Kramer Surname Meaning, History & Origin

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Kramer comes from the Old German kram
or cram, meaning a trading
post or tent. It came to mean in German and Dutch a peddler or
merchant, someone who set up a tent in the village to sell his
wares.  The term kramaere
came to describe the owner of what was seen as a scruffy little
shop.  Its first recorded use as a surname in Germany was a Walther der
Kramer in the Esslingen rolls of 1272.

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Kramer Ancestry

Kramer is a fairly common
surname in both Germany and Holland and there are some 80,000 Kramers in
Europe
today, of which:

  • 65 percent are in Germany
  • 20 percent are in Holland
  • and 15 percent are elsewhere in
    Europe.

The Kramer presence in the English-speaking world
is mainly because of the Kramers who have immigrated to America.
More recently, Jewish Kramers from Russia have been going to Israel and
Germany.

England. England records
few Kramers, some Cramers, and a few more Creamers. They could be
from home-grown or from immigrant families.

In England, the name cremer, a
variant of the German Kramer, was
an occupational name and described a peddler of butter,
eggs, or hens (“ane
merchand or cremer, quha beris ane pack or creame upon his back,”
according to Sir John Skene in 1681).

Cremer as a surname seems to have first
surfaced in Norfolk
. Sir John Cremer, baptized John
Skryme in North Runcton in 1598, was made sheriff of Norfolk in
1658.
Although he married twice, he left no living heirs. This Cremer
name became Creamer over time and spread to Bedfordshire and
Cambridgeshire and to London.

Ireland. Creamer is also
an Irish surname and was to be found in Kilkenny and Longford and – as
Cramer of German origin – in Cork. John Creamer from Longford
served in the British army from 1810 to 1829 and subsequently made his
home in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

America. In America, the
numbers are first
Kramer, then Cramer, and then Creamer
:

  • Kramers originated almost entirely from German-speaking
    countries
  • Cramers mainly also, but included some Irish and English
    immigrants
  • and Creamers, two thirds from
    Ireland
    and one third from
    England.

The German-speaking world of Kramers extended East in
the 19th century to German enclaves in the Balkans (Slovenia today), in
Ukraine (Kiev and Odessa), and in present-day Belarus.


Kramers started to arrive in America in the 18th century, mainly into
Pennsylvania
and into Lancaster and Berks county
there. One family history traces itself back to a George Kramer
who had arrived in 1720 and settled in Bethel township, Berks
county. A Kramer family came to Fayette county,
Pennsylvania
where the son Baltzer worked with Albert Gattlin
who had set up the first glass-making factory west of the Alleghenies.

Among the 19th century Kramer arrivals were:

  • Philip and Mary Kramer, who came to Wisconsin in the early
    1850’s. Their son Michael moved onto Sheridan township, Iowa to
    farm. He and his family started up the Kramer brothers’ Band and
    Orchestra, which became well-known for functions throughout Redwood
    county.
  • Frederick and Anna Kramer, who settled in Alexandria, Virginia in
    the 1860’s. The Kramers operated several businesses there.
    Their son Henry
    (Pop) Kramer
    went on stage and made a name for himself doing
    bicycle tricks.
  • David and Marie Kramer, who came
    to Illinois in the 1860’s and later moved onto Kansas. The family
    members were inscribed in their family Bible published in 1861.
  • Various Kramers from Bohemia
    (now part of the Czech Republic), who came to Nebraska in the late
    1870’s and early 1880’s.

Jewish. Kramer
arrivals later in the 19th century began to have a Jewish
flavor, German-speaking refugees of the Tsarist pogroms in
Russia. One
Kramer family came in the early 1890’s from Dahlinev in present-day
Belarus and settled in Waterbury, Connecticut. Harry Kramer
arrived in 1903 from Sopockin nearby and raised funds to help Jews in
the area emigrate. From other Kramer immigrant families at that
time came Samuel Kramer, a leading expert on Sumerian history and
language, and the teacher Edna Kramer.

Then there was another bout of Kramer immigration in the 1930’s, this
time from Nazi Germany. Fred Kramer came with his family in 1936
and settled in Paso Robles, California. Film director Robert
Kramer – who made the film Our Nazi
in 1984 on the theme of Nazi genocide – was himself the grandson of a
Kramer who had escaped Tsarist Russia.

