Thank you for your reply. Your theory is consistent with ours. The only odd aspect of the story is that Maria was well acquainted with her half brother. It appears as though they were brought up together, at least for a time. When Lawrence Kreinecker came to the US in 1920, he listed Maria as his sister, and the family regarded him as her brother. We are still in contact with his daughter and granddaughter.
Does this suggest to you that Maria and her mother lived with the Kreinecker family for some part of the time before she was 12? We discovered a note written by my husband's aunt (apparently a report from Maria herself) which said Maria's mother died when Maria was an infant, and was raised by Joseph and Mary Feiler. Perhaps the Feilers were also servants in the household?
We have done research into the BB newsletter site. Joseph Feiler of Poppendorf is mentioned several times. He is said to have traveled back and forth to the US. Shortly after Maria married John Breitfeller, the newsletter reported that one of Joseph's daughters was married off to a "wealthy" American. (John Breitfeller was not wealthy, but not poor. More curious, he had recently emigrated from Gerersdorf -- would he have been referred to as an American?)
Will search for "orphans", as you suggest. Any other ideas?
Thanks so much for your assistance!!