Tag Archives: cemeteries

Frederick Krosch’s 1855 Declaration of Intent for Citizenship

Some of the earliest documentation of a Hanneman-Treutel relative in America — dated 1855 — has been discovered in the archives of the Walworth County, Wisconsin Circuit Court. John Frederick Krosch, just a year from stepping off the boat from Saxony, filed his declaration of intent to become a United States citizen on November 5, 1855 before the county court in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

Krosch made the declaration on behalf of himself and his wife, Christiana. The declaration document says Krosch intended to become a U.S. citizen and that he “renounced forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty whatsoever, and particularly to William Frederick, King of Prussia.” The document was found in the court archives, held at the Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Johann Friedrich Krosch was born in 1799 in the Kingdom of Saxony, which today is part of Germany. In 1854, he brought his wife Christiana and children Charles, Augustus, Reinhold, Henrietta (grandmother of Ruby V. Treutel Hanneman) and Gustave to America.

Frederick Krosch's farm was in Section 23 on this 1870 Mukwonago-area map.
Frederick Krosch’s farm was in Section 23 on this 1870 Mukwonago-area map.

The Krosch family landed at New York on July 21, 1854 and headed for Milwaukee. The eldest boys established farms at Lake Beulah near East Troy in Walworth County. John Frederick Krosch may have initially lived in Walworth County to help his boys get their farms started, considering that he filed his citizenship declaration in Walworth County.

By 1860, the elder Krosch had his own farm near Mukwonago in nearby Waukesha County. The 1860 U.S. Census lists the youngest Krosch boys, Reinhold and Gustave, as laborers on their father’s 80-acre farm. Plat records from 1873 show the Krosch farm in Section 23 of the Town of Mukwonago, just a few miles from where his daughter Henrietta Treutel lived with her husband, Philipp Treutel.

Krosch farmed at Mukwonago for more than a decade. We don’t know much about his later years. He died on August 7, 1876 at age 77. He is buried among the settlers of Mukwonago at Oak Knoll Cemetery, a short distance from where his farm once stood.

The grave of Christiana (Schlagel) Krosch at Elmore, Minnesota.
The grave of Christiana (Schlagel) Krosch at Elmore, Minnesota.

His wife Christiana (Schlagel) Krosch moved to Elmore, Minnesota after being widowed. The 1880 U.S. Census lists her living on the farm of her son, William F. Krosch. She died on December 3, 1884. She is buried near three grandchildren at Dobson Schoolhouse Cemetery in Elmore.

FAMILY LINE: John Frederick Krosch >> Henrietta (Krosch) Treutel >> Walter Treutel >> Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman >> Donn, David and Lavonne Hanneman.

©2015 The Hanneman Archive

Cemeteries Offer Great Lessons in History

As any serious genealogist will tell you, a visit to a cemetery can provide a wealth of family history information. But it can be much more than that. Each year as we approach All Souls Day (November 2), the season presents an opportunity to renew and maintain family connections, just by walking through a cemetery.

Southeastern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Union Grove, Wisconsin.
Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Union Grove, Wisconsin.

One of the most touching scenes I’ve encountered was at a small cemetery in Augsburg, Germany. Walking past after dark, I looked through the small gate to see dozens of flickering vigil candles. These were not solar lights but real candles. Someone cared enough to visit there each night and light the votives.

A 20-minute walk through any cemetery will provide you access to family stories. Parents who lived long, full lives. Others who died much too young. Babies, some just one day old. Some who were never born. John and Jane Does, victims of murder. And in many older cemeteries, some of the departed rest with no visible monuments. Their markers were damaged or swallowed up in soft ground or by encroaching woods.

This anchor-themed monument is at St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Portage, Wisconsin.
This anchor-themed monument is at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Portage, Wisconsin.

Observe the different monuments. Some are massive obelisks, others plain, square markers. A few are made from unusual materials. Some display incredible artistry. In many German cemeteries you will see monuments with engraved hands pointing to Heaven. Angels, crosses and even anchors are common subject of monument carvings.

Oak Grove Cemetery in Eagle, Wisconsin, is itself a monument to neglect.
Oak Grove Cemetery in Eagle, Wisconsin, is itself a monument to neglect.

Some cemeteries are known more for their infamy, such as Oak Grove Cemetery in Eagle, Wisconsin. We chronicled that story earlier in “A Sad Resting Place for Little Ida.” It is sad to see a cemetery fall into neglect and disrepair. It’s especially angering when a cemetery is targeted by vandals. A few years back, thugs toppled more than 100 monuments at Calvary Cemetery and Old Holy Cross Cemetery in Racine, Wisconsin. My Knights of Columbus council spent several weekends righting the monuments and making extensive repairs. Most of the damage was fixed, but some especially old stones were beyond repair.

John Clark and John Murphy of the Knights of Columbus repair vandalized monuments in Racine, Wisconsin.
John Clark and John Murphy of the Knights of Columbus repair vandalized monuments in Racine, Wisconsin.

