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Remembering “Aunt Hilda”

January 19, 2014

On the 19th of January, 1982, Hildegarde Boerner died in the town of Sheboygan, in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, USA. She was 87 years old at the time of her death, having been born on 29 August 1894. Hilda was the second child and oldest daughter of Johann (1861 -1941) and Margarete Boerner (1864 – 1941) of Gaulsheim, Germany. When she was still 17 years old,  in 1912, she immigrated to the United States on board the Kroonland.  John Boerner had immigrated with his family earlier and then he returned to Gaulsheim to get Hilda so they could marry and live in Wisconsin. My newly-found cousin in Gaulsheim told me they were married on the ship on their way to the USA. I have not found their marriage record yet, but continue to look.

When the young couple arrived in Wisconsin, they lived in the town of Niagara for some years. It was during this time that John’s mother, Catherine, died from a surgeon’s slip of the scalpel, leaving young children still at home. Aunt Hilda graciously stepped in and helped raise the youngest children, including my grandmother Anna Maria. My uncle, Hilda’s nephew, remembers her as a kind, good-natured, gentle woman with a great laugh. She also had learned English but spoke it with a significant German accent. Recently my uncle told me about when she would see her nephews and exclaim, “My! How you boys have crowed!”, commenting on how they had grown. Because of the way she helped raise Martin’s children after Catherine died and because of her kind heart, she was very dear to my grandmother, who thought of her very much like a mother, and to grandma’s sons (my father and uncles).

Their first son, Martin, was born in Niagara on May 1913, just a year after they arrived in Wisconsin. Jacob was born in 1919, Margret in 1921, Elizabeth “Betty” Rose in 1922, and John J. “Johnny” in 1929. In May of 1929, John and Hilda had moved to Kohler, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, where they were active members of the community and the Roman Catholic Church. One of the tragedies the family suffered was when Elizabeth “Betty” Rose died of leukemia in 1945. Betty had celebrated her 23rd birthday on 24 July, 1945, then was diagnosed with leukemia in early August; she died just three weeks later on 29 August, 1945.

Hildegard lived a good long life and she lived it well. Today we celebrate her adventuresome spirit, her love for her family, and her willingness to serve people joyfully and lovingly.

From → Boerner/Storch

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