Childhood Memories and More: Paternal Grandma’s Chair

Memories and stories are important part of family history. Early memories, under 6 years old, tend to be sketchy at best. However there are some thoughts of childhood that do resonant through artifacts or belongings that bring up feelings and jar memories of ancestors. One of those recent belongings that was part of my childhood memory is a chair that my paternal grandmother had in her house. This chair was situated on the front porch of the home and was used by my Grandmother in the last years of her life. My grandmother died when I was 6, so my memories of her are limited but with pictures and this particular chair I remember being 4 and 5 years old visiting her and being on the porch sitting with her in this chair (pictured below). I still remember her hands resting around my waist holding me as she rocked the chair slowly while my parents and uncle were in deep conversation about the recent news items in the town or world of the late 1960s. My father was the youngest of 12 children and by the time I was born my grandmother was a widow and just turned 77 yrs. old. So my recollections of her is a person who loved children, moved slowly and had a kind smile when she felt healthy.

A picture containing ground, red, outdoor, seat

Description automatically generated
Vintage Kroehler Rocking Chair My Grandma owned

After my grandmother died, the chair stayed on the front porch in about the same place for the next 40 plus years. I sat in the chair many more times throughout the years my uncle lived in the house and my family visited there. Eventually the house it was in was sold to a new family in about 2014. Before this family moved in I removed my Grandma’s chair from the porch and brought back to my own house and put it in storage. The chair was not in the best condition even then and was by my estimate over 70 yrs. old. The condition of the chair deteriorated and eventually became a home for mice while in storage. Originally I kept this chair intending to get it reupholstered to use again. Well after holding on to it too long and deciding that the value of reuse was less important than the memory of my Grandma and my time with her, I decided to simply take a picture and let the chair go to the dump. The memories of being with her in the chair are more important. It was her chair not mine.

However before letting the chair go, I did some research to learn the possible age and also who might have made this chair my grandmother enjoyed relaxing in.

As I started to take pictures and looking closer at the chair, I saw a tag with words, in caps DO NOT REMOVE THIS TAG under Penalty of Law. Also the tag says the chair was made of “all new material” (at the time of course); consisting of “Body: Cotton Linter Felt, Rubberized Sisal Pad and Wood Fibre Pad”. “This article is made in compliance with an Act of District of Columbia approved July 3, 1926; Kansas, approved March 1923: Minnesota, approved April 23, 1929:  New Jersey, revised statues 26 :10-6 to 18.”

I did some research and found some interesting comments about what this Act of District of Columbia was in the 1926.

In the Library of Congress on-line search I came across:

Chapter 768 An Act To regulate the manufacture, renovation, and sale of mattresses in the District of Columbia. July 3, 1926

A PDF file of this chapter can be opened and on pages 838-840 you see that the major concern of Public Law 489 of the 69th Congress, otherwise known as the mattress law, was the spread of contagious venereal disease: “. . . no person in the District of Columbia who is a renovator of mattresses shall use in whole or in part, in the renovation of any mattress, material which has formed part of any mattress theretofore used in and about any sanitarium or hospital, or used by any individual having an infectious or contagious disease.” According to the act, secondhand material could not be used in mattress like furniture unless it had been sterilized and disinfected.

I learned a little social and medical history about the U.S. from this chair of nearly 100 years old. However I was also interested in the manufacturer of the chair, Kroehler MFG. Co. So I looked up the maker of this chair and discovered a link to the Encyclopedia of Chicago (  It states, “In 1902, Peter E. Kroehler bought the Naperville Lounge Co., a maker of wooden lounge chairs and upholstered furniture. Kroehler built a new factory in Naperville in 1913 after the original facility was destroyed by a tornado. Soon thereafter, he renamed the company Kroehler Manufacturing Co.” Also I did a search of Peter Kroehler and found more at the Naperville Museum. More on the Mr. Kroehler can be found at

In your genealogy research do not forget that you may have artifacts that not only provide memories and develop stories, but you also can learn something about the social history of the past, that also informs us who live today.

Happy research and Family History Month.

Childhood Memories and More: Paternal Grandma’s Chair

Have you established a Schrebergarten in your community?


The garden movement was not invented by Moritz Schreber, as is commonly assumed, but by a Leipzig school principal. In 1864, Ernst Innozenz Hauschild established the first Schrebergarten by starting a club in cooperation with parents and students and leasing land to provide a playground for the children of factory workers. The children could play and perform gymnastics under the supervision of a teacher. Moritz Schreber had long championed playgrounds for children. Since Hausschild did not want to name the club after the school, he decided to name it in honor of Schreber who had passed away three years earlier. A teacher by the name of Heinrich Karl Gesell planted the first garden.

Check out the following:

Have you established a Schrebergarten in your community?

Memorial Day 2020: Honoring 14 Ancestors who served from the Spanish-American War to the Post World War II era

All of the 14 Following Men are related to me who served, drafted, joined the US Navy or the Army from the time of 1899 to 1955. Also all of these men lived in the small town of Lyndon Station, Wisconsin. Many were born and raised there, died there or called it home for the majority of their life. It is an honor to have known 5 of the 14 during my life. They all served in various parts of the world and many participated in battles, saw horrible things. A couple died as a result of their service.

Spanish -American War period

Great Grandfather: Joseph C Podrasky – Navy 1899-1903 Served overseas June 1900 – November 1903 Philippines, China and Japan

World War I

Great Uncle: Theodor A. Rettammel – Army 1917 – 1919 Wounded in France, August 2, 1918, Gassed and died in Military Hospital in March 1919.

