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.

Kaiser_Glenn_WWI_letter_1918-12-25_full
(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””

A Kaiser at the War’s End: 100 years ago

Remembering the end of WWI, 100 years ago today

Kaiser_Glenn_1918_Soldiers_fromLetter_HD
Glenn with a group of fellow soldiers near Alsace, France, in about June 1918. Glenn is in the back row, third from the left. The other soldiers are unidentified, but are likely members of the A.E.F. 32nd Div. 127th Inf. (Image source: Kaiser family photos)

One hundred years ago today, the Armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, which ceased the hostilities on the Western Front, and that ended World War One. When the war ended, my great-grandfather Glenn Kaiser had been serving in the Army for 14 months, and had been on the front lines with the U.S. Army 32nd Division for many of the major military campaigns of the war. He was one of about 1,000 men from DeKalb County, Illinois to enlist in the service, and was one of the 4.7 million American soldiers to serve during the war. He was sent to the European front in February of 1918. This photo (right) was taken with some of his (unidentified) fellow soldiers near Haute Alsace just after they arrived in France. Glenn sent it to his mother along with this letter in June 1918. He had participated in battles in the Aisne-Marne Campaign, the Oise-Aisne Campaign, and finally the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. Like many of the soldiers on the Western Front, my great-grandfather could tell that the war was drawing to a close, but was very anxious to see it finally end. Glenn and his unit were engaged in battle until the last hours before the Armistice took effect. He and his unit had indeed been up for two nights getting into battle positions and marching through tough roads. When the guns finally fell silent at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, I’m sure that the men were relieved that the war was over, and also in that moment, relieved that they could get some sleep. He wrote to his mother on Nov. 12, the day after the Armistice took effect, to describe his relief and his commitment to making the peace last.

Below is an excerpt from the letter that Glenn sent his mother the day after the Armistice was signed. See the original letter and read the entire text here.  Continue reading “A Kaiser at the War’s End: 100 years ago”