German Letter Transcribed Reveals Family Secret


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If you read my last post on Letters from Germany, you will know that I have some letters written in German addressed to my great-grandfather, Rudolph Kaiser.  From the little we could deduce from them, it appeared he had another family in Germany.

Since writing my last post on Rudolf Kaiser, I have done some searching on his Children in Germany.

I researched on and came up with the following:

  • Rudolf Otto Pielenz (Rudolf Kaiser’s son) born 18 February 1890; Mother: Anna Auguste Emilie Pielenz*
  • Ida Bertha Pielenz (Rudolf Kaiser’s daughter) born 19 December 1891; Mother: Anna Auguste Emilie Pielenz*
  • Rudolf Otto Pielenz Married 7 April 1917 to Pauline Wilhelmine Helene Schauer; son of Anna Pielinz and Werner*
  • Anna Pielenz married Friedrich Carl Wagner 24 February 1894.* Anna Pielenz and Friedrich Carl Wagner’s children are as follows:
    • Anna Louise Auguste Wagner born 16 September 1894.*
    • Emma Bertha Wagner born 15 November 1895.*
    • Otto Robert Wagner born 27 July 1898.*

After finding this information, I went back to the letters written in German.  I was able to pick out the dates 18 February 1890 and 19 December 1891. I was also able to pick out the name Warner.   So I was sure that I had the right people.

I wondered why Rudolph would leave a wife and children in Germany, start another life here with a different wife and children.  It appears they were never married as she did not give the children his last name.  Then I thought maybe his intentions were to save some money and send for them.  But before he could save enough money, she moved on and got married.  She married two years before Rudolph got married here in the United States.  Maybe he wasn’t the scoundrel after all.  Then my curiosity got the best of me, and I had the first of the four letters transcribed.  As you will see as you read the letter, she is very upset with Rudolf Kaiser.  Here is the letter from 30 October 1910 transcribed

Berlin, dated 30.10.10

Dear Mr Kaiser!!!-?

Finally, after many, many years I have succeeded in finding out your address. You, dear Sir, will know that the result in 1890 of our relationship was a boy, and then, as a good-bye ! – a step which was so difficult – also a little girl. – And Anna Pielenz is deserted by the most beloved I once possessed, with two children, fatherless, alone. I have carved out an existence with my children in need of a father, and now that they are both grown, it is always the same lament: Where is our father…

My boy, as you know, has his father’s name, i.e. Rudolf Pielenz, born on 18 February 1890. My character and Your face, which was my consolation. Now he is big and a soldier. He is serving in Allenstein and has grown into a handsome young man. But now he is interested and searching for his father, who has treated him so ignominiously, so completely without interest. And the little girl has grown into a young lady. Born on 19 December 1891, her name is Ida and she also had no idea of her fatherless birth. But now

that they are both grown they will probably be in touch very soon and will greet their father by way of a letter, (because), when the boy was 5 years old and the girl 4, I was forced to get married because I could no longer afford the maintenance for the 2 children. It was just too hard for me, so I married without love and had to be content with my lot, because my love belonged only to one person ? , to whom, after all, I gave everything, and to my children. I have been on my own again for years now, and, as I say, I am content, because resentment and hatred grew more

noticeable all the time; because, you’ll know what I mean ?, a marriage without love is like a soup without salt and thus I am on my own with my children, living with my youngest sister. I hope you have not completely forgotten me and that [your] 14 years were happier than mine were. I really only moped around continuously. Maybe you think back occasionally to times past when happiness was still sweet.


