Who were the Kraemers?

There are many Kraemers distributed around the world, but we focus here on the ancestors and descendants of Paul Kraemer and Walburga Stangl who came from the small village of Irlach in the Oberpfalz region of Bavaria, Germany. We refer to them elsewhere as the “Wisconsin Kraemers.”

Map of the Waldmunchen County in the Oberpfalz region of Bavaria

Source: Prälat Josef Kraus, Treffelstein: Ein Heimatbuch: Herausgegeben von der Gemeinde Treffelstein, May 1, 1971.

They and their ancestors were not descended from royalty. They were peasants under the rule of a local manor lord. He was not royalty either, but might have been descended from a family that was royalty at one time. Here is a photo of the “seal” of the Resiach Family , which ruled Tiefenbach and surrounding areas (including Irlach) before and during Paul and Walburga’s time.

Seal and signature of the local manor lord in the Tiefenbach area

So the Kraemers do not have a coat of arms. Yet, some ancestry purveyors will provide you with a “Coat of Arms” for the name Kraemer and a “historiography” of famous Kraemers. Below is one sent to Iris Kraemer Umhoefer by Halberts sometime in the 1980s. It might refer to some Kraemers, but definitely not to ours as we know our exact heritage.
Source: Iris Kraemer Umhoefer, 1984.

The meaning of a Kraemer

The literal translation of the name “Kraemer” is shopkeeper. If you travel through Germany today you will see names like KRAEMER GOLD which is a jewelry shop or KRAEMER BAKERI for bakery shop and many others. If you communicate with someone in Germany and they reply in German using your last name, the greeting in a letter or email when translated by Google will say “Dear shopkeeper.” But our Kraemers were not shopkeepers.

So, what were the Kraemers?

From the very first Kraemer that we have found to Paul Kraemer who was the bridge to America, the Kraemers were weavers or weavers and small farmers who raised their own flax for linen weaving. As such they were among the lower peasant class in Germany. In Paul Kraemer’s time, over 50% of tradesmen in Tiefenbach were weavers or in trades related to weaving, such as tailor, dyer, or tanner. One third of weavers were linen weavers which means they used flax to do their weaving. If they had a small farm, the weavers could grow their own flax. If not, they had to buy the flax. Nearly all Kraemers were weavers, but least one was a cigarmaker and another had a restaurant/bar. Two brothers from the cigarmaker immigrated to Minnesota in 1852 and became farmers. Another brother immigrated to St. Cloud in 1862 and worked as a cigarmaker. Later he moved to Los Angeles, California. One Kraemer relative is still a weaver in Tiefenbach today.

Johann Kramer and family, 1983

L>R:Krämer, Helga Krämer, Barbara (Mauerer) Krämer, grandchild and Prof. Dr. Heinrich Reinermann. Source: Heinrich Reinerman, 1983.

Johann Michael Kramer, 2013

L>R: Heinrich Reinermann, Christa Senft, Ken Kraemer, Johann M. Krämer, Georg Ederer, 2013. Source: Willibald Senft, 2013.

Kraemers were Catholic

All of our Kraemers were Catholic. The earliest known Kraemer Johann or “Hanns” Krämer showed up when he got married in the St. Vitus Catholic Church in Tiefenbach, Bavaria in 1649. His was the first entry in the Church marriage book. We estimate that he was born about 1625 but we do not know where he came from. As with many Kraemers today, our ancestors had large families, but many of their children died young as did the wives who gave birth to these children. Tragedy was a constant part of their life from war, pestilence, disease and the simple harshness of life in these times. Everything was done by hand. People walked everywhere. The farm ox was used for fieldwork and hauling firewood, rocks and debris from distant forests.

Johann Kraemer – Barbara Leonard marriage record, 1649, St. Vitus Church, Tiefenbach

Source: Tiefenbach parish marriage register, Volume 1/7, Page 163, Microfiche 7, Regensburg Diocese Archive, 2014. Transcription and translation by Georg J. Blau and Debbie Blau, January 2015.

English translation

On the 17th of May [1649] the honorable Hannss
[Hans = Johann] Kraamer [Kraemer] from
Tiefenbach was married
with the virgin Barbara Leonhard, legitimate
daughter of the honorable Niclass [Nikolaus]
The witnesses: Elias Kiessl and Hanss [Hans =
Johann] Pronold.

German transcription

Den 17 May [1649] ist d’ Ehrbarae Hannß
Kraamer von Tieffen [Tiefenbach]
mit Jungfr’ [Jungfrau] Barbara Leonhardin, deß
Niclassen Leonhards Eheliche Tochter Copulirt
die Testes. Elias Kießl vnd Hanß Pronold.

The progenies of Johann Kraemer and Barbara Leonhard

These first known Kraemers died relatively young, both at the age of 33 in 1658, leaving a son Johann and a daughter Anna. Johann married Margaretta Schaefer and had ten children – five boys and five girls. The five boys and their descendants form six branches of Kraemers shown below. We have conducted research on three of these branches: the Wisconsin Kraemers (blue), Minnesota Kraemers (green) and Tiefenbach Kraemers (orange). We do not researched the other branches as it appears they moved out of the Tiefenbach area.

  • The Wisconsin Kraemers are the Kraemers of Plain, Wisconsin, or the Paul Kraemer line which stems from the earliest known Kraemer to the author of this story, and beyond.
  • The Minnesota Kraemers emigrated to Lake Henry and St. Cloud, Minnesota and later to Los Angeles, California. Ann Kraemer, a lawyer in Minneapolis, is a contemporary.
  • The Tiefenbach Kraemers are comprised of ten generations of weavers who remained in Tiefenbach. Johann Michael Kramer, a weaver, is a contemporary (shown above as is his father).


The Minnesota and Wisconsin Kraemers are closer relatives than the other branches. For more on these cousins, see the story “Are the Kraemers of Wisconsin and Minnesota related?” by Debra Blau and Kenneth L. Kraemer, February 2016.