Pierre "Pete" Klein Family History

Back row: Emile, Hattie, Camile
Front row: Henry, Pete, Maggie, Justine, John

The following history is from transcripts of three letters from Henry Klein, son of Pete Klein, in his senior years. I had a difficult time reading his writing so in a few places I just left blanks. There are also places where he thinks he is talking to his sister Maggie. Please keep in mind that he was suffering from dimensia when he wrote the last two letters.

The first letter was written by Henry to his brother, Camile on September 16, 1971.

Note from Webmaster: The following letter is not in chronological order. I was going to revise it so it would be in date order, but some of the dates appear to be inaccurate so I left it alone.

Pierre Klein was born on July 11, 1854 in Pouree, France.

Marie Justin Chouzy was born in Brussels, Belgium on August 6, 1855.

Pierre and Justine were married in Pouree on May 30, 1875 by the mayor. A short time later the marriage ceremony was again performed in the Catholic church as was the custom then.

They lived in Pouree a short time, then moved to Paris where they lived for 10 years. Pierre was a leather salesman at that time, doing good. Pierre and Justine Klein with their children, born on French soil, Helen, Emile, Camile, and Hattie-the youngest was 6 months old.

Hattie was born in France on December 2, 1886.

They left Antwerp Belgium in August 1886 on the ship LaTourain for U.S., leaving numerous relatives and friends and came directly to St. Paul Kansas. Arriving late in August, through Uncle John Klein, they rented a farm near Greenbush, then called "Osage Mission".

In 1891, they moved from the Goff place to a 320-acre farm six miles east of Girard.

A son, Henry William, was born on a farm called the Goff place in 1892. Helen, age 10, (born in France), and Pete, who was 4, and was born near Osage Mission, both died of typhoid during an epidemic in 1892 and were buried in the church cemetery at Greenbush.

In 1894, a son, John, was born on this place.

In 1900 they moved to an 80-acre farm near Frontenac Kansas. This place was their most successful and happiest since they came to the U.S. in 1900. A daughter, Maggie, was born on this place. Maggie was born near Frontenac on September 22, 1900, possibly 1901.

Pierre passed away on January 10, 1935 in Frontenac Kansas. Then mother (Justine) made her home with us (Henry) in Newton, Kansas until her death on November 11, 1949.

Both are buried in Mount Olive Cemetary, Pittsburg, KS.

Next Letter - Undated

In July 1887, my dad, Pierre Klein, decided to come to America. They owned their home outside of Paris, sold everything, home and all except the stove and packed up to come to America which was brought to the seaport LaHarves by dray wagons to everything was horses as they were bringing street cars at that time everything was packed for the trip for America as dad had wrote to Uncle Wagoner and this uncle told him to try Kansas as land was cheaper in Kansas so he wrote to Uncle John Klein in St. Paul and land there was much cheaper in Kansas anyway it was so he decided to come to Kansas so they left for U.S. from LaHarve on the ocean liner LaTourine. Many people came to see them off and waved until they were away from the port. They were eight days on water.

After arriving in New York they had to wait three hours for a pilot who went out in a rowboat to bring the big ship in to port as there are mountains in the ocean and pilots know just how to get around them. At that, Mom and Dad had four children: Emile was 4, Camile 2, Hattie 6 months. The ship furnished maids for children. Arriving in New York, they took the NYC for St Louis, then the MKT for St. Paul and Uncle John Klein was not there to meet them so some fellow who talked French told dad not to worry, as this John Klein was very dependable and would soon be here so mother and kids waited in the waiting room.

Finally here come Uncle John, and they loaded up our family to go to Uncle John's farm, arriving there, they got a lovely welcome from Aunt Kate. Our family had to stay there several months before they could find an equipped farm to move on and then everything was unloaded and they began.

First they told to plant caster beans. They raised those beans and no sale from them, plus thirteen months work per year (?). Mother said after she saw Kansas with its large fields with nothing on she wanted to go back to France for keeps but dad had spent most of his money buying equipment for the farm and didn't have enough money to go back to France and they are still here. Dad rented other farm with no success. The people told him what to plant and in all it was wrong and could not grow what they told him to. They got jealous and didn't want him to make it here as he was of a different religion and they were different religion and they didn't want him to make it here. Also Uncle John was in the bunch also. The priest, if you was not a Catholic, one didn't have much luck on one of these farms he rented.

The water was bad and we lost two children, a girl about 10 or 12 years old and also a boy 4 years old so they moved away and rented the Goff farm one mile south and one mile west of Greenbush. There everything was okay-good land and a good pond for fishing. Dad had a shotgun and could shoot their game and wild ducks and geese were plentiful. He had a few cattle and made a little money there besides everything else. That is the place I was born June 4, 1892. I was a sickly brat for a while. The priest would come to see me and one day he took mother out in the pasture and showed her some weeds to pick and make a tea out of them and she did and I got well in good shape after that deal.

