No one who visits Calvary Cemetery can fail to notice “The Kron Angel.” Estimated at 24,000 pounds of imported Belgium stone and situated close to the central chapel, this massive monument commands attention.
So who is buried under this landmark?
This monument marks the final resting place of Frederick Kron, a prosperous and well-known Mankato merchant who was buried at Calvary on February 5, 1917 after dying at St. Joseph’s Hospital on February 1st. He was 64 when he died of “acute kidney trouble” following a week of fever and chills.
Frederick Kron was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 9, 1852, and arrived in Mankato with his parents, Johanna and Clement Kron on July 24, 1853, just one year after the town was officially “settled.” According to Mankato: The First 50 Years, a historical account published in 1903 by The Free Press Printing Company, Clement Kron first opened a tavern, then established Mankato’s first hotel, Kron’s hotel or “The Minnesota House,” which was described as originally a simple log house. Clement died in 1873 and Fred assumed management for two years. Shortly after that, on May 19, 1874, Fred married Clara, the daughter of Mathias Ulman, described in Fred’s Mankato Review obituary as “one of the pioneer hotel keepers of Mankato. The Minnesota House was later leased and eventually sold to Joseph Stahl, Fred’s brother-in-law. The Minnesota House was eventually torn down and a brick hotel, The Stahl House, was built. Fred opened a general merchandise store at 309 North Front Street and ran it for 10 years, according to his obituary.
The Kron Dry Goods & Grocery apparently prospered. According to the Review, in 1985 Fred erected a three-story “business block” at the corner of Front and Main streets. It was there that he opened a true department store known as “The Leader.”
Fred Kron’s funeral, held at Ss Peter and Paul Catholic Church, was an huge event that closed many downtown businesses. The Review reports: “Business in the city was practically suspended during the holding of the funeral, all of the banks and most of the business houses being closed in tribute to Mr. Kron.”
Pallbearers included Mankato Mayor Robert Lamm, James E. Hickey, F.K. Meagher, John H. Hohmann, Joseph Thro, H.F. Leonard and Otto Lamm. Honorary pallbearers were the director of the Mankato State Bank. Fred was president of the bank at the time of his death.
A Mankato Review article dated February 7, 1917 focused on the probate of Fred’s estate. Details included his financial holdings: Town and city property valued at $36,000; farm property valued at $4,000; personal property, $60,000; and $40,000 in “rents and profits.” According to one online currency calculator that $140,000 would equate to $2.6 million in today’s dollars.
The Encyclopedia of Biography of Minnesota (online version, published in 1900 by The Century Publishing and Engraving Company of Chicago), has a section on Frederick Kron. According to the biography, Fred and Clara had no children. Since Clara (shown left) died before Fred on June 29, 1910 at the age of 55, the proceeds of his estate were directed to his mother who survived him.
There was some controversy regarding Fred Kron’s will…or lack of one. A newspaper account at the time noted that “some say” that they overhead Fred and Clara talking about making or having wills while there was other hearsay that Fred had said the wills had been destroyed. That Fred’s mother, Johanna, claimed that her son, the merchant prince, died intestate, produced some local controversy. At the time of this post, no subsequent article has been found that a will was ever produced, and no reference found about who exactly ordered the lavish Kron Angel monument. It’s easily possible that Fred ordered it after his wife’s death, and the monument was already installed at the time of his death.
Any additions or clarifications to this account are welcome!
— The Calvary Ghostwriter