Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Here are a couple of items that were in The Princeton Union newspaper, Thursday, November 2, 1922

Image(s) courtesy

Mr. and Mrs. Gamradt Entertain.
On Wednesday evening of last week
a delightful Halloween party was
given by Mr. and Mrs. Max Gamradt.
Those present were Mr. and Mrs. Cal-
vin Olson, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Manke,
Mr. and Mrs. Louis Jesmer, Mr. and
Mrs. Louis Stolle, Mr. and Mrs. Eph-
riam Anderson, Mrs. Weeks and the
Misses Weeks, Edith Erickson, Ena
and Anna Mattson and Margaret Al-
brecht. The evening was spent in
playing Five Hundred. Mrs. Fred
Manke was champion player while
Mrs. Jesmer carried home the booby
I believe that the Mr. and Mrs. Louis Jesmer mentioned above are Louis E. Jesmer and his wife Rose (Malotte) Jesmer.  I am related to the Jesmer's through the Robideau line.  Louis would be my 1st cousin 4x removed. 
I wonder what the booby prize was?!

Image(s) courtesy
Halloween Party at Heitman Home.
A Halloween party was given by
Lilly Heitman at her home Monday
evening. The guests were met by a
ghost as they drove into the yard.
The evening was spent with music,
games and fortune telling. At mid-
night a delicious luncheon was served.
All the guests thoroughly enjoyed the


From the Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspaper Site:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - William and Elizabeth Kettelhodt

The Princeton Union, Thursday, September 25, 1913, Front Page.

William F. Kettelhodt and Elizabeth
Elsner  United in Marriage at
Bride's Parents' Home.

                                                            A quiet wedding took place on
                                                        Monday, September 22, at 2 p.m.
                                                        at the home of Mr. and Mrs. A.
                                                        Elsner in Greenbush, when their
                                                       daughter, Elizabeth, was united in
                                                       marriage to William F. Kettelhodt.
                                                       Rev. E. Ahl performed the marriage
                                                       ceremony in the presence of the im-
                                                       mediate relatives of the contracting
                                                       parties, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Elsner
                                                       acting as groomsman and brides-
                                                          A pretty gown of lace with trim-
                                                       mings of messaline and crystal beads
                                                       was worn by the bride and she car-
                                                       ried, white roses.  The bridesmaid
                                                       wore a dress of white chiffon and
                                                       carried pink carnations.  The house
                                                       decorations were of ferns and roses.
                                                          A bounteous wedding dinner was
                                                       served after the ceremony and the
                                                       happy couple departed at 4:30 by
                                                       auto for St. Cloud, where they took
                                                       the evening train for the cities to
                                                       spend a few days.
                                                         Both young people are well and
                                                       favorably known in Princeton and
                                                       vicinity and have many friends who
                                                       wish them a long and prosperous life
                                                       together.  They will be at home to
                                                       their friends in Princeton after
                                                       November 1.

From the Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers site:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Albert & Lydia - 1920's & 30's

When the 1920 census was taken, Albert & Lydia were still living on the farm in Greenbush, MN. All their children had married and moved to their own places. The farm was owned free and clear and Albert who was 62 years old was still working the dairy farm. Lydia was 64. They were grandparents too. Fred and his wife Lorena were living in nearby Princeton, Mille Lacs, MN with their son Virgil. Fred was working in the office of a garage and Elizabeth and her husband William Kettelhodt were living on their own farm in Livonia Township, Sherburne County, MN.

I couldn't find Otto or Erick in the 1920 Census. (I tried again today using my new trick, but I still can't find them.) I'm pretty sure they were both still somewhere in Minnesota because I know that Erick & Lulu had their son Darrell (my grandfather) in Minneapolis March 10, 1920. And Otto and Betty had a son in July 1921 in Minnesota, so I'm pretty sure they were still in Minnesota in 1920 as well.

In 1930 Albert, 72, and Lydia, 74, were still living on the farm in Greenbush Township, MN. Six years later Lydia, who was 80 years old, died on April 7, 1936.

Lydia's death certificate is interesting to me because it does not have her name on it, just "Mrs. Albert Elsner". Albert was the informant so I wonder why he didn't give them her name? He gave her parents names as Fredrick Richter and Otellia Phillapowski. She was buried in Princeton, MN but it does not name the Cemetery.