Anna Vägner nee Pielenz

Berlin, S.O. 33

Skalitzerstr. 54a

Both children send their greetings

This opens up more questions than it answers.  How did she find him?  How does one find someone across an ocean in 1910?  I started to think how I would go about it.  Now we turn to the Internet or maybe private detectives.  I don’t think she had the means to hire a private detective.  But she probably knew what ship he traveled on, maybe he told her what city he planned to settle in.  She may have known his friends and family in Germany.  So maybe she found him through them.  It sounds like she never got over him.  I also notice that while she tells him of her unhappy marriage, she does not mention the children that were born of that marriage.  She says she hopes he has been happy the past 14 years.  It took me awhile to figure out where the 14 came from.  From 1890 or 1891 to 1910 is 19 or 20 years not 14.  In 1910 Rudolph was married 14 years.  She even knew how long he had been married.

I do not know who is right or wrong and there are always two sides to a story.  Her side is documented with letters, his side is silent.  There are no letters from him, no stories handed down, and so we do not have his side.  When I thought about her contacting his family in Germany, I wondered what happened to his mother and father.  I have their names and that is it.  When they were born or died remains a mystery.  I never heard my grandfather talk about his grandparents.  I don’t even think he knew their names.  When I started doing the family tree, he was still alive and never gave me that information.  I don’t know if he knew about his half-brother and half-sister.  If any of their descendants are around today, I would love to meet them.  I’m sorry that Anna Pielenz was so hurt.  I hope she forgave him and moved on for her sake.  As with all family secrets, they make for a good story, but I think about how sad it was for those children and their mother.  On the other hand if he stayed with them, I would not be here.  While I feel sad for them, I’m glad he had my grandfather.  Rudolph did something good; he raised a good and decent man in my grandfather.  My grandparents were married 58 years, my grandfather served in the United States Army during WWI, and worked at the same place for 45 years.  He owned a home and raised a son and daughter who were also good and decent people, and life goes on in me, my children, and grandchildren.  Maybe somewhere in the world there are sons, daughters, and  grandchildren of Anna Pielenz and Rudolf Kaiser’s relationship.

*Information from Berlin Germany Birth and Marriage Records at

Copyright ©2016 Gail Grunst

Letter’s from Germany to Rudolph Kaiser


Rudolph Kaiser was born to Franz Keiser and Emily Klatt in Lobsen, Posen, Prussia on 5 April 1865.[1] Emily had twin sons Theodor Julius and Albert Gustav Keiser born 29 June 1862.[2] [3] They only lived two months and few days.  Theodor died 7 September 1862[4] and Albert followed two days later on 9 September 1862.[5]  A year later, Emilie gave birth to a baby girl, Emma Auguste Keyser, born 6 September 1863.[6]  Unfortunately, Emma only lived to be little over 3 years old.  Emma died 10 October 1866[7] when Rudolph was 18 months old.  If there were other children it is not known at this time.

Rudolph came to the United States when he was 26 years old.[8]  He boarded the Ship Lahn in Bremen and landed at Castle Garden, New York on 30 April 1891.[9]  On the same boat is an Anton Springer.[10]  Could this be a brother of Wilhelmina Springer (Rudolph’s future wife)?  So far I haven’t been able to find proof.  In March of 1896 Rudolph married Wilhelmina Springer in Aurora Illinois.[11]  At the time of their marriage both Rudolph and Wilhelmina resided in Chicago, Illinois.[12]  Rudolph’s occupation is listed as brush maker.[13]  John Einsiedel and Babette Steinhauser are witnesses.[14]  I remembered my mother referring to an Aunt Barbara who lived in Aurora and that she was her grandmother’s sister.  I thought that Babette was probably Barbara (Wilhelmina’s sister). I checked it out, and found a marriage record of a Babette Springer to Joseph Steinhauser.[15]  I think John Einsiedel is a cousin to Great-Grandpa Kaiser, but not sure.  I searched and and could not find a family connection.  Of course this does not mean that there isn’t one.

