In his 1872 history of Lake County, Ind., Rev. Timothy H. Ball wrote the following about Klaasville: "This little village is pleasantly situated on the 'Grand Prairie,' about half mile from the Illinois Line, south and west from Brunswick, about twelve miles from Crown Point. It is near the summit of a slight elevation in the prairie, from whence one can look far away into the apparently boundless regions of Illinois. Here is located the Church of St. Anthony, erected in 1860, connected with which is a cemetery; and settled near are ten or fifteen families, in the village proper, about 10. There is one store, a school house, blacksmith, carpenter, wagon maker, shoemaker and a tailor."
He described the village as "a quiet, thrifty, healthful place."
The town was named after the Klaas family, who came to the United States in the middle of the 1800's. According to family records prepared by John Schenher, grandson of Christian Klaas, and partially completed in 1980 by Rev. Father Wayne Walter, Henry J. Klaas was the first family member to come to this country. He was born at Lippe-Detmold, Germany, in 1829.
He sent for his parents, his brothers and his sister soon after his arrival. His parents were Heinrich Klaas (1800-1882) and Elizabeth Klaas (1805-1883). His brothers were Christian Klaas (1831-1911) and August Klaas. His sister was Mary Klaas Berg.
Henry J. Klaas had a large family, as did many of the families, so the village residents were closely related.
The family invested in government land, with several hundred acres owned by the relatives.
Four acres of their land was deeded to the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne in 1860, for the price of one dollar, to be used for the site of a church, cemetery and a school. The donors were Christian Klaas, his wife, Wilhelmina, and August Klaas and his wife, Louisa.
The frame church, with a high steeple, stood proudly in front of the cemetery and was dedicated in 1861 by Bishop John H. Luers. At that time it was a mission church, and pastors from the church of St. Martin (now Holy Name of Jesus) at Hanover Center (Cedar Lake) would reside at the Sunday and Holy Day services.
Henry Klaas was one of the owners of the Klaasville general store in the early days, and several other business men were listed as owners in the books and columns long gone. After the Fisher family was there for a short time, Michael Stark was the owner, until it was sold to Joseph Rascher, who tore down the building and moved a part of the business across the street to his saloon building. Rascher had purchased the saloon building from Joseph Meincke, who for many years was a successful and well-known business man in the village and the locality.
John Haase is said to have been the earliest blacksmith at Klaasville. He was also well known as an expert wagon maker and came to town in about 1865 at the end of the Civil War. He worked at this shop at the southeast corner of the village. He was there until 1894, when he sold out to Peter Sauer (1865-1942), who came from Germany as a young lad, but already experienced in the trade. The old blacksmith shop stood until 1976. Henry Klaas was also mentioned as having a blacksmith shop near "the corners" in the early years of the village.
Some of the homes belonged to the following Christian families: August and Henry Klaas; Joseph, Bernard and Frank Berg; and the Weber, Moenix and the Rascher families. There were two schools, a public school and a Catholic school.
With several business places, schools, a church and quite a group of homes, housing perhaps 150 persons in and about the community, the question often asked is: "What happened to the thriving village?"
The Catholic school, also used for many years for box socials and barn dances, was no longer in use by the year 1914 and was moved to the south side of the town to be used as a shed. When a tornado crashed through the village, the only thing hit was the public school, which was scattered in the wind.
The home used as a convent was removed. The church building was moved to a nearby farm to be used as a utility barn.
The Berg family home was moved to Beecher, Ill., and the Weber house was moved east out of the town on Calumet Ave.
After his mother's death, Joseph Moenix moved the old family home to Steger, Ill., and H. Siegert bought the priest's house. Some of the old homes still there have been remodeled extensively, including the Joseph Rascher place.
The town moved out, leaving behind a few homes, the cemetery, the quiet and the memories.
After the turn of the century, the roads and transportation became easier and better and made shopping in the nearby communities an option. Soon the business area of Klaasville was gone. By that time, many of the horses tied up at the hitching rack at Rascher's saloon had been replaced by Model T's and Buicks.
The Old Timer toured the site of old Klaasville recently, saw the well- groomed yard and well-kept homes still there. There is an old red barn near the grove of trees which hides the view from the east of the old church yard and the cemetery. The name "Klaasville" still survives, however, on a weathered sign.
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