ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Discovering the Past of My Paternal Grandmother

Updated on September 1, 2022
Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul was born and grew up in Wisconsin. He is married to a Thai and living in Thailand. He has Swiss, German, and Austrian ancestry.

My Paternal Grandmother and Grandfather's Family

Standing from left to right:  dad, aunt Marie, uncle Augie, aunt Laura, and uncle Dick.  Seated are grandma and grandpa.  Seated in front are aunt Florence and aunt Helen
Standing from left to right: dad, aunt Marie, uncle Augie, aunt Laura, and uncle Dick. Seated are grandma and grandpa. Seated in front are aunt Florence and aunt Helen | Source

The Need to Discover Grandma's Past

Although I only lived three blocks from my grandparents from 1947 until 1954, I never really got to know grandma when growing up. I used to always tag along with dad when he visited grandma and grandpa, but it always seemed grandma was cold to me and didn't treat me as warmly as my maternal grandmother.

I only learned a few things about grandma from dad, and grandma never mentioned her past to me. According to my father, grandma was born in Austria and immigrated to America when she was a teenager. After living for a while in Pennsylvania, she moved to Door County, Wisconsin, where she married grandpa. Dad never talked about grandma's folks (my great-grandfather and great-grandmother.) Grandma and dad also never made mention of any aunts, uncles, brothers, or sisters that grandma had.

This article is an attempt to discover the past of my grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Kroll Kuehn. From my cousin's genealogy research and my findings on, I am beginning to reconstruct grandma's life trying to understand her.

My Grandmother at Age 13 in 1900 in Austria

From left to right:  grandma's father, Anton Riedelsperger, grandma, grandma's unidentified stepmother.  In front are grandma's unidentified half-brother and half-sister.
From left to right: grandma's father, Anton Riedelsperger, grandma, grandma's unidentified stepmother. In front are grandma's unidentified half-brother and half-sister. | Source

My Great-Grandmother Mary Kroll

Picture of great-grandmother taken in Austria at an unidentified date
Picture of great-grandmother taken in Austria at an unidentified date | Source

Early Years in Austria 1887-1903

According to genealogy records, my grandma, Mary Elizabeth Kroll Kuehn, was born on March 25, 1887, in Tirol of the Innsbruck State of Austria. Her father, Anton Riedelsperger who was in the army when younger was born in 1851 also in Tirol. Grandma's mother (my great-grandmother) was Mary Kroll born in 1867 in Salzburg.

There are no records of grandma's mother and father ever getting married, so it is no surprise that grandma used her mother's surname of Kroll while living in Austria.

My cousin opines that grandma spent the first 16 years of her life splitting time with her mother and father. In a photo taken around 1900, grandma appears in a picture in Austria with her father, Anton Riedelsperger, an unidentified stepmother, half-brother, and half-sister.

In 1900, my great-grandma, Mary Kroll, immigrated to America and initially lived with her brother, Peter Kroll, and his wife in southwestern Pennsylvania. Peter was a coal miner who had immigrated to the United States in the 1890s.

In 1903, my grandmother immigrated to America and joined her mother who had married Frank Angerer in 1901. Frank was a coal miner who had immigrated from Germany in the late 1880s. He was a widower who had five young children living with him.

Life in America Before Marriage 1903-1913

After grandma immigrated to America and was reunited with her mother who was now the wife of Frank Angerer, she took the surname of Angerer. I assume that Mary Elizabeth Angerer was adopted by Frank Angerer because the 1910 census indicates Mary Elizabeth as Frank and Mary Kroll Angerer's oldest child.

After Frank Angerer's first wife passed away around the year 1898, she left him with five young children. The oldest boy was about seven or eight and the youngest was around one. When grandma joined the family in 1903, she was the oldest at the age of 16. Grandma and dad never mentioned grandma's stepbrothers and stepsisters even though the oldest boy Gottlieb lived in Burlington about seven miles from our farm during the 1930s. My dad and grandma also never talked about grandma's half-brother and half-sister in Austria.

I vaguely recall dad saying that grandma was in a convent in Pennsylvania before marrying grandpa. My cousin and my research to date, however, have not been able to verify this statement by my father. Nothing is known about grandma's activities from 1903 until she appears as a member of the Angerer household in 1910.

According to articles found in A History of Door County published in 1917, Frank Angerer and his family including my grandma moved from Pennsylvania to Door County, Wisconsin, in 1911. Frank Angerer had purchased a farm there. From 1911 until 1913, I have no record of grandma's employment.

Married Life 1913-1963

In 1913, grandma married grandpa, Charles August Kuehn, who was also from Door County. Grandpa was born in Milwaukee in 1885, and according to census records only had a third-grade education. Based on a genealogy record, grandpa was working as a laborer in the Milwaukee area in 1912.

No one ever told me how grandpa and grandma met. After they married, grandpa and grandma lived on a farm near Egg Harbor in Door County. Uncle Augie was born in 1914, my father, Charles George, in 1916, and Aunt Marie in 1918.

The 1920 census shows grandpa and grandma still living on a farm near Egg Harbor. An ancestry record, however, indicates that they moved to Greenfield in West Allis, and were living there in 1926. Dad often talked about living on 92nd Street in Greenfield as a boy.

During the 1920s, Uncle Dick was born in 1921, Aunt Laura in 1924, Aunt Helen in 1926, and Aunt Florence in 1929.

By 1938, grandma and grandpa had moved to 960 South 63rd Street in West Allis. According to the 1940 census, all of my aunts, Uncle Dick, and my father were still living with grandma and grandpa. Uncle Augie had probably moved out sometime between 1938 and 1940 because he wasn't listed in the census. The census indicated that grandpa was a stockyard worker and grandma a housewife.

My memories of grandma begin around 1949 when I was five. We were living three or four blocks from grandma and grandpa at 1338 South 63rd Street. I remember grandma as a stocky woman about 5'4" in height. Whenever my dad and I visited, grandma was often outside feeding the chickens which she kept in a coop and fenced-in backyard. There was also a small cherry tree in the back of the house.

Grandma kept a spotless house, and I never recall sitting on a sofa or an armchair. I spent most of the time during warm weather sitting on a loveseat on an enclosed front porch.

Although dad said that grandma made some delicious chicken and dumplings, I can never remember eating at her house. One time grandma took me down into the basement when she was washing clothes and gave me some marbles that Aunts Helen and Florence used to play with.

My last memory of grandma is in June of 1963, five months after the death of grandpa. We went over to her house, and dad gave her $20 for grandpa's old car so that I would have transportation to my summer job. In March of 1964, grandma died of a heart attack at the age of 77.

Grandma and grandpa lived in this house on 63rd St.  Picture taken in 2018.
Grandma and grandpa lived in this house on 63rd St. Picture taken in 2018. | Source


It was no secret that my mother and grandma did not care much for each other. I cannot remember a time when mom and I went over to visit grandma. After my mom and dad married, it seemed that grandma favored Uncle Dick, all of my aunts, and all of my cousins over my dad and Uncle Augie's family. We were never invited to family reunions, and grandma and grandpa seldom came to visit after we moved out to the farm. I still cannot understand why grandma disliked my mother. Perhaps further research will enable me to understand grandma better.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Paul Richard Kuehn


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)