The Marriage of William Charles Kreie and Elida Wilhelmina Christina Hollander

Besides having the commonalities of living in Manitowoc Co., Wisconsin, and being of German heritage, it is not known how William and Elida met. Perhaps it was through a German club or through church or perhaps meeting on the streets of Manitowoc.

The following was taken from a '50 Years Ago' art icle presumably from a Manitowoc, Wisconsin, newspaper. There was a handwritten date of September 19, 1901, written on the newspaper clipping.

William Kreie and Miss Elida Hollander, Well known young people of the city, have been granted a license to wed.

William and Elida were married in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, on 24 September 1902, though whether the marriage occurred in a church or at a home is not known. It is also not known who else might have attended the nuptials.

Wedding photo of Elida Wilhelmina Christina Hollander and William Charles Kreie.

Wedding photo of Elida Wilhelmina Christina Hollander and William Charles Kreie.

In 1906 William, employed by the Chicago & North Western Line, was promoted from fireman to engineer and was based in Antigo, Wisconsin, through most of his career, except for a brief time in Wausau, Wisconsin. What caused the couple to move to Antigo from Manitowoc and when that happened is not known. It seems likely that William's employment on the railroad led him to be stationed in Antigo, a well-known railroad hub at the time. (See Appendix 7 for history of Antigo, Wisconsin.)

To provide detail about William's occupations as a fireman an engineer on a steam locomotive, the following was taken from Wikipedia:

Early railway transportation relied upon steam engines to power railway locomotives - large coal-fired boilers which generated motive power through the manipulation of concentrated steam. These boilers required a regular input of fuel to keep the train fired up and running. It was the task of so-called locomotive firemen to shovel coal into a train engine's firebox through a narrow opening, thereby feeding the fire.

The job of a locomotive fireman was physically demanding - strenuous, filthy, and dangerous. Although by no means a highly skilled task, locomotive firemen nevertheless needed to develop not only physical prowess, moving heavy coal on a swaying platform, but also a certain job savvy, estimating the engine's burn rate and future fuel needs, making sure that water was continuously in the boiler to avoid an explosion, and ensuring that coal was sufficiently and properly spread in the firebox to ensure the locomotive's efficient operation.
A locomotive's fireman worked in a tandem with the train's engineer, serving in a subordinate role as his assistant. Firemen were in practice often engineers-in-training, learning the skills of train operation and assisting the engineer with the observation of signals and other routine aspects of his job performance, waiting for a job opportunity for promotion.

Locomotive firemen were, consequently, lower paid and of lower status than the highly paid railroad engineers - although both of these were actually subordinate to the train's conductor. It was the conductor, not the locomotive engineer, who was most comparable to the captain of a ship. The conductor oversaw the crew and assigned them their mission, made sure the train ran on schedule, inspected car couplings, arranged for the train to maintain adequate supplies, collected passenger fares, and supervised the train's freight documentation. Conductors acted as both supervisors and traveling clerks and were in practice the figures of the highest authority on a train. Locomotive fireman generally received but half the salary of a conductor or engineer and shared in none of their authority.

Despite the hard nature of the work process, their low professional status, and their mediocre pay, locomotive firemen performed very dangerous jobs. Boiler explosions and other railway accidents made railroad work among the most deadly in America at the end of the 19th Century, with an annual fatality rate in the early 1890s of approximately 9 per 1,000 workers - higher even than the 7.8 per 1,000 fatality rate suffered by hard rock miners in the Western United States. Non-fatal workplace accidents were also endemic among railroad workers, with one study by the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics determining that railroad workers suffered more than half the broken arms and ribs, and 71 percent of all arms and legs amputated as the result of mishaps on the job.

William and Elicia's first and only male child, Edward George, was born on 18 April 1906 in Antigo, Langlade Co., Wisconsin.

In 1908, William and Elida obtained custody of one year-old child named Lester Manford Kiefert through the Children's Home Finding Association of Appleton, Wisconsin. He had been abandoned by his father Charles and given up by his mother Maggie. The baby had been born on 6 November 1907, in Barron, Barron Co., Wisconsin. Although the baby was never legally adopted by William and Elida, he was raised by them and was known by the name of Clarence Robert Kreie rather than by his birth name. It is unknown why Clarence was brought into the family or why he was never formally adopted. He was always considered a "brother" by the rest of the children.

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