Interesting Finds From My Genealogy Research
One of My Great-Grandfathers
Doing Genealogy Research
Since August 7, 2016, I have been finally doing long overdue genealogy research. I recently joined Ancestry.com and have been constructing a family tree starting with my parents. With the aid of Ancestry from documents such as census reports, marriage, birth, and death records, immigration records, and stories from relatives who have already researched my ancestors, I have discovered a lot of interesting finds for grandparents, great-grandparents, and even my mother! The purpose of this article is to share some of these interesting and unusual stories.
Ancestral Origins from Genealogy Records
The family relatives on both my father's and mother's sides originated in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. Upon reaching the United States, my paternal grandmother and great-grandparents settled in Door County in northeastern Wisconsin. My maternal great-grandparents took up roots in Marshfield in central Wisconsin.
From going through census records, marriage, birth, and death certificates, and stories and pictures shared by other researchers, I have learned some interesting, exciting, and somewhat unexpected things about my grandparents, great-grandparents, and yes, even my mother. These findings are as follows.
My Maternal Grandfather Robbed a Bank
Grandpa's bank robbery wasn't a complete surprise since my mother had sometimes talked about it while she was still alive. Mom, however, never told all of the details about the robbery which I learned by reading an account of it in the Marshfield Herald Newspaper. This article was shared by another relative who had researched the life of my grandfather.
According to the October 29, 1929, article, grandpa robbed a bank in the small town Unity outside of Marshfield early in the afternoon. He then fled unassisted with $711 and hid in the high school basement of the town. A short time later, he was captured by members of the school basketball team who called the police. Grandpa was put in prison for about seven years, and this was a dark time in the life of my mother who was only nine at the time. Mom often talked about classmates making fun of her and having to drop out of school when she was only 13.
Tragic Death of My Maternal Great-Grandfather
I never saw my maternal great-grandfather when young because he suffered a tragic death before my birth. In 1932, grandpa Drexler was a teamster tasked with collecting refuse from a hospital in Marshfield. As he was loading refuse onto a wagon pulled by horses, the animals got scared when he was behind them and suddenly lurched forward. After kicking him in the head, the horses dragged grandpa's body for quite a distance before the wagon was stopped. Mom had also talked about grandpa's death before, but I was never sure about how the death occurred until I read an article shared by another researcher.
Paternal Great-Grandmother Had a Drinking Problem
According to historical records, my paternal great-grandmother lived in Door County, Wisconsin, from around 1886 until she died in 1930. An article that was written by my cousin who also researched my ancestors noted that Grandma Bertha Kuehn often had a flask hidden under her skirts. One of her jobs was that of a midwife. It was said that she had a fiery temper and was beautiful with red hair. She raised eight of my great uncles, my grandfather, and one great aunt.
My Great-Grandmother in a Four Generation Photo
My Paternal Grandmother Had a Step Father
Now I can understand why I never saw any of my grandma's sisters or brothers when I was younger. My grandma lived with her father, Anton Riedlsperger, and stepmother in Austria until around the age of 15. She then immigrated to the United States at 17 with her mother who had never married her father. Shortly before immigrating to the States, grandma's mother, my great-grandma met a man who took his family including my adopted grandma to Pennsylvania where he worked as a coal miner. A few years later the family moved to Door County where grandma met and married grandpa.
Paternal Grandma with Real Father and Step Mother
Maternal Great-Grandfather's Divorce
Until going through census records, I never realized that my maternal great-grandfather had divorced his wife when my grandfather was about 15 years old. My mother never talked about this unpleasant affair while she was living. Domestic violence against my great-grandmother undoubtedly led to divorce. I discovered this information from reading old articles in a Marshfield newspaper published in 1913-1914.
My Paternal Grandfather Was a Twin
While he was living, I never recalled my father telling me that grandpa had a twin brother. I never saw my grandpa's twin or heard him or my dad talk about this matter.
My Paternal Grandpa Lost His Farm Through Bank Foreclosure
While searching through Door County Wisconsin land records in the early 1900s, I discovered that a bank foreclosed on grandpa's farm in November of 1922. It was sold at a sheriff's auction for $1,000. This was a big surprise to me because dad, grandpa, or any other relatives never talked about this.
My Mother's Occupation Was that of Hooker?!
While going through the 1940 census, I was shocked to see that my mom's occupation was listed as "hooker." It all made sense, however, when I remembered Mom telling me that she used to work in a shoe factory near Marshfield before marrying dad. Her job in the shoe factory was putting hooks on shoes. There wasn't any political correctness in 1940.
Where do your ancestors originate from?
Researching my ancestors has been interesting, exciting, and extremely challenging. I expect to find more unusual facts and stories as I get further into digging up my roots.
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