How this started.

Cast photo of 'Catherine Was Great'. A 1944 Broadway show written, produced and starring Mae West.

Cast photo of ‘Catherine Was Great’. A 1944 Broadway play written by and starring Mae West.

So go figure. My father’s cousin, Michael Spreder, was in a 1944 Michael Todd broadway production called ‘Catherine Was Great‘ written by and starring Mae West. That’s Michael Spreder just to the left of the small person on Mae West’s left. At least I think it is.

I had been Googling Mike and his friend, Victor Finney, for a while. Mike and Vic were close with our  family when I was growing up, and I had heard them tell of their brief time in the theater. So periodically I check online theater databases just to see if I can find out anything more about their time in the lime lights. And one day this image appeared on my screen.

I enjoyed this surprise so much, that I purposefully began to search out more information on Mike and Vic, and other relatives in the way-back machine. Using a combination of online resources like, (a beta site from, (it is what it says it is), and, (a searchable newspaper resource) I have been able to piece together some remarkable stories that exist in the histories of the Kruger and Davenport family trees.

So that is the purpose of this blog. To look at as many of these stories as I am able. Here are the basics of what I have discovered thus far.

On the Kruger side – I can only go back as far as Otto Kruger, my grandfather. And this is only with first-hand knowledge. He died when I was 4. It will be necessary to find out the name of the ship he was on when he arrived in Boston, MA just prior to U.S. involvement in World War I.

Plat Map of Molidorf, Hungary.

Plat Map of Molidorf, Hungary.

On the Telles side – Elisabeth, my grandmother, married Otto Kruger just after WWI. Through various online sources I can trace this family line back to 1835 to a town in Hungary called Molidorf. The image on the far right of the banner image of this blog is a plat map of Molidorf showing the residence locations of ancestral surnames like Telles, Sigmund and Grier.

On the Davenport side – In America, the Davenport lineage can be traced back to an English immigrant, Thomas Davenport, (1615-1685) who settled in Dorcester, MA in 1635 as part of what is known as the ‘Great English Migration‘. In fact all of the family lines of both Clyde Burton Davenport and Hazel Louise (Hanshaw) Davenport existed in the English Colonies of America.

In Colonial America (1620-1776) these families were early settlers of Massachusetts and Connecticut – most in proximity to the Connecticut River. After the Revolution the families were part of the westward movement to the Central New York Military Tract settling along a 50-mile line connecting the southern Finger Lakes from Watkins Glen to Cortland, NY. The image on the left side of the banner is a plat map of the Central New York Military Tract.

The Mudge family gravesite in Cortland, NY

The Mudge family gravesite in Cortland, NY

I call this obelisk in ‘The Mudge Pot’. This grave-site in the Cortland Rural Cemetery of Cortland, NY is the final resting place of my 3rd, 4th and 5th great-grandparents.  I found early on that in order to really verify the genealogical information I can find online, it helps to locate information that supplies the names and dates for 3 or more generations at a time. This particular grave accounts for nearly 150 years of family history and includes the surnames of Mudge, Millard, Sawyer, and Perrigo.

So on this adventure I’m going to explore more fully some great stories of my forbears. There are witches. There are settlers. Some were local legends. There is one ‘super’ great-grandfather who would don a full suit of armor and ride through the woods scaring the heck out of the natives. And another ‘super’-great-grandfather Micah Mudge (1650-1724) was an original settler of Northfield, MA. The property in Gill, MA where I now reside is within the original boundaries of Northfield.

1930 bread kinfe-Vert

1930 bread knife.

Like all families, there are good stories and some not so good ones. If you want to know about the image of the 1930 bread knife, all you have to do is read this newspaper account of the legal proceedings that occurred in October of 1933 pertaining to the Labor Day death of Great-Grandfather Fred Davenport at the hands of his long-time boarder, John Shenrock.


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