I have done many searches for Fredrick Richter and Otellia Phillapowski, but haven't found anything yet. I couple years ago, I found a marriage record for Albert Elsner and Zilla Gawehn who married in Allen County, Indiana on Dec 28, 1936. It is the 2nd marriage for the bride and the groom. The brides parents names are Fredrick Richter and Johanna B Philepofski. That would make Zilla's maiden name Richter! And her parents names look an awful lot like Lydia's parents names! Is Zilla her sister? Or is this just a coincidence? Maybe this is a different Albert Elsner (there are many out there). The record shows the groom's father is Carl Elsner and his mother is Fredricka Berowfski. But at that time I didn't know what Albert's parents names were. Could Albert have moved to Indiana after Lydia died and married her sister? To find out if this is our Albert, I researched the names on the marriage record and I also researched Zilla Gawehn to see if she is Lydia's sister.

I couldn't find anything on Carl and Fredricka Elsner nor Fredrick Richter and Johanna Philepofski. So I turned my attention to Zilla Gawehn and I found a passenger list for August and Zilla Gawehn and their children Elizabeth and George. They were all born in Germany and arrived in New York on Dec 7, 1889 on the ship Polaria. I found Census information from 1900-1930 for them in Fort Wayne, Indiana. But I couldn't find anything going back to connect Zilla to Lydia. I kept trying to find something, any little clue, but at that point I was stuck. I had hit a brick wall.

In March of this year, I decided to try to contact a descendant of my great grandfather's brother Otto.  I explained who I was and that I was looking for more information about Albert & Lydia Elsner. I was hoping he might have some information that would help me get passed this brick wall. I waited anxiously for an answer. In the letter, I had included my return address, my email address, and my phone number. But I wasn't even sure I had sent the letter to a valid address. Then, a few days later, there it was! A message in my email inbox from a long lost relative! He knew who Albert & Lydia were and had heard about my great grandfather! He was happy to help! He sent me scans from his Aunt Elizabeth's family bible. She had written down all of her family's names, birth dates, dates of death, and children's names. I was able to validate my research and now I also knew what Albert and Lydia's parents names were! Elizabeth's bible shows that her paternal grandparents are Carl Elsner, 1831-1907, and Fredericka Barowski, 1826-1910. And her maternal grandparents were Friedrich Richter, Oct 14, 1812- July 14, 1889 and Caroline Phillippowska 1823-Dec 9, 1860. These names look a lot like the names on the marriage record I found for Albert & Zilla and on Lydia's death certificate! So this brought back my question about Zilla Gawehn. So I told my new cousin about the marriage record I had found and asked him if he had ever heard anything about this. He had indeed heard about this! He said that it caused his Aunt Elizabeth some consternation. He was a young adolesent at the time he overheard his father and Aunt Elizabeth discussing it. His mother explained to him that it is not common for a man to marry his deceased wife's sister but was known to occur among some Germans because of loneliness.

So the marriage record I had found for Albert and Zilla was for our Albert after all. Lydia died on April 7, 1936 and Albert moved to Indiana and married Zilla on Dec. 28, 1936. Zilla had been widowed since 1929. At the time they married, Albert was 79 and Zilla was 73.  They were married almost 11 years when Albert died on July 5, 1947 at 89 years old.  Zilla died in 1954 at the age of 90.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fred and Elizabeth

Yesterday I realized that I did not have the 1910 Census information for Fred and Elizabeth. So last night, I tried searching for them again. I start my search the way I always do, spelling Elsner correctly, and when that doesn't bring up the results I'm looking for, I usually try to think of ways that Elsner might be misread when trying to decipher handwriting and search for those names. (Once I found it spelled "Ebner"!) I use the soundex sometimes, but it usually has way too many results. But last night I tried something I just learned about called a wild card. A wild card is a * or ? used in place of one or more letters. So I did different combinations of that such as "E?ner" and "E?er". And it worked! I found them! A lot of different names came up, but the one that caught my eye was for a Fred Elmer and his sister Elizabeth I. I didn't expect to find them together, but this looked promising so I opened it up to take a look. It turned out to be them! 

You can see how it does look like "Elmer".  Elizabeth's middle initial should be 'N' but everything else looks right.  The ages for both of them and the place of birth and where the parents were born are all correct. 

