Herman and Anna Margaretha Kreifels had ten children altogether. The oldest two, both girls, were born while the family lived in Missouri. The next seven, two girls and five boys, were born in Minnesota. The youngest, a boy, was born in Nebraska City. To the genealogist, this means a lot of different records in a lot of different locations!
One of the boys born in Minnesota was Louis Kreifels, born in 1860. Louis was the father of Elizabeth Kreifels Rademacher (Dale’s grandmother). His given name was actually Ludwig. I imagine that the family was probably still living in a sod house at that time of his birth, although I don’t know that for sure. I do know that he was born before the Homestead Act, so his parents probably had very uncertain title to their land at that point. This is something I will want to do more research on someday.
We find him listed in the 1865 Minnesota State Census; the 1870 Federal Census in Otoe County, Nebraska; and the 1880 Federal Census also in Otoe County, Nebraska. In all of these documents, he still goes by “Ludwig”.
I have very few records from this period, probably due to the fact that the Kreifels family home burned down at one point. I don’t even know the date, but this is why we have so few photos and documents for this family. Such a shame! So there is very little I can tell you about Louis’ early life in Nebraska.
I do have a nice story, thought, about an important event that occurred when Louis was just nine years old, an event I’m sure he would have remembered into his adult years. This story comes from a published history of the Catholic Church in Paul, Nebraska.
His neighbors, Joseph and Catherine Durr, were sitting on the porch on August 19, 1870 when they saw a stranger approaching on horseback. The visitor turned out to be Father Anthony Kaspar, the very priest who had witnessed their marriage back in Minnesota*. Fr. Anthony had just been transferred to Nebraska City and he had come to “Schmitz Settlement” (now called Paul) to visit his old friends the Durrs!
After listening to their stories of homesickness, loneliness and the anguish of being deprived of Holy Mass and the Sacraments, Father Anthony told them he would offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice in their home on the following day. Joseph and Catherine quickly sent messengers on foot and on horseback to dispatch the good news to everyone in Schmitz Settlement.
Before dawn the next day, preparations began for transforming one room of the house into a temporary chapel. Two barrels and a board were used for the improvised altar. The board was covered with one of their cherished wedding presents – a fine linen tablecloth. Among the treasures of the Durr family were beautiful lace curtains and an embroidered window shade which Catherine thought were too costly to use. Her husband convinced her that the Lord deserved the best that they could offer him in this temporary chapel.
Soon the lumber wagons began pulling into Durr’s farmyard. Every Catholic family in Rock Creek was present for the first liturgy celebrated in their settlement. Included in this first congregation were the families of: Joesph Ballerman, James Carlin, William Carlin, Joseph Durr, Michael Heng, Michael Houlihan, Herman Kreifels, Sebastian Kreifels, Andrew Komma, Anton Komma, Joseph Komma, Joseph Reblan, John Ress, John Schmitz and Peter Schmitz.
Those of you familiar with the Kreifels family tree will recognize the names of Durr, Heng, Ress and Schmitz as families that intermarried with the Kreifels descendants.
I presume that Louis continued farming with his father as a young man. During this time, the famous outlaw Jesse James was a frequent visitor to Nebraska City. There are many rumors about Kreifels associations with the famous outlaw, but as far as I know they’re just stories.
The next record I have for him is his marriage record.
On May 28, 1889 at the age of 28, he marries 19-year-old Josephine Ortman. Before she married, Josephine had been living with her family somewhere near Omaha. Next time, more about Josephine.
*I see now that Joseph Durr is listed in the 1865 Minnesota State Census living just two doors down from Mathias Blommer. Durr came to Otoe County in 1868, so clearly this is the connection for the Kreifels brothers to come to Nebraska when the whole Kansas thing falls apart.