Four generations: Krueger family looks back at history of Lincoln County funeral directors

For the Tomahawk Leader

MERRILL – Books at one time feared lost to the ages have returned to Merrill.

The books chronicle the business of a family of funeral directors and show how the Merrill community buried their dead in over 70 years of journal entries.

Three years after the City of Merrill was organized in 1883, Emil O. Krueger was born in the city he would call home for the rest of his short life. Fascinated with the evolving trade of “undertaking,” Emil studied under Henry Littlejohn and then J.A. Nusbaum, both of whom ran furniture and “undertaking services” in Merrill.

Emil started his own funeral home as a storefront in downtown Merrill in 1914. As the funeral home grew, the former home of T.B. Scott was purchased at 800 E. 3rd St., and it remained a funeral home until 1986, when its then-owner, Milt Wistein, passed away.

Since Emil in 1914, four generations of Kruegers have cared for families in Lincoln County. Kevin Krueger and his sister, Karri Krueger Ernst, are the last of the Kruegers to own a funeral home in Lincoln County – Generations Funeral Home in Tomahawk.

On Wednesday, Sept. 27, the family went to the T.B. Scott Library to view the original books that contain the ledgers of the funerals that date back to April of 1914 and records the details of each of the funerals until 1985. Recognizing many of the names and detailed notes and handwriting of their ancestors proved fascinating for the family, who now works in a completely digitized world of record keeping.

The North Pines Genealogy Group now owns the books, thanks to a generous donation from Gordon Stevenson. The group worked for a year that to digitize the pages from the ledgers. Those files, along with much of Merrill’s history, can be found in the genealogy section of the third floor of the T.B. Scott Library.

For more information on the North Pines Genealogy Group, email Sharon Karow at [email protected].

Pictured are Kevin Krueger and his dad, Jim, who was licensed as a funeral director in 1970, along with Karri Kruger Ernst. Photo courtesy of Michael Caylor.
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