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Ferdinand Dreifuerst
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Birth: Jan. 9, 1817
Fuldaer Landkreis
Hessen, Germany
Death: Mar. 16, 1906
Mount Calvary
Fond du Lac County
Wisconsin, USA

This story of 1851 is about Mother Caroline Friess. She was the Mother Superior of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Milwaukee at the young age of 27. This is also about my great-great grandfather Ferdinand Dreifuerst, an early settler in the Town of Marshfield. He was 34 at the time living with his wife Maria Katherina Schaefer and their newborn baby in a cabin east of Mt Calvary, at what is now County CCC in section 35. This story is related in Fr. Celestine Bittle's history. There he stated incorrectly the person was Florian Dreifuerst. Florian lived just west of his brother Ferdinand. Fr. Corbinian Vieracker's The History of Mt Calvary, translated into English from the German by Ronald Jansch OFM Cap. in 2007, also tells this story. This tale was also recounted by author Corvelle Newcomb in Running Waters in 1947 in a fictionalized version. I will retell the story mostly from Fr. Vieraker's and Fr. Bittle's narrative and add some of my own interpretations.

Mother Caroline traveled from Milwaukee to Sheboygan via steamboat in June of 1851 for the reason to inspect the land and two log buildings at Mount Carmel at St Nicholas as Mount Calvary was called at that time. Father Casper Rehrl, the first pastor, had offered the property to the Sisters for a school. In order to reach Mount Carmel by nightfall she climbed aboard a wagon with a canvas top. The male driver and she traveled from Sheboygan toward Mount Calvary via Greenbush. For traveling she had decided to wear a white linen habit to shield her from the hot June sun. As she wrote in her autobiography, "It was very hot on that particular afternoon. As we headed westward, the sun shone directly on the driver's face." Mother Caroline, seated farther back in the wagon under the canvas top, was shielded from the sun. Guileless as a child and always on the lookout for the welfare of others, she invited the driver to join her further back. She soon had reason to regret her invitation. The man was depraved. As soon as she realized it, she angrily threw her traveling bag out of the wagon and with one jump found herself on the road. After giving the scoundrel a thunderous reprimand, she threw a few pieces of silver on the ground for her fare, grasped her bag and ran with all speed toward the cabin of a young immigrant, Ferdinand Dreifuerst. Ferdinand's wife Maria received Mother Caroline hospitably, and when Ferdinand returned from the fields, where he had been planting corn, he promised to take her to Mt Carmel in the morning as it was getting too late in the day.

Night came, and with it a severe electrical storm which lasted until morning. The cabin consisted of a single room. The nun had to sleep in the same room with Ferdinand, his wife and baby. She felt perfectly at home with these good people. During the night the torrential rain sent streams of water through the thin roof. Making a joke of a ridiculous situation, Caroline opened her large umbrella over the bed and calmly settled in for the night. Her cheerful humor eased the embarrassment of her hosts.

At daybreak Ferdinand accompanied Caroline to Mt Carmel. Ferdinand's cabin was located mile east of the present "Red Bridge" on what is now County "CCC". This is where the road rises up a fairly steep hill. Two cabins were on top of the hill. The closest to the river was Florian Dreifuerst's, and his brother Ferdinand's was about another 1000 feet farther east. They set out on foot and soon came upon the Sheboygan River which was swollen by the night's rain. Both the farmer and the nun now proved to be practical folk. Caroline pulled on Ferdinand's high boots leaving him barefoot. He searched for a long pole which he inserted into the handle of her traveling bag. Then they waded into the river. Ferdinand led the way barefooted with Caroline following in his boots. Hanging between the two was the traveling bag on the pole that served as a staff and protection.

Both travelers arrived at the church just before the high mass on the feast of Corpus Christi. They found Father Rehrl sitting on a tree stump cleaning his boots. He was thoroughly astonished when he saw his distinguished visitor. Caroline thanked Ferdinand for his help and offered to pay him. But he refused, saying, I am a newcomer in God's land, I need God's pay.

Rejoicing, Fr. Rehrl welcomed his guest and they proceeded to the Corpus Christi celebration and participated in the procession. She said later, "My God, such a wilderness and such poverty I have never seen. A log church with a dilapidated altar, a church without pews and without a floor!" Such poverty would have daunted anyone else but not the brave Caroline. Indeed it was the poverty that attracted her and she promised Fr. Rehrl to take over the school. In time a stately convent would arise and would become the beautiful home of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

Ferdinand emigrated in 1845 from Wiesen Fulda (Germany). I believe he stayed in New York for a few years. He married Maria Katherina Schaefer in 1848 and came to the Town of Marshfield in 1849 along with his brother Florian. He lived to the age of 89 and is buried in Mt Calvary Cemetery about 50 feet northwest of the large crucifix.

Dan Dreifuerst 
Family links: 
  Marie Katherina Schaefer Dreifuerst (1820 - 1906)*
  Johann Philipp Dreifuerst (1851 - 1922)*
  Regina Dreifuerst Knaus (1852 - 1941)*
  Paulina Dreifuerst Isaac (1855 - 1941)*
  Barbara Dreifuerst Voelker (1857 - 1944)*
  Anna Maria Dreifuerst Kohlman (1859 - 1937)*
  Daniel Dreifuerst (1862 - 1924)*
*Calculated relationship
Holy Cross Cemetery
Mount Calvary
Fond du Lac County
Wisconsin, USA
Created by: Dan Dreifuerst
Record added: Mar 25, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 50217686
Ferdinand Dreifuerst
Added by: Dan Dreifuerst
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- Brenda Brdicko
 Added: Jun. 4, 2010

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