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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: W├╝rttembergische 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 ...