Grub with Grits? – Or Gruber with Grots

Today’s birthday girl was a granddaughter of one of the first German Lutheran pastors to settle in East Perry County, Rev. Carl Gruber. The Gruber Group that has been mentioned on this blog often was named after this Rev. Gruber. He was the first pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. He was not the only Lutheran pastor in his family. Two sons, Rev. Theodore Gruber and Rev. Gotthold Gruber, were each pastors that served in several locations around the country. Both of them are buried in the same cemetery in Seward County, Nebraska. Below is a short biography of Pastor Theodore Gruber.

Rev. Theodore Gruber bio

The original Gruber family is found on the passenger list of the Johann Georg that landed in New Orleans in November of 1839. Theodore was just 7 years old when he came to America.

Gruber family – Johann Georg passenger list 1839

Today, I will tell the story of a daughter of Rev. Theodore Gruber. Clara Gruber was born on February 5, 1859, so today would be her 164th birthday. Her mother was Fredericke (Kipp) Gruber. Clara was likely baptized at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg because her father was the pastor of that church from 1857-1864, but there is no baptism information for her in the Friedenberg Remembrances book. Clara is found in the 1860 census at the age of 1. Her family was living in the Cinque Hommes Township where her father is called a Lutheran minister.

1860 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

Below is a photo taken of Pastor Theodore Gruber that is found in the Friedenberg Remembrances book.

The bio shown above indicates this family spent some time in the cities of California and Washington, Missouri, but when the next census was taken in 1870, we find the Gruber’s living in the Hampton Township which is found in East Moline, Illinois. Pastor Gruber was likely serving Zion Lutheran Church, which had been established in 1852. Clara was 11 years old at the time. Her father was called a teacher and minister.

1870 census – Hampton Township, IL

We will now switch our attention to the man who would become Clara’s husband. His name was William Grots, who was born on July 10, 1855, the son of Conrad and Sophia (Muess) Grots. William’s later obituary states that he was born in Clayton Center, Iowa and came to Nebraska at the age of 12 with his family. William was still living in Iowa when the 1860 census was taken. His father was a wagonmaker in the Read Township, which is where Clayton Center was located.

1860 census – Read Township, IA

We find William in the 1870 census living in Seward, Nebraska. His father was a farmer.

1870 census – Seward, NE

William Grots married Clara Gruber on July 20, 1877 in Nebraska. At that time, Clara’s father was the pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Middle Creek, Nebraska. Middle Creek is located in Seward County between Seward and Lincoln. When I attended Concordia, Seward, I often rode past Immanuel Lutheran Church on US Highway 34. The 1908 plat map below from the H Precinct in Seward County shows where that church was located. Right around the church and school were some parcels of land owned by Gruber’s.

Gruber names – H Precinct plat map 1908

Here is a photo of Immanuel Lutheran Church that I swiped from their Facebook page.

Immanuel Lutheran Church – Middle Creek, NE

During my younger years, there was a time when I did some pen and ink drawings. I would use a photograph I had taken and attempt to draw it. I remember that I had taken a photo of Immanuel, Middle Creek and had started doing a drawing of it. After quite a bit of searching with the help of my wife (who really knows where things are in our house), I found that incomplete drawing. It is shown here. I haven’t found the photograph, and for the time being, I have abandoned the search.

My unfinished drawing of Immanuel, Middle Creek, NE

We can take a look at a Nebraska marriage record for William and Clara. Clara’s father performed the wedding.

Grots/Gruber – Nebraska marriage record

William’s obituary states that this couple had 5 children. In the 1880 census, we find the Grots family living in the H Precinct. They had 2 daughters at that time, and William was a farmer.

1880 census – H Precinct, NE

In 1885, Rev. Theodore Gruber left the church in Middle Creek to establish a new church that was also located in Seward County. That church would be called St. Paul Lutheran Church. A history of that congregation tells about Pastor Gruber becoming the first pastor called to that church.

St. Paul Lutheran Church – Seward County, NE

Rev. Gruber died in 1889, and was buried in the St. Paul Lutheran Cemetery.

Rev. Theodore Gruber gravestone – St. Paul, Greshem, NE

An obituary for Pastor Gruber is found on his entry.

Rev. Theodore Gruber obituary

Theodore’s brother, Gotthold, would later be buried in this same cemetery. I may have to tell his story on this blog someday. The map below shows the relative locations of St. Paul Lutheran Church (the question mark) and Immanuel Lutheran Church, Middle Creek (the poorly drawn red circle).

Map of St. Paul and Immanuel in Seward County, NE

Back to the Grots’s. When the 1900 census was taken, we find the Grots household with 5 children. William is called a landlord in this entry.

1900 census – H Precinct, NE

In the 1910 census, we see just 2 children living with William and Clara. Both William and Clara are called retired farmers. Their son, Willie, was a bank bookkeeper. William’s mother was also in the household.

1910 census – H Precinct, NE

The Grots couple had moved to the city of Lincoln, Nebraska before the 1920 census was taken. That is where we find William, Clara, their daughter, Ida, and William’s 96 year-old mother living when this entry was made.

1920 census – Lincoln, NE

William Grots died in 1929 at the age of 73. His obituary gives more details about some of his accomplishments during his life which were quite impressive.

William Grots obituary

Clara Grots is found in the 1930 census as a widow living in Garland, Nebraska. She was living by herself.

1930 census – Garland, NE

Clara Grots died in 1937 at the age of 78. Both William and Clara are buried in the Germantown Cemetery in Garland, Nebraska. The town of Garland was once called Germantown.

William and Clara Grots gravestones – Germantown, Garland, NE

Rev. Carl Gruber and his two sons, Theodore and Gotthold, each had the reputation of establishing Lutheran churches wherever they went. Along his way, Pastor Theodore Gruber dropped off one of his daughters near Garland, Nebraska, and now you know her story.

I did get one unexpected surprise while researching this story. While scrolling through the photos on Zion, East Moline’s Facebook page looking for a photo of their old church, I ran across the photo shown below. The man in the photo was described in the caption as being Vicar Frank Lucas. Rev. Frank Lucas is the present-day pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg.

Vicar Frank Lucas – Zion, East Moline, IL

One thought on “Grub with Grits? – Or Gruber with Grots

  1. Are those Gruber’s related to the ones by Readlyn, Iowa?
    If my memory serves me correctly, Judy Gryber married Ron Leistikow. They live near Readlyn.
    Dixie Thurm


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