The Klesener/Kluesener/Kluesner family is one family whose history in the Black Walnut area continues to this day. Larry and Betty Oldenburg Kluesner have been part of the effort over the years to help clear and maintain the Black Walnut Cemetery and have been active in the Land Between the River Historical Society in Portage des Sioux. Betty is also very active in numerous Facebook groups sharing her reminiscences of the area.
The “History of St. Charles County” tells the story of William who “came to America in 1846 and located in St. Charles County, where he obtained employment as a farm hand. In 1850 he went to California and for two years was engaged in mining. Returning to St Charles county, he then bought a tract of unimproved land and made a farm. In 1854 he was married to Miss Minnie Windmueller.” The 1860 Census lists the family of William and Mena Klesener along with 3 children: Futnant, William and Lena. The Census also lists their long time farm hand, Franz Meier, who is also buried at the Black Walnut Cemetery.
Mary Johnson McElhiney’s survey of the cemetery in the 1930s published in 1970, lists the Sons of Wm. & M. Klesener. Wilhelm Geb. 22 Feb. 1857 and Gest. 20 Feb 1861. W. Henry was born in 1864 and died Aug 4, 1864. It is also documented that these graves were enclosed by an iron fence. Additionally, a daughter Carolina “Lena” Henrietta Louise Kluesner born 14 Nov 1858 and died 14 Nov 1861 is the sibling whose partial headstone has been located by our volunteer restoration team. Betty further recalls that all three of the children died of diphtheria.
Betty recalls that their father “William Kluesner died on Oct. 29, 1899 and was also buried at Black Walnut Cemetery. There was a bad flood in 1903 and many of the caskets were swept away. The family then decided to move William’s remains to Oak Grove Cemetery in St. Charles, but three of his children are still buried at Black Walnut.”
Kluesner grave stones – photo by Kathy Shearrer 2023