William and Elizabeth Krieger Widmann

Elizabeth Christina Krieger

Wilhelm ("William") Freidrich Widmann

Parents: Katherine Naumann and Peter Krieger

Parents: Katherine Fetzer and Konrad Widmann

Born: August 24, 1852 in Gossfelden, Hesse, Germany (birth record)

Born: February 14, 1850 in Zuffenhausen, Wurtemburg, Germany (church record)

Emigrated: May 18, 1868 on the SS Bavaria (list, ship)

Emigrated; May 31, 1867 on the SS Bellona (list, ship)

Married: October 29, 1872 to William Widmann in Waterloo, Iowa (record)

Married: October 29, 1872 to Elizabeth Krieger (record)

Died: January 27, 1927 in Waterloo (Black Hawk County) Iowa of pneumonia (death certificate, obituary, church record)

Died: September 17, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois (ICRR hospital) of pneumonia and cancer (death certificate, obituary, church record)

Interred: Fairview Cemetery in Waterloo, Iowa (picture)

Interred: Fairview Cemetery in Waterloo, Iowa (picture)

Occupation: Machinist and "Assistant Master Mechanic" for the Illinois Central Railroad (photo)

Elizabethís grandfather was a wealthy landowner, but her mother married a shepherd who worked on the family estate and was disowned. Unhappy in Germany, Elizabeth decided, against family wishes, to emigrate alone to America at age 15 (see her personal story as told to her daughter Lulu) to work for her rich uncles. She was the oldest of four children; only brother John followed her to America -- she never saw her parents or other siblings again. Family was dear to Elizabeth; the loss of three of her five children was devastating; so it was a mixed blessing to become a mother again to two young granddaughters at age 62 (Alma's children were 6-year-old Wilma and 2-year-old Eleanor). In winter, she would heat rocks for their muffs for the 4-block walk to school, and always bathed the youngest first in the communal tub in the kitchen. Elizabeth was financially adept, hardworking, devout and devoted, with a heart of gold. The house was staid and quiet, and the Lutheran religion was a very important part of their lives; they never missed weekly services, and conducted devotionals every night at home. They usually spoke German in the home, until World War I (1915-1918). William and Elizabeth celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1922.

William emigrated with his family of 9 in 1867 at age 16. He learned his machinery trade in Zuffenhausen, applying it for over 50 years. After the loss of their first two children, William and Elizabeth moved to Sioux City for ten years, and he had a very successful ornamental iron business (photo) -- son Elmer said that Elizabeth even had a personal driver (horse and carriage -- no cars then!). But a economic recession and a dishonest partner (Adolph Hermann) caused the business to fold; they lost even their house. In 1893 the Widmannís moved back to Waterloo, and later moved just behind the ICRR so William could be handy for all emergencies (he was a top mechanic among 3000 shop workers). He worked until his death at age 75 (a benefit allowed only to the best workers!). Frugal, reserved, simple and trustworthy, William was good with leather (he repaired all their shoes) and wood (he built additions on the house and made doll furniture for his granddaughters). Only after the granddaughters came did he install indoor plumbing -- a bathroom, tub and running hot water! The ICRR sent him to Chicago for treatment for his prostate cancer, but he contracted pneumonia in the hospital and died.

Elizabeth Krieger Widmann

Census data: Civil War, 1870, 1880, 1885, 1890, 1895, 1900, 1905, 1910, 1915, 1920, 1925 p2

1897-1927 Photo Gallery, Golden Anniversary photos

William Widmann

Census data: Civil War, 1870, 1880, 1885, 1890, 1895, 1900, 1905, 1910, 1915, 1920, 1925 p2



Date of Birth, Place

Date of Death, Place

Married - date and to whom

# children

1. Wilhelm Freidrich (photo)

7/23/1873 Waterloo, IA

7/14/1874 Waterloo, IA



2. Carolina Paulina Louisa

2/14/1879 Waterloo, IA

7/23/1880 Waterloo, IA



3. Louise "Lulu" Marie

6/11/1885 Sioux City, IA

1/16/1963 Manning, IA

5/18/1904 Jens Sinn, Waterloo IA


4. Alma Anna Pauline

6/9/1887 Sioux City, IA

3/6/1915, Oelwein, IA

12/25/1905 George Dankenbring


5. Elmer Herman Heinrich (photo)

12/10/1902 Waterloo, IA

7/19/2004, Cedar Rapids, IA

8/7/1929 Jeanette Anna Happel



Alma and Lulu Widmann
How hard it must have been to lose their first two children. Even William's father's grave was described as being just above Will's. Perhaps it was these memories that led Elizabeth and William to adopt Elmer when in their 50s.

