Two Rivers, Wisconsin Tuesday Evening July 3, 1945
Recalls Early Fishing Days When Indians Hunted, Fished in Vicinity
by Eunice La Pean
There’s an open house celebration at the Koeser Homestead this afternoon and evening, for the regal “lady of the house” on 1322 Madison Street is 90 years old today and 89 out of her 90 years were spent in Two Rivers.
That’s almost a century of living. And yet today Mrs. Koeser is as alert and vivaciously interested in things surrounding her as her only son and four daughters. She can converse with any caller on current wartime problems, having lived through five wars herself and knows all the ace radio commentators by name.
Mrs. Koeser’s story has a new angle. Shipwreck.
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Degler were coming over from West Prussia in 1855 when their boat was ship-wrecked off the coast of Nova Scotia, and on July 3, 1855, on the straw tick of a warehouse on a little island off the coast, little Elizabeth Degler was born. She was only one year old when her parents came to Two Rivers from Quebec and almost twenty one when she became the bride of the late Ernest Koeser. Now she’s the lone survivor of a family of 13 children.
She can tell you about the Indians who used to hunt and fish in Two Rivers, about picking berries where the Emanuel Evangelical church stands today, about her husband who tied up his boat in the swampland that once oozed into the area where her house is now built, and about the time when Lake Shore park was a row of shanties.
Irish on Southside
She can talk about the old Irish settlers on the Southside and about others she recalls — the Hayes, Van Nostrand, Walslh, Ahearn, Eggers and Grimmer families.
The most remarkable change in affairs within the last century, she believes, is the introduction of the modern household conveniences.
“There’s a difference of night and day between the old days and the present time,” says the nonagenarian who confesses that one of the secrets of her longevity is “good hard work.” Modern appliances turn talk of pumping water and heating irons on the stove to ancient myths, according to the lady.
Until lately, when her eyesight dimmed slightly, Mrs. Koeser quilted constantly. Now she spends more time listening to the radio, especially to political speeches, commentators and plays. Her taste in radio music is partial to hymns and “anti-jazz.”
Active in Evangelical church circles since she was 11 years old, the celebrant is the second charter member of the Ladies Guild of the church and still participates as a member of the Sunday school Adult Bible class.
Grandsons in Service
She has 23 grandchildren and more than 30 great grandchildren.
Helping her receive guests at today’s open house are her four daughters: Mrs. William Klingholz, Indianapolis, Ind.; Mrs. Clyde Nelson, Chicago; and Mrs. Lillian Kaiser, who makes her home with her mother in the city. Her son, Silas Koeser, is also a resident of Two Rivers.
There are five grandsons in service. Tehy are Corp. Carl Nelson of Chicago, a paratrooper now stationed in occupied Germany; Corp. Ernest Nelson, serving with the marines somewhere in the Pacific; Sgt. Donald Koeser of this city, now at Ft. Myers, Fla., after three years overseas; Pfc. Harold Koeser of Elgin, Ill., stationed in France; and Colonel Wm. C. Jackson of Indianapolis, formerly working with the French underground who will soon report to Washington, DC for a new assignment.
Two great grandsons are with the Navy somewhere in the Pacific. They are Donald and Neal Lonzo, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Lester Lonzo of the city.
Note this is from a Two Rivers, Wisconsin newspaper, July 3, 1945 (it was photocopied but the print is very light and I was worried the ink would eventually fade away completely, so I’m documenting this here. The article is about my mother’s mother’s father’s mother; my great-great grandmother.)