!!  

Between the church records and the newspaper supplement I am finding out all kinds of interesting stories to go with the names and dates.

Here is a brief genealogy for starters:

Joseph Magnus Kleger's father was Peter Paul Kleger (1785-1849)
his father was Joseph Johann Georg Kleger (1754-1826)
his father was Josepho Antonio Calestio Kleger (1712-?)
his father was Johannes Georgius Kleger (1683-?)
his father was Joseph Kleger (1652-1714) (wife Anna Gaudentia Steiner had 14 children!!)
his father was Georg Kleger (1616-1657)
his father was Georg Kleger (?-1634)
his father was Fridolin Kleger
his father was Georg Kleger (?-1591)
his father was Christen Kleger 
and his father was Heini Kleger

Heini is my 13th great grand father!!

Well, there is it.  I've started the blog again, and if you comment or e-mail me it will help with my New Year's resolution to send out more of what I have found.  There is a lot of really fun information on the family that I want to share, but for now I've whet your appetite, and re-committed myself to blog.

You will hear more soon ...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Peter Paul and Mary - (Klager and Fah)

So, we found the birthplace of Joseph Magnus Kleger in Kaltbrunn, St. Gallen, Switzerland.

The good news is that the church records of the Catholic Church of Kaltbrunn (Katholische Kirche Klatbrunn, Sankt Gallen) are on microfilm at the Family History Library near where I live, in Salt Lake City, Utah.  That means I don't have to go to Switzerland (though I still want to some day) to look at them.

The bad news is that these microfilms are a pain to work with.  The only way to read them is on a microfilm reader.  To do so the film has to be rolled one page at a time between the reel and the take-up reel below a light that projects the image of one page on a tabletop screen in a darkened room.

It is hunt and peck to find the name Kleger. When the name is found, then the old German script has to be deciphered, and I really struggle with that.  Also, there are many Klegers (also spelled Kläger even on the same record) in Kaltbrunn and it takes some detective work to figure out how each are related.

Bless the priests that had nice handwriting and knew how to dip their pens in the ink so as not to get ink blots.  One can tell by looking at the records that the same priest was the scribe for many years.  Then wham, the handwriting changes.  Darn the priests who had sloppy handwriting with blotches and spots!

It is possible to get an image of the microfilm page at the library, but that involves taking the film off of the reader on two reels, taking it to a microfilm scanner, threading the film between the two reels onto the scanner, finding the image, enlarging it on the attached computer, and taking the image.

It will take a while, and several trips to the Family History Library to start to put together the different families! On this film there are baptism, confirmation, marriage and burial records.

Following is a page I scanned from the end of one of the two microfilm rolls (#949823).  This is a unique record, called "Familienbucher, 1846".  It is a "family book", kind of like a census taken in 1846 of families in the parish.  There are only 2 years of these census; 1846 and 1866.

It seems the person recorded (with the exception of parents) had to be alive at the time of the census, as not all of the children I know of are listed here.  However, there are death dates listed that are much past 1846, so apparently the priest went back at the time of the death and entered the death date.

This is the record of Peter Paul Kleger as head of household in 1846.

It says, from top to bottom:

Parents: Kläger, Johann George and Theresa Stoop

Head of Household: Kleger, Peter Paul, day laborer, born 1785 June 29, died 1849 January 31

Spouse: Maria Barbara Fäh

                Joseph Mang, born 1816 January 23
                Catharina Aloisia, born 1818 October 16, died 1859 April 19
                Catharina Barbara, born 1821 Dec. 14, died 1851 April 22
                Johannes Vincentius, born 1823 October 20, died 1881 Nov 18

You read those names with ease, right?  

Fortunately, the Peter Paul is easy.  I had to have help with his mother's name, it looks like "Yerefia Nooz" to me.  In fact, the experts I consulted at the help desk disagreed - not on Theresa, but on the surname - and "Stoop" seems to be the consensus. 

I don't think I would have ever concluded "Vincentius" for the second name of the last child listed!  Old German script is very different from what we are used to reading!

