The founding of O’Fallon, Missouri was truly the joint enterprise of two German born brothers. It was the older brother, Arnold Krekel, who would purchase 320 acres of land from Francis Smith which adjoined the Keithley plantation, survey his property and lay out its’ original town plat, giving it the name of O’Fallon. His younger brother, Nicholas, would be its’ first resident, Stationmaster, and Postmaster, and take charge of the sale of lots. It would also be because of Nicholas and Mena Krekel’s strong Catholic faith, that Assumption Church would be founded.
Nicholas Krekel had come to O’Fallon on August 6, 1856, and would complete his log house just in time to bring his new wife Wilhelmina Moritz, the daughter of Casper and Sophie Moritz, to their new home on their wedding day, August 15, 1857. Wilhelmina “Mena” Moritz was the daughter of Casper and Sophie Moritz. Born in Bielefeld, Germany, July 17, 1838, she and her family came to America by way of New Orleans during the 1850s, and her family had settled in Florissant. This was a strong Catholic community that had begun coming to America in 1833, and most likely had many families that had connections all the way back to Germany.
Nicholas and Mena Krekel’s first child was a daughter who they named Emma, born in 1858. Nicholas had been appointed Stationmaster on the North Missouri Railroad which began in 1851. Soon after Nicholas was appointed Postmaster of O’Fallon on February 11, 1859, as all Station Agents were also Postmasters. That Christmas their next daughter Bertha was born. And by 1860, he was well on his way to establishing himself as a merchant and running the town’s new Post Office. A young 17 year-old German girl from Hannover named Donetta Kipp was a servant in their home.
In 1861, Nicholas had joined the Union Army, and was serving in Missouri’s Home Guard, in Captain Newstadter’s Company H, as a Private. His brother Arnold, who was a Lt. Colonel in the Home Guard, was not well liked either by some of the Krekel family’s neighbors, and this story which was shared by Julia Darst in the Keithley family papers at the St. Charles County Historical Society recounts a day in the life of O’Fallon during the Civil War: “They marched in front of us, on the road that ran past the house, and they did this regular patrol almost every day.” The Keithley farm was “on the main road” (today’s Main Street) to the south of O’Fallon. The Union soldiers were known as Krekel’s “Deutsch” and the “southern sympathizers like the Keithleys had very little respect. Never the less “Krekel was and there were more Union sympathizers in the O’Fallon area than Southern. He had the perfect right to march his contingent, up and down certain roads. Virtually every morning they did that march.”
The original plat for the City of O’Fallon can be found in the St. Charles County Recorder of Deeds, Plat Book 2, Page 38 & 39, with some interesting landmarks that I think everyone will enjoy. A Public Sale of Lots was held on July 22, 1870, and the plat was officially recorded in 1871.
For more of the story of the Krekel family’s immigration to Missouri see Coming to America
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