The second child Carolina died of "summer complaint" but the cause of death of Will is unknown. Summer complaint was a common fatal disease for babies, a gastro-follicular enteritis involving diarrhea, vomiting and fever. It is thought unlikely that the children's deaths involved complications of the newly-formulated baby formulas, which was associated with many summertime infant deaths due to spoilage of milk left in bottles.

Elmerís birth parents, Lois Miller and Albert Stolt, were married just four months before his birth. Embarrassed by their circumstances, the story is they decided to hide the pregnancy (she drank copious amounts of quinine to attempt to self-abort) and when that didn't work, they decided to give the child up for adoption rather than risk public scorn. The hospital nurse took Elmer to the Lutheran Church, to be sent to the Lutheran orphanage in Fort Dodge. The orphanage was full; the pastor asked William and Elizabeth to care for the one-day old baby temporarily. Perhaps reminded of the son they had lost over 28 years earlier, William and Elizabeth immediately fell in love with the baby, adopted him and baptised him at the Immanuel Lutheran Church on January 4, 1903. They had not planned to tell Elmer he was adopted, but when he was 12 years old Lulu's insisted; Lulu had not thought the adoption was a good idea -- she had considered her parents too old for her, so I can imagine how she felt 17 years later when they decided to be parents again at age 50! Perhaps this is why sister Alma but not Lulu was listed on the baptism record. Elmer knew who his birth-parents were, but never spoke to them although they all lived in Waterloo, and he even delivered newspapers to his birth-father's office! His birth-parents went on to have another son and a daughter, who never knew of their brother Elmer (census: 1910?, 1920, 1930). In 2001 he contacted his sister-in-law, and although shocked, she and her family were able to verify the story and met with Elmer several times before his death, including his 100th birthday party in 2002 in Sun City, Arizona (DL also attended, with son).

Elmer had traveled to Gossfelden and was warmly received by his mother's Krieger relatives, who took a favorite picture of their home off their wall to give to him.

Obituary: Rev. Elmer H. Widmann -- The Rev. Elmer H. Widmann, 101, died at Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Monday, July 19, 2004 after a brief illness. Memorial services were held Saturday, July 24, at Trinity Lutheran Church by the Revs. Jonathan Offt and Parker Knoll. Burial was in Newhall Lutheran Cemetery, Newhall. Survivors include a son, the Rev. Richard (Eileen) Widmann of San Diego, Calif.; a daughter, Dorothy (Edward) Statton of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; five grandchildren, Jeanette (Terry) Marks of Oregon, Rachel (Joel) Wohfeil and Mary (Steven) Rochester, all of San Diego, Major Jonathan (Mara) Widmann of San Antonio, Texas, and Faith (LCDR Mark) Lakamp of Ramona, Calif.; 17 great- grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild and a niece, Jan (Will) Jorgenson. He was preceded in death by his parents, and his wife, Jeanette, in 1938. Elmer was born Dec. 10, 1902 in Waterloo, Iowa the son of William and Elizabeth Krueger Widmann. He married Jeanette A. Happel on Aug. 9, 1929 in Vinton, Iowa. Elmer was a graduate of Concordia College in St. Paul, Minn., and Concordia Theological Seminary, in St. Louis. Mo. and was the last living graduate from the class of 1928. Elmer served his pastorates in St. Louis, Mo., Iona, Minn., Ute, Iowa, Ogden, Iowa, formerly, Trinity Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids from 1948- 1959, Ventura, Iowa and Hampton, Iowa. He was very dedicated to serving God and the Lutheran Churches he served in. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. Memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church or the International Lutheran Hour. Turner West Funeral Home in charge of arrangements. A message, tribute, or memorial to the family may be left on the funeral home web page, www.turnerfunerals.com under Obituaries.

1873-1902 directory listings for Widmann in Waterloo and Sioux City.

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