The oldest child is Joseph Mangus Kleger, who is my great great grandfather.  So Peter Paul Kleger and Maria Barbara Fah are my great great great grandparents, with Johann George Kläger and Theresa Stoop being my great times 4 grandparents.

Very faintly, on the far right side of this page (I didn't get that part on this image), it says next to Joseph Mangus' and Johannes Vincentius' a penciled-in word: "Amerika".  We know Joseph immigrated, to St. Louis in 1846.  But apparently a brother of his also immigrated.  He is not listed on the same passenger list as Joseph, and I have not run across a Johan or John or Vincent Kleger in my Franklin County, Missouri research.

So a brother of Joseph's immigrated too!!  I would like to find out more about where he went and what happened to him.  I also wonder - what name did he go by in "Amerika"?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Joseph Magnus Kleger

   When Joseph Kleger appeared in the St. Louis Court of Common Pleas on November 13th, 1846 to declare his intention to become a citizen of the United States, he declared that he was 26 years old (he was really 30), and that he was a native of Switzerland.

   As part of the process to file papers of intention, an immigrant has to "renounce, forever, all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign Power, Prince, State and Sovereignty whatsoever, and particularly to:__________________".  The blank is filled in with the particular political entity to which the immigrant had previously had allegiance.

               The blank in Joseph's case says something that looks like "the Canton of Clarns".

   In Switzerland, cantons are the equivalent of U.S. states.  "In true federal style, the canton is both the basic building block of the country and a balance against the centre having too much power.  And for the Swiss, the canton is emotionally as important as the country, if not more so ... The cantons are so independently minded that it can sometimes seem as if there isn't one Switzerland but 26 mini ones, all going in roughly the same direction but each doing their own thing.  This is such a part of Swiss life that they have a word for it, Kantonligeist.  The polite translation is that each canton has it's own identity, culture and history ..." (Diccon Bewes; "Swiss Watching, Inside Europe's Landlocked Island" pages 21 & 22).

   However, there never has been a Canton "Clarns".  That fact confused the genealogists I have hired and consulted in the past, until this spring one (whom I would pay for a couple of hours a month to work with me at the Family History Library here in Salt Lake City) decided the closest to what was written was "Glarus".  There IS a Canton Glarus.

   This summer, all of the Kleger/Klager/Kläger/Kleager/Klaeger research came together in happy "genealogy serendipity", and it proved the Canton Glarus theory wrong, and proved that Joseph Magnus really did have baptism record, somewhere!

   First, my brother, Louis Kleager, his wife, Carmen Kleager and his son, Brian Kleager went on a 3 day whirlwind research trip to Switzerland!   What's more, they kept detailed notes of where they went and what they found.  It is so wonderful and helpful that they went, and that they documented what they did, and took the time to write it up.  I know from experience that one gets swept up in discovery, and tends not to document what is being done.  Thank you Lou and Carm and Brian!!

   They visited the town of Glarus, which has the Canton Glarus archives and found some Klegers, but not a Joseph Magnus Kleger in the time frame that would match the one we know to be our ancestor.  They also learned, from a janitor at the Glarus church, that every building in the town of Glarus was destroyed in a fire in 1860 - which would have wiped out records of Joseph M.'s birth that was assumed to be between 1814 to 1824.

   Then they visited the town of Benken in the Canton of St. Gallen.  Canton St. Gallen and Canton Glarus are adjacent.  We have known for a year or so there was a Joseph Kleger born in Benken and died in Franklin County, Missouri.  His baptism record is in the Catholic church records of Benken, as are his children, but he and his wife are not the right age to be parents of Joseph M. born between 1814-1824 (dates derived from the various ages he declared in U.S. documents).

   My brother and family visited the Catholic church and cemetery in Benken, but didn't find anything significant.   They noted cemetery hunting in Switzerland was rather pointless, as graves get re-used after a few years!  Therefore, most of the head stones are much more recent.

   Lou, Carmen, and Brian went on to the town of St. Gallen (in the Canton of St. Gallen), where they learned in the "Rat Haus" (City Hall) that there are presently Kleagers living there, but they would not release any information on them.

