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 ...