Memories of Grandparents and Plans to Discover My Roots
The Author as a Young Boy
Remembering My Grandparents as a Young Boy
As a young boy, I was never really very close to my grandparents. One of the reasons is because my maternal grandma and grandpa lived 200 miles away in Central Wisconsin. I suspect that I hardly knew my paternal grandparents because mom and grandma didn't care that much for each other, and I hardly went on any visits although we only lived three blocks apart up until 1954.
Even though I wasn't that close to my grandmas and grandpas, I still have memories that I share in this hub. I also remember my maternal great-grandmother. Most of these memories cover the first ten years of my life.
Before ending this hub, I also detail my plans to research my great-grandparents and roots in Germany and Austria.
Memories of My Maternal Grandparents
Although I seldom saw them, I felt a lot closer to my maternal grandparents than my paternal grandpa and grandma. I guess it is because Grandma Schmidt (ma's mother) and Mary, my youngest aunt one year older than me, showed me a lot of affection.
Grandma and Grandpa Schmidt lived at 903 North Walnut Street on the north side of Marshfield, Wisconsin. They had a small two-story house, and I always slept in a big unfurnished room under the roof when we visited. Grandma and grandpa lived with Mary and another aunt Donna until she married in 1956. In the house were also mentally retarded Uncle Leo and a great uncle who we just called "uncle."
Grandma was a housewife who kept busy caring for Aunt Mary, Uncle Leo, and her mother, my great-grandma, who lived in a small cottage on a small hill a stone's throw away.
I remember great-grandma as a very small woman wearing glasses. She was probably in her mid-70s in the early 1950s and had a big wood-burning stove in her home. I called her "little grandma" and my grandma Schmidt "big grandma."
Grandpa like grandma was in his early 50s around 1952-1953. He worked at the Marshfield City Park and one of his jobs was feeding the animals in a small zoo. Unfortunately, grandpa was an alcoholic and always had to have a drink in the morning before going to work. When he came down to the farm with grandma to visit us, I remember that he always had to stop in the tavern for a drink before going to church on Sunday.
Although grandpa was sober for the last year before he passed away in 1961, he died of complications from alcoholism when I was 17. "Little Grandma died from a heart attack when she was in her mid-80s, and grandma succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 73 when I was 28.
My Grandma and Mom
Maternal Great-Grandfather and Great-Grandmother
Remembering My Paternal Grandparents
My paternal grandparents lived at 960 South 63rd Street in West Allis, Wisconsin. They lived in a small two-story house right across from the Allis Chalmers Corporation. What I remember the most about grandma and grandpa's house is that it had an enclosed front porch with a love seat where I spent a lot of time.
Grandma and grandpa Kuehn lived with my two youngest aunts, Helen and Florence, who had rooms upstairs. Both aunts were in their late 20s in the early 50s.
Besides remembering the big cat, Puddy, that they had, grandma had a small chicken coop with about 10 chickens in the backyard. There was also a small cherry tree.
Grandma Kuehn was a housewife. According to dad, she was born in Austria and immigrated to America at the age of 17. She met Grandpa in Door County in Wisconsin where my dad was born in 1916.
Grandpa Kuehn who was born in Wisconsin worked as a laborer all of his life. In the 50s, I remember dad taking me one time to see him working in the Milwaukee Stockyards. Dad once said that Grandpa never had any money because he liked to drink and then made bad deals and got cheated when drunk. Before his death in 1963 at the age of around 75, I remember grandpa always smoking a pipe whenever we saw him.
After grandpa died, grandma sold his old Ford car to dad for about $25. Dad then gave the car to me so that I would have transportation to my summer job in 1963. Grandma Kuehn died a year later in 1964 due to a heart attack.
My Paternal Grandpa and Grandma
Grandma, Great-Grandpa and Step Great-Grandma
Plans for Genealogy Research
In 2013, my youngest sister sent me several photos of grandparents and great-grandparents on both my mother's and father's side of the family. Most of the pictures were of paternal great-grandparents which my sister received from one of our cousins.
After looking at the photos and identifying some great-grandparents and even one great-great-grandmother, I resolved that one day I would do genealogy research to discover my roots.
I began genealogy research in the summer of 2015 attempting to get free information about my ancestors from websites like FamilySearch, The Olive Tree, and Genealogy Today. Although I was able to find a few facts from birth and US Census records, I was always referred to Ancestry.com for additional information.
Ancestry.com gives you two weeks of free membership, but after that, you have to pay to access their U.S. and foreign databases. These databases include US Census records from 1790 until 1940, birth and death records, and marriage records. They also include other records such as military service, immigration, and naturalization records. Foreign databases would include birth, death, marriage, and church records.
From my sister's records and photos, I have been able to identify all but one of my great-grandfathers. I have even been able to identify one of my great-great-grandmothers on my father's side.
If I want to trace my roots back to Germany and Austria, I will have to pay for it on Ancestry. It is worth it, however, because Ancestry will give me help in building a family tree and finding detailed records of my ancestors.
I would like to trace my ancestors back as far as I can and find out if there is any credence in dad saying that our family has some European royal foreign blood in it. I also hope to find out information about dad and my maternal grandpa that no one in the family cared to discuss.
My Paternal Great-Grandmother
A Paternal Great-Great Grandmother
Memories of my grandparents have stimulated me to trace ancestor roots in Germany and Austria. My exciting and interesting findings will be shared in a future article.
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