   Next up, they found the Stadtarchiv (City Archive) in the town of St. Gallen, and found some more Klager's but not really a match.  So, they proceeded to the Staatarchiv (State Archive) of the Canton of St. Gallen.  They were limited in time before closing, but found a fair number of things, including five Klager families from Benken, on which they took notes.

   Lou also found an index mentioning three biographies for Kleger, including one he was able to locate and photocopy - in German - of course.  One of these biographies was about "Die Kleger [von Kaltbrunn]".  Kaltbrunn is a town or parish that is just a  couple of kilometers from the town of Benken in Canton St. Gallen.

   At about the same time, e-mails (about 15 requests) I had sent out to Swiss archives and genealogists were finally answered, and two different women in Switzerland responded that they would be willing to be hired to look for Joseph Magnus Kleger, born between 1814-1824.

   I figured it had been so hard to this point, I might as well encourage both of them to look.  Maybe between the two of them, one would find it.  I sent money, and about 200 pages of photocopied information I have found about 'ol Joseph Magnus to each of them.

   Well, what they found was each other!  I kind of got bawled out via e-mail for sending the two off after the same thing.  So, one quit (and fortunately sent her remaining fee to the other!), and the other researcher kept looking.

   Then, on Friday the 13th (of July, 2012) I got the following e-mail from Suzanne Peter-Kubli titled "Trip to Kaltbrunn":

"Dear Clytee,
   I think, I've got him!
   In the baptism records of Kaltbrunn (Canton St. Gallen) I found this entry:
   Josef Magnus Kläger, born January 23d 1816, confirmed 22. 9. 1819
   Son of Petrus Paulus Kläger and Maria Barbara Fäh
   Godparents: Joseph Anton Magnus Kläger and Elisabeth (?).  So, Josef Magnus was named after his godfather rather than his father, which was pretty common ...
    The family Kläger lived in Freigaden, which belonged to the hamlet Rieden.  Reiden belongs to the parish of Kaltbrunn.  If you look it up in the internet, you'll find several newer houses, but in the early 19th century there were probably just a couple of small farms there.
   I was not able to find out the profession of Josef's father (I have since found that he was a 'day laborer' - no skill or regular job).  But, since Josef was not able to read or write, could mean, that he did not go to school at all but started working at an early age, maybe in one of the numerous textile factories in the lower part of the Canton Glarus.
   In any case, not having any kind of schooling means, that he came from a poor background.  When he emigrated to the U.S., he was 30 years old.  He could have been working for over 15 years.  If my assumption is correct, Josef Kläger worked and lived in Näfels, Niederurnen or Oberurnen for a long time and therefore mentioned Canton Glarus rather than Kaltbrunn as his origin".

   So, did you catch it?

   My great-great grandfather, Joseph Magnus Kläger was born January 23rd, 1816 in Freigaden, Rieden, Kaltbrunn, Canton St. Gallen, Switzerland.
   My great-great-great grandfather's name is Peter Paul Kläger.
   My great-great-great grandmother's name is Maria Barbara Fäh.

   Pretty exciting stuff.  I have more, but that's another post for another day.

   A big thank you to my brother, Lou Kleager, for helping to fund this professional research, and to him and his wife Carmen and son Brian for the research they did in Switzerland.   Love you guys!!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Joseph Magnus Kleger's Birthplace is Found!!

     But I'm not going to tell you where just yet, I'm going to make you hungry for it. I have been looking for his birthplace and parents for 35 years - off and on of course - but 35 years, so I'm going to make you wait just a little bit longer too!

     First I want to explore some ideas of why Joseph M.'s history was so hard for me to find.

