!24 December 1998>
The Case of the MYSTERIOUS ORPHAN
"And WHO is CLARA KREIGER, Momma???"
"Oh, CLARA KREIGER was some orphan they brought over from Germany. No one knows who she was, or even if she was related to us. I remember hearing that they had to put her in an orphanage."
Another Family Mystery... WHO was CLARA KREIGER? Whatever became of her???
In 1904, Rob POHL (my Grampa), and his brother, Richard, took their mother, Anna WOLKE POHL, back to Germany for a visit. A search for the Passenger List for the return trip was (for once!) successful. Arriving back in Boston on 30 September 1903, the Cunard Line ship IVERNIA's passenger list includes Anna POHL, Robert POHL, Richard POHL and Clara POHL, age about 6. Anna WOLKE POHL died 8 months later, 28 May 1904.
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH ran St Elizabeth's Home, in Roxbury. St Elizabeth's was more than an orphange; it was also a home for Elderly German Ladies and a place where children could be placed temporarily, if their parents couldn't take care of them because of illness, etc. The facility had a small boarding school, and a day-school for the children of the neighborhood, as well as a chapel where services were held for the neighborhool's sizable German-Catholic population..
I was able to find the records of St Elizabeth's Home at the Archives of the Archdiocese of Boston, and learned that Clara "KRIGER" was admitted 28 Jun 1904, at age 7 - that would have been a month after Anna WOLKE POHL died. Clara left the Home on 17 Jun 1914, with Mrs. Barbara HANSCHILD, 12 St. James Street, as "sponsor". Clara would then have been about 17 years of age.
Had Clara "gone into service"?
I searched the 1920 Census for both Clara and Mrs Barbara HANSCHILD, and couldn't find either of them. Had Clara married and left the HANSCHILD house?
Of course, the BIGGEST mystery involves Clara's origins. Rob POHL was quite an amateur photographer; there were many pictures taken on that trip to Germany, and, as you might expect, NONE of them names, dates or locations. It seems reasonable to assume that they visited "WOLKE" relatives on that trip - Anna WOLKE was "born in Berlin", according to Family Lore, but none of the pictures appear to have been taken in a "large urban area". There are many pictures of "family groups" and several groups contain a young girl of "the right age" to be Clara.
This little "mystery" is becoming a real test of Miss Marge Marple's famous Detecting Skills. It's also giving her more grey hairs than she'd care to admit, thank you very much!
Can YOU help? Do YOU have any ideas of where to look next?
This page was updated 4 January 1999.
copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999 - Margaret V Reid