The Frau Erica Project
Muellers in America:
The first 154 years


The Mueller Farm, on Kammerer Road east of Kendallville, Indiana, photographed in rain June 4, 2007, by Mark Nickel

Photo galleries of the Frau Erica Project

Different files on the site link to a variety of photographs that are appropriate to the text. These Galleries gather related photographs and present them as a group for better browsing.

Mark and Alli

We started out as a foursome and reached the full complement in October 1987.

Daniel McMillan Crawley

Oldest kid, pathfinder, and entrepreneur, Dan’s first business was buying bags of Jolly Ranchers and selling them by the piece on the school bus. It was successful but short-lived. Portsmouth public schools eventually shut him down.

Susan Allison Crawley

Susan, the middle kid sandwiched between brothers, picked up a noticeable Fall River accent (pizzer, youse, bwanners), developed a strong preference for tuna-pea casserole and was fearless about large creative projects like painting an entire wall of the basement.

Anson Edouard Nickel

The youngest kid in the household learned to stand his ground. If he was watching Charlotte’s Web and Dan wanted to watch a Bruins game, Anson would put his foot down: “I watchin’ pig!

Thomas Crawley Knowles
Volume I

Thomas Crawley Knowles arrived in Washington, D.C., on July 30, 2016 – his great-grandmother Molly McMillan’s 97th birthday.

Thomas Crawley Knowles
Volume II

About six weeks after his first birthday, Thomas and his parents left Washington, D.C., for 4021 West Grace Street in Richmond, Virginia. Corner lot, fenced back yard, community with lots of kids and young families.

Thomas Crawley Knowles
Volume III

Starting his third year with the prospect of real school – the Richmond Waldorf School.

Archer Gaur Nickel
Volume I

Archer Gaur Nickel arrived in Brooklyn on a beautiful spring Wednesday, May 2, 2018.

Archer Gaur Nickel
Volume II

With walking under his belt, Archie started his second year with a new goal: Words. He knows what to call buses.

James Mark Knowles
Volume I

James Mark Knowles arrived in Richmond with the autumnal equinox just before midnight on Sunday, September 22, 2018.

Thomas and James

The two guys, born just over two years apart, are growing up together in Richmond.

Adelheid Mueller

Adelheid was the fourth of Ernst and Helen Mueller’s nine children and was thought to be the most delicate, the least likely to survive childhood. She died at age 92, with four children, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Hilbert C. Nickel

H.C. (Hib) Nickel was the first American-born Nickel, first college graduate (Marquette University), and first to earn a graduate degree (M.B.A., University of Chicago). He was a stock broker, market analyst, business teacher (Indiana University–Gary), church treasurer, and father of four boys.

The Four Nickel Boys

All born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois, but no longer in the Midwest. Joel and Tim are in Oregon; Jim in New York City, Mark in Rhode Island.

Joel Thomas Nickel

Joel — he was Jerry through high school — was the pathfinder: athlete, student leader, creative minister in challenging inner-city Detroit and south-side Chicago, father, grandfather, artist.

Dick McMillan

Dick McMillan was a flight instructor during World War II, certified for carrier landings, founder of his own electric motor company, churchman, choir member, avid hunter and fisherman.

Molly McMillan

Mary Allison (Molly, Nana) McMillan lived a long and eventful life: Vassar physics major, civic leader, one of the earliest Twin Cities women ordained in the Presbyterian church, great-grandmother to 10.

Dick and Molly’s wedding

Dick and Molly were married in the Bigelow family home. A quick honeymoon during the war years amounted to a short fishing trip — her “first and last,” as Molly later wrote.

Oma and Opa Mueller

Helen Hedder and Ernst Mueller were both children of immigrant parents. They began married life in Madison, Minnesota, a stark contrast to their lives in late 19th-century German Chicago.

Frieda Mueller

Flett, Fifi, Lili — all nieces and nephews had a special family name for her — was the most beloved of aunts. She was caregiver for her aged parents, counselor for bachelor brothers, family historian, a cohesive and positive force across four generations.

Gerhard Mueller

Gerhard, an ordained LCMS minister, was the most enigmatic of Ernst and Helen’s nine children. He served small parishes in Nebraska and tiny missions in northern Minnesota, subsisting below the poverty line. Siblings called him Gene or Päsel. Neices and nephews knew him as Boo-Boo. No one really knew why.

Ernie and Charlotte Mueller

In a town largely without television or telephones, Ernie and Charlotte had bonfires, marshmallow roasts, and sessions of “strict rules” Flinch. Charlotte taught; Ernie kept a large garden ... and was an early adopter of the Edsel.

Allison McKibbin

Allison McKibbin, mother to Mary Allison (Molly) Bigelow and her younger brother John, was the second wife of C.H. Bigelow Jr.


There were 11 Müllers aboard Der Adler – Fritz, Johanne, and nine kids – all traveling first cabin.

Galapagos Islands 2018

Trite but true: It was the trip of a lifetime, including an arrival at the same spot in Dagus Cove where Charles Darwin came ashore in 1835.