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!

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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”

Throwback Thursday: Working Hard

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My grandfather Charlie Weil, about 1939, in Kingston, New York.

Papa’s Basketball Days

When I was growing up, I saw my maternal grandparents (Ed and Millie Drake, who we call Nana and Papa) nearly every day. Papa would take my sister and I to and from school every day. He was very interested in our school lives, and knew all of our friends. He had attended high school in the same building as me, 68 years before. Papa had lots of hobbies, but he was never a huge sports fan. He’d casually watch whatever sport was in season at that time, and always followed the Cubs, but otherwise wasn’t devoted to one sport or another. That’s why I always found it puzzling when he asked how our high school basketball team was doing. I wasn’t friends with anyone on the basketball team, and I barely followed our high school teams anyway. I didn’t find out the reason for his interest in high school basketball until I was a freshman in high school.

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