The Kroeff's

True Pioneers in the City That Became the Bratwurst Capitol



    Top Row - From Left to Right: John Kroeff Jr., Mary Kroeff Knauf, Frank Kroeff,
Anna Kroeff Liebl, George Kroeff.
 Bottom Row - Left to Right: Jenny Kroeff Ulrich, Ursela Somersberger Kroeff,
 John Kroeff, Josephine Kroeff Gage.

John Kroeff , who for more than forty years was actively engaged in the operation of a cooper shop in Sheboygan but is now living retired was born in Germany, on the 8th of November 1830. He is the son of John and Kate (Jergen) Kroeff , who passed their entire lives in Germany, where the father followed the slate-roofing trade. Reared in a home of comfortable circumstances John Kroeff obtained his early education in Catholic Parochial schools, following which he attended a seminary for two years. At the expiration of that time he laid aside his text books and learned the slator's trade, which he followed until he was twenty-two years of age. Feeling dissatisfaction with conditions as he found them in his native land, he decided to come to America where he had been told many excellent opportunities awaited enterprising and ambitious young men, His father refused to provide him with the means necessary to defray the expenses of the journey, he worked his passage from Holland to New York City. Upon his arrival in the American metropolis, his capitol consisted of two dollars, but within a few hours he was robbed and left penniless in a strange land. This experience tended to shorten his stay in New York City and the next day he obtained employment on a ship bound for Chicago. Being unfamiliar with the customs and language of the country it was necessary for him to accept any employment that afforded him the means of earning a livelihood, so he obtained temporary work at the docks of one of the Chicago transportation companies loading boats. Later he entered a cooper shop, where he learned the trade, remaining in the service of the company for two years. He next entered into a contract with a man in Chicago to go to Mackinac island and make fish barrels. He remained there for about a year, and in the spring came to Sheboygan. Together with a friend he bought some lots on Michigan street and erected a cooper shop, that they operated for three years. Mr. Kroeff then disposed of his interest in the business to his nephew and bought some lots on the corner of Twelfth and Superior streets and established a shop that he conducted for over forty-two years. He met with very good success and built up an excellent trade, employing on an average from eight to ten men. Having reached the age of more than seventy years , he disposed of his factory,  withdrawing from active work and lived retired.

In the early days if the Civil war, in 1861, Mr. Kroeff was drafted into the Union army, but was released from service because of an injury sustained in boyhood. In the city of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, on the 19th of June, 1856, Mr. Kroeff was united in marriage to Miss Ursula Sommersberger, a daughter of Joseph and Mary Sommersberger, natives of Germany, who emigrated to the United States in 1851 and located on Pigeon river, this county, where they both passed away. Mrs. Kroeff is also deceased, her death having occurred on April 9, 1909. Nine children were born to Mr. And Mrs. Kroeff, as follows: Maria, who died in infancy; Maria, the wife of William Knauf, of Sheboygan; Anna, who married George Liebl, of Sheboygan; Josephine, the widow of Lawson Gage; Jenny , who became the wife of Charles Ullrich, also of this city; John , who lived at home with his father; Margaret, who was a nun in the Roman Catholic church; George, who was engaged in the tailoring business in Sheboygan; and Frank, who was in the coal and wood business at Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Taken from: HISTORY OF SHEBOYGAN COUNTY, WISCONSIN 1912 VOLUME 1 - Carl Ziller, Author

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