From Dick Kreitner, CT
When my grandmother Anna Jeanette Grauer died in 1970, I was fortunate to receive a box of letters and documents from the attic of the old Grauer farm house near Niagara Falls, New York. At that time, I had very little time to examine the documents.
Many years later, as I was approaching retirement, I became more interested in my ancestry. I was aware of most of my ancestors who lived in the US and Canada but knew almost nothing about the families before they came over from Europe. I started looking at the documents from the attic, many of which were in German, often in old script handwriting, and discovered many documents from the Grauer family.
We already knew from old Bible records that my great-great grandfather Daniel Grauer came from Maehringen, a small town near Tuebingen, in 1833. Among the first documents I examined were the passport and travel papers of Daniel and his family.
I also found a number of military documents, including the discharge of Daniel Grauer from the Wuerttemberg Artillery Regiment. There were also several letters between family members and friends, most of which I could not read or translate at that time.
At this point, I decided to “Google” the name of the town together with the name “Grauer.” To my surprise, Google directed me to a website which contained the family tree of a Grauer family from Maehringen which included my great-great-grandfather, Daniel Grauer! I was quite excited about this discovery and immediately sent an email to the webpage contact, Ruediger Kemmler. I received a very quick response from Ruediger, telling me that he and I were 8th cousins, once removed. He also copied in several other Grauers in the U.S., including Tim Grauer and Jack Grauer, who, along with Ruediger, would become invaluable as we collaborated to fill in missing pieces in the Grauer family tree.
So here is some of what I learned and what happened with the family after arriving in the U.S.
Daniel Grauer and Anna Maria Ruckwied
Mähringen to Niagara Falls
In 1833, Daniel Grauer (age 36), his wife Anna Maria Ruckwied (age 33), and their three small children Anna Katharina (age 7), Johann Adam (almost 3), and Anna Maria (less than 1) emigrated from Maehringen to America. They were accompanied by Anna Maria’s brother Johann Georg Ruckwied (age 46, unmarried) and two sisters Anna Barbara Ruckwied (age 42, unmarried) and Maria Agnes Ruckwied (age 23, unmarried). On the ocean voyage, their infant child Anna Maria died (8 June 1833).
Upon arrival in America, they went to the area near Niagara Falls, where they apparently had friends who had come from Maehringen or nearby. I am currently researching their early years there and who these friends may have been. The most likely person was a John Keinath, who owned land nearby and co-signed a mortgage note with Daniel Grauer and George Ruckwied. By 1844, they purchased farmland there and built a house which stayed in the family for about 130 years.
Daniel and Anna Maria had two more children after arriving in Niagara Falls. Their last child, also Daniel Grauer (b. 17 May 1842) was my great-grandfather. The younger Daniel also lived in the Grauer farmhouse, as did his son Elmer Grauer, my grandfather. My mother, Ruth Grauer Kreitner, was born at the farmhouse.
Reuniting with the Grauer Relatives
Since becoming acquainted with Ruediger Kemmler in 2005, I have been fortunate to trace my ancestry back several more generations in Germany. Also, our middle daughter Kathy moved to Germany in 2001, got married there, and our grandson Matteo was born in Munich in 2004. This necessitated many trips to Europe over the next 10 years until Kathy and her family moved back to the US. It also provided my wife and I the opportunity to meet Ruediger in person and to also visit Maehringen, where another distant cousin, Willi Bauer of Jettenburg, took us all around the area, including the wonderful church in Maehringen where no doubt Daniel Grauer once worshipped. I have kept in frequent contact with Ruediger, especially since his work often brings him to the US. He has stayed with us in Connecticut and we visited with him and his wife not long ago in Munich.
Some Remaining Mysteries
While my contact with my relatives in Germany has answered many questions about family and ancestors, there are many questions still remaining. Here are some:
- Why did Daniel Grauer settle near Niagara Falls? I believe it wasn’t just availability of inexpensive farmland or easy travel on the Erie Canal. I think someone from the Maehringen area preceded him, probably John Keinath who was definitely there when Daniel arrived but disappeared a few years later, possibly to Ohio. Does anyone have any information of a John Keinath who may have fit this description?
- What happened to Daniel’s brother-in-law, George Ruckwied, and his two sisters, who came on the ship with Daniel? George bought property jointly with Daniel but then disappeared. Did he change his last name to something else? Did he move elsewhere or even back to Germany?
I feel fortunate that I have been able to make such a strong connection with family members in Germany, as well as the many US Grauer family members with whom I have come into contact through my genealogy research. I look forward to sharing information and learning even more about the Grauer family in the future.
Richard (Dick) Kreitner
578 Putting Green Ln
Oxford, CT 06478
Dick, thank you very much for the great contribution on my website. I hope to see you and Debbie some time soon.