After that, dad moved on the Redland place-320 acres and a creek with plenty of water. All kinds of fruit and game. No chance of getting hungry there. Dad figured that would be a good place to raise cattle there and he built his herd up to 300. 800 hogs, 28 horses. Everything looked great, then the market went to pieces and the bottom drop out of everything and all that was sold at a loss.

Emile was big enough to do farm work and he did-corn, wheat, oats, hay. Flax was plentiful with no price on it. That was the ___ luck had at that time. We had a drought at that time and farmers came and pumped water from our well, which could be pumped dry. That was 1899. I was small at that time-7 years old and that year dad had a sunstroke and was in bed 3 months and everything went to pieces. Dad sold off all he could at a loss and ___ we was almost broke.

There was an immense ___ tree. We call it the big tree and you was scared of it because there had been five horse thieves hung on it one day. You was seven years old then, had on a red dress and an old steer chased you and you run to this big tree for protection and the old steer went off and let you alone.

About that time U.S. declared war on Spain. Things went up a little to late for us as dad had sold everything he could at a loss so he bought the farm where you were raised. Well you was around 12 years old and we were broke. Emile did the farm work and Camile worked for George Brown $12 per month room and board so things went to looking a little better. Dad got to feeling better and could do most of the farm work. Emile went to work nights in old No. 5 mine pumping water and then had a little money of his own and finally went to work in this mine. If you remember you had only one good dress and mother washed it so you would have a clean dress to go to school Mondays.

Anyway Emile gave mother and dad money so they bought clothes and looked good. Of course, us kids got benefit from it too. Finally dad paid the mining company off for this place which was $1208.00. Everything looked good. Emile and Camile both worked in No. 7 Kirkwood mine. Made $2.50 per day a piece and everything looked good. The mining company moved and built houses there was not long until there was quite a camp there. We sold them milk and you and I delivered and then Blockyar built a saloon and dance hall. You and our brothers went and had a good time at the dances there. You were sweet 16 and that was in 1904 and you can add to this as you were there. That was the year we had the cyclone that destroyed everything. We had fortunately the mining company bought 6 acres from dad at a good price so we had money to build everything and No. 9 mine was built at the south corner of our farm. They had a good blacksmith shop and dad could get any of that kind of work done for nothing. We also got all the coal just for just for picking it up. Crops were good at that time and we were prosperous. More than you could add or take away as you were there. Remember me, you and Hattie delivered milk with a cart a black horse named Nellie. You remember Brick Barker, Jim Tobacco of those days. Maybe you can add something to this. You were there at that time.

Letter dated April 16, 1984

This all happened August 5, 1904. The mining company bought 6 acres of land to put the mine on and track for the loaded coal cars. Paid dad 5 times what it cost him. Anyway prosperity was on our side. The mine hole was dug down to the coal, 110 feet and they were now building the tipple and getting the machinery all in place to bring this coal out of the ground and it s a good vein of coal, then they dug another hole just as deep to ventilate the mine. Anyway looked like prosperity was on our side. Crops good. Garden very good. Cattle 45 and horses 8, milk cows 8, chickens 300. Sold eggs by the crate, sold milk and garden vegetables. Everything looked like prosperity was at hand. Emile was a pumper at No. 5. _____ paid mother board and Camile also had a job at the mine and he made money, how much I don't know. Dad often in the evening went to the mine to visit with the watchman and engineer. This evening it was about midnight when he got home. He says to mother, we are going to have a bad rain as big ugly clouds are in the northwest. Anyway he said the stock was all inside. As far as he knew all was safe. Then he went to bed. I will remember the wind blowed hard. The house stood still then a much harder blow came and the house started to move, breaking off boards and the shingles and chimney broke off, making a terrible noise. By that time I was awake and heard it all. Also hear the cattle howling then the wind stopped and we all, except Emile, took for the cave in a lightening flash showed us the well curb was gone or some of us might of (sic) went in the well, now we knew how to get to the cave. It was made of railroad ties and was really solid, but not waterproof. Anyway we stay there until daylight. Before that, mother went to take the mattress off of Maggie. Just about 4 and all she had on was just a sheet.

Anyway when daylight came, we looked out. Everything gone, house badly damaged, barn gone, all other small buildings gone, no chickens in the hen house, all were scattered for miles with feathers blown off, not a horse or stock was hurt, hogs O.K. The house was lopsided, shingles all blowed off, chimney gone and a new buggy was torn to pieces. Oh yes, we told Emile the house was damaged to come to the cave. He said he was going to sleep. He soon got up when the hard rain came and made it for the cave. We have to make a fire place out of racks and find some dry wood before mother could get us some breakfast. Oh yes, we also had 8 stacks of hay in the prairie, not a straw was left. Didn't seem to of (sic) hurt the corn, as oats, so dad had the house straightened and build on to it as you can see it now and built a much larger barn with hay upstairs, a driveway in the center, horses on one side and cattle on the other side.

