Tag Archives: two rivers

Charles Kaiser and Family

Warning — very long post…

Yesterday morning I emailed the photo below to my cousin Judy (technically first cousin once removed since this is a genealogy-related blog post) and asked her if she knew who the people were in the photo. I told her that on the back of the photo was written “Charles Koeser & Family Taken Jan 1st, 1946” but that I could not find a Charles Koeser whose birth year matched what this man’s birth year may have been.

Judy responded that she had the same photo and recognized the house being her great grandparents’ (my great-great grandparents’) home in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. She’d been told that the woman was Silas Koeser’s niece and the child was his great niece. (Silas Koeser is my great grandfather and Judy’s grandfather).

Later after Judy talked to her sister, Beth, she sent me an email with a link to Find a Grave for Silas Koeser that had his obituary and links to other family members’ graves. I read that email at about 12:30 this morning and fell down the rabbit hole of genealogy — not a bad place to be when you cannot sleep in my opinion.

Here’s what I found out with help from two [first] cousins [once removed] and a number of genealogy focused websites (including a new subscription to Newspapers.com).

Charles, Myrna and Kay Kaiser, Two Rivers Wisconsin 1946

Charles Kaiser was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 26, 1911 to Lillian Koeser Kaiser and Frederick William Kaiser. When Charles was about 5, his father, a detective with the Milwaukee Police Department, was killed in in a bomb explosion at the Central Police Station in Milwaukee. Shortly thereafter Lillian moved, with Charles and his two sisters, Adrea (aged 11) and Nyra (aged 9) back to her hometown of Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

On July 22, 1919 when Charles was about 7, Adrea and Nyra went swimming at one of Two Rivers’ beaches along Lake Michigan. According to this article from the Manitowoc Herald-News, Charles went to the beach with his sisters. According to another article on that same Find a Grave page, Nyra (misspelled Myrna in the article) was pulled under water by the undertow. Her sister noticed Nyra’s distress and swam out to save her, but both girls drown. [Personal note: my grandmother would have been nine years old at the time and very likely was among the children that went swimming that day. One thing I remember about my grandmother was her fear of water and Judy said that the drowning of Adrea and Nyra contributed to that fear which is very understandable.]

Charles and his mother continued living with his grandparents through at least 1930 according to the US Census (although the 1920 census has him listed as his mother’s husband!). He attended Washington High School in Two Rivers where he was called “Charlie” and the superlative next to his yearbook photo in 1928 reads, “His nature was composed of many moods, first serious, then comical, then both.”

By 1936 Charles had moved to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin after attending Carroll College.

Charles married what seems to be his first cousin once removed , Myrna Beth Koeser (daughter of Charles Koeser, Lillian’s uncle) on August 22, 1936. Myrna was a teacher in Two Rivers.

By 1940 Charles and Myra were living in Menominee, Michigan with their two-year-old daughter Kay. Charles was employed as an office clerk for Wholesale Oil Company.

Around 1947 Charles and Myrna had a second child, Carol (gleamed from a newspaper article of her upcoming wedding) — which explains why there is only one child in the photo.

Kay married Richard Hughes in 1954 and Carol married Gary Burton in 1968.

Myrna died November 26, 1971 in Green Bay at age 58.

Charles married Ann Fulton.

Charles died November 25, 1980 in Green Bay at age 69 in 1980.

“Grandma” Koeser, Since an Infant Resident of Southside, Is 90 Today

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.

 Parents Shipwrecked

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.)

Nova Scotia
Because I knew the story about the shipwreck, I picked up this place mat when we visited Nova Scotia many years ago. [select/click to enlarge]