The Buckreus Family
Kathy (Buckreus) O'Brien:


The oldest, and perhaps most curious tradition was written down by my great aunt Adele:

Great-great grandfather Buckreus [the father of our immigrant ancestor] was one of a family of 20 children. They were never all at home at the same time. He left when a young man and became a guard at the Russian Palace. He fell in love with a girl of the royal family. They ran away and were married. Had 2 children when she was found by men sent out by her father. She and the children were taken home. He went back to Germany and was married again. There were 3 sons of this union: Lawrence, Andrew and great-grandfather John Buckreus. John was a graduate of Leipzig University. He married Eva Margaret Geiger from Bamberg, Germany. He lived in the Nurnberg area.

We may never know how much of this is true. Some details have been substantiated, and others proven false. John did indeed have brothers named Lorenz and Andreas. His wife, Eva Margaret Geiger, was born in the archdiocese of Bamberg. He was born in the same town as his wife, however, not near Nürnberg. We should know in the next few months if his father had 19 siblings.


Before leaving Bavaria, John was given a special crucifix by a brother or uncle who was a monk. This cross was carved from wood, about a foot in length. It had a slot in the back that was traditionally used by lovers to pass notes. I wonder what became of it…


Living in makeshift quarters on the Baumann homestead must have been very difficult for Eva. She was nearly 40 years old with 4 children under the age of five, trying to make a civilized, God-fearing life in the middle of the wilderness. How do you keep your children clean and respectable in a house that was nothing more than a few rough boards nailed between 3 living trees and a dirt floor? Did she worry about the Indians camped nearby?

After a year and a half, her patience wore thin and she informed her husband it was time to move into town. He would have nothing of it, however. Finally, he swore an oath to stay put until the Lord decided they should return to civilization. That night, lightening struck the little shack. They were soon townsfolk again.


There are several stories related to the local Indians. Evidently, there was an uneasy peace between the original occupants and the newcomers. The Indian men would sometimes come into town and drink too much to walk back to their encampment on Pike Lake. Without invitation, they would come into the little Buckreus home and sleep overnight on the floor. The family thought it prudent not to object.

John Sr. and his son did quite well one day searching for hickory nuts in the woods. After collecting several full bags, they sat down to rest before returning home. Along came a few Indians who remarked on how much they liked nuts. The weary gatherers went home empty handed, but safe.


John Sr. bought the land at the corner of Rossman and Main in 1859, and soon had a home built for his family. By 1860 the home was finished, and he set about planting cherry trees in the back. His son, John A., about 4 years old at this time, kept getting underfoot so his father set him to work planting fir saplings in the front yard. They are still there, hundreds of feet tall, and 140 years old.

John's acquisition of this land was partially through barter. He built a barn for Nicholas Simon, and in exchange the purchase price was reduced to $50 dollars.


John A. didn't marry until he was 30 years old, evidently spending a few years exploring the world before settling down. It is said he was employed as a musician on riverboats, worked in a furniture factory (perhaps in Milwaukee?) and homesteaded in South Dakota. There is little to show of his adventures, sad to say.

His daughter Adele took care of his financial matters during the last few years of his life. It was during this time a letter arrived stating John owed a significant amount of money in back taxes on land he owned in South Dakota. He must either pay the debt or sign the document relinquishing his claim. As power of attorney, she quickly signed it and sent it on its way. As it turned out, the land was worth a great deal of money. A city had grown up around it, and it was now in the downtown area. I wonder what city it was…


In his later years John A. and his friends enjoyed meeting the train every day, followed by a bit of camaraderie at their favorite saloon. The custom was repeated daily no matter what the weather. One day his son Dick arrived for a visit, and the sight of his father out in the frigid Wisconsin cold with his coat flapping in the wind upset him. To make matters worse, the coat had no buttons. Being a good son, Dick purchased a fine new coat for his father. To his dismay however, on his next visit he found his father walking down the street with his coat wide open. Why? He had no use for buttons; he LIKED to wear his coat open!


Grandpa (Dick) did quite well for himself for a boy who quit school after the 6th grade to work full-time. He worked his was up from his job as a machinist to managing the Bear Brand Hosiery factory in Gary, Indiana. He seemed to have the Midas touch even when he didn't want it. On the advice of his tax consultant he bought a small farm outside Hartford as a tax shelter. True to form, gravel was discovered on the land and the resulting gravel pit turned the "shelter" into a revenue generator.


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This page was last modified: Sunday, 07-May-2000 01:50:05 MDT

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