One -
     My grandfather, Frank August Kleager, died in 1929 at age 33, when my father, Clyde Louis Kleager, was only 11.  At the time of Frank's death, he and his wife Sophie were living in Havelock, Lancaster County, Nebraska.  In the same county were two other Kleager families - Frank's brothers Joseph William Kleager and Edward Louis Kleager.  All 3 families had moved to Nebraska from their birthplace in  Franklin County, Missouri in the previous decade.
     In addition to two Kleager families, living in the same county were Sophie's parents; Louis Henry and Minnie Drewel, and her youngest brother Elmer Drewel.  She had family near by.
     But, within two years of my grandfather's death, my grandmother, Sophie (who later called herself "Eleanor") Kleager moved with her five young boys 100 miles farther west of Havelock to a farm near Alda, in Hall County, Nebraska.  She distanced herself farther from family.
     Over the years I have tried to ask my father why he thinks his mother moved away from both her own family, and her dead husband's family.  Clyde wrote in 1997: "A major part of mother's thought was a passion to keep her family together.  Her fear was that someone or group would decide that she couldn't cope with doing this financially or otherwise.  She felt that the first cue of failure would be to ask for assistance from anyone, and relatives seemed to be the most suspect in this regard."
   My dad, Clyde, only remembers meeting his grandmother Lesetta Mincemeyer Kleager a few times when she came to Nebraska.  Sophie and her boys were too poor to do anything as extravagant as going back to Missouri - where she grew up also - and visit family.  His grandfather, Joseph Kleager, died before my father was born, a year before Frank and Sophie married and moved to Nebraska. So, just by moving to Nebraska they were distanced from the Kleager family in Missouri, and after Frank's death, Sophie moved herself farther, from even the Nebraska part of the Kleager family.
   As a result, the stories and history and ancestry of the Kleagers just didn't get passed on.  My father, a great story teller with a brilliant mind that can recall details well, knows very little of his father's life, let alone of his grand parents Kleager's lives.

Two -
   My great great grandfather, Joseph Magnus Kleger/Klager/Kleager/Kleager (yes, it was spelled that many ways in documents relating just to him) could not read or write.
   That had to be a handicap all his life.  He was the son of a "day laborer", and man who had no skill or occupation, who just worked where and when he could get it.  Joseph M. immigrated from Switzerland at the age of 30, alone, as far as I can tell.  He landed in New Orleans in October 1846, and was in St. Louis by November.  Perhaps he had distant relatives near Washington, Missouri where he first lived after arriving.
   He was poor, he was illiterate, and he was alone.
   Any document had to be written by some one else, the name "Joseph Kleger" written, and then around the "Joseph Kleger" was an "X his mark".  He left no records that he himself wrote.  He never read anything.  This was not the middle ages, this was between 1816 - 1885, and there were great thinkers and writers all over the world, and in Missouri - but he was left out of that world.
   I'm not certain he knew when his birthday was.   From what he said on the ship's manifest;  he was born in 1816.  From his U. S. Army enlistment; 1817.  His declaration to become a citizen of the U.S.; 1820.  From the 1850 and 1860 census; 1823.  Maybe he never learned to do math either.  Perhaps he was so impoverished as a child he had no access to education.
   I wonder if he ever even picked up any English, surrounded as he was by German speakers Missouri.
   He did not leave much of a trail.  Certainly no letters, journal entries or written documents.  Part of why he was so hard to find because he left nothing behind.
   When he died, without a will, in 1884, his processions (from probate packet) consisted of: "1 Ward robe, 1 Bed Stead, 1 feather bed and 1 lot of clothing".  He was owed a note for $200, but owed someone else $300.  $46.45 was owed for his medical bills, $20.00 for his coffin, $6.65 for a bill to L. H. Himburg General Merchandise and Agricultural Implements, and another bill for $1500.  He lies in an unmarked grave, and there seems to be no record of what cemetery.
   In his lifetime of 68 years he had 2 wives and 7 children, he owned and sold land, he was always listed as "farmer" in the census records.  He accomplished things.  He just did not pass down any legacy that I can find of his childhood, or even his adult life.

   So, it's been hard to learn much about Joseph Magnus Kleger's origins.  Now that you appreciate that ... there is more coming soon!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Charlene Elsie Kleager Foreman - the answer

Last post I asked who was Charlene Kleager Foreman?

Well, she is related to Joseph William Kleager (my great uncle, brother of my grandfather Frank August Kleager), the oldest son of Joseph and Lesetta Mincemeyer Kleager.

Joseph William married Halle Ellen Renick in Missouri in 1906, and they had 3 children: James Joseph "Jim", Clara Lisetta and Bertha Josephine. (Notice we are keeping with the "Joseph" theme there!).

