The great-grandfather of Elizabeth Kreifels was Mathias Blommer, who was born in Germany in 1800 and emigrated with his wife and children to America in 1840. The family settled in Loose Creek, Missouri where many other Rheinlander Germans lived.
Life in Missouri at this time was very difficult. Land had to be cleared of trees before it could be farmed. Disease was rampant and money was scarce. Some of the Loose Creek Germans gave up and went back home. Thirty years later, one of the Loose Creek Germans who went back home wrote up a history of his German hometown, Osterath. In his book, he described the experience of some of the Osterath Germans in America and declared the whole American emigration experience to be an utter failure. Somehow, a copy of the book made it back to Mathias in America who was by now a wealthy and successful man.
Mathias took great exception to his friend’s version of reality. He wrote a series of letters back home to his friends and family to set the record straight about what life was really like in America. Mathias’ letters eventually found their way into an archive back in Germany. When the Loose Creek German Heritage Society went on one of their trips back to Germany, they got copies of the letters and translated them. These letters give very detailed information about Mathias Blommer and his family, including his two sons-in-law, Herman and Sebastian Kreifels! I can’t begin to tell you how rare and fantastic it is to have a detailed first-hand account from an ancestor of this time period.
In the next several posts I will be quoting from the Mathias Blommer letters to help tell the story of the family. Mathias was clearly a very intelligent man. His writings show that he had a good sense of humor and was perhaps a bit egocentric. Maybe that’s the kind of personality that’s needed to survive and succeed in the 19th-century American Midwest.
As I mentioned, life was tough in Loose Creek in the early years. Mathias wrote:
Worthy old friend Kuppers,
For some time, I have wanted to write to you, and to mention that you left America much too soon. When you were with us in Missouri, and had nothing more than cornbread to eat and lived in poverty, and because of that you could not relate anything in Germany about America, except that you had traveled so far over the water to the State of Missouri where your related Germans lived, and there you climbed through from 20 or 30 miles of woods in your trade, and from there returned to Osterath again. This was all that you are able to tell about America. Worthy Kuppers, everything has changed so much in Missouri now, that you would not believe it. People, which you remembered as being poor, are now worth thousands of dollars.
In another letter, he wrote:
I and my brother-in-law Michael have said many times when we first were in Missouri, that we had wished that Columbus had drowned before he had discovered America. Kuppers, we are both old people, now we can take into account how little sense that the Good Lord had given us to see the future, otherwise we should have been better satisfied and as how we obtained such beautiful land for such a cheap price, should have kept a cool head and thought that if we had been tadpoles for one year, that the potential was there that we could become frogs. But that much sense or reason the Germans didn’t have. They thought that when they came to this Land that if they opened their mouths, the roasted dove would fly in. This they do not do and then they
The 1850 census lists the Blommer family (spelled ‘Bloomer’) living in Loose Creek, Missouri.
Of the eight children in the family, the youngest five are still at home. Anna would later marry Sebastian Kreifels and Margaret would marry his brother Herman Kreifels (Herman and Margaret were Elizabeth Kreifels’ grandparents).
Next time we’ll take a look at the two Kreifels brothers.