August 84 (no day recorded)

I left off where I was in the baby high chair. There was two stand tables to put flowers. Am guess all they had was sunflowers until dad moved on this 320 acre place. There was rosebushes on it and mother loved roses. We had plenty of them about the boat they came over was a long and slim. This was the shape of it (very elementary boat shape drawn here by henry). It was all steam engines and it done very well to come across the ocean in eight days. Then everything, their things, was transferred to train baggage cars, and ready to be shipped to St. Paul by the New York Central Railroad to St. Louis then to St. Paul by MKT, then they rented a farm quite awhile getting one and moved several times, finally got this 320 acre farm with a creek that was full of wild fruit and the water was full of fish, frogs, most anything one would want to eat. One could live off of this creek and it had its high water. One time during high water our dog tried to cross this creek and got caught in limbs and could not get out. Dad watched this dog trying to get loose, then said I am not (letting) our dog perish out there so he jumped in this swift water and got our dog loose. Camile was there at that time. Of course, he was too small to try such an ordeal and we had that dog for a number of years afterward. (Another boat drawing) Tried to draw a better picture of the boat they came on and I messed it up. After moving on the place near Frontenac, there was nothing on this land so dad had a house built, two large rooms and we moved in. No well. We got our water from the neighbors well and sled with a barrel on it and pulled by a horse. We had quite a time for water.

Friday 13, 1984 Well this is our second day without rain, only nice sunshine and we can use it. Gibo came to see me today, then went on to Florence to see his sis and husband and he wants to take me to Newton for tomorrow. Think I will go for now. Well we have moved in on the new place. Nothing on it. Only a prove of persimmon trees and one elm near the KCS tracks. We kids could look at a lot of freight trains and 2 passenger trains go by. Something we didn't see on the large farm. Anyway dad had the house built. Carpenters left a lot of block for John and me to play with and it was time for dad to put in his crop too. Emile plowed it so he ______ He didn't care to farm so he went to work nights in Old No. 5 Weir. This was the only revenue we had coming in. Then Camile got a job at George Brown's as hired hand--$12 per month and board. Made a little more revenues. Then Emile gave mother $20 per month for board and some of that was used to put us kids in school and Emile had money left so he dressed up and looked good. The KCS put in new ties so dad took the old ones and split them for fence posts. It was rough but we made it one winter. Hattie only had one school dress and it was washed every weekend for the next week of school. Us boys got by much better. The few first years on this place were rough but we had a fair crop of corn; all kinds of grain, as for hogs to sell and steers and we started to come out it then had to build a barn, chicken house, dig a well, and everything a farmer needed so again that took our surplus money but we had plenty to eat. God harden, hog butchered and we commenced to fatten up and had plenty of clothes for us all. We were not alone as all our neighbors were like us.

Undated letter

Dad moved on this 320 acre place. I don't remember it. I guess I was too small but I will remember living there, the house was a large one room house, plenty of room for all our furniture, two beds, kitchen furniture and a large cook stove, heating stove, cupboards and it did not work out good to put another bed in there. The barn was a dandy-good floor and walls were tight so dad put a bed up there for Emile and Camel so that is where they slept winter and summer. The kitchen utensils were from France and had to be scoured often. They didn't stay bright. Emile had quite a time in school, but he taught the others English out of school. Mother made our clothes at that time and was good at it. She had about the best sewing machine in the country and she really knew how to use it and it made a lot of noise but it really sewed. Oh yes, the cook stove had a large fountain on the back end and we all had plenty of warm water to wash in. Washing machines were unknown then so it had to be done on a washboard. Oh yes, in France they had a water pump near the house and a good 4 room house which was all sold to come to America. Outside of Paris as mother didn't feel good living in town. Everything done by hand and walked everywhere. Will try and think of more later.

Next Undated letter

I think where I left off was about the table which was long and wide, well made to seat 8 in addition was a baby chair well-made with a latch that a baby could not open also two large trunks made out of strong light wood. Think brother John still has one in his shed outside the house. I remember a picture of the boat they came on a long light colored boat called Latourine. I sure would love to have this picture now. Guess it was destroyed. Mother had a lot of jewelry in jars of her younger days also picture of dad in his high French hat and a beard. They must of (sic) been sporty in their younger days also two beautiful rings Maggie wore them when she left home. Where they are no one knows. All of mother's clothes were silk as silk was cheaper than cotton at that time. She also had a small Eugene hat called a capot like the queen of France wore at that time. And they went to town in these clothes to Girard or St. Paul in a lumber wagon.


That is the end of the letters that I have from Henry Klein. In the letters, Henry states that they came on a ship called the LaTourine, but Crawford County records state the ship's name was the "Bretagne". Pete Klein had a total of 10 children according to the 1900 census. At the time of the census, Justine said she had borne 10 children, 6 of whom were living at the time. Two of the children that were mentioned in Henry's letters as having died from "bad water" were Peter and Mary. Then there was Hattie and Maggie (Henrietta and Margaret) who disappeared. I cannot find a date for their disappearance. The year may have been 1916, but I cannot verify the accuracy of that date. The only children of Pete Klein that I knew of were: Camile, Emile, Henry, and John. John was my grandfather. If there were an additional two children, anyone who would have known of them is long deceased.

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