Unfortunately, the mother Halle died a few months after Bertha's birth in 1911 of valvular insufficiency. That left Joseph a widower with three children under the age of three.  I don't know who helped with the children, though I am sure Joseph's family did.  Lesetta Mincemeyer Kleager raised a lot of children!

Joseph married and Iva E. Ernie in 1914.  I only know that because of a marriage license, I have no idea what happened to her; if she died, or they were divorced. No one in the family has talked about it.

Joseph married again in, 1917 to Josephine Jost in Missouri.  About 1921, they moved to Lancaster County, Nebraska near where his brothers Frank and Edward had already located, to farm.

There still seems to be some mystery here.  Is she a child of Joseph William Kleager with his second wife Josephine - Joseph was been 56 at the time of her birth and Josephine 45, not impossible but tricky.  Or, was she a grand daughter of Joseph, the daughter of one of his daughters, Clara or Bertha?

I sent to Nebraska Vital Records for a birth certificate, and none could be found!  That is curious.  Why is there no birth certificate?

JoAnn Munden (who is a Drewel, not a Kleager, but grew up in the same area around Lincoln) said her sister Virginia remembers when she was small going to visit Kleagers, (not sure which ones), and there was a little girl a few years younger than her.  She told that the girl (not sure it was Charlene, but the timing fits) "sang like Texas Mary, a famous singer".

Then Virginia said I should ask my Dad, as Virginia seems to remember that it was my Dad (a M.D.) may have been one of the first to say that Charlene had cancer.  Virginia seemed to think Charlene was the girl with the beautiful voice who died of cancer.

My Dad, who would be Charlene's first cousin, told me in a phone conversation that he remembers that Josephine was step-mother to Jim, Clara and Bertha, and maybe there were some issues with that in terms of how she treated those kids. He then said "but later there was a baby and Joe and Josephine went ga-ga over that little baby".  He thought he remembered the she was a grand daughter that they raised as their own.

He also remembers that Charlene went to a one room school near Lincoln, and for a while the teacher at the school was Kenny Kleager (my Dad's brother), and the only student was Charlene!

LaRue Kleager Bryant had a picture of Lesetta Kleager with a child, Lesetta's great-grand daughter Charlene, the grand child of Joseph Kleager.

I wrote Ron Bryant to ask his mother, LaRue Kleager Bryant (also a first cousin), if she remembered who Charlene was.  LaRue wrote back that Charlene was a grand daughter of Joseph's, and that Charlene was the daughter of Bertha.

However, the plot thickens.  There was no birth certificate, right?  But, there IS a death certificate which I received from Nebraska Vital Records:

The death certificate says she is the daughter of Joseph William Kleager and Josephine Jost!   Did they legally adopt her, or did they just raise her as their own?

Now the 1940 Census for Nebraska has been indexed, and I think the census confirmed the theory (opposite of the death certificate) that Charlene was a grand daughter.

I know this is hard to read, but the second entry is down is:
Kleager, Joseph, Head, age 61
(--------), Josephine, Wife, age 50
Jewitt, Bercha, Daughter, age 29
(--------), Charlene, Grand Daughter, age 4

The last name for Bertha (which was misspelled Bercha), is hard to read, it was indexed as Jewitt, but it could also look like Jewell.

But there is Charlene, as Bertha's daughter, with Bertha and Charlene living with Bertha's father and step-mother, Joseph and Josephine Kleager in North Bluff Election Precinct, Lancaster County, Nebraska.

Charlene's life is a sad tale all around.  She married Wayne Foreman, had a infant son, Kenneth Wayne Foreman, who was born and died in 1953, when Charlene was 18.  Charlene developed a "choriocarcinoma", which is a cancer originating from a fetus or pregnancy (so possibly from pregnancy of the baby that died), and then 9 months later died, at age 19, from the choriocarcinoma.

The baby is buried in the same cemetery as Charlene, Lincoln Memorial Park.  That is the same cemetery where my grandparents, Frank August Kleager and "Eleanor" Sophie Drewel Kleager Weise are buried.  It was the headstone for Charlene that set me on this quest to discover who she was, and how she was related!