*The following information is an excerpt from the Troge Family History as told by my Great-Uncle Fred Troge. When I was a young girl, Uncle Fred tried in vain to inspire me to learn about the family and my ancestors. But like most teenagers, my thoughts and inspirations did not lie there. It was only many, many years later that I developed an interest in the family tree and the stories and struggles of our people from the old country.
My greatest thanks goes out to Uncle Fred for leaving behind all of his hard work, including interview tapes, letters, notes, stories, photos, and so much more. I often wish he was still here, so that I could ask him questions, pick his brain, and just sit a while and chat.
Because of Uncle Fred…….The Troge legacy lives on!!
My great-grandfather was August Karl Troge. He was born on 13 Oct 1868, in Riege, Germany (West Prussia). He was the son of August Troge and Henrietta Sack.
As a young man he attended a Lutheran school in Neugoltz, a small village near Riege, until he was fourteen years old. After he left school, he worked at various farm jobs until the age of eighteen. At that time, he went to the Schleswig-Holstein area to work on the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal that was being built. By the time he returned home, he was probably about 22, the year being 1890.
In 1893 while working as a forest ranger in Freudenfier, he met Martha Maria Kratzke. Martha was born in Rederitz, Deutsch-Krone, on April 2, 1875. Her parents were Johann Frederich Kratzke and Anna Klawunn. Her father was a shepherd. Martha attended a Catholic school until the eighth grade when she was fourteen. For a few years Martha worked many different jobs, including as a housemaid, a helper in a saloon and grocery store, an outdoor maid that saw her milking cows, feeding barn animals, and working in the fields and gardens. She was working as a maid in the forest ranger’s home in Freudenfier when she met August. It wasn’t long before the two of them had fallen in love.
Soon after, the couple returned to Rederitz where Martha’s mother lived, and August took a new job working for a commercial fisherman. Before long they had saved a bit of money and decided to marry. She was 18 and he was 25. They were married on October 15, 1893, in a Catholic Church in Zippnow, Prussia.
A few years later, in 1897, August left Martha and their two children behind in Stabitz, and set out to work on the farm of Prince Wilhelm in Halberstadt, some 250 miles away. This must have been a very large farm, because great-grandfather recalled that it had 3,000 oxen and 1500 horses! August’s job was taking care of the oxen and horses, making sure the animals were fed, groomed, and worked every other day.
By the year 1900, August and Martha had four children and were living in Klopstein. Times were tough, and it was a poor life for the little family.Previously, August’s sister, Minnie Deines, had immigrated to the U.S., and was living in Omaha, Nebraska. Hearing wonderful stories about life in America, and looking for a better life for themselves, Martha wrote to Minnie. She suggested that if Minnie would send money for their passage to the U.S., they would bring Minnie’s son Paul to her. Minnie had left Paul behind in the care of his grandparents when she departed some eleven years earlier. Minnie had since married Henry Deines, who had two children by a previous marriage.
After several months of uncertainty, tickets for their passage finally arrived. They boarded the ship at Hamburg, Germany on July 4th 1901. The ship was called “The S.S. Patricia” and Great-grandmother recalls that the decks were decorated with American flags in celebration of Independence Day.
|The S.S. Patricia|
August and Martha were filled with joyous anticipation of this new life in America. They had heard many stories of what they would find there. Some were good, and some not so good; but they were determined to carve out a new for themselves, and nothing would deter them. After a long, cramped voyage, they finally arrived at Ellis Island on July 11, 1901.
They then proceeded to travel west to meet up with the Deines in Nebraska. August held a few different jobs while there, however, none of them really was what he was looking for.
August and Martha stayed in Nebraska for a couple of years, and then decided to move on to Michigan where Martha’s sister, Mathilda (Beyer), lived. In April of 1903, they arrived in Huron County, Michigan, and later moved to Saginaw, to be near Mathilda. About 1905 they moved into a house in Carrollton on Shattuck Rd. It cost $600 and included one acre of land. My grandfather, Frank Martin Troge along with his sister Anna, and brother Ben, attended Mershon School while living there in Carrollton.
August continued to love horses and farming; he had a dream to have a farm of his own. So in March of 1913, he bought a 40 acre farm in Standish, Michigan. Unfortunately, the dream August had was not the same dream his children had. They resisted moving there and disliked his “old world” back-breaking ways when it came to farming methods.
The children, who were now young adults, left home as soon as they were old enough and August was left to manage as best he could by himself. Other difficulties arose, World War I was started, and August soon found himself alone and unhappy. By 1925 he had sold the farm and moved back to the Saginaw area.
In 1926 August and Martha were together again and had managed to save enough money to buy a house on Mershon Street. (I loved visiting that house, it was full of so many interesting things – especially the clock on the buffet that chimed every hour).
Life went on for August and Martha, with times of happiness and struggles, but by 1943 August had suffered a slight stroke, and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The slow deteriorating effects of this disease disrupted his ability to walk by himself, and he needed help to eat and eventually to even turn over in bed. Martha and his son Fred (who lived at home) took care of him as best they could, until his eventual death in a nursing home in 1949.
Martha continued living in the Mershon Street home for several years along with her son Fred who cared for her. In my eyes, she was truly a courageous pioneer woman who bravely left her parents and home behind in Germany to seek out the new world and the promises it held for her and her own family. When Great-grandma Martha passed on October 21, 1970, she left behind a large, loving family who still holds her memory near to their hearts.