Thursday, Feb. 24, 1938

Snowing this morn. Bert [Bertille] washed, ironed a few pieces. Pap went to Smithton to see Ed. Heap, but he wasn’t at home, had gone to sale at New Athens. The St. Michael’s Dramatic Club of Paderborn are giving a play tonite there, the name is “Always in Trouble.” players are Bill Klein, Louis & John Schoenborn, Sly. Neff, Ed. Kabureck; Bud. Karban, Irene & Esther Helfrich, Opp. Rheinhardt, & Clara; Viola Kabureck, Cecila Watchel. Uncle Fred & A. [Aunt] Mary took Bert [Bertille] along to play, boy what a crowd, over 300 tickets sold; dance after play music by Schoenborn, Schilling, Boeker, between acts, & also 4 selections on guitar by Oliver Skaer.

Tuesday, Oct. 26, 1937

Beautiful day. Kleins got the mule this morn. $125.00 We went to Leo’s; started at 7:30 cutting chop; finished dinner time & sawed hrs. wood this afternoon. Wacthel outfit & Jake & 2 J. Mueth’s, & M. Karban – 8 men altogether. C. Buehler stopped in took Henry’s hide from heifer along to St. Louis. Uncle Fred & A. [Aunt] Mary were up this afternoon. Emil & Josie were also cleaning etc; brought tub dishes etc.

Sunday, Oct. 24, 1937

Mission. Went to mass. Uncle Fred & A. [Aunt] Mary stopped awhile; beef soup dinner today. They came up this afternoon & Berti [Bertille] went along out picking up hickory nuts, & went to see Uncle Matts woods, were the saw mill had been, where they made railroad ties & etc; big lot of slabs there now yet. Beautiful day; got about 2 gals. nuts; from 3 trees. Mr & Mrs. Dominic Klein & son Ignatius was here looked at the mule, & bought him for $125 going to get him, either Mon. eve or early Tues. morn. Pap was at Wagner’s.

Tuesday, Aug. 31, 1937

Pap & Bert [Bertille] went to Leo’s, he helped load hogs went along to Belleville had 3 – 4% lbs. $10.60, had dinner. Bert helped for pinic [sic]. They have Catholic Church pinic [sic] today chicken supper. We went up this eve. had nice crowd. Bert won $2.45 bluey stand. Skaers, Rheinhardt & Schoenborn furnished music. The prizes were raffled to $10.00 New Baden; 100 lbs. sugar, Louis Schoenborn, Paderborn, quilt – Belleville, Aladin [sic – Aladdin] Lamp to Mrs. Geo. Klein Paderborn, 100 lbs. flour – Schmidt Pete of Waterloo, 17 piece water set, Leister mail carrier Waterloo, 50 lbs. flour Belleville 24 lb. flour Atella [?] Rheinhardt. Bed Spread & pillow slip Belleville.

Saturday, Aug. 14, 1937

Made catsup, canned 3 qts. tomatoes. Went to Red Bud to Beckers Mill got check cashed, got new fan belt put in Chev. $1. went to Paul Crook looking for pigs, but were just delivered this morn. went through Tipton to Pluegers, but he moved last Sat; doesn’t live there any more, moved 10 miles away; went to Waterloo to church. Henry & boys were up this afternoon got wagon; last nite they were at Waterloo big W.L.S. Show at Pautlers Hall; I had forgotten all about it. Send bu. peaches small ones with Henry; pap picked 2 bu. little more. got in mushmellons & 1 watermellon [sic]. Hugo Probst is building new house on his lot, tore the old one away; also J. Kreher’s, Siedle is building that, contract job; but Probst just day labor. J. Reheis, Klein etc. We went over to Geo. Wagners awhile. Mary & Anita were out to. Clif Stahleber had a accident with his motorcycle at Pautlers, back wheel locked through [sic – threw] him quite a distance; hurt pretty bad.

Wednesday, Aug. 11, 1937

Canned 12 qt. peaches, 1 green gage, cooked catsup. Painter finished this morn.; this afternoon working out at Henrys pap went out to filling in the outside cracks & spaces; took basket peaches along out. Uncle Fred & A. [Aunt] Mary stopped, moving Christ Buehler to Red Bud – his truck, Jake Klein’s & Werner Kammlers, them, Elmer Parker, Adam Eckerts helping to move. Ruma Catholic church has pinic [sic] today. Wm Wiegand was here going to move down on his farm, thought he could run his cows passed here. Uncle Fred & A. Mary came from Buehlers here.

