Irlach viewed from Waldmünchen
Irlach and Tiefenbach are the two most important places in Germany related to the history of the Kraemers from Plain, Wisconsin. Irlach is a small farming village and Tiefenbach is a larger town, both in Bavaria, Germany near the border with the Czech Republic. The map below shows the location of Munich and Tiefenbach within Germany and also shows the distribution of the surname Krämer in different counties within Germany.
Between Munich and Tiefenbach is the beautiful, well-preserved medieval city of Regensburg. It was a Roman city more than 2000 years ago and fragments of an original Roman wall can be found there. The home of the former Bishop of Regensburg is now the colorful Bishopshof Hof (Bishops House Hotel where one can stay for a day or so in old surroundings. The Catholic Diocese archives containing original birth, marriage and death records for Irlach and Tiefenbach are also located in Regensburg. And there are many small streets lined with interesting shops that lead one to larger squares with more modern stores, open-air cafes and something happening. Brats at the bridge over the Danube is a must for visitors. Regensburg is a modern city with picturesque old sections and well worth a day’s stop.
Tiefenbach is important because the first Kraemer of our family line appeared in Tiefenbach in 1649 when he was married there in the St. Vitus Church. Tiefenbach and Irlach had originally been Catholic communities since the days of the Holy Roman Empire, but the Protestant Reformation changed that and they became Lutheran communities because their ruler was Lutheran. In 1648, with the end of the Thirty Years War between Protestant and Catholic rulers, Tiefenbach became Catholic once again. Johann Krämer’s pew marker still exists in the St. Vitus Church. There were so many Johann Krämers that we don’t know which one this marker represents – but just think, it “could be” the pew marker for the very first Kraemer that we know of from 1649.
It is unlikely that our first known Kraemer, Johann “Hanns” Krämer, had been living in Tiefenbach long before the marriage because the town had been Lutheran. We do not know where he came from, but it is likely that he came from some area that had remained Catholic during all the War years. From the time of his wedding to Paul Kraemer, all of our Kraemers came from Tiefenbach or one of its surrounding villages such as Irlach. Tiefenbach was important because it was the center for the Catholic Parish and the center for the Duke who was the key landowner and ruled over the area.
Economically, it was a center for weaving of all kinds, but especially for linen weaving. Over one-half of all tradesmen were engaged in weaving or weaving-related occupations such as dyer, tanner, leather- maker and tailor. Other tradesmen were masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, millers, shopkeepers and so on. The small farms surrounding the town and villages grew the flax that was used for linen weaving. Weaving was at the bottom in the hierarchy of trades so the weavers of Tiefenbach were not wealthy. In fact, there were generally poor. Weaving was a craft activity carried out in people’s homes with children helping. The weaving looms were crude and often made by the weaver himself. Sons were trained by their fathers and the craft was passed down for generations. Some weavers became master weavers, which meant they could train apprentices and be paid for sharing their craft. Everything was going along more or less smoothly until the industrial revolution hit Germany in the 1850s and the industry went into decline. Today, Tiefenbach is a picturesque tourist town with a nice church, traditional German restaurant/hotel, a few shops and the Tiefenbach Community Archive where one might find historical documents about families who lived there. Today, there are only two weavers remaining in Tiefenbach – a Kraemer and a Hutter.
Irlach is a small village, which has a small church, about 50 houses and a few farms on the edges of the village. The main attractions are the place where the Kraemers lived, the house across the street where Paul Kraemer’s mother lived, and the house behind the Kraemers where the Blattmeiers whose ancestors bought the farm from Paul Kraemer now live. Outside the village are fields and a forest that Paul Kraemer and some of his ancestors once owned. The area around Irlach is very picturesque.
The Paul Kraemer house at #27 Irlach is shown below as it looked in 1983 before it was tore down. It shows the original house and stable.
Although Irlach and Tiefenbach are the two focal places for Kraemers, some of them or their spouses came from villages of Altenschneeberg, Hoffeld, Haag, Heinrichskirchen, Treffelstein, Ast and Biberbach. To learn more, see Wisconsin Kraemers: I. The old world of Bavaria, 2015.