Thursday, June 16, 2016


Gust (or is it Gus) Kroll

Would you believe it - I started this post a year ago. Yikes! What happened? I haven't written anything for a year. There are any number of reasons for that - not important. I just wasn't feelin' it, I guess But I think it's coming back. And just maybe you can thank my newest grandson for that.

August Dolan was born this past May. They call him Gus. I keep calling him Gust. Naturally that got me thinking about another Gust - Gustav Kroll - my great uncle on my mom's side. Then I remembered that I started to write about him last June. So my new Gust helped me dig out and finish this vignette about my old Gust. Got it?

This is one  of my  favorite pictures of my mom. There's a lot behind the picture - the where and when, and who. And although my fascination with the photo began with seeing my mom as a little girl, the airplane got my attention too. But in the end the  story became all about the (at one time) unknown man in the uniform. 

He's not unknown anymore. I remember mom seeing this picture and saying, "That's Gust." I thought she said "Gus" (I guess I struggle with those two names.) I had never heard of any "Gus" in the family. In typical Mom and Haubrich style, she blurted out louder and with her little laugh, "Gust - my Uncle Gust." 

Dah! It's one of the Kroll brothers, Gramma Haubrich's brother Gustav - from Sheboygan. But what's with the uniform and the airplane. I needed to look into this.

Look into it I did and what an interesting man I found! What I wouldn't give to sit down with him for a couple of hours. I would have more than a few questions, and I am sure he could tell some stories. I can't tell you everything I've learned about Gust. There's too much to tell for this format. That will have to wait for another time. But I can give you a bit of a preview.

Gustav Kroll was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 1877, and he did not fall far from the German tree of the Kroll family and the very German community that was Sheboygan. He was the oldest of the surviving five Kroll children. He attended the German school of the Ev. Luth. Dreiein Gemeinde (Trinity Lutheran Church). But by 1898, when was 21, he left Sheboygan and never came back (except to visit a couple of times.) 

The uniform? Gust became a career army man. He joined the army and served with the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry in the Spanish American War. He reenlisted in 1906 and kept re-upping until retirement in 1926 (He would have been almost 50.) He served with the 18th Infantry and was stationed at Fort Whipple in Yavapai, now Prescott, AZ in 1910 during the days of Poncho Villa. He was a cook in the 35th Infantry Machine Gun Company in WWI. In 1919 he was a cook at Fort Travis near San Antonio, Texas. The photo of the plane with my mom in the cockpit was at Brooks Field in San Antonio. It would seem that Gust found a home in the U.S. Army!

But that's not all he found. He also found a wife in San Antonio. In May of 1922 Gust married Josefa (Josephine) Resendez - a local gal of Mexican descent who also happened to be Roman Catholic. I can only imagine how all that played out with the German "rels" back in Sheboygan and Kenosha. But Josie seemed to fit in well with the Kroll/Haubrich clan.

Gust and Josie spent the rest of their lives in San Antonio. They made it back to Kenosha a couple of times. The Sheboygan Press, on May 8, 1919 reported, "Gustav Kroll, who is a cook at Camp Treves (should be Camp Travis), Texas, and has not been home for seventeen years, visited his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Kroll in this city. Saturday he left for Kenosha, after a two weeks stay, where he is visiting his sister. From Kenosha he will proceed to San Antonio, Texas." There was a family gathering in Kenosha again after 1922, and since Josie is in the pictures, this must have been the "introduce the Mexican Catholic wife to the family" visit. Obviously, my Grampa/Gramma Haubrich took my mom to San Antonio not long after that to visit them. Thus the picture of mom in the airplane. The Haubrichs made a return visit to the Krolls in 1948 just before Gust died. The widow Josie was also in Kenosha in 1955 for Grampa/Gramma's 50th wedding anniversary celebration at the Friedens fellowship hall.

Retired Staff Sergeant Gustav Kroll died March 10, 1949 in San Antonio and was laid to rest there on March 15, 1949 at San Houston National Cemetery. Josie joined him there 17 years later in June of 1966. The obituary reads, "Rosary will be recited in Alamo Chapels, June 2nd ... Blessing services on June 3 followed by  Requiem Mass which will be offered in St. John Berchmans Catholic Church" where she was a member.

There's so much more to tell, but for now ...  that's the skinny on Gust.


  1. Interesting! Love the plane picture.

  2. He was in my town!! :) Where is the second picture taken? I love that we have had now more than 1 Gus in our family...

    1. Yes - he was stationed at Fort Whipple.
      The second picture was at their home in San Antonio, TX.