St. John’s Lutheran church is located on Highway N northeast of Stratford, Wisconsin. It is a few miles north and west of Fenwood. The solid brick building is just feet from the highway – you can’t miss it!
I thought I would search there for some more Kroening records since the denomination was right (ELCA) and the location was in the area settled by members of my Kroening family. St. John’s has a website and I emailed the church to inquire about their records. The church secretary got back to me right away and we made arrangements for a visit to look through the old record books.
I drove up on the day after a snow storm and was met by the very helpful secretary, Rose. She led me to a little office and showed me 2 of the old registers. The earliest records were recorded in German, and later records changed to English. The books were easy to navigate – (usually) the front of the book lists members and their families. You can search through to your surname and, most of the time, there will be numbers listed after the names. The numbers relate to the pages of the register where that particular name can be found.
Right away I saw names that were familiar to me – John Kroening, Fred Kroening, and Carl Kroening all had entries for members of their families. I also noticed a name I had never seen before: Julius Kroening.
I scanned and made notes for the Kroening entries I could find. Fred and Carl only had 1 or 2 entries for their families. Fred moved out of the area and Carl began attending Zion in Stratford later on (these records are available online through Ancestry). It appears that the John Kroening family moved between St. John’s and St. Peter’s in Fenwood. The Fenwood records are also available online at Ancestry – BUT – St. John’s also has 1 old registry from St. Peter’s! I went through that old registry as well, and found some additional information that was not available online.
I had some questions answered – I had wondered why Friederike Kroening was not listed in the registers for St Paul’s near Rozellville when she was buried there and her husband was a founding member. It seems that after her husband died, she moved in with her son Carl (Charles) Kroening and was attending church with his family.
I also had some great information to share with cousins from out of town who are direct ancestors of John Kroening and Lydia Retzlaff. John and Lydia’s death entries were listed in the book from Fenwood. These records are not available online – probably due to privacy concerns.
My trip also raised some new questions: Who is Julius Kroening? Why had I never heard that name before? I had some work to do when I got home.
Some quick searching online brought up the image of an obituary from 1924. Julius was also found with his wife, Emalie, and sons living in Edgar on a few census records. It would appear that he was born around the same time as my 3rd great grandfather, Johann Kroening, and immigrated to the US about the time that Johann moved from Washington county to Marathon county. Could they be brothers? Cousins?
There were several family trees on Ancestry for this family linking them to parents Ludwig Kroening and Marie Gossert back in Germany. I was really excited! Maybe I had finally found the link to the parents of Johann Kroening in Germany! I needed to research the trees a little more and look at the sources listed.
The immigration record for the family seemed to fit. They came in 1878 through the port of New York with the Kuehl family – presumably Emalie’s parents – and two children, Max and Martha. The children were ages 7 and 3 respectively, and the family was listed as Prussian. So far, so good. Time to look over seas. The emmigration list at Hamburg states the family was living in “Meesow, Pommern” before leaving for the US.
Sure enough! There is a Heinrich Julius Kroening born to parents Ludwig Kroening and Marie Gossert on 10 December 1850 in Gollin, Pommerania. The birthdate doesn’t match the church records from Edgar, or the obituary, but for now we will just assume that whoever gave that information may have misremembered it. It does happen now and again that the dates on the tombstone are not quite correct. This is an awesome find! Now I can look to see if the marriage took place there and look for other children of Ludwig and Marie. Maybe they are the parents of my Johann.
It turns out there IS a marriage record listed for this Heinrich Julius in Gollin. In 1875, he married Wilhelmine Christine Frederike Will. Huh? The Julius Kroening buried in Edgar, WI married Emilie Kuehl in about 1873 and came to the US with her in 1878 with 2 children. SO – the Heinrich Julius Kroening who is the son of Ludwig Kroening and Marie Gossert CAN NOT BE the same person. Which is a real bummer since the marriage is recorded with such beautiful handwriting.
Further research shows that Heinrich and Wilhelmine were having babies in Prussia after Julius and Emile arrived in the US. So the moral of the story is – do your own research. Don’t add things to your tree just because someone else has and don’t add information from those helpful “hints” on Ancestry until you have done your own research!
I still haven’t found the “real” Julius Kroening in any German records, but then again, I haven’t found my Johann Kroening yet in any German records. Are they related? Maybe. How? No idea.