Wilhelmina Springer was born on 17 December 1869 to Carl Springer and Margarete Burkhardt in Dinkelsburh.[16]  She arrived in New York aboard the Ship Lahn from Bremen on 3 August 1888.[17]   In September of 1896 a son Fredrick was born to Rudolph and Wilhelmina.[18]  In 1899 another son, Hugo, is born.[19]  Rudolph and Wilhelmina resided in Chicago, Illinois at 180 Mohawk,[20] and 2333 Winnemac,[21] and 4154 Irving Ave.[22] Hugo died during the Influenza epidemic in 1919.[23] [24] In January 1901 Rudolph declared his intention to become a citizen.[25]  On the 17th of September 1906 Rudolph became a citizen of the United States of America.[26]  Wilhelmina automatically became a citizen at the same time as Rudolph because she was his wife.[27]

I have some letters that were written in German address to my great-grandfather, Rudolph.[28]  They were found in my grandparent’s house when my mother and I were cleaning it out, after both my grandparents went to a nursing home.  My mother had a neighbor who was from Germany read them.  Apparently, they were written by children of Rudolph’s that he had in Germany.  They were not transcribed word for word, but the theme of the letters is that the daughter and son want to come to America and are wondering if their father would sponsor them.  They know he has wife and children here and do not want co cause him trouble.  The boy wrote letters from the service and wondered why he never answered them.  The neighbor that read them for my mother said, “It could be a scam, that when people wanted to come to America they would do this.”  But I tend to believe these are Rudolf’s children.  For one thing the letters are dated 1910, 1914, 1918, and 1920.  That is a long time to try to scam someone.  The time line works out too. They were born 1890 or earlier.  There is a letter from the Consulate of Switzerland in Chicago, Illinois dated August 25, 1920.  The Letter states, “We have been requested to get in touch with one Mr. Rudolf Kaiser, born April 5, 1865 at Lobson, province Posen, Germany.  Kindly acknowledge receipt of this letter at your earliest convenience, and should you be identical with this gentleman, we would ask you to call at this consulate or let us know your present address.  (our office hours are from 10 – 3, Saturdays 10 to 1 o’clock).” [29] The names of the children are Gertude Pielenz and Rudolph Pielenz.  The letter from the Switzerland consulate has the name Mrs. Ida Wiesen nee Pielinz written at the bottom. So apparently the children never took their father’s last name.  It doesn’t sound like Rudolph married their mother if they did not take his last name.   I also don’t think they would contact the Switzerland consulate if this was a scam.  There were never any family stories or rumors about this.  So I do not know if my grandfather knew about it or not.  My grandmother said that Rudolph Kaiser was a kind man; however his wife was mean and treated Rudolph badly.    I thought my grandmother just didn’t like her Mother-in-law.  Now I wonder if Wilhelmina found out that he had another family in Germany, and if that is why she wasn’t very nice to Rudolph.   If this is true, why would he leave his family in Germany and never send for them or write to them?  This is what bothers me.  I would love to know the story behind this but will probably never know.

Rudolph died on 6 January 1933 of Prostate Cancer.[30] Wilhelmina died on 6 July 1953 from Chronic Myocarditis and Arteriosclerosis.[31] Both are buried at Eden’s Cemetery in Schiller Park, Illinois.[32]

Note:  The name Rudolph is spelled Rudolf or Rudolph in places.  I tried to spell it like it was spelled in documents.  I have always spelled it Rudolph when referring to him.  Kaiser was spelled three ways Keiser, Keyser, and Kaiser.  Again I tried to spell it how it is spelled in documents.  Here in America he used Kaiser and his descendants used Kaiser

Copyright © 2016 Gail Grunst


[1] Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898, database,FamilySearch ( :, Rudolf Otto Keiser, 18 Apr 1865; citing ; FHL microfilm 245,514, 245,515, 245,517.

[2] Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898, database,FamilySearch ( : Emilie Ernstine Klatt in entry for Theodor Julius Keiser, 29 Jun 1862; citing ; FHL microfilm 245,514, 245,515, 245,517.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898, database,FamilySearch ( :, Theodor Julius Keiser, 29 Jun 1862; citing ; FHL microfilm 245,514, 245,515, 245,517.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898, database,FamilySearch ( : Emma Auguste Keyser, 06 Sep 1863; citing ; FHL microfilm 245,514, 245,515, 245,517.

