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My Favorite Paternal Aunt Laura

One of Paul's passions is researching and narrating family history. He has written many articles about grandparents and great-grandparents.

Aunt Laura as a Young Woman

Aunt Laura as a young woman.  Picture taken in the late 1940s

Aunt Laura as a young woman. Picture taken in the late 1940s

Remembering Aunt Laura

Laura Kuehn Bronenkant was my favorite paternal aunt. She was also the favorite of my siblings because Aunt Laura regularly visited our farm for 50 years.

In this article, I first trace my aunt's early life from birth in 1923 until her marriage in 1947. Next, I research Aunt Laura's husband, George Bronenkant's early life and their move to Tichigan Lake near Waterford, Wisconsin. Following this, I remember Laura as a boy and teenager from 1951 until 1962. Finally, I recall memories of my aunt as a man from 1980 until 2007.

Census and other records from ancestry.com as well as my cousin Bonnie's memories have also helped me reconstruct Aunt Laura's life.

Aunt Laura's Early Life: 1923–47

Laura Anne Kuehn was born on November 27, 1923, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was the fifth eldest child of Charles and Mary Kuehn. Laura had three elder brothers — Augie, Charles (my father,) and Dick, and one elder sister — Marie. My aunt also had two younger sisters — Helen and Florence.

My grandparents, Charles and Mary Kuehn, were poor farmers who had just relocated from Door County, Wisconsin, to Greenfield just west of Milwaukee in October 1923 right before Laura was born. After settling on 97th Street in Greenfield, my grandpa got a job at the Milwaukee Stockyards while grandma cared for five young children.

Laura lived with her siblings in a poor family according to my father. Dad always hated Christmas because he remembered when young that his family had very little to celebrate this joyous season.

Although I have no records or memories of Aunt Laura's life as a young girl, an ancestry.com record indicates that Laura was a high school freshman in 1940. She attended West Milwaukee High School and her picture is in the school's 1940 Yearbook. Unfortunately, my aunt dropped out of high school after her sophomore year.

Aunt Laura as a Teenager

My father's parents and siblings.  Standing from left to right:  dad, aunt Marie, uncle Augie, aunt Laura, and uncle Dick.  Seated are grandma and grandpa Kuehn.  Seated in front are aunt Florence on the left and aunt Helen on the right.  Taken 1938

My father's parents and siblings. Standing from left to right: dad, aunt Marie, uncle Augie, aunt Laura, and uncle Dick. Seated are grandma and grandpa Kuehn. Seated in front are aunt Florence on the left and aunt Helen on the right. Taken 1938

Aunt Laura's Early Married Life: 1947–53

On November 29, 1947, Aunt Laura married George Martin Bronenkant in Milwaukee.

George was from South Milwaukee and graduated from South Division High School in 1934. After graduation, George worked in his father's plumbing business until 1939. At that time, he enrolled in the Milwaukee School of Engineering and completed three years toward a degree in electrical engineering.

After the United States got involved in World War II, George enlisted in the Army in October 1942. While in the Army, George was a radar technician and served in New Guinea and the Philippines.

Following his discharge from the Army in 1946, George got a job with the Wisconsin Electric Power Company. One year later, he married Aunt Laura.

George and Laura quickly had two children — Barbara born in 1948 and Bonnie in 1949.

According to the 1950 U.S. census, George, Laura, and their girls were living on the west side of Tichigan Lake near Waterford, Wisconsin. An ancestry.com record indicated that George and Laura bought 55 acres of woods and wetland there.

Bonnie reveals, however, that from 1951 until 1953, George and Laura were living in a trailer in West Allis. This makes sense because I remember Laura, Barbara, and Bonnie visiting mom, my sister Beatrice, and me on 63rd Street in West Allis in the early 1950s.

During this time, George and a friend started building George's one-floor family house on the 55 acres near Tichigan Lake. Knowing plumbing and electrical work greatly aided George in his home construction.

Memories of Aunt Laura: 1954–62

By 1954, Bonnie is certain that George and Laura's home was finished at 28940 Fir Lane. In either 1954 or 55, I remember visiting George and Aunt Laura's home for the first time. We had just moved to a rented farm near Mukwonago only a few miles away. On a July day. my dad had arranged to make some hay on George's land.

Although Laura visited us often on our farm at Honey Creek, Wisconsin, my next memories of her are in 1962. In June, she attended my high school graduation, and in August, I recall seeing her at the Tichigan Lake Volunteer Fire Department's annual summer festival. Mom and dad had a trailer full of sweet corn that I sold in the parking lot near the festival.

Remembering Aunt Laura: 1963–90

From 1963 until 1990, I cannot remember visiting Aunt Laura very often. During this period, I was in college and then in the Navy. Shortly later, I lived in Taiwan from 1973 until 1979. Upon returning to the United States. I moved to Maryland in 1980 where I secured employment with the U.S. government.

Based on an obituary found on ancestry.com, Aunt Laura liked gardening and canning vegetables, especially pickles. She also loved sewing and craft projects. In addition, Laura was active in the Waterford Methodist Church and the Tichigan Lake Volunteer Fire Department's Women's Auxiliary.

Memories of Aunt Laura: 1991–2007

In the 1990s, I started to visit Aunt Laura more often whenever I was on vacation with mom and dad.

On one occasion, Laura took me down to her basement where they had a bar. Behind the bar, I was very surprised to see a risque pinup of Burt Reynolds whom my aunt found sexy.

During the 1990s and up until 2007, Aunt Laura also visited mom and dad whenever I was home. Laura and my mom would talk about casino bus trips that they went on and also Waterford church rummage sales.

When I last saw Laura in 2007, she was talking about Aunt Helen's recent passing and that cousin Susie inherited Aunt Helen's and grandma and grandpa's old house on 63rd Street. Laura also remarked that she would be having eye surgery and getting a glass eye.

Laura's obituary found on ancestry.com also noted that my aunt had visited the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee and that she enjoyed attending the German and Mexican festivals in Milwaukee.

My Mother and Aunt Laura

My mother is on the left and aunt Lara on the right.  The picture was taken in 1993.

My mother is on the left and aunt Lara on the right. The picture was taken in 1993.

Remembering Aunt Laura: 2008–11

Laura and George moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, to live with daughter Bonnie and her husband in 2009. They sold their home and 55 acres to the State of Wisconsin to be used as a Tichigan Wildlife area. During his life, George was an avid outdoorsman who liked to hunt, fish and trap on his 55 acres of woods and wetland. He was also a member of the Burlington Conservation Club.

Aunt Laura passed away at Williamsburg on October 3, 2011, after a short illness. George lived until 2014.

Aunt Laura was always optimistic and had an infectious personality. She was very sociable and always had time for my mom and dad. I guess this is the reason she was our favorite aunt.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Paul Richard Kuehn

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