Two Brothers Operate Tinning Shop

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In the Kaiser family tree, the most common occupation is a tinsmith. At least three generations worked in the trade! Tinsmiths, later called sheet metal workers, worked with any kind of light metals, and typically repaired things like stoves, furnaces, roofing, gutters, and more. This post focuses on the Kaiser Brothers Sheet Metal business in DeKalb, Illinois. Kaiser Brothers was owned by my great-grandfather Glenn Kaiser and his brother Floyd. They operated a successful tinning and sheet metal business from about 1923-1935. This is a story of that local business!

Continue reading “Two Brothers Operate Tinning Shop”

Floyd, the youngest Kaiser brother

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Floyd Kaiser, about 1917. This may be his high school photo. (Image Source: Kaiser Family Photos)

My great-great-grandparents, Andrew Kaiser and Jennie Holbrook, had a large, blended family. Between the two of them, they had 18 children. This is the story of my great-great uncle Floyd, who was their youngest child, who also died when he was very young.

Andrew Kaiser and Jennie Holbrook were married on 22 July 1885. Both of them had been married previously, and had had children with their previous spouses. Andrew had eleven children with his previous wife, Elizabeth Wentsel. Four of these children died young, before Elizabeth’s death in 1884. Jennie had previously married Thomas Burke, and they had three children. She was granted a divorce from him in June of 1885. Although it’s not clear how Jennie and Andrew met, they lived in the same small town of Prophetstown in Whiteside County, Illinois. Thomas Burke was a druggist in town, and Andrew Kaiser was a tinner. Both businessmen may have known each other, and may have been in the same social circles. After losing their first spouses, both Andrew and Jennie found themselves as single parents, with at least several small children at home. Joining their households was likely a beneficial situation for them both. Continue reading “Floyd, the youngest Kaiser brother”

Solar eclipses in my ancestors’ time

Today, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will roll across North America. For many, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In Illinois, some people remember the partial eclipse experienced here in 1970 and 1979, but the last time Illinois residents experienced a full total solar eclipse was in 1869. This eclipse was the only time in the history of the state (established in 1818) that a total eclipse had ever been observed! As this Daily Herald article discusses, Illinoisans were building the State Capital building at the time, and attempted to commemorate the occasion with a monument at the capital. Since solar eclipses are such relatively rare occurrences, I wondered, which of my ancestors experienced a solar eclipse during their lifetimes? Continue reading “Solar eclipses in my ancestors’ time”

Snapshot of 1929 DeKalb County

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My map starts with a view of the whole county.

At the recent ALA library conference, I learned the basics of GIS from a Map and Geospatial information Librarian from the University of Minnesota. I was so excited to try it out for myself, using some historic maps related to my family’s history! I tested it out by making this composite map of DeKalb County. All of the maps that I used to create this map were from the 1929 Atlas and plat book of De Kalb County, Illinois : compiled from surveys and the public records of De Kalb County, Illinois, digitized by the Library of Congress. (See the whole atlas here!) Continue reading “Snapshot of 1929 DeKalb County”

On this day: Edwin Drake

On this day, 97 years ago, my grandfather Edwin Drake was born. This precious photo is him as a baby with his mother, Emma (Medine) Drake.

Emma Drake holding her son Edwin
Emma holding Edwin as a baby. Source: Drake family photo.