The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

Reflections on Life, Family and Community

Peter Friedrich Wilhelm Klopp


The little Peter Friedrich Wilhelm Klopp was born in Magdeburg on January 1, 1852. On his father’s death, he was just nine years old. As the eldest son, he experienced how his mother with her children after the loss of the provider plunged into even more dismal misery. The circumstances under which Peter Friedrich Klopp found his way into the milling business may have to do with the former family connection of his mother, who originally came from that area.

The Magdeburg period of the Klopp family line stood under no good star. In spite of hopeful beginnings their economic situation remained at a relatively low level. The family of the former Prussian recruit and later ´transport enterpriser´ Heinrich Friedrich Klopp experienced noticeably the petty-bourgeois and proletarian living conditions in the city of Magdeburg of the 19th century.

Already before 1860, the most bitter poverty of all the chronicled events hit our Klopp family line very hard. The early death of the father only 40 years old and the passing of his mother at the age of 44 reveal that for the change over from peasantry to the commercial and industrial milieu a heavy tribute had to be paid. Health and vitality were going to be sacrificed.

At the death of his mother in 1870, Peter Friedrich Klopp was only 18 years old. Perhaps out of concern for her eldest son’s health with the help of family connections she may have sent him into the country to Jersleben near Wolmirstedt. There, opportunities in the miller’s apprenticeship program in at least three mills were waiting to be taken by the young enterprising man: Herrenmühle, Mittelmühle and Vordermühle.

Miller’s apprentice Peter Friedrich Wilhelm Klopp and Emma Christiane (née Bauer) were married on September 27, 1874, in the village church at Jersleben. He was 22 and she was 18 years old. Their marriage of over 25 years was blessed by a phenomenal fecundity, coming close to the Austrian Empress Maria-Theresia. Sixteen children emerged from this union.

Windmill at Osterweddingen, Peter F. Klopp once worked

A few years after the wedding P. F. Klopp became qualified as a master miller. Several attempts of running his own mill (e.g. the ‘Düppler Mill’ at the southeast end of Olvenstedt) as well as working in three different other mills in Jersleben failed. Around 1890 already blessed with seven children it appeared that he was finally able to secure a solid economical foundation. Together with his eldest son Friedrich (grandfather of author Eberhard Klopp), who had just finished his rope making apprenticeship, he acquired a house in Wolmirstedt. Peter concentrated on the production and sale of flour, while Friedrich operated the rope making plant. Housing for a very large family, storage facilities for grain, flour and feed, manufacturing shop etc., were all under the same roof.

Rivalries, quarrels, and petty disputes about who was in charge of it all did not create a climate conducive to a prosperous enterprise in the Magdeburger Straße (now Friedensstr.). When brother Ferdinand, also a trained rope maker joined them, Peter began to worry about losing his independence and looked for a way of dissociating himself from the troublesome business in Wolmirstedt.

Supported, perhaps even driven by his energetic wife, Peter F. Klopp returned with his family to Jersleben, where he established his own business of producing and selling flour. He seized on a golden opportunity of acquiring a long-sought-after watermill. All indications are that he was not to see his final dream come to fruition. For documents show that widow Emma Klopp was the owner of the mill in 1901 one year after her husband’s death.

Peter Friedrich Klopp was good-looking, handsome, slightly obese, but a giant of a man. He was generally of a cheerful disposition and was not disinclined to a good occasional drink in the genial like-minded company every once in a while. In the middle of May not long before my father’s birth, he was riding home from a hunting party. It appears that he often left direction and speed to the discretion of his well-trained horse. Maybe on this chilly night, he had had just one drink too many. Falling asleep on horseback is never a good idea, especially when you are in that cozy state of inebriation. Inevitably, he slipped off the saddle, and the horse trod home without him. Early next morning travellers found him lying half-conscious on the roadside. He was sober by now but suffered from a severe case of hypothermia. Soon after, he acquired a kidney infection, from which he was unable to recover. He died on the 26th of June 1900 at the age of 48.

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