Kruger Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Kruger Surname Meaning

Kruger’s origins are German. Two derivations are given:

  • The first is from the German krug, meaning an inn or tavern, and kruger or kroger would describe a host or innkeeper. The name occurs mainly in northern Germany.
  • The second is from kruog, meaning jug or pot. Kruger here was an occupational name for a maker or seller of mugs, pitchers and jugs. This explanation seems to apply to the Krugers in southern Germany.

There are more Krugers in northern than in southern Germany; thus probably more Krugers derived from krug than from kruog.

German spellings were Kruger and Kroger, each with an umlaut.
These became Kruger and Krueger in their travels to English-speaking lands. Some Krugers came from Poland as Kruger can be a Jewish name.

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Kruger and Krueger Surname Ancestry

Early references to the Kruger surname in Germany were Lotze Crugir of Kassel (in northern Hesse) in 1351 and Henecke Krogher of Hanover in 1420. Their numbers today include:

  • 120,000 Kruegers. These Kruegers are mainly to be found in northern Germany, with a concentration in Mecklenburg west and Brandenburg east.
  • and 20,000 Kroegers. The Kroegers turn up in Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg along the western side of Germany,
    extending into Holland.

Many of the 19th century emigrants were recorded as coming from Prussia.

South Africa. The Kruger name has been long-standing and numerous in South Africa and is seen as Afrikaan. It is the 15th most common surname in the country today, most found in the Transvaal (Gauteng today).

The name Paul Kruger is famous in South African history. His origins were German with French Huguenot elements, not Dutch. As a young boy, he trekked with other Afrikaans to Natal, the Orange Free State and Transvaal and later won such a reputation for cleverness and coolness under pressure that he became their leader and led them against the British in the Boer War of Independence in 1899-1902. The memory of Paul Kruger lives on with the Kruger National Park, the town of Krugersdorp, and the Krugerrand gold coin.

More recent Krugers have been Jimmy Kruger, apartheid Minister of Justice in the 1970’s; the poet and playwright A.R. Krueger; and Tom Kruger and his son Nico, active through Namakwa Diamonds in South African diamond production

America. The Kruger immigrants to America in the 19th century headed mainly to the US Midwest. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa took large numbers of them as many became farmers there. One website in fact is devoted to the numerous Krugers of Great Lake county, Wisconsin.

Among the Kruger/Krueger immigrants at that time were:

  • Martin and Magdalena Krueger, who had grown up on the
    German/Polish border and come to America in the late 1840’s. They settled in Columbia county, Wisconsin.  However, Martin died soon afterwards and it was his brother who was responsible for the raising of their two daughters.
  • Walter Kruger, who came to America from Prussia in 1850 and settled to farm in Clayton county, Iowa.
  • Ernest Krueger, also from Prussia, who came to farm in Jones county, Iowa in 1856. His son Charles Krueger later was known for his pedigree horses.
  • George and Sophia Kruger, who had come to Detroit from Mecklenburg in 1860. Their son Henry prospered as a farmer in St. Clair county, Michigan, raising cattle, horses, and pigs.
  • Fred Kruger, who arrived with his father Lewis in 1866 and
    settled in Marinette, Wisconsin. He later became a successful grocer and fishmonger in St. Ignace.
  • Ludvig Krueger, a cabinet maker from Mecklenburg who immigrated in the 1880’s and settled in the Sturgis area of Michigan. The “e” in Krueger was later dropped after a family dispute.
  • and Anna Krueger, who – after her husband’s death – migrated with her three children to Madison, Indiana in 1889. One of her sons, Walter, rose to be a general in the US Army during World War Two.

Canada.  Joseph Kruger was a struggling paper merchant in New York in the early 1900’s. Looking for inspiration, he headed north to Montreal where he established a wholesale paper business. At the time of his death in 1927, the company had just five employees. It was his two sons, Gene and Bernard, who expanded Kruger Inc. into the Canadian paper products giant that it is today. It remains family-owned.

“The litigous era of the Kruger story began in 1975 when Gene’s son Joseph II, now the company’s CEO, took over a Panamanian affiliate, cutting Bernard and his children out of the profits. The protracted dispute only settled down in 1993 when Joseph paid out settlements totalling $1.36 million.”

Leonard Krueger came to Canada with his family in the early 1900’s and settled in southern Manitoba. He is known today for the scholarships he has bestowed to needy students.


