Tag Archives: Village of Eagle

From the Mulde to Milwaukee: Krosch Family Journey to America

The spring of 1854 must have seemed full of promise for the Johann Friedrich Krosch family. After 55 years growing up and raising a family in the Kingdom of Saxony, Frederick Krosch prepared to leave his home at Jessnitz and set out for America. Two of his sons, William, 29, and Karl, 30, came to Wisconsin in 1850, and now it was time to join them.

So in May 1854 the Krosch family left their hometown along the Mulde River and began the long journey to America. When the sailing ship Bertha left the Port of Bremen around June 12, there were six Kroschs among the 218 passengers onboard: Frederick, wife Christiana, 53, sons Augustus Frederick, 20; Reinhold, 16; and Gustav, 11; and daughter Henrietta, 16.

August F. Krosch
August F. Krosch

Officially known as the Barque Bertha, the ship was a multi-mast sailing vessel. It was very likely a rough journey, with the ship both dependent on, and at the mercy of, the North Atlantic winds. The Krosch family started the voyage in steerage, the least comfortable part of the ship.

During the journey passengers noticed a shark following the ship for days, according to family stories passed down through generations. This was most upsetting, since a shark following a vessel was believed to signal impending death on board. Old sailors’ lore held that sharks had the ability to sense if someone on board was near death.

At one point severe storm blew up and damaged the ship’s rigging. The carpenter aboard the Bertha refused to scale the mast to make repairs. So Augustus Krosch hoisted himself up and fixed the mast, allowing the Bertha to be back underway. Shortly after, the Krosch family was moved from steerage to a cabin for the rest of the journey. Augustus and Reinhold then got jobs working as carpenters aboard the Bertha.

The family sold everything to make the journey to America. The Krosch men kept their money in money belts worn under their clothing. Although the belts painfully chafed the skin, no one dared remove them for fear of being robbed.

Portrait of Henrietta (Krosch) Treutel (1838-1908). Henrietta Krosch came to America in July 1854 at age 16 from the town of Jessnitz, Saxony, Germany.
Portrait of Henrietta (Krosch) Treutel (1838-1908). Henrietta Krosch came to America in July 1854 at age 16 from the town of Jessnitz, Saxony, Germany.

Brisk trade winds pushed the ship backward, delaying arrival in New York by a week. About two-thirds of the way across, the Bertha encountered “large quantities” of ice, according to voyage record filed in New York by the ship’s master, named Klamp.

On Thursday, July 20, 1854, the Bertha arrived at the Port of New York after 40 days at sea. The Kroschs then traveled to Chicago, likely by steamboat and railroad. Hotel accommodations in Chicago were scarce, so the family took the only room they could find. But an infestation of bedbugs forced them to flee the hotel for a livery stable, where they spent the night.

From there they likely rode the train to Milwaukee, and then continued on until reaching East Troy in Walworth County, where Karl and William were living. Frederick purchased land in nearby Mukwonago and started a farm. His daughter, Henrietta, met and married a blacksmith named Philipp Treutel. They first established their home in Mukwonago and later moved to North Prairie.

Frederick Krosch is buried in Oak Knoll Cemetery at Mukwonago, Wisconsin.
Frederick Krosch is buried in Oak Knoll Cemetery at Mukwonago, Wisconsin.

William Krosch settled near the village of Eagle, and married Christiana Naumann in 1857. “My father’s farm was only 80 acres. It was mostly woodland, so he worked very hard to clear some for farming,” wrote Amelia Krosch Richardson in a 1940 memoir. “There was but my brother Will and myself at that time. We had a sister, Ida, who died when she was four years old of diphtheria and one baby sister that did not live. Both are buried near our home in Wisconsin.” The story of Ida Krosch was chronicled in an earlier article.

On November 5, 1855, Frederick Krosch (1799-1876) filed his declaration of intent to become a U.S. Citizen.
On November 5, 1855, Frederick Krosch (1799-1876) filed his declaration of intent to become a U.S. Citizen.

Eventually, William, Augustus and Gustave Krosch moved west and settled around Blue Earth, Minnesota. After Frederick Krosch died in 1877, his wife Christiana moved to Minnesota, where she died in 1881. Reinhold and Karl stayed on their farms near Lake Beulah in Walworth County, Wisconsin.

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

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.