Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Henry and Family

While we're waiting for that file describing what happened to Henry Kruse and his family, let's take a look at the snapshot of 1900 from the Federal Census for Tippecanoe County, Indiana. There, Henry's residence is showing at 714 Cincinnati Street in the city of Lafayette.

Henry, a sign painter by trade, lived with his wife of twenty one years, Nellie, and their three sons and two daughters. Already, we know that tragedy had struck the home through the sudden death of their son, Raphael, but the census reveals that his was not the only loss the family suffered. The five children living in the household in 1900 were only half those born to Henry and Nellie. In addition to Raphael, the couple had lost four other children.

Granted, that sometimes was the story for families of that era, for many reasons. It still is, though, something I can't get my head around. How difficult each of those losses must have been, no matter how much the family steeled themselves for such inevitabilities.

The 1900 census listed Henry as being fifty three years of age, having been born in January of 1847. A native of the state, Henry was born to immigrant parents, listed here as originating in Germany. His wife, Nellie, as we already know, was foreign born, herself, an Irish immigrant arriving in Lafayette as a child sometime before the 1860 census was taken. What became of her father, I've yet to determine, though he was already absent by that 1860 census.

The Kruse children included twenty year old Samuel, who may have been named after Nellie's uncle, the man in whose household Nellie and her mom had been listed as "domestic" servants in that 1860 census that had been such a puzzle to me until now. Second-born Theodore followed his brother by two years, and another son, Herbert, trailed him by a year and a half. The two older sons now were employed as clerks in a dry goods store, very possibly the shop owned by one of their Murdock relatives.

A four year gap separated the sons from the daughters, and another three year span between the two sisters provides hints of the absences the family now bore. Older sister Henrietta, born in 1888, and younger sister Laura, born in 1891, completed the family, for their mother, Nellie, was now nearing forty eight years of age, herself.

It was the marriage certificates for some of these children, found at, that helped me determine the full name of their mother, Nellie. Apparently, her given name was either Ellen or—more likely—Helen, with a middle name, according to one sole record, of Gertrude.

How closely Helen-Ellen-Nellie kept in touch with her half-sisters Sarah, Elizabeth and Mary—or her step-brothers from John Stevens' first marriage, James, John Kelly and William—I've yet to determine. In her own obituary, as we've seen, only her half-sisters were mentioned among those surviving her. And yet, for whatever reason, when tragedy struck the Kruse family, apparently there was enough of a connection for her to send a telegram to Fort Wayne to summon the one out-of-town step-brother she had.


  1. Given his brothers and sisters rather hum drum names, Raphael's name seems kind of odd. I wonder what the other "missing siblings" were named?

    Every time i see "tippy canoe" I think Tyler too...strange what the brain does sometimes.

    1. Now, there's a slogan that never lost its ring. I can't help but think of it, either.

  2. he must have been a favorite step brother:)

    1. Either that...or perhaps she needed some advice which she thought he'd be able to give her. It must have been such a terrible experience for a mom to go through. Perhaps the investigation didn't seem as thorough as she thought it might have been, and wanted to check with someone she knew (her step-brother).


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