Australia.
JCA Kruger was a leader of the German community in western Victoria. He arrived to farm in Hochkirch in 1855 and built the organ for the Lutheran church there. The Kruger Family Committee published a booklet Johann Carl August Kruger and His Descendants in Australia in 1981.

There were two Carl Krugers who came to Queensland:

  • Carl (subsequently Charles) Kruger arrived, aged 16, in Brisbane in 1865 and followed his father into the butcher’s business. He later settled in Mayborough and became a cattle drover.
  • another Carl Kruger came in the 1890’s and set up an axe-handle manufacturing business which proved to be very successful. Two of his sons, Ted and Percy, used their inheritance to take up horse-breeding, acquiring the Lyndhurst stud farm in 1956.

Daniel Kruger grew up in South Africa but emigrated to Australia in the early 1900’s. During World War One he enlisted in the Australian army and fought with them on the Western Front. He was captured by the Germans but later released. There, however, the trail on him ends.

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Kruger Surname Miscellany

Kruger and Krueger.  Both the Kruger and Krueger spelling made it to America.  The spelling at the point of immigration was invariably Kruger.  But this tended to reflect the laziness or lack of knowledge of immigration officials who could not decipher the German “u” with its umlaut inflection.  However, German immigrants usually did – with their Krueger rather than Kruger spelling.

Today, the Kruger/Krueger numbers in America run:

  • 5,000 Krugers (or 30 percent of the total)
  • and 13,000 Kruegers (or 70 percent of the total).

Kruger is possibly the better known – because of Paul Kruger, the Afrikaan leader in South Africa at the time of the Boer War.  The Kruger spelling is usually to be found in South Africa, Australia, and the UK. 

Paul Kruger’s Ancestry

  1. Franz Kruger married Elizabeth Hartwigs in Berlin in the
    1680’s.
  2. Jacob Kruger was born there n 1686.  He married Johanna Kemp in South Africa in 1725 and they had six children, including Hendrik.

Jacob Kruger had joined the Dutch East India Company and was sent with others to the Dutch Cape colony in 1713.

  1. Hendrik Kruger married Susanna Lacya Buys.
  2. Gert Kruger married Graaff Reinet in 1776.

There were ten Krugers recorded in South Africa around this time, most of them being descendants of Jacob Kruger above.

  1. Stephanus Johannes Kruger, born in 1778, married Margaretha Steenkamp in 1798.  They had six children, including Kasper.

The family lived on a farm at Bulhoek in the Eastern Cape.

  1. Kasper Jan Hendrik Kruger, born in 1804, married Elsie Francina Steyn in Colesburg, Cape Colony.

Kasper uprooted his family from their farm in 1835 when he joined the trek party of Hendrik Potgieter as the Great Trek started to the territories north of the Orange river (also on the trek were two other Kruger families).

  1. Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (otherwise known as Oom Paul Kruger), born in Colesburg in 1825, later became President of the South African republic.

Paul Kruger married twice, the second time to Gazina du Plessis with whom he had seven sons and nine daughters (although not all of them survived).

Krugers/Kruegers in Great Lake County, Wisconsin.  The following Kruger/Krueger families appeared in Federal Census registers for Great Lake county, Wisconsin in either 1870 or 1880.  All were recorded as having come from Prussia.

Township Year Head of Household Family
Princeton 1870 Christian Krueger wife Hannah
farmer, aged 48 and three children
Princeton 1870 August Krueger wife Augusta
farmer, aged 45 and four children
Princeton 1870 Carl Krueger wife Minnie
farmer, aged 39 and seven children
Princeton 1880 Gottfried Krueger wife Ernestine
farmer, aged 44 and three children
Princeton 1880 Gustav Krueger mother Ernestine
butcher, aged
35
Princeton 1880 William Krueger wife Caroline
farmer, aged 29 three children and father
Christian
Princeton 1880 John Krueger wife Augustine
farmer, aged 28 and two children
Manchester 1880 Anna Krueger, with six children
aged 47

Charles Krueger and His Pedigree Horses.  Charles Krueger was born of German stock on a farm in Jones county, Iowa in 1865.  He remained at home with his parents until he was thirty four when he struck out on his own.  He ended up at Doon in Lyon county where he became manager of the Bonnie Doon hotel.

