Monday, July 5, 2010

The Koehler Bakery



This is my Grandpa, Ed Koehler. In 1921, when he was 21 years old and newly married (I was born on the same day they were wed -- many years later of course), his Dad help set him up in this bakery. He and his family lived in the second story apartment upstairs from the bakery. My Mom was only two years old at the time and her older sister was three. Grandpa did most of the baking and would load up his truck with bakery items then make his way to rural farms to deliver his goods to people who didn't get into town much. In 1928 Ed and his wife Erna (my grandma) added their third daughter to the growing family. In the next year our country experienced the collapse of it's economy in the Great Depression. Berlin Wisconsin was no exception to the ravages of the Great Depression and one of the main businesses in town, a shoe factory where many women worked, went out of business. These women and others who were suffering with the down turned economy went back to making their own bread so business was slow in my Grandpa's bakery. According to family lore, one of Ed's employees was unscrupulously stealing sugar from the bakery to use in his still to make moonshine. To make things worse, soft hearted and charitable Ed issued credit to people who couldn't pay for his bread and eventually he couldn't pay his own bills. So in Sept 1929 he sold his bakery and moved in with his in-laws with his family of five. Ed used the proceeds from the sale of his bakery to keep my Great Grandparents from loosing their farm. He went to work in Milwaukee, 82 miles away, where many of his seven brothers and half brothers worked until he was able to get a job with Skelly Oil Company and move his family to Weyauwega. I love him for his loving and giving character.

Have you looked into your family tree? You should! It's a lot of fun and very interesting.

6 comments:

Ruby said...

Connie, this is great. It is a good thing to be interested in your family history. My brother maintains a website for ours: http://councilsofdesserette.com/genealogy/index.php

I probably knew more 30 years ago than I do now. Other interests have taken priority. There is something about connecting with your roots that gives you security. :)

Gerry Krueger said...

I love these photos....Your grandfather was a "big" man... so was my grandfather who homesteaded in Idaho... I was born during the depression and grew up with all the tales of that time...I'm sure that's responsible for the frugality of my nature...

Gerry K.

Cyndi Harris ~ said...

I loved your story and what a great inspiration to those who are going through the same thing right now.
Thank you!

Laurie said...

Hi Connie! Just found your blog through CQI, and love this post. We are doing our genealogy, and right now doing the DNA test to see our heritage on both sides of the family. It's so interesting to find out things about your family history, many fun and interesting facts! Have fun with yours Connie!

Gerry said...

Hi Connie. What a great story. The photos are very cool. It's difficult for people to imagine what things were really like in the depression. We seem to have sooooo much now a days.

I envy you that you know so much of your family history. I know mine only back to my great grandparents.

BTW, your BE is BEautiful!!!! What a lucky find on the threads.

Laurie said...

What a great story. The previous generation was just amazing. Puts me to shame!