Great Uncle: William Wendland – Army 1917 – 1919 Overseas in France: February 1918 – February 1919 Wounded and gassed in battle August 2, 1918

Great Uncle: August Wendland – Army 1917 – 1919 Overseas in France February 1918 – April 1919 Wounded in battle August 30, 1918 near Valtrinz Farm.

Also served but State Side:

Great Uncle: Henry Wendland – Army 1918 Died from Pneumonia/Flu Oct 1918


Great Uncle: John Wendland – Army August 1918 – December 1918

Great Uncle: Louis Wendland –Army – Post War period

World War II


Uncle: William T Rettammel – Army 1941 – 1945 Overseas Europe: April 1942 – September 1945 Several battles France, Germany, Central Europe & MP

Pacific Theater

Uncle: Arthur E Rettammel   
Uncle: Arnold R Rettammel

 Both in 32nd Division Both overseas in Australia, New Guinea, Phillipines May 1942 – August 1945

Also in 1942 all were listed, along with their brother and another Uncle Ed Rettammel

Uncle: Norman Rettammel 1945 – 1947 Post War Germany

My Father: August H Rettammel Jr. 1953 – 1955 In Germany

Memorial Day 2020: Honoring 14 Ancestors who served from the Spanish-American War to the Post World War II era

U.S., Selected Federal Census Non-Population Agricultural Schedules, 1850-1880

A great resource for learning more about how a family lived on a farm is the Agricultural Census conducted by US starting in 1850 and continued to 1880 census year. These are considered non-population census and mostly started in 1850 and some continued until around 1900. So if you have ancestor during that period who owned a farm, you should review these records as way to learn and develop your family history story.

The following information can be learned from these agricultural census:

  • Name of owner or manager
  • Number of improved and unimproved acres
  • Number of livestock owned by farmer (broken down by breed)
  • Amount of agricultural goods produced during the preceding year (broken down by crop)
  • Cash value of the farm, farming machinery, livestock, animals slaughtered during the past year, and “homemade manufactures
  • The 1880 schedules provide additional details, such as the amount of acreage used for each kind of crop, the number of poultry, and the number of eggs produced.
According to the National Archives there are certain exclusions to be aware of for certain locales and farm types:
“Exclusions: Not every farm was included in these schedules. In 1850, for example, small farms that produced less than $100 worth of products annually were not included. By 1870, farms of less than three acres or farms that produced less than $500 worth of products were not included.”
Agricultural Census Source: A Case Study
A recent client project shows how helpful this source can be to understand the current view of the land and a former farm, that existed over a 100 yrs ago.
On one parcel of the documented property (review of deeds) there is an old stone wall that separates property sections. Archival pictures from 100 yrs plus also shows the stone wall.  The land has been part of glacial area, so the rocks are believed to be from the land itself and cleared for farming the land. When matched with territory survey maps and notes done in early 19th century, the land shows no evidence for a stone structure. The question for the client was who may have started or built the wall prior to 1890?
Plat Maps
To help answer this question, a review of the plat map for the area of interest was researched at my local archive. Plat maps show land ownership over time and are a great source for locating ancestors’ farms.
The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) has plat maps for all 72 counties in Wisconsin.
Results from Agricultural Census
Once the name of ownership was confirmed on the plat map, the next step was to see if the name listed on the plat could be found in the Non-Population Census, Agricultural for those years. When the person of interest is found, you can learn the details of the type of livestock on the farm, crops produced and acres improved versus unimproved (land that is usually wooded).
With the information learned the results showed that the owner of the land listed had large animals (oxen and horses) that typically could pull or drag stones from the land to another location. Also the agricultural census years showed that, the owners amount of land considered “improved land” increased along with the amount of crops produced. For this to occur the client’s hypothesis is that the same acreage was cleared, along with the stones from the land to make it tillable for crops. At the time those rocks were placed at the property line between two farms. The information gathered does not provide full proof that the owner of the land (at the time) constructed the wall but it does provide “indirect evidence” of the possibility for this to occur with the resources available. The information found in the Agricultural Census provides “direct evidence” that the owner was a farmer on the land for the dates shown on the plat map and other correlated register of deeds information collected previously.
When other information about farming practices, date and time are considered for a working farm, the agricultural census can help to construct an explanation for how farms and the land changed since our ancestor’s lived there.
Enjoy your own discoveries.
U.S., Selected Federal Census Non-Population Agricultural Schedules, 1850-1880

History of President’s Day

Excerpt from – The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

The origin of Presidents’ Day lies in the 1880s, when the birthday of Washington—commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and the first president of the United States—was first celebrated as a federal holiday. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, which moved a number of federal holidays to Mondays. The change was designed to schedule certain holidays so that workers had a number of long weekends throughout the year, but it has been opposed by those who believe that those holidays should be celebrated on the dates they actually commemorate. During debate on the bill, it was proposed that Washington’s Birthday be renamed Presidents’ Day to honour the birthdays of both Washington (February 22) and Lincoln (February 12); although Lincoln’s birthday was celebrated in many states, it was never an official federal holiday. Following much discussion, Congress rejected the name change. After the bill went into effect in 1971, however, Presidents’ Day became the commonly accepted name, due in part to retailers’ use of that name to promote sales and the holiday’s proximity to Lincoln’s birthday.

History of President’s Day