The descendants of John and Eva (Grabau) Wrase gathered at Forestville Cemetery this past Sunday to place a new marker at the pioneer couple's burial site.
The descendants of John and Eva (Grabau) Wrase gathered at Forestville Cemetery this past Sunday to place a new marker at the pioneer couple's burial site.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..."

So read the descendants of the Grabau family as they laid a new grave marker for their ancestors, Minnesota immigrants and pioneers, John and Eva (Grabau) Frazer Wrase, this past Sunday, July 14, at the Forestville Cemetery in Forestville Township. The family gathered first for its 80th reunion and picnic at South Park in Spring Valley, enjoying one another's company - including that of the eldest member, who at 99, had missed only one or two reunion picnics over the course of eight decades - then traveled to the cemetery to observe the commemoration of their ancestors' hard work and return to the earth.

According to the family history compiled by Spring Valley area residents Ruth Lemke and Roger Hintze, descendants of August Grabau, Eva's brother, Eva Grabau Frazer Wrase was born in 1824 to Christian and Anne (Wilbrecht) Grabau. Eva was married to John Frazer Wrase in Prussia, and their first two children died in infancy. Later, the family left Prussia in 1855, bound for the United States, with 5-year-old Emilie and their young son, John Frazer, Jr., to seek a better life. Henry Frazer Wrase was born to them on the Atlantic Ocean during their journey to America.

Not much history is available regarding the Wrases' first years in America, but in 1856, John and Eva bought 120 acres in Forestville Township from Joseph Reynolds in Dane County, Wisconsin, in September for $300. In 1861, John Wrase received 160 acres as a warrant signed by Abraham Lincoln. This land was also located in Forestville Township.

John and Eva's family grew to include seven more children, but the Wrases also suffered the loss of Eva and several of those children - including Henry, who died at the age of 27 from blood poisoning, Charles, who lived to be 9 years old and had a "spinal complaint," Albert, 6 months, succumbed to scarlet fever, and Caroline, 23, died from complications of an abortion as a consequence of a fall. Eva lived to be 57 years old - she contracted erysipelas, an infectious disease caused by streptococcus - and died in 1882. The family was survived by John, John, Jr., John and Eva's daughters Emilie and Anna, and son Fred. John lived until 1910.

The history related, "A year after Eva and John Wrase immigrated, Eva's parents, Christian and Anne Grabau and her four brothers, John, Christian, Daniel and August, came to America. After spending some time in Watertown, Wis., they came by ox team to Forestville Township. They selected a site on Section 14 because of the timber shelter and running spring water. There, they built a log house, which was on the territorial military road from Cresco, Iowa, to St. Paul, Minn. The boys grubbed timber and husked corn for Bill Meighen at 50 cents per day to buy potatoes and two hogs for the winter." Christian and Anne both died in Forestville Township and are buried in the Forestville Cemetery, just outside of Forestville State Park. However, the location of John and Eva's burial site was lost to generations - "if there had been a gravestone at one time, it is now missing, and the Grabau family feels it is important to mark the location with a new tombstone," which they placed this past Sunday.

The reunion and stone-laying ceremony brought together approximately 40 Grabaus from Minnesota and Iowa.