Wednesday, July 7, 1937

Went threshing at Leo’s, for lunch, dinner lunch & got 724 bus. from 36 acres; sure good. Leona & boys Mrs. Orlet & Uncle Fred & A. [Aunt] Mary were all helping there. sure warm. Mr. Orlet had Frank Klein to haul two loads wheat for him, got $1.19 at Freeburg, brought coal along for Leo. Hy. brought sack pig feed down. Schilling threshing at Reheis.

What Started It All : My Love of Genealogy

An early memory. I walk into my parents’ bedroom and see my mom looking at a big piece of paper that to my 8 or so year old mind covers up her entire bed. I ask “What is that?” My mother responds “It is a family tree.” She then showed me her name and my grandparents’ names. She went on to explain that she had recently talked to her Aunt Caroline (her dad’s sister) and with her help had written down all the names and dates of those that encompass the Klein Family Tree. “Am I related to everyone on here?” I asked. “Yes” was her reply.

I was amazed. Both of my parents are only children. I grew up in a very nuclear existence with my brother and sister and I being the only (and I indeed mean only) grandchildren on both sides of the family. Were we spoiled? I don’t think so. I like to think that our grandparents treasured each of us a bit more because we were it.

But looking at this family tree, my world suddenly expanded. A seed was planted.


My father died from brain cancer when I was ten. Understandably, his death deeply impacted my life. His parents were still alive when he passed and I subsequently formed a strong relationship with his mother, my Granny Dunlap. She was an interesting soul. She was born in 1909 and was never the happy homemaker. Though she loved to cook, she was a working-out-of-the home mom all of my dad’s formative years. She could also handle her alcohol better than a person twice her size (she wasn’t even five feet tall). “Oh, the stories I could tell you…” she would often say when she was feeling a bit tipsy. But that was as far as it would go.

As she got older, old photos would begin appearing around her home. We would ask her who they were and she would tell us. She was great at labeling the backs of said photos as well. The stories she would share would be few and far between (especially when sober). But I was a teenager at this point and not too concerned about asking the right questions.

When she passed away at the age of 81 in 1990, so went the stories that were never shared. Since my father had no siblings and now both of his parents were gone, I felt a loss of connection. I had no one left to ground me to that side of my identity. My last name’s meaning and origin was a big question mark in my mind.

All were gone (on that side of my family tree) and in their wake was a heart-shaped hole.


Flash-forward to my early twenties. I am living near Madison, Wisconsin, just out of college, newly employed and lots of free time on my hand plus access to a world-class Historical Society Library.

Libraries are my second home. I began investigating first the census records and then requesting death records, marriage certificates, you name it I searched it out. This was in the early 2000’s so the internet was still in infancy. Not everything was online (hint: it still isn’t).

I started asking those questions to my dad’s cousins and my grandmother’s remaining younger sister. I began paying closer attention to our annual trips to Southern Illinois and visited cemeteries with my mom and her cousin for that side. I began filling in some of the blanks.

And the more I fill in, the more is left gaping open.

So I press on … with no end in sight.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.


What got you started investigating your family history? Do you know your family’s story? I can help.

One page of my mother’s original family tree

Friday, July 24, 1936

Pap & Rose took wheat to Waterloo got 99ยข. Uncle Fred & Aunt Mary stopped went to Christ Buehler’s. Nobbe & Klein of Waterloo, they wanted to see Uncle’s car dad [Anton] went with them; the girls like it, they want to teach school. Miss Josie Keller & Ella Miller were out at Aunt Mary’s last nite, brought a pattern out.

Thursday, Jan. 16, 1936

We butchered, 1 & Uncle got 1, Henry helped [unclear]. Hy. Armstutz shot them; Uncle Fred & Aunt Mary stayed awhile in eve. Klein Bros. got the sow & pigs; An alarm ring went over the lines that sales agents were going around, they were warned by 5 coustmers [sic] to be on the look out, before signing any contracts, to read them over careful; Awful cold wind today. S. Rennecker also butchering.