Kraemers: Weaving is in their genes

Toby's Sand Hill Fiber Farm  Tobey’s Sand Hill Fiber Farm

The ancestors of the Kraemers of Plain, Wisconsin  were weavers from at least 1649 to 1866. The chain was broken when Paul Kraemer emigrated from Irlach, Bavaria to Wisconsin and became a full time farmer. Now weaving has been picked up again by modern Kraemers – Brenda Kraemer Tobey and her daughter Alexandra of Tobey’s Sand Hill Fiber Farm in Reedsburg.

And just as the early Kraemers grew their own flax for linen weaving, the Robert Tobey family raise their own sheep, goats and alpaca for wool weaving and even sell their fiber to other weavers. Brenda Tobey is the daughter of Wendell Kraemer, who grew up on the Paul Kraemer home farm just outside Plain in the Town of Franklin.


Brenda has a counterpart in Tiefenbach, Bavaria in Johann Michael Krämer who is a weaver like his father (Johann), grandfather and many others before him. From the 1600s to the 1840s, Tiefenbach was a center for linen weaving. One-half of all tradesmen were employed in the business, mostly as weavers but also as tailors, leather makers, dyers and merchants.  The industrial revolution changed all that as it destroyed the cottage weaving industry. Most weavers had to learn other trades, go into farming or leave town.

Today, Johann Michael Krämer is one of only two weavers remaining in Tiefenbach. Johann’s home is his workshop and he buys his yarn. On weekends, he and his wife Helga travel to city markets to sell their carpets. Brenda and Alexandra also set up shop periodically at local fairs and markets in Wisconsin. Johann’s shop in Tiefenbach was discovered by Ken Kraemer in 1983 when Professor Dr. Heinrich Reinermann helped find the Kraemer ancestors.

The story of the Kraemers (Krämers) over ten generations in Bavaria is told in a recently published book titled Wisconsin Kraemers: I. The old world of Bavaria. It covers Kraemer family history from 1649 to 1866 and includes copies of inheritance, birth, marriage and death records as well as maps, photos and charts showing the location and size of land and other holdings.

Wisconsin Kraemers can be ordered from CreateSpace (,, The old Franklin Township Historical Society (915 Wachter Avenue; P.O. Box 218; Plain, WI 53577; include check for $49.95), or the author for a signed copy (Kenneth L. Kraemer; 12 Harvey Court; Irvine, CA 91617 (include check for $49.95); email

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