As you can see, the 1910 census for Elizabeth shows her place of birth as Indiana and a few days ago, I showed you that the 1900 census has her place of birth as Illinois. Elizabeth was born in Indiana. I know this because of her birth records. Sometimes, some of the information on these old records is incorrect, but you have to look at the rest of the information and add it to what you already know, and if it makes sense, then you know you are looking at the right thing. 

So in 1910 Fred and Elizabeth were both single and renting a place in Princeton Township, MN. Fred was working as a salesman in a hardware store and Elizabeth was working as a saleslady in a general store.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

1910 Census and Marriages

Looking at the 1910 US Census I find that Albert has moved his family to Greenbush Twp (township), Mille Lacs County, Minnesota. He is now a farmer. I also notice that there are only 2 children listed, Otto and Erick. It still shows that Lydia has 6 children, 4 living. So where are Fred and Elizabeth? Fred would be about 25 and Elizabeth would be about 23 in 1910, so maybe they are married and living in their own homes.

First I looked for Elizabeth and Fred in the 1910 Census but was unable to find them. So I looked for marriage licenses because if Elizabeth married before 1910, I will need her married name in order to find her.

I found that Fred, Elizabeth, Otto, and Erick were all married after 1910. So where are Fred and Elizabeth for the 1910 Census? There are a lot of possibilities. One possibility is that since many of the census takers had such bad handwriting, it is hard for the transcribers to make out what the name is. So it could be that it is just indexed in such a weird way, that I haven't found them yet. But I will try looking for them again tonight. (I don't give up easily!)

Here is the marriage information:

Frederick W. Elsner married Lorena Winsor on Apr. 30, 1913 in Mille Lacs County, MN

Elizabeth Elsner married William F Kettelhodt on Sep. 22, 1913 in Mille Lacs County, MN

Erick John Elsner married Lulu Martha Robideau Nov. 15, 1917 in Princeton, Mille Lacs, MN

Otto Richard Elsner married Betty Hedin Nov. 25, 1919 in Princeton, Mille Lacs, MN

Monday, October 17, 2011

Anna and Paul

I learned from the 1900 Census that Lydia had 6 children, but I only knew about 4 of them. So I decided to search for the 2 children to see what happened to them.

First I wanted to look for the birth certificates. (I really hate looking for death certificates for children! It's too depressing!)

I was only able to find one birth certificate. It was for Anna Elsner, born Jan. 17, 1891 in Cook County, Illinois. It shows that Anna was the 4th child of Albert and Lydia Elsner, Lydia's maiden name is Richter and it also has Albert's occupation. It says Albert was a Milk Dealer! So in 1891, Albert was a milk dealer and by 1900 he was a saloon keeper. Very interesting!

Next, I started looking for the death certificate for Anna. I found Anna's certificate in Cook County, Illinois. She was 2 years, 10 months when she died on Dec. 7, 1893 at 7pm. She had been ill for 3 days when she died of
membranous croup. She was buried at Concordia Cemetery.

I also found another death certificate in Cook County, Illinois. This one is for the child that I couldn't find the birth certificate for.   His name is Paul Elsner and he was born in Chicago, Illinois.  He was 4 years, 5 months, 3 days old when he died on December 19, 1893 at 7pm. (So that would make his birth date, July 16, 1889.)   He was ill for about 1 week before he died of laryngeal diphtheria. He was buried at Concordia Cemetery.

I can't imagine how devastating this must have been for Albert and Lydia to loose two little children in less than 2 weeks of each other.

The Beginning of my search for Albert & Lydia

When I first started researching Albert & Lydia Elsner, I knew very little.  What I knew from my Great Grandmother Lulu (Robideau) Elsner was:

1. Albert, Lydia, and Fred were born in Germany
2. Lydia's maiden name was Richter
3. They immigrated to the United States through New York
4. They lived in Chicago, Illinois before moving to Minnesota
5. They had a daughter named Elizabeth
6. They had 3 sons: Fred, Otto, and Erick
7. Erick (my ggrandpa) was born in Chicago
Added to that was some information that my Uncle had found when he did some research many years ago:
1. Albert Elsner's date of birth - Oct 1857, Germany
2. Lydia Richter's date of birth - Aug 1855, Germany
3. Fredrick Elsner's date of birth - Apr 1885, Germany
4. Elizabeth Elsner's date of birth - Apr 1887, Illinois
5. Otto Elsner's date of birth - Oct 1894, Illinois
6. Erick John Elsner's date of birth - 13 Oct 1896, Huron, Cook, Illinois
7. Erick's birth certificate was a belated certificate filed by Fred W. on Aug 2 or 5 in 1941.
8. Albert & Lydia married about 1884 in Germany
9. Erick & Lulu married 15 Nov 1917 in Princeton, Mille Lacs, Minnesota

I put all this information together and started my research. First I looked at the 1900 Census and found them living in Chicago, Ill.  It lists their names, relationship, race, sex, birth month and year, age, marital status, and number of years married. Albert & Lydia have been married 16 years. The next two numbers - 6/4 indicate that Lydia has had six children, four of whom are living.  This is something new!  I didn't know that Lydia had 6 children.

