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Memories of Grandparents and Plans to Discover My Roots

Updated on December 29, 2017
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.

The Author as a Young Boy

Picture of author taken around 1947
Picture of author taken around 1947 | Source

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 which 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

Picture taken in 1921  Mom was about one year old.
Picture taken in 1921 Mom was about one year old. | Source

Maternal Great-Grandfather and Great-Grandmother

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Schmidt  at an unknown date.  Picture taken in Manistique, Michigan
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Schmidt at an unknown date. Picture taken in Manistique, Michigan | Source

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

Paternal grandma and grandpa with my father, uncles, and aunts in 1938
Paternal grandma and grandpa with my father, uncles, and aunts in 1938 | Source

Grandma, Great-Grandpa and Step Great-Grandma

My grandma at the age of 13.  She is between my great-grandpa and step great-grandma.  Picture was taken in Austria.
My grandma at the age of 13. She is between my great-grandpa and step great-grandma. Picture was taken in Austria. | Source

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 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 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

Source

A Paternal Great-Great Grandmother

Death card from a great-great grandmother who died in 1895
Death card from a great-great grandmother who died in 1895 | Source

Conclusion

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 hub.

© 2016 Paul Richard Kuehn

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    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      23 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Au fait, Thanks for your comments about your great grandmother. They are interesting. I joined ancestry.com about a week ago and have traced some of my ancestors back to the 1700s. They are from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. I have already found some interesting things about my great grandparents and will be sharing them in future hubs. Thanks for sharing and pinning this article.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      23 months ago from North Texas

      Looking back at ancestors can be very interesting and it can help us understand how we arrived where we are today. Of course grandparents aren't that far back and it's nice to reminisce. You have some great photos and you're so lucky to have them.

      I like to go back as far as I can with ancestry. I've managed to get back to the mother countries where my ancestors originated. It can be so interesting to see the parts they played in the formation of this country and how different their lives were from ours.

      My grandfather's mother, my great grandmother (one of them) was born right about in the middle of the U.S. Civil War. She died at 96 years old about 4 years before I was born. Knowing that someone makes it seem like it wasn't that long ago that we fought the Civil War. My great grandmother was born then and only died shortly before I was born and that makes that part of our history seem closer to me. While it was decades ago (more than that now), it was just a couple of generations before mine, making it seem closer.

      Anyway, I don't mean to ramble. I think it's good to take stock of one's life and experiences every now and then. This article should be cherished for many years to come by your children/grandchildren, and beyond and help them so much in understanding their roots.

      Sharing and pinning to Awesome HubPages.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      23 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      I really apppreciate you comments and agree that the importance of family research is priceless.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      23 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thank you for your comment and I'm pleased you liked my hub.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      23 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      @Gina , I am very happy that you enjoyed reading about my grandparents. Congratulations on tracing your heritage back to the 1500s in Wales. If i can trace my roots back to the 1500s, I will be extremely happy. The history of your ancestors and the part about owning a castle is really cool. Yes, it is important to know where we come from, and hope that my shared research with relatives will be one of my legacies.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      23 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Jodah, good luck with your investigation of immediate family history. As i research my ancestors, I will also be looking into the origin of my surname Kuehn and my mother's maiden surname Schmidt.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      23 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thank you very much. I am very happy that you liked this hub and my old photos.

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 

      23 months ago

      I liked your Hub. The importance of family research can't be measured.

    • Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

      Gina Welds Hulse 

      23 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

      @Paul I was fortunate to have grown up with my maternal grandmother, and also had the pleasure to have known her mother, my great-grandmother. My great-grandmother died at the age of 104. My grandmother, however, died when I was only 12 but I treasure her memories and think of her everyday. I have a wall of fame which goes fro my great-grandparents at the top, to her with all her children,to my grandfather and then my mother at the bottom.

      A few years ago I managed to trace my heritage all the way n=back to the 1500s in Wales to where our family name came into existence. I utilized Ancestry.com as well as the British version. The documented was almost 200 pages. Needless-to-say, my computer crashed and I lost it all. (BACKUP-BACKUP)....but at least I can go back and re-do it. It did cost almost $80 but it is money well spent to have been able to go back that far. I even found out that our family owned a castle. How cool is that? It still exists today but is in a history care (preservation), but it is on my bucket list to visit. It turns out that there are paintings in there that were created by my ancestors. Guess what: I am an artist! My whole family is creative. Talk about it being in our blood!!!

      Thanks for sharing this. I bombard my kids with their heritage. :-) I share all the old photos I have and cherish them. A few years ago a category 5 hurricane devastated the island where a lot of my family lives and they lost everything, including treasured photos.

      I think it is very important to know where you come from. It is beautiful. Again thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed reading this.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      23 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Paul, here is some of the basics of what I found in regard to the origin of my surname:

      "Hansen is a Danish-Norwegian patronymic surname, literally meaning son of Hans. It is the third most common surname in Denmark, shared by about 4.3% of the population. Hansen is the single most common surname in Norway. The frequent occurrences of Hansen as a surname outside Denmark and Norway is due to immigration, though immigrants to English-speaking countries often changed the spelling to Hanson in order to accommodate English orthographic rules."

      My grandfather was born in Denmark. Now I have to start investigating my immediate family history.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      23 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      The old photos are beautiful! You shared a great part of your life.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      23 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Meg, Thank you very much for your comments. Unfortunately I don't have any relatives on my father's side and only a couple of aunts on my mother's side. It's imperative that I do my genealogy research now!

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      23 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Hi Jodah, I'm very pleased that you enjoyed my hub. Do you plan on sharing the origin of your surname and any of your family history? I think it would be interesting reading.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 

      23 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Most families have secrets of one kind or another. Often we don't learn of them until after the main actors have died. It's the older relatives, not directly involved who can help us learn about these. I learnt about something only a few months ago from a cousin that was interesting, though not crucial.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      23 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This was all very interesting, Paul. It is always good to reminisce about our grandparents and look through old photos etc. I recentlylooked up the origins of my surname, the Hansen crest etc. Now I want to look back into my immediate family history. Thanks for sharing.

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