Military cemeteries and the graves of soldiers are especially touching. I recall walking row after row of World War I grave markers in Ypres, Belgium, where the famous poem In Flanders Fields was composed in 1915. All of those young lives cut short by “the war to end all wars.” Such sacrifice. World War I cemeteries dot the landscape in Belgium; some in the middle of farm fields.

Grave of an unknown soldier near Ypres, Belgium.
Grave of an unknown soldier near Ypres, Belgium.

While our loved ones are gone, they can teach us still. There are great resources available to help you find where your relatives are buried. My favorite online database is the Find A Grave web site. Take a camera along on your next trip to the cemetery and help your fellow genealogists document history.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

Cemetery Neglect: Sad Resting Place for Little Ida Krosch

William and Crystal Krosch faced unthinkable tragedy during their first years in Wisconsin. The joy at the birth of their daughter Ida Clara Krosch in February 1858 turned to dread and sadness just a few years later. Sick with diphtheria, little Ida died two days after Christmas 1861 at the family home in the town of Eagle in Waukesha County, Wisconsin.

Ida Krosch was laid to rest at Oak Grove Cemetery about a mile south of the village of Eagle. A 2-acre parcel carved out of the Kettle Moraine Forest, the cemetery was a scenic, peaceful place that no doubt brought some comfort to the family during visits to the little girl’s resting place. What shock they would feel if they witnessed what would become of the little country cemetery long after the family had moved to Minnesota.

What was going on in the world in December 1861? “It looks now as if we are to have good sleighing for Christmas, as several inches of snow fell during Sunday last,” wrote the Waukesha Freeman on Dec. 24, 1861. The newspapers were promoting a Waukesha visit by Gen. Tom Thumb, “America’s Man in Miniature” made famous by P.T. Barnum. And many local men were leaving their businesses to join Wisconsin troops in the Civil War.

The arch over entrance to Oak Grove Cemetery, Eagle, Wisconsin.
The arch over entrance to Oak Grove Cemetery, Eagle, Wisconsin.


The burial records of Oak Grove Cemetery are testament to the hardships of pioneer life in rural Waukesha County. It was common for families to lose young children to diseases such as diphtheria or typhoid fever. Ironically, an article run in the Waukesha Freeman the week Ida died wrongly predicted that diphtheria would be fatal in just one of 100 cases. Diphtheria would become the No. 1 killer of children in America during the coming decades.

The cemetery is replete with stories of the sadness of youth lost. James Lowry died at age 5 in 1858. Ada Severance died at age 4 in 1855. Arden Baldwin died at age 3 just months before Ida Krosch. Oscar Jaycox was just 1 when he died in 1858. Arthur Bigelow was 2 when he died in 1855. Orlando Cook was a mere 8 months old when he died in 1852.

‘Gone but not forgotten?’
‘Gone but not forgotten?’

Peter Grems, reported to be the first veterinarian in the Wisconsin Territory, is buried here. Charles Kilts, a bugler for Company K of the 1st Wisconsin Volunteers in the Civil War, is buried here, too. He died in September 1862.

No doubt the graves of these folks were tended to with care for many decades, but Oak Grove Cemetery has now become a sad monument of neglect and abandonment. Monuments have been toppled. Headstones lie in pieces. Many headstones are leaning badly. Grave sites are covered in thicket. Some have been swallowed by the encroaching forest. The wrought iron fence that separates the cemetery from nearby Highway 67 is rusty and listing. No doubt the families of these souls would be heartsick to see the state of this burial ground.

Broken tombstone of Eliza Mead, who died in 1870
Broken tombstone of Eliza Mead, who died in 1870.

Ironically, Oak Grove Cemetery is just across the road from Old World Wisconsin, the world’s largest museum on the history of rural life. Old World Wisconsin is run by the Wisconsin Historical Society. Maybe if they included their neighboring cemetery on their tours this hallowed ground would not be in such deplorable shape.

For the most part, burials stopped at Oak Grove in 1967, 125 years after the cemetery was founded. We did find one interment at Oak Grove in 2007. Since the cemetery association that cared for the land disbanded long ago, upkeep of the cemetery falls to the local government. It appears the grass gets mowed, but that is no doubt where the maintenance stops.

Graves of Mary and William Reeves, d. 1856 and 1857.
Willie Larue Snover, who died at age 8 in 1869.

Under Wisconsin law, circuit courts can compel local municipalities to care for abandoned cemeteries, or even order the reinterment of the deceased in new cemeteries. Given that Oak Grove is a pioneer cemetery with the remains of the founding families of Eagle, as well as many Civil War veterans, it is very sad that more pride is not taken in preserving it.

Little Ida Clara Krosch’s tombstone can no longer be found at Oak Grove Cemetery. Maybe that’s just as well. Her parents and their descendants would no doubt hang their heads in sadness and shame to see what became of little Oak Grove Cemetery.

FAMILY LINE: 
John Frederick Krosch >> William F. Krosch >> Ida C. Krosch

Grave of Martha Lowry,  who died in 1873.
Grave of Martha Lowry, who died in 1873.