DeKalb County’s Gold Stars, 1919

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My copy of the 1919 book, “An Honor Roll…”

About 1,000 men from DeKalb County, Illinois, answered the call to serve their country between 1917-1919 during World War I. About 65 of them died during the war and never made it back home. The following pages are from “An Honor Roll, containing a pictorial record of the gallant and courageous men from DeKalb County, Illinois, U.S.A., who served in the Great War 1917 – 1918 – 1919,” published by the DeKalb Chronicle Publishing Company shortly after the conclusion of the war. These men are among the “gallant and courageous men” who did not make it home. They had earned their families a “Gold Star,” which was a designation that started in WWI, and denoted that the family had lost a loved one in combat. This was a visual symbol to the community that the family had lost a loved one in the war. (Learn more about the Gold Stars tradition here.) This Memorial Day, I’d like to remember the service of these men who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I. Continue reading “DeKalb County’s Gold Stars, 1919”

Ann Lawrence “Summoned” on Easter Sunday, 1927

My 3rd great-grandmother, Ann (Kitely) Lawrence was 92 years old when she passed away on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1927. My grandmother was 3 and a half years old when Ann passed away, and was one of 35 great-grandchildren. Ann sounds like quite a remarkable woman. Much of what I know about her is from her two-page obituary, which is transcribed below. Continue reading “Ann Lawrence “Summoned” on Easter Sunday, 1927″

Andrew Kaiser, tinner and tinker

East Lincoln Highway (1912)
This photo shows East Lincoln Hwy, DeKalb, IL in 1912 from Seventh Street looking West. Andrew Kaiser operated his tinning shop at 622 E. Lincoln Hwy at this time. In this photo, his shop was located in the building near the car parked on the left side of the road, in the two-story building with the large sign that says “Drugs.” (Image source: NIU Digital Archives, Ritzman photo collection.)

For over 30 years, the Kaiser family ran a successful sheet metal shop in DeKalb, IL. (I wrote about the later years of this shop in this earlier post!) Andrew Kaiser and his two youngest sons operated the shop, but the family’s history in tinsmithing didn’t start in DeKalb. The patriarch of the family, Andrew Kaiser, had been a tinner and metal worker for nearly his whole life, and his career lasted for over 50 years. His long career even includes some exciting surprises! Continue reading “Andrew Kaiser, tinner and tinker”

Christmas on the German Front — 100 years ago

One hundred years ago, my great-grandfather Glenn Kaiser wrote a Christmas letter home to his mother. He had just received his Christmas box that his mother sent. Below is a transcription of that Christmas letter.

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(Click on the image above or this link to read the full letter.)

Continue reading “Christmas on the German Front — 100 years ago”

Film Review: “They Shall Not Grow Old”

A stunning portrayal of soldiers’ lives during WWI

This past Monday, I went to a screening of Peter Jackson’s new WWI documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old. I went into the theater with high expectations, and this film definitely surpassed all of them. It brings to life the old archival footage in a way that has never been seen before. It truly allows you to travel back in time, and to experience history as the soldiers saw it. This film will be the closest you’ll ever be to actually experiencing the life of a WWI soldier on the Western Front, and horrors of war that they saw. It is a fitting tribute to the men and women who lived and died during this war. Continue reading “Film Review: “They Shall Not Grow Old””