Paul’s Pelicans


The Paul Kroegel Memorial in  Sebastian, Florida
Picture credit: Ebyabe


Like many of you, I am sure, my Ancestors came to America from so many places.

One of them was my Grandfather who was from Prussia,  a place that no longer exists and is now called Germany.

At home,  he primarily spoke in German to me as a child and attempted to teach it to me.

Regretfully,  I was not a very good student and only managed to learn a few words before he passed away.

But, the one thing that he did leave with me,  that resonates in much of what I attempt even today, was his strong, proud work ethic.

With this thought in mind, today while reading my mail,  I came across a story about a man who sadly, I had  never heard of, perhaps because I did not grow up here in Florida, but in Indiana and California.

The man I speak of is Paul Kroegel,  who came to Florida from Germany as a child  in 1881  and left his mark on it and the world of wild life forever.

Recently there was a Festival in Sebastian, where he had  lived, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth.

I wish I could have known him, much  like my grandfather,  Kroegel was diligent,  hardworking and so dedicated to what he believed in.

He loved animals, especially birds,  and did his best to protect them from marauding, murdering bullies.

Paul was quite  passionate about the local  Brown Pelicans  who were being slaughtered for their feathers and was determined to stop it.

Mr. Kroegel was a primary impetus for the beginnings of our National Wildlife Refuge System and it was his vision of how

wildlife should be treated,  that initiated the overall system that we have in place today.

In 1903 , President Teddy Roosevelt  made Kroegel’s  dream a reality,  by ordering  Pelican Island to become the first National Wildlife Refuge.

Kroegel became the first  park Warden and was  paid $1 a month for his duties.

Many years later, following a devastating Hurricane, the Pelicans temporarily abandoned the Island, and Kroegel was to have another first, a mandatory Government retirement.

He died in Sebastian in 1948.

This man fought nearly all of his life in the defense of helpless animals,  proving once again,  that one person can make a difference.

Kroegel,  like my grandfather,  led his life in an exemplary  manner,  giving me the will to continue fighting for animals in trouble,  even on those days when I  am not sure if anyone is really  out there?


These are some  places where you may  learn more about this remarkable man:

American Conservation Hero – Paul Kroegel

German Immigrant Honored for Role in U.S. Wildlife Protection

Paul Kroegel – First Refuge Employee

Kroegel and Pelican Island

Paul Kroegel and the Story of Pelican Island

Paul Kroegel and America’s First Wildlife Refuge



16 thoughts on “Paul’s Pelicans

  1. Pingback: Tribal Matriarchs | sachemspeaks

  2. An interesting post, you are right one person can make a difference. But I know it is so easy to get discouraged. Thankfully there are people out their such as yourself who care about animals.

  3. Inspirational. Yes, the Germans do have a strong work ethic. I too am from German origins – my surname Wilhelm gives this away 🙂
    I know exactly what you mean when you say, “I am not sure if anyone is really out there”. AR activism can at times be a lonely, frustrating journey. It needs dedication and perseverance, even on those days when we “don’t feel like going to work”. Do Germans ever feel that way? ;-0

  4. It is so very true. This can often be a lonely path, but something keeps driving us to do this.
    Most likely a loathing of the cowards and bullies who do harm to innocents I am sure.
    Thank you for your kind words, but most of all for all that you do for those with no voice~

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