William Kramp finally found success ... in El Dorado County

Written by Joanne Burkett from research taken from Paolo Sioli's History of El Dorado County California, from El Dorado Co. birth, marriage, death and land records and often from interviews.

Christian and Anna Marie Kramp were farmers near Linter, a small village in the Province of Nassau, when their son William Antone was born in 1829, followed by the birth of Phillip on July 2, 1834. Nasssau, once a part of Napoleon's Confederation of the Rhine, had been a part of the German Confederation since 1815.

While the boys worked alongside their parents on the family farm, they managed to complete the country's mandatory eight years of schooling. At the age of 14, upon the completion of their education, the brothers applied themselves full-time to the farm's never-ending chores . However, on Oct. 17, 1852, the Kramp family left Nassau, bound for a new life in America.

Sixteen months after their arrival in Hermon, Mo., William, who was now 25 years old and filled with youthful ambition, left his family behind and took employment as a cook on a wagon train bound for California. The pioneering party consisted of 26 men and three women.

On April 26, 1854, the company reached the Missouri River near the original site of Joseph Robidoux's Blacksnake Hills trading post, a small settlement that had experienced tremendous growth since it's establishment in 1826. Because of its location, it had become the main crossing point for gold rush travelers. The City of St. Joseph had been established at the site just months before William passed through.

On Oct. 27 of the same year, after a journey of 2,000 miles, William arrived in Diamond Springs, just as 200 Missourians had in the summer of 1850.

That party, led by a fellow named McPike, had only planned to use the place for a short resting place, but were seduced by its beauty and abundance of natural resorces, and ended up settling there.

When William arrived in the area, it was already a thriving community with its own post office and express office, and filled with saloons, dry goods stores, churches, stables and blacksmiths, hotels and drug, book and carpentry businesses, as well as Odd Fellows and Masons lodges.

At first, he tried his hand at mining and a few other unrecorded occupations, but soon realized that the end of an era was approaching. The gold was gone. In 1858, William was joined by his brother Phillip, who had remained in Missouri with their parents. The brothers joined forces as equal partners, building a comfortable home and a thriving farm business of nearly 100 acres, known as Kramp Bros., filled with orchards of apples, peaches, plums, pears, apricots, nectarines, cherries, and other fruits. About 20 acres or more were devoted to grapes, which were harvested and turned into wine, often producing as much as 6,000 gallons in a single year. The property also boasted a natural spring.

On Sept. 23 1859, a devastating fire swept through the city of Diamond Springs, but two months later, on Dec. 19, Phillip was married in San Francisco to Catherine Schmidt, a young woman who had also been born in the area of Germany of his own birth. She was the daughter of Jacob and Margaret Schmidt.

On June 24, 1864, Phillip and Catherine welcomed a son, Albert Louis.

In 1872, the brothers registered as foreign-born California voters in the Great Register. However, according to this entry, William was five years older than Phillip. Possibly a mistake.

On April 18, 1873, William registered property with the Bureau of Land Management, as did Phillip nearly 20 years later on March 3, 1890.

On Jan. 31, 1875, Catherine gave birth to William Antone, named for Phillip's brother. Unfortunately, he died two years later on July 19, 1877.

The brothers, as well as Catherine, became members of the El Dorado Grange, No. 178, which later consolidated with the Placerville Grange. They attended Sunday services at Placerville's Episcopal church and counted themselves as faithful Democrats.

The years passed. The Kramp brothers experienced the usual ups and downs of life, but generally prospered and made good lives for themselves, except for one thing. They had not seen their parents since their departure from Missouri.

Then, in 1876, America commemorated its centennial. William celebrated by attending the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. It was estimated that some nine million visitors clamored to the event, which was host to 37 nations and hundreds of industrial exhibits honoring America's 100 years of cultural and industrial progress. Ironically, the 285-acre fair grounds was designed almost exclusively by a 27 year-old German immigrant named Hermann Schwarzmann.

Following William's Philadelphia visit, he made the long desired and much anticipated journey to visit his aging parents, who still resided in Missouri.

Once back home in Diamond Springs, life went on. Young Albert Louis was doted on. He went on to surpass his father and uncle academically. He attended the public school in Diamond Springs until he was 15, then spent the next two years at Placerville Academy and then a year at the Placerville Business Academy that was interrupted by illness.

Both William and nephew Albert Lewis were listed as residents of El Dorado County in the 1892 Great Register. A Daniel Kramp also shows up in the list, but no Phillip. He would have been 58 if he was still alive.

Permission is granted by the author to use or republish this article, but proper attribution to the author -- Joanne Burkett -- is requested.

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