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Cramer/Bastian Family Genealogy

The Cramers provide us with much color. My great-great-Grandfather John Cramer (Jan Lueken Kramer) was born in 1834 in Weener, a small town on the Ems River in the German region of Ostfriesland (East Frisia). His father was Hinderk Jans Cramer whose profession was given as kupferschmied (coppersmith?). The second of two known children, John Cramer was named for his mother's father Jan Luken, a ships captain born in the late 18th century. He is listed in the Ortsippenbuch OSB-Ihrhove as a baker in the town of Ihrhove, across the river from Ihren. Most of what we know about his life in Germany comes in a letter of introduction from the church in Ihren, where he and his wife Folke Roskomt (Roskam) were married and baptized. This region belonged to the Kingdom of Hanover (home of the British royal family), and was twice part of  Prussia.

John had one sister and one brother that we know of. Catharina Johanna Cramer was born in 1828, and married Baptist preacher Peter De Neui. The Baptists were under constant persecution by the official church of Hanover, and by 1865 the De Neuis had fled to the Netherlands. They arrived in America in 1871, settling in Baileyville, IL, Steamboat Rock, IA and finally George, IA where they are buried. John's brother, Hinderikus Hermannus Cramer was born in 1842. He is not listed in the Ihrhove church records, but is known here in the US. He also settled in Baileyville, IL where he worked as a harness maker. Like his siblings, he died shortly after the turn of the century. He is buried in Forreston, IL.

1863 was a rough year, in which John & Foelke lost a baby daughter in January, and then John's mother that March. As summer approached, John Cramer took his wife and his two-year old son Hinderk Jans Kramer (Henry Cramer) on a 51-day voyage to the US, arriving in New York City on July 9--three days before the draft riots depicted in the recent movie Gangs of New York. By mid-1867 they had set up housekeeping in the Ostfriesian settlement of Polo [Ogle County] Illinois. From there, they moved to Bismark [Platte] Nebraska, where they lived from 1874 to 1894. In 1894, they moved to South Boston, VA and lived in the vicinity of Wolftrap.

Sometime in the 1920's Henry (Hinderk) is said to have developed a mean streak, or may perhaps have gone mad. He broke off relations with his sons, most of whom resettled near Buffalo, NY. His wife also moved out and began rotating among her various children. She died in Danville, VA while living with her daughter Freya and is buried in Holland, NY. Henry (Hinderk) Cramer and his parents John and Foelke Cramer are all buried in the old part of Oak Ridge Cemetery in South Boston [Halifax] VA

Henry's Alsatian wife, Henrietta Bastian Cramer, came from Boston, NY where her grandfather Johann Michael Bastian had brought his family in 1832. Her origins have also become known. Thanks to the hard work of my distant cousin Becky Bastian McCray, we know that the Bastians, originally from Spechbach le Bas, lived for many generations in Froeschwiller, a small town in the Bas-Rhin district of Alsace, a Germanic region of northeast France. Alsace and its southern neighbor, Lorainne, are regions that have been the subject of much fighting between France and Germany over the centuries. Alsatians are german speaking people, but are loyal to France. Froeschwiller's 15 minutes of fame came on August 6, 1870 with the opening battle of the Franco-Prussian War*. While Froeschwiller has an official website online, our distant cousin Jean le Bastian of Metz, France has put a very nice Froeschwiller website online which includes photos of the town and will soon include genealogical information on the Bastians. Stay tuned for more updates.

Henrietta Bastian's mother was Wilhelmina Louisa Zinn (daughter of Friedrich von Zinn) who was from Barntrup, Hanover,  Prussia. She was living with the Cramers on Oaklawn Farm in 1900, and died there in 1907. She is buried beneath a tree down the hill just north of the house.


* - Little thought of in the US, the Franco-Prussian war was provoked by Prussian Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck in a successful bid to unite all of the non-Austrian states of Germany into a single German Empire under Prussian rule. This led in 1871 to the unification of modern Germany (the so-called "Second Reich") with the King of Prussia now elevated to the title of Kaiser over the German Empire. It also led to the establishment of Third French Republic, and to the unification of Italy as we know it today. The German annexation of French provinces Alsace (including Froeschwiller) and Lorainne (including Metz) at the end of this war accellerated tensions leading to World Wars I & II. The Battle of Froeschwiller is also significant in that it demonstrated the futility of Cavalry in the face of breech-loading artillery. It is also a popular scenario for wargames enthusiasts.

Hinderk Jans Kramer (c.1800-after 1842) - All is known is that he was a coppersmith in Weener-kreis-Leer, Ostfriesland, Hanover. (modern day Neidersachsen, Germany) Had three children, Catharina Johanna Cramer De Neui (1828-1907), Jan Luken Cramer (1834-1917) and Hinderikus Hermannus Cramer (1842-1910?).

Jan Luken Cramer (1834-1917) - Born in Weener, liisted as a baker in Ihrhove, he became attached to the Baptist Church in Ihren, possibly through his involvement with wife Foelke Roskam. Emigrated in 1863 living initially in Polo, IL. In 1874, he settled in Columbus, NE with a net worth of $800.00. An 1886 article from the Columbus Democrat has him worth $12,000 with his 200 acre farm. He is also listed as representing Shell Creek Township on the Platte County, NE Board of Supervisors in 1889. Records from Shell Creek Baptist Church near Columbus indicate baptisms for three of the boys in 1885 and 1893. In 1894, John & Foelke arrived in South Boston, VA where they had land on the Banister River near Wolftrap. Buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, South Boston, VA.

Hinderk Jans Cramer (1861-1931) - Born in Ihren, he emigrated with his parents at age 2. Married Henrietta Bastian from Erie County, NY, and operated Oaklawn Farm in South Boston, VA. Died in 1931 after a lengthy estrangement from most of his family. Buried with his parents in Oak Ridge Cemetery, South Boston, VA.

Henry George Cramer (1894-1960) - Born near Bethany, MO in 1894, he grew up on Oaklawn Farm (now 1222 Daniel Trail) in Halifax County, VA. Worked mostly as a carpenter. Married Mary Charlotte "Manie" Crump (1908-1974) of New Kent County. Lived in Roanoke, Lynchburg and Richmond, VA. Died in 1960 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Richmond, VA.

Barbara Evelyn Cramer Cole (1932-present) - Born in Lynchburg, VA, she primarily grew up in Richmond, VA. Still lives on family land in Henrico County near the courthouse. Married to Gilford Allen Cole, Sr. in September 1951. Has served for approximately 45 years as organist at Northside Baptist Church in Mechanicsville, VA.

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