His great love was horses.  He acquired a horse called General Bufort, with a pedigree of royal blood dating back to the 17th century.  It was originally Morgan stock and then became the Hambletonian with a long pedigree of trotters noted for their speed and swift progeny,.  General Bufort was sired by Gambetta Wilkes and Mary Bufort, his mother.  Gambetta was never tracked, but can and did trot an exhibition mile in 2 minutes 18 seconds..  Mr. Krueger also owned a Clydesdale, Ringleader, whose pedigree ran back into royal blood in 1815.

He took a justifiable pride in showing the strong points of these
famous horses to strangers.

Leonard Krueger and His Scholarships.  Leonard Krueger was born in 1898 in a small village on the western border of the Russian Empire.  He was born into a family of German speaking Lutherans who had come from East Prussia to farm in Russia.

During the first decade of this century the family left and immigrated to Canada.  The Krueger family settled in the Winkler-Morden district of southern Manitoba.  There Leonard Krueger received his early schooling.  As a particularly bright student he attracted the attention of the superintendent of the Mennonite schools in southern Manitoba.  This man saw to it that Leonard Krueger could receive the best possible education in spite of all difficulties by a new immigrant family.

After a successful academic career in chemistry at the University of Manitoba and later at the University of Chicago, Leonard Krueger began a most unusual program of establishing scholarships.  He felt that he had to repay a debt for the kindness and support he had received as a young student.  He set aside the monies he had received as pension and donated these funds to universities, colleges, hospitals and churches in Canada to allow them to give scholarships to young people of bright mind, but without means to pursue their studies.

Having decided to give away his pension, he found a way to survive with very little.  He started to collect old bottles, scrap metal and other items that could be recycled and sold them.  These ‘alternative’ earnings allowed him to lead a very modest and frugal life.  People who met the old man pushing his vehicle, a shopping cart laden with ‘valuables’ toward the scrap yard, called him a vagabond or bag man.

Over the years Leonard Krueger had become like one of the eremite saints or street philosophers of antiquity.  When you stopped to speak to him you could quickly notice an extremely sharp mind. And when you inquired about his motives you would discover a truly pious soul.

The Lyndhurst Stud Farm in Queensland.  Lyndhurst Stud was purchased by the brothers Percy and Ted Kruger in 1956 and has remained in Kruger family ownership ever since.  Their first success was the stallion Smokey Eyes, who was, for almost a decade, the leading sire of winners for the whole of Australia.

Whilst Smokey Eyes produced many great horses, he produced one filly – who then and to this day – has left an indelible mark on the Queensland and indeed Australian racing industry.  Raced by the Kruger brothers, Eye Liner as a two year old won eight consecutive races, seven by winning margins of between six and ten lengths.  She was taken to Sydney to contest the time honored Six Furlong Champagne Stakes at Randwick.  Eye Liner won the Champagne Stakes against the cream of Australian two year olds in one minute 9.9 seconds.  In doing so, she bettered the time record held by the champion Todman.

In her illustrious career, she won 14 races and carried up to 69 kgs (10stone 12lbs) to victory and was named 1967 “Horse of the
Year.”  As testament to Lyndhurst Stud’s ability to keep producing winners, she had ten foals (to five different Lyndhurst sires), of which nine raced and all were race winners – including the Group winners Pacific Ruler and Pacific Prince.

Memories of this remarkable filly are revived each year when the
Ipswich Turf Club stages the listed Eye Liner Stakes during the Brisbane Winter Carnival.

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Kruger Names
  • Gottfried Krueger founded the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company in Newark, New Jersey in 1858. In 1935 Krueger beer became the first beer to be produced in cans.
  • Paul Kruger was President of the free Boer Republic of the Transvaal from 1881 to 1902 and led his people against the British during the Boer War.
  • Walter Krueger was an American soldier of German descent from Indiana, the first to rise from private to general in the US Army.
  • Otto Kruger was an American screen actor whose long career ran from 1915 to the late 1950’s.  He was a grandnephew of South African President Paul Kruger.
  • Jimmy Kruger, born in Wales and adopted by Afrikaan parents, was South Africa’s Minister of Justice in the 1970’s during the apartheid years.
Kruger Numbers Today
  • 2,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 18,000 in America (most numerous in Wisconsin)
  • 6,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).

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