Previously I wrote posts about my father’s stepfather and my mother’s father. To be complete I am writing this one about my father’s biological father, William Charles Krueger. Note: I have taken a bit of an hiatus in the completion of this post, I stopped to have hernia surgery. More than anyone needs or wants to know.
My grandparents were divorced when my father was a lad. I do not know when William and his wife, my grandmother, Gertrude, were married and I do not know the date of their divorce. Nor, do I know anything about the circumstance. The only reference I recall is my mother mentioning one time that Gertrude fell in love with Charlie while commuting to Seattle on a ferry. I never met William as he passed before I was born. William was born in New Ulm, Minnesota and “when reaching man’s estate ‘went west to grow up with the country'”. He wound up in Seattle, Washington, working for the trolley company.
Evidently, after his marriage failed William migrated back to Minnesota near his parents. William led, I believe, a relatively quiet life in Minnesota. He was a sales guy for a Cash Register company, then for other enterprises in the area. He lived in Comfrey, Minnesota not far from where he was born. There are fewer than 400 people in Comfrey. His obituary mentions that he was survived by his wife (No name mentioned, it must have been referring to Gertrude), his son, Walter (dad) and daughter (aunt Rheva). It is said that William liked to hunt and fish and is was of “a friendly and pleasing disposition”. He was also survived by his mother Mary Krueger. Mary died in 1953, short of her 100th birthday. Mary was one of the last survivors of the Sioux uprising of 1862 and is said to have related many stories of the event. Evidently her family was friendly with the Native Americans who warned the family of the impending troubles. Her family was then able to warn other settlers in the area.
Many years later I was on a job in Mason City, Iowa. I ran major maintenance operations at a power plant there for a number of years. One year we were doing an inspection in July. The client stopped work on the fourth of July that year so I had a free day. Having heard stories about relatives in Comfrey, MN, I decided to travel there for the day. Comfrey is 156 miles from Mason City. Entering Comfrey was like stepping into a Hallmark Movie set in 1950’s rural America. I arrived in time to see the Independence Day parade. It consisted of the town fire truck, the town police car, the high school marching band, the boy scouts and a few veterans. The main street was lined with people the full length of the parade route. I spoke with a number of people who turned out to be Kruegers. I could not determine any family connections. I did find that they pronounce our name differently; they pronounce it “Kreeeger” where I pronounce it “Kroooger”.
I have a sadness when I think of William? There must have been joy in William’s life; however, I cannot find it in the few things I have heard and read about him. After leaving Seattle I do not believe he ever saw his children again. I have no notes from my father about him nor do I recall any stories or recollections other than Dad’s mentioning that he worked for a Cash Register company. Dad once told the story that his family was from Dusseldorf, Germany but Dad was not one to let a fact get in the way of a good story. Mom and Dad did visit the area years after William’s death. I have some photos of Mom and Dad attending a party in Comfrey in 1973. William must not been of faint spirit; he heeded Horace Greeley’s advice to “Go West young man”. I hope that he found more joy in life than is reflected in the memories and “stuff” that remains of his life, a photograph, an obituary and a few distant memories.