[7] Ibid.

[8] United States Germans to America Index, 1850-1897, Database,FamilySearch ( : Rudolf Keiser, 30 Apr 1891; citing Germans to America Passenger Data file, 1850-1897, Ship Lahn, departed from Bremen & Southampton, arrived in New York, New York, New York, United States, NAID identifier 1746067, National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

[9] United States Germans to America Index, 1850-1897, database,FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 June 2016), Anton Springer, 30 Apr 1891; citing Germans to America Passenger Data file, 1850-1897, Ship Lahn, departed from Bremen & Southampton, arrived in New York, New York, New York, United States, NAID identifier 1746067, National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

[10] Illinois, Kane County, Marriage License and Return no 10271, Kaiser-Springer 1896, County Clerk’s Office, Geneva.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Illinois State Archives, “Illinois Statewide Marriage Index 1763 – 1900,” database, Illinois Statewide Marriage Index ( accessed 1 June 2016, entry for Babette Springer, 3 October 1895,  Kane County, License no. 00010043.

[15] Illinois, Kane County, Marriage License and Return no 10271, Kaiser-Springer 1896, County Clerk’s Office, Geneva.

[16] Ibid.

[17] “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with images,FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 June 2016), Minna Springer, 1888; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm .

[18] Illinois, Cook County, Return of a Birth No. 9055, Rudolph Frederick Kaiser, 12 September 1896, Vital Statistics Department, County Clerk’s Office, Chicago.

[19] United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records AdministrationM1509, 4,582 rolls, Image from Family History Library microfilm.

[20] United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

[21] Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C

[22] Illinois, Cook County, Standard Certificate of Death no. 605, Rudolph Kaiser, 6 January 1933, County Clerk’s Office, Chicago.

[23] Illinois, Cook County, Standard Certificate of Death no.11951, Hugo Kaiser, 11 April 1919., County Clerk’s Office, Chicago

[24] Influenza Encyclopedia ( Produced by the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, “The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918 -1919.”

[25] Illinois, Cook County Circuit Court, Chicago, Naturalization Record 1906, LDS 1024-633 Vols. 100-102, Rudolph Kaiser, Roll 102, Page37.

[26] Ibid.

[27] National Archives Website ( Prologue Magazine, Summer 1998, Vol. 30, No. 2, Smith, Marion L., Any woman who is now or may hereafter be married . . .” Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802-1940.

[28] Letters written in German to Rudolf Kaiser from Rudolf Pieling, Gertude Pieling, and Ida Wiesen  nee pieling, dated 1910, 1914, 1918, and 1920.  Letters are in the possession of Abigail Grunst, Rudolph Kaiser’s great-granddaughter.

[29] Illinois, Chicago; Consulate of Switzerland in charge of German Interests; dated 22 August 1920, Journal no. 5318/20.  Letter in possession of Abigail Grunst, Rudolph Kaiser’s great-granddaughter.

[30] Illinois, Cook County, Standard Certificate of Death no. 605, Rudolph Kaiser, 6 January 1933, County Clerk’s Office, Chicago.

[31] Illinois, Cook County, Medical Certificate of Death No. 49, Wilhelmina Kaiser, 6 July 1953, Forest Park, German Old Peoples Home.

[32] Eden’s Cemetery, 9851 Irving Park Road, Schiller Park, Illinois, Kaiser Lot 139, Section 7.  Personal knowledge by Author Abigail Grunst.  Visited the cemetery and graves many times.

