It had to happen, I guess. My first Kalispell Small-World post (here) got seriously one-upped recently. So here is another installment. One more and it’s officially a Mini-Series. Stay tuned.
So – I’ve written at length here about my Bohemian/German ancestors – my paternal grandmother’s family. All four of her grandparents immigrated to Minnesota from a handful of small villages just east of the Bavarian-Czech border in the early 1870s. And while I have learned a great deal about grandma’s father’s side of the family, I’m in administrative limbo with respect to the family of Franz “Frank” Kraus and Barbara Süß, her mother’s parents. Patiently waiting for the most recent entry in the key record book to turn 100 years old… (2022, but who’s counting?)
As I’ve also mentioned I did the whole AncestryDNA thing and received my results in February. I took the plunge hopeful that I might chip away at two massive brick walls behind my mom’s paternal great-grandparents. And I have made some great progress there. But I really didn’t expect to find a Kraus relative – particularly one living in Germany. But I have.
Bärbel (a pseudonym – always my favorite girl’s name from my junior-high German textbook) showed up as a fairly distant cousin in my DNA results. And one day I clicked on Bärbel to find out what was what. Turns out she had done the same Bohemian church-records research I did, but having much more information than I from the get-go, she managed to uncover Frank’s entire family. Her ancestor was Katharina, one of Frank’s fourteen siblings (give or take a couple). Crazy.
Katharina stayed in The Old Country, married a man named Georg Weber, and gave birth to perhaps twelve children. At least six didn’t survive beyond two years, but that still left a bunch of kids. Pictured here are those still in the Greater Bohemia-area, circa 1912.
This is Katharina and Georg, with (l to r) Barbara, Johann – sporting a killer flat-top and a world-class mustache, Katharina, and Anna. Absent from the lineup are (at least) one son, Jacob (1888-?), and one daughter, Magdalena.
Brief aside: I’ve done a lot of thinking over the years on The Kraus Look – a bunch of facial characteristics in my grandma’s family that most certainly come from her mother’s side. In the photo, Barbara exemplifies the close-set, bright-blue eyes, sharp-nose look. Compare her face to that of (a) her niece, grandma’s aunt Anna, and (b) my grandma’s nephew, John “Little Jack” Leibel.
On the other hand, Katharina has a distinctly rounder, sharp-chinned face – like grandma’s mother Carrie and aunt Margaret.
Both looks are strongly represented in grandma’s family – and seeing a photo like this helps me determine which of the other prominent looks in the line likely originate on her father’s side.
(And I don’t know exactly why, but I feel like I know Anna, top right in the group photo. You know that feeling? A relative by sight, absolutely – she’s not a dead-ringer for any one person in particular… but you just feel she’s kin… That.)
Now then… Where were we?
We know Jacob left Bohemia around 1907 and landed in – where else? – Kalispell. He married Clara Torgerson in 1917, and they had four sons before their separation and divorce. (Clara would marry three more times; Jacob once.) This family’s local law enforcement records make for an entertaining read – let’s just call them Montana Colorful.
Magdalena, Jacob’s next younger sister, also moved to Kalispell, though I suspect she came out after Jacob. (Or perhaps she made the trip with him at age 15… who can say?) Magdalena married one Earl Roy Coram, had six children, and passed away in Kalispell in 1933 at age 41.
So – Kalispell. Crossroads of the Universe. Now and forever.
Postscript #1: Vielen Dank to “Bärbel” for the photo.
Postscript #2: Wow, this was my 100th Montanatude post! Hard to believe!