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Sunday, January 9, 2011

George Jacob Kleager

George Kleager is my great uncle, a brother two years older than my grandfather Frank August Kleager.

In the 1980's, when I started researching my ancestors, he was the only living sibling of my grandfather.  I wrote letters to his daughter, Jewell Kleager Crowder, who lived near him.  Jewell, and her husband Virgil, invited me to come see him, and to stay in their home.

We were living in Ames, Iowa at the time, and in 1983 drove to Missouri for Thanksgiving.  Virgil and Jewell lived in Owensville, Missouri, and George about 12 miles south of Owensville with a mailing address from Cuba, Missouri.

During the 3 days we stayed with them, Virgil and Jewell drove us all over the area to see churches, cemeteries, farmsteads and landmarks associated with the Kleager and Drewel families.  They were so good to us.

Uncle George and his family were so gracious and excited to see us.  We came as total strangers, yet were treated like they had known us their whole lives.  They feel very strong family ties.  George gave me a big hug when I walked in, and a kiss on the cheek when I left.

George was 89 at the time, yet still lived on his farm by himself at the end of "Kleagler Road" off Hiway T. The county had mis-spelled the sign.

He was a delightful man with a clever sense of humor.  He showed us the head of the 12 point buck he had shot a few years back ("the biggest one in the county that year"), the barn he designed and built himself, and the calves he still fed.  I fell in love with the fellow, and felt like I had discovered a bit of the grandfather I had never known.

George died in a year later, in 1984.  Jewell passed away in 1994 and her husband Virgil still sent me Christmas cards until his death in 2007.  They were wonderful people.

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