A life remembered!! Msg. Timothy Bodden


1st Sense Photography


Today I had a friend pass at an early age, I learned this when I logged onto Facebook this morning. As I will never forget my friend, I decided to write something today, and let the words of others be my voice today. When I was growing up my dad would talk about his friend “Bodden”. This was the only name I knew him by until a few years ago. Msg. Timothy Bodden went missing in Vietnam. He was well liked, and had a daughter. I never knew him myself but thought I would write about this man, and his courage to defend others, when no one else would. He served proudly, and gave his life for that purpose, and left this world to soon. So without further ado, I present to you written in the words of others, the day America lost a soldier and a friend!.


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The Singer


This a a repeat of a post titled the Godmother from March of 2015.  For today’s post I gave it a new title The Singer.  I wrote about my cousin and Godmother, Pat.  It still holds true today.  I was going to try and insert a clip of her singing, but for that I would have to upgrade my plan here on WordPress.  Sorry, that’s not going to happen today.  But while updating this post, I am listening to her sing.  When I hear her voice, I get tears in my eyes, because I miss her so.  Here is my original post.

March is Women’s History Month and a time for honoring our female ancestors.  Today I am not honoring an ancestor but someone who played an important role in my life, my Godmother, Pat.  Pat was my mother’s 1st cousin, and my 1st cousin once removed.  When I was born Pat was 14 years old and lived in Chicago with her divorced mother (my grandmother’s sister) Frances, better known to me as Aunt Fran.  We lived in a suburb of Chicago, Villa Park.  Almost every weekend Pat and Aunt Fran would come out to my grandmother’s house and spend the weekend.  I looked forward to their visits.  They always brought me some little trinket.  Pat had long hair and she would let me brush it and play beauty shop.  Pat was my idol.  She would tell me stories, sing to me, take walks with me, play games with me, and just talk with me.  In other words she paid a lot of attention to me.  She took me places too.  She would take me shopping in downtown Chicago, we would eat in nice restaurants, and she would take me to the movies.  I would spend a week during my summer vacation staying in Chicago with Pat and Aunt Fran.  One time Pat took me to Riverview (an amusement park in Chicago) with her boyfriend.  She didn’t like roller coasters, but her boyfriend did, and he took me on all the roller coasters several times.  Pat and Aunt Fran were good at organizing and holding birthday and Halloween parties.  They would buy all the decorations come out to my house, decorate, and organize the party.  The other kids loved my parties because Pat and Aunt Fran made them so much fun.

Pat had a beautiful voice and sang opera.  She would practice every morning when I was staying with her.  We would not go anywhere until she did her practicing.  She earned a B.A from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.  Her non-professional experience included the Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church and M. B. Sachs Amateur Hour in which she won first prize.  Her professional experience included the American Opera Company in Chicago, Board of Education Radio Station, New York City Opera, American Red Cross (Great Lakes Naval Hospital), Muni Opera in St. Louis, Pan American Council in Chicago, Decca Records – Forgive and Forget record.  She won an award at the  Chicagoland Music Festival Contest 1952 sponsored by the Chicago Tribune.  I know that Pat had won a bicycle and it was given to me.  May be it was the Chicago Tribune contest because that would have been about the time that I got the bicycle.  Pat was also fluent in several languages.  She married a man from Columbia South America and they had a daughter.    I remember one Christmas Eve she sang I’ll be home for Christmas and my father played the Organ.  No rehearsal for either of them and it was beautiful.  It brought tears to everyone’s eyes.  I wish that we had a recording of that.  Years later I asked her to sing for my husband as he had never heard her sing.  She said, “Oh, I can’t anymore, it takes practice and I haven’t kept it up.”  After my mother passed away in 1987, Pat became my go to person when I needed to talk to someone.  Pat was my Godmother, and I was her daughter’s Godmother, and her daughter is my oldest sons Godmother. Pat passed in April 2014 at age 81. For Pat’s memorial service her daughter made a CD of her mother’s singing.  She recently made a copy for us.  It’s scratchy because the recordings are old, but it is nice to be able to still hear her voice again.  She was a big part of my life, I loved her very much and she lives on in my heart.

Daily Prompt: Sing