Kramer in the 1990’s had a Jewish connotation due to the character of
Kramer in the TV sitcom Seinfeld.

 

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Kramer Miscellany

Kramer Numbers in Europe.  The table below shows the approximate number of Kramers (and Cramers) in Europe.

Numbers (000’s) Kramer Cramer Total
Germany 45    10    55
Netherlands   13     2    15
Elsewhere*    9     3    12
Total   67    15    82

* Austria, Denmark, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

Early Cremers in Norfolk

Year Parish Cremer Record
1540 North
Elmham
birth of John (son of Henry and
Cecily Cremer)
1588 Sedgefield marriage of Thomas Cremer and
Joanna Hargate
1597 Heacham birth of Henry (son of Edmund
and Bridget Cremer)
1606 Heacham death of Catherine Cremer (alias
Scryme)
1610 North Elmham birth of Roger (son of Thomas
Cremer)
1615 Philimore birth of Ellen and Frances,
twins (daughters of George and Elizabeth Cremer)
1617 Heacham death of Bridget (wife of Edmund
Cremer)
1618 Sedgefield marriage of Edmund Cremer and
Jane Jenner
1624 South Lynn birth of Thomas (son of John
Cremer)
1627 Sedgefield birth of John (son of John and
Elizabeth Cremer)
1632 Heacham death of Edmund Cremer
1635 Philimore marriage of Edmund Cremer and
Ann Trice

 Kramer Numbers in America.  The table below shows the number of Kramers (and variants of the name) in America, on the basis of the 1920 census.

Numbers (000’s) Kramer Cramer Creamer Total Percent
New York    1.3    0.6    0.1    2.0    13
Pennsylvania    1.5    0.8    0.1    2.4    16
Ohio    0.9    0.7    0.1    1.7    11
Illinois    0.8    0.4    1.2     8
Elsewhere    4.0    2.9    0.8    7.7    52
Total    8.5    5.4    1.1   15.0   100

By 2000, the total above had increased to some 37,000.

Creamers in America.  After thirty something years of research, plus input from many other Creamer researchers, it has not been possible to identify one country of origin.

The earliest proven ancestor is Daniel Creamer, born 1798
in South Carolina.  He married Matha Wimberly, born 1795 in North
Carolina.  It has not been possible to connect him to any other
Creamer groups.

Early Kramers in Pennsylvania

1748 Philadelphia (Evangelical
Lutheran)
marriage of Balthasar Kreamer
and Elizabeth Gerrard
1751 Philadelphia (St. Michaelis and
Zion)
birth of Jacob, son of Balthasar
and Elizabeth Cramer
1754 Philadelphia (St. Michaelis and
Zion)
birth of Maria, daughter of
Balthasar and Elizabeth Cramer
1756 Lancaster (Moravian church) death of Catharine Kraemer
1759 Lancaster (Moravian church) death of Michael Kraemer, aged 50
1761 Philadelphia (Evangelical
Lutheran)
Jacob Craemer, witness
1767 Williamstown (Evangelical
Lutheran)
Elis. Kramer prepared for
Communion
1769 Lancaster (Trinity Lutheran) birth of Anna, daughter of
Michael and Elizabeth Craemer
1782 Lancaster (Moravian church) death of Susanna Kraemer, wife
of Johannes

In 1927, George Kramer wrote the following about his family’s ancestry:

“George Kramer immigrated from Switzerland to America
about 1720.  He resided in Bethel township, Berks co.  His
son was Ferdinand Kramer and his grandson, born in 1757, Jacob Kramer.

The earliest definite record of ancestry is an old record
found at Binogles church, Lebanon co (formerly Bethel township).
The birth records are for the two sons of Jacob and Catherine Kramer,
John born in 1785 and Peter born in 1790.”

Pop Kramer – that Famous Cyclist.  Harry Henry Kramer would travel all over the
United States, Canada, and even Mexico City to earn extra money
performing his extraordinary tricks on his collection of
bicycles.   Traveling made it necessary to have a place to
sleep, so he invented the first travel car.  He bought an old
school bus and a logging truck.  He attached the bus body onto the
truck bed and “walla” and he had invented his famous “House Car.”