The next three columns indicate where each person was born, their father's birth place, then their mother's birth place. The next column is the year they immigrated - 1887. The last column is the occupation. I am always curious about the occupations of my ancestors and I see that Albert was a Saloon Keeper!  How exciting!  I wish I could have asked my grandpa about that.  He was too young to remember anything, but maybe his family talked about it now and then and he could have had some stories from those times.
So the 1900 Census has a lot of good information, but also brought up a new question for me.  What happened to the other two children?  I see that there is an age gap between Elizabeth and Otto.  Could one or both of the children have been born between 1887 and 1894?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Jaunt Down Memory Lane with Grandma Elsner

When I was 7 years old, my parents divorced and Mom moved with my sister and I to an apartment in Culver City, California. It was in the same complex that Grandpa and Grandma Elsner lived. (They were my great grandparents) I used to go to their apartment just about every day. I spent most of the time indoors with Grandma while Grandpa was usually outside in the carport "tinkering".

Grandma would play cards with me and we would sing songs and she would teach me things. She had a straight stitch sewing machine that she would help me sew very simple things on. Usually it was just a square or rectangle of fabric sewn together on three sides. Kind of like a pocket. And I thought I was really making something great! I would proudly take them home and put Barbie things in them.

She used to let me help her cook too. I got to stand on a stool next to the stove and stir things and shake the pan when we made popcorn! I would help her fix lunch for grandpa too.

After lunch was over and we had cleaned the kitchen, Grandma would want to take a nap. So we would go lay on her bed and she would close her eyes and I would ask her to tell me a story. So with her eyes closed, she would tell me the story of Goldilocks, or Jack and the Beanstalk, or sometimes she would recite children's poems like Little Miss Muffet. And sometimes, she would tell me about her family "back east". She had 14 brothers and sisters and I liked to ask her their names just so she would recite all their names for me. She would tell me about the farm and how having that many kids around was good help on the farm. Since she was the eldest daughter, she helped care for the young ones. Her parents names were Annie and Nels Robideau. Annie's maiden name was Grow. She told me that when she would get mad at her mother, she would take something her mother used a lot like a pair of scissors or her thimble and hide it! Her favorite place to hide things was in the wall. There was a loose board on the house and she would hide things in there. She said that if anyone ever knocked the house down to build something else, they were going to find a lot of her mother's "missing" things!

Sometimes she would tell me about Grandpa's family. About how they came to live on a farm in Minnesota not far from where she lived. She told me about how Grandpa's father, mother, and eldest brother came from Germany to the United States through New York. Their names were Albert, Lydia, and Fred. She said that Albert & Lydia lived in Chicago before they moved to Minnesota and that Grandpa Erick was born in Chicago. She told me that Lydia's maiden name was Richter and Grandpa had a sister named Elizabeth and two brothers, Fred and Otto.

There are many more memories I have with my great grandparents that I will write about later. After all, this is a blog, not a book!

I hope you enjoyed this jaunt down memory lane.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

Erick and Lulu Elsner at Knox Berry Farm.

This is a picture of my great grandparents, Erick and Lulu Elsner.  Erick was born Oct. 13, 1896 in Chicago, Illinois and died April 20, 1975 in Los Angeles, California.  His parents, Albert and Lydia, and his eldest brother, Fred, immigrated from Germany in 1887.  He grew up on a farm in Minnesota with three siblings, Fred, Elizabeth, and Otto.  He married Lulu Robideau in 1917 and they moved to Minneapolis where they had a son, Darrell (my grandfather) in 1920.  At some point, they moved to Arizona.  Grandma Lulu told me that they moved away from Minnesota because she had bad allergies and the doctor told them to move to a drier climate.  Eventually they would move again and settle in Los Angeles, California.