The Krauls
On February 6, 1947 the 74-acre property was purchased by Albert Kraul. Due to ill health, Tim Meier
had put the farm up for auction the previous October. For Albert and his wife Margaret, this was a
return to farm life after spending most of the 1930s operating a grocery store and tavern in Rock City.
In the 1920s, the Kraul's had been tenant farmers near Davis.

Albert was a native of Ridott, Illinois, where he was born on April 1, 1897. His parents, John and Dena
(Hippner) Kraul, were tenant farmers in Ridott township. The 1900 U.S. Census shows Albert and his
parents living in a rented farmhouse, along with an infant brother, Arthur.

In 1902, two-year-old Arthur was found dead in a livestock watering tank. Left unattended, he fell
into the tank and somehow drowned in 10 inches of water. Investigators speculated that he knocked
himself unconscious while falling into the tank. The boy was found lying on his back, under the water.

In 1904, Albert's father was burned to death after becoming intoxicated in a Ridott saloon. Rockford
newspapers reported that he went home drunk, spilled kerosene on himself, and the kerosene
somehow ignited. Two weeks after his burial, the county coroner began an inquest and exhumed
John Kraul's body. His death was apparently ruled an accident, although the bartender and saloon
owner were charged with undisclosed crimes related to the incident. Both plead guilty and paid what
would have been hefty fines at that time.

Dena Kraul then filed a $10,000 lawsuit against Charles Rohkar, who allegedly sold John Kraul the
liquor, as well as the B&O Brewery in Freeport, which apparently manufactured the liquor. She had
repeatedly asked the local saloons not to serve alcohol to her husband. After filing the suit, she was
awarded $950, but in 1905 sued for another $3,000 on account of her inability to support herself and
Albert. The second lawsuit was once again brought against Charles Rohkar, as well as the two owners
of the B&O Brewery, Henry Baier and William Ohlendorf. Dena Kraul also separately sued Elijah
Shockey, owner of the saloon where her husband was served the liquor which contributed to his end.

The 1910 U.S. Census shows Albert living with his maternal grandparents, Carl and Louisa Hoepfner
(later referred to as Hippner). Ten years later, Albert was living with his mother in Ridott and was
listed as head of household in the 1920 census.

Albert married Margaret Frances De Groote, of Pecatonica, on February 22, 1923. Margaret was the
daughter of John and Martha (Frey) De Groote. Albert spent at least some of the 1920s as a tenant
farmer, at various times renting the Andrew Flynn farm near Irish Grove and the Wurtz farm on the
south edge of Davis. An advertisement in the Freeport Journal-Standard promoted Albert's closing
out sale on October 9, 1929. The Kraul's then moved into the village of Davis, where according to the
1930 U.S. Census, Albert was a salesman. The Kraul's had no children.

Albert and Margaret would later operate a grocery store in Rock City in the 1930s. Albert had also
been appointed as a state highway maintenance patrolman, serving in that capacity until February
1933. After Prohibition was repealed, Albert was the first to open a tavern in Rock City, next to the
Kraul's grocery store. It's unclear how long the Kraul's operated the grocery store and tavern, but by
1938 the Rockey family had taken over the grocery store. The  U.S. Census, as well as various
newspaper articles, showed Albert as a milk truck driver in 1940. The Kraul's continued to live in the
Rock City and Ridott areas in the 1940s, until purchasing our property in 1947.

In January 1949, the Freeport Journal-Standard advertised Albert's closing out sale. The
advertisement stated that he had rented out the farm for cash, and was selling his half of the farm
assets. Evidently Albert had a share lease that he was winding down, but it's not clear if he was
ending a lease with a tenant, or exiting a lease (or leases) with other owners. Either way, Albert
Kraul's return to farming was brief. Two growing seasons after buying the farm,he sold the property
Glen and Grace Mullican on October 17, 1950. By then, Margaret had developed health issues and
was a frequent visitor of Freeport hospitals.

Margaret died in December 1953, at the age of 50. In July 1956 Albert married Elizabeth Fosler, who
promptly filed for divorce in May 1957. Until his retirement in 1960, Albert worked for the H.A.
Hillmer company, a feed, grain, and farm service company based in Freeport. The same year he
retired, Albert married fellow widower Alice (Coon) Hartwig. Alice died on April 27, 1970.

Albert lived three more years before passing on September 26, 1973. He and Margaret are buried
together in the Saint Paul's Epplyanna Cemetery near Davis.
Above: After the death of Albert's father, his mother sued pretty
much everyone who had anything to do with the alcohol he drank
before he was burned. The above article appeared in the Dixon
Evening Telegraph on September 17, 1904. The article on the right
appeared in the Freeport Daily Journal on February 21, 1905.
Above Left: The B&O Brewery was located on Jackson Street, near Adams Avenue, in Freeport. Above is a
photo of kegs loaded for delivery around 1900. Research by Harvey Wilhelms, as described in the October 11,
2009 edition of the Freeport Journal-Standard, indicates that the brewery was founded and operated by a
succession of Bavarians, including Henry Baier.

Above Right: An early photo of Albert Kraul and his classmates at the Centennial Public School in 1908. Albert is
in the front row, third from left. This school was located in Rock Run Township. Most references to Centennial
School point to Florence Township, just west of Freeport. This one was located at the southeast corner of the
Cedarville Road and Farwell Bridge Road intersection. The land around the school was owned by William
Spellman, who was on the school board when Albert Kraul attended. Charles Nath and William Dailey were also
nearby landowners and school board members.

(Info source and credit)
Above: In 1929, Albert advertised his closing out sale in the Freeport
Journal-Standard. This was his first exit from farming. He probably opened
his grocery store in Rock City shortly after this.
Above: When Prohibition ended, the United States opened its tankards once again. Albert Kraul was the first in
Rock City to open a tavern. Kraul's Tavern is shown in this totally awesome advertisement for Pabst Blue Ribbon
beer in the October 23, 1934 edition of the Freeport Journal-Standard. A few names below Kraul's Tavern is Tim
Meyers of Dakota, Illinois. This is probably
Ransom "Tim" Meier, who owned our house prior to Albert Kraul
and lived in Dakota in 1934. Tim operated a roadhouse called Shan-T-Town on Illinois Route 75, southwest of

Side note: The village of Dakota voted to ban the sale of alcohol in April 1939. Dakota is a dry town today.
Above: Albert and Margaret are buried together in the Saint Paul's
Epplyanna Cemetery.

Left: This advertisement for Albert Kraul's farm assets appeared in the
January 26, 1949 edition of the Freeport Journal-Standard.
The Kraul grocery store was located in this building, on the northeast corner of Main and Market Streets in
downtown Rock City.