Each summer the family loaded up and traveled to fairgrounds, theaters
and small towns all over the northern and southern states where Pop
Kramer entertained the crowds of people who followed his show as though
he were the pied piper.  His picture has been on the front page of
newspapers all over the United States.  He received payment for
his performances by passing the hat.  Pop was an amusing sight all
by himself.

Pop made friends with the other travelers on the road, the most
interesting were the gypsies who traveled regular routes each
year.  He would allow them to camp on his property in South
Carolina in exchange for his family camping on their sites while he
traveled north.

Pop got his nickname because he was only able to quit smoking his pipe
by replacing the habit with chewing bubble gum.  He lost his teeth
and refused to wear a partial.  He grew a beard and kept his thick
graying hair, ear lobe length.  His blue eyes sparkled and he was
always in a cheerful mood.  He could tell “Paul Bunyan” tales for
hours and he kept his pockets full of gumballs and bubblegum to pass
out to children.  He had a heart full of compassion and love for
all his family and friends.  He was always willing to lend a
helping hand to strangers.  There was not a lazy bone in his body.

Fred Kramer and His Automobile.  Fred Kramer escaped Nazi Germany with his family in 1936 to come to America .  After a year in New York, they settled in Paso Robles, California.  His son Henry remembered the early days there
affectionately.

“Father had grown up in a time and place where a scholar and a gentleman did not fancy gadgetry.  A person of a trivial turn of mind, a playboy, or a rich vulgarian like
my uncle, might have a car.  But a serious person, like Father, did not fritter away his energies on such things.

His attitude towards cars was in line with his feeling about movies.  They were intended for “serving girls,” his catch-all category for people without intellect.  Father never  owned a car nor ever saw a movie until we came to America.

When Father picked us up at Union Station in Los Angeles he told us that he had been taking driving lessons.  In a few days, Father bought a 1936 Ford Sedan.  He said, rightly, that it was absolutely necessary to have a car in Southern California.  Of course, with the help of his driving instructor, Father had obtained a learner’s permit.

And he still had it when we moved to Paso Robles several weeks later.  So we had a car but no one with a license to drive it.That caused us difficulties and, to us children,  great embarrassment.  We children came to the store after school and when the store closed the family’s homeward trek started.  There were the five of us loaded down with school books and bags of grocery trudging through town on our way home. It seemed to us children as if we were being mocked by jeering crowds lined up on the sidewalk while we were parading down the center of the main street.”

Of course, Father tried to get his driver’s license.  However, he
had difficulties.  One of them was that he was unable to prevent the gears from chattering as soon as he shifted from the starting speed to the next higher.  The effect was similar to riding on a bucking bronco.  The car would hiccup, and take a jump, and then another, and another, and finally die.  It took Father many months to get on to the trick of calming the car somewhat to make the transition smoothly.  Alas, he never mastered it.

Willy Kramer in Berlin

More than 200,000 Jews emigrated from the countries of the former Soviet Union to Germany after the wall came down.  Willy Kramer’s parents had come earlier, from the Latvian capital of Riga.  But Willy himself never felt fully at home in his new country.

“Even though I grew up here, it’s still
impossible to escape the nauseating thought when you sit next to an 80
year old man and wonder what he did during the war.”

Willy Kramer grew up in Berlin and in 2007 wrote Berlin Fucking City, a series of short stories which revealed something of his love-hate relationship with the metropolis.  His stories are quite violent and the city he depicts is one of outsiders.

 

Select Kramer Names

Jack
Kramer was a leading
tennis player of the 1940’s who helped bring in the professional era to
the sport in the 1970’s.
Eileen Kramer was a
much-acclaimed Australian dancer and dance choreographer.
Floyd Cramer was a country
pianist who helped develop the “Nashville sound” in the 1950’s.
Stanley Kramer was a leading
American film director of the 1950’s and 1960’s.


Select Kramer Numbers Today

  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 37,000 in America (most numerous
    in Pennsylvania).
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).

 

 

 

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