Celebrating the Life of Martin Boerner, Sr.
My great-grandfather, Martin Boerner, Sr. was born on this day, 9 Feb 1866, in Gaulsheim, Mainz-Bingen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. He was the youngest of Adam and Anna Mariae (Janz) Boerner’s seven children.
As a young man he was in the “Kaiser’s Army” and did not like the direction the Kaiser was taking Germany, so he followed his brother to the United States. According to the 1900 U.S. Census, his brother, “Bartel” (Bartholomaus) came to Kaukauna, Wisconsin in 1886. Martin left his wife and three young sons in Gaulsheim and sailed on the Southwark, arriving at Ellis Island on 1 Dec. 1897.
He expected to work with Bartel at the Badger Paper Mill but the mill burned so they went up to Niagara, WI to work at the Kimberly-Clark paper mill. Bartel returned to Kaukauna but Martin made his home in Niagara, continuing to work at Kimberly-Clark. A family story tells of Martin being among the first employees of K-C in Niagara to receive a pension when he retired–a sum of $25 per month.
In 1899, his wife Katharine and their three sons immigrated to the United States. Young Karl died at Ellis Island but the other two boys survived. The family lived in one of the homes “behind the mill” and had four more children. Katharine died when she was only 45 when surgeons cut another organ while doing an appendectomy on her and she bled to death, leaving three young children at home for Martin to raise on his own. He did not remarry, but when his youngest daughter, Anna Marie, married Oscar Aderman, they bought the house from Martin and he lived with them for the rest of his life; Oscar and Ann and their sons lived upstairs and Martin continued to live on the ground floor.
Martin was a faithful Roman Catholic and made a big impact on his young grandsons. He is remembered for making apple cider each fall, for his strong work ethic, and his straight, deliberate, “military” stride. He lived well until his death in 1944 at the age of 78.