We have traced the long arc of the Blommer family as they left Germany in 1840, settled in Loose Creek Missouri, moved to Minnesota in 1855, and then looked at the two sons-in-law, Herman and Sebastian Kreifels, as they left Missouri for Nebraska in 1869. We’ve examined the difficult early years for Herman and Sebastian – Sebastian’s suicide and the early years of poverty for Herman.
Mathias and the rest of the Blommer family stayed behind in Minnesota. What became of them?
I haven’t yet taken the time to dig up all the census records for the Blommer family in Minnesota in the years after the Kreifels brothers left. So instead we’ll take a look at Mathias’ own words to explore the last years of his life.
To refresh everyone’s memory, Mathias (the great-grandfather of Elizabeth Kreifels Rademacher) wrote a series of letters back home to friends and family in Germany. He was trying to set the record straight after he’d heard that a friend had published some writings about the deplorable conditions and unhappy fate of the Plattdeutchen Germans who’d left the Krefeld area in the early 1840’s.
Here is an excerpt from one of his letters that tells how hard it was for he and his wife when the two sons-in-law and their families left Minnesota:
This came as a very hard experience on me and my wife. Because she said to me, “I believe that part of our family that is now travelling away from us that we, in our lifetime, will never see them again.” Then I said to her, “Elizabeth, such thoughts I have never had. My thoughts are that when our family is settled in Kansas and find a place to live and write us that it is much better than here, then this coming summer, we will both travel there.” I further said to her, “On that you can be very certain if God gives both of us good health and life. Then we can both reach out our hand to our family.” This I thought would surely happen if God would no place any obstacles in my plans. But Man thinks and God does. In the fall, she became so sick with dropsy that within six months, on April 3, 1870 after noon at the 4th hour, she gently and blessedly slept away to her God. God gave her the everlasting rest.
In 1871, the year the first of his letters was written, he traveled to Nebraska to see how the families were getting along in Nebraska. He writes in detail (which I won’t recount here) about his exact modes of travel and the costs of his accommodations and train tickets. He got to Nebraska by way of Missouri, where he stopped in at Loose Creek to visit family and old friends.
It’s not quite clear from the letter, but he may have stayed in Nebraska for a year to help out the two families, and then he returned to Minnesota in April of 1872.
He wrote three more letter back to Germany in 1874. The last of them (September 1874) would have been after Sebastian’s death in June of that year, but he made no mention of it. The last three letters include a lot of detail about the locust plagues and the building of their church – events that had happened a decade or more earlier.
He also talks about two brothers who came to America – Heinrich (living in Missouri) and Melchior (who settled in Wisconsin). Heinrich had a son Melchior who was urged to come to Minnesota but declined. Mathias himself had a son Melchior, so it seems that we have several Melchior Blommers in the family tree.
The next mention of Mathias is in the 1880 census, where he is living with his son John’s family. He is listed as “grandfather” and his occupation is “does chores about home”. I am not surprised at all to see one of Dale’s ancestors listing this as an occupation. What is with these Germans and their love of doing chores?
Four years later, Mathias passed away. On page 8 of the July 23 1884 edition of the Der Nordstern newspaper of St. Cloud, Minnesota, his obituary is given:
It’s printed in the Gothic German style. I know a bit about Gothic print from my work with Swedish records, but I don’t know the German language at all. Also, some of the words on the left edge are cut off.
So here’s the best I can do with the help of Google Translate:
In der Racht von Freitag auf Samstag verstarb zu St. Joseph der Farmer Mathias Blommer und wurde am Sonntag unter großer Betheiligung beerdigt. Der Berstorbene hatte das hohe Uster von 84 Jahren erreicht, Er war gebürtig aus dem Kreise Crefeld im or einischeu Reg. Bez. Düsseldorf. In ihm ist der zweite älteste und einer der beliebteste Unfiedler des County zu Grabe getragen. Er hinterläßt 5 kinder und viele Enkelkinder. Den trauernden hinterbliebenen unser Beileid!
On the night of Friday to Saturday died at St. Joseph the farmers Blommer Mathias and was buried on Sunday at great implication. The Berstorbene had reached the high-examination of 84 years, he was a native of the circle Crefeld in or Eini shy Reg. Ref. Dusseldorf. In it the second oldest and one of the most popular Unfiedler the County is laid to rest. He is survived by five children and many grandchildren. The grieving surviving our condolences!
If anyone can help with those three underlined words, I’d appreciate it! What is “unfiedler” – the word “fiedler” is literally “fiddler” and I would be delighted to learn that Mathias was in some way musical.
Both Mathias and his wife Elizabeth are said to be buried in the cemetery at St. Joseph Church in St. Joseph, Minnesota. This cemetery is only 59% photographed at findagrave.com, and their tombstones do not appear on the list.
Mathias and Elizabeth had eight children, five girls (I think…) and three boys (in that order!). From Mathias’ letters, here’s what we know about them:
- oldest daughter Maria Magdalena married Sebastian Kreifels. From Mathias’ May 1972 letter:
Our oldest daughter, Helena (Maria Magdelena) was married to Sebastian Kreifels, from the town of Serm which is near Uerdingen. She died from dropsy affliction and left behind five children, all of which are still living as of now. Sebastian as of now has not remarried.
- second daughter Maria Agnes first married Wilhelm Von Trostdorf in Loose Creek. He apparently died; her second husband was Theodore Beckers. Agnes died in about 1870
- third daughter Maria Katherina married Valentin Riedel and lived in Missouri. According to Mathias, they were quite wealthy and ran a beer and wine business in St. Louis
- fourth daughter Anna Gertrude – OK, now I’m confused because lots of records show that Sebastian’s wife was Anna Gertrude. Will save this for another day!
- fifth daughter Anna Margaretha married Herman Kreifels
- the three boys John (Johann), Peter and Melchior all stayed in Minnesota and farmed with their father.
Tracking down all of Mathias’ children plus the two Blommer brothers who came to America (Heinrich and Melchior) would be a fun undertaking. Just snooping around on Ancestry suggests that there’s been a lot of work done independently on some of these lines but I don’t as yet see anywhere that it’s all been pulled together. It looks as though lots of the family took the name “Bloomer” instead of “Blommer” (adopting a more correct pronunciation).
We’ll leave the Blommers now and next time start looking at Mathias Blommer’s grandson, Louis Kreifels.