Elizabeth Kucks

Elizabeth Kucks (pronounced Cooks) was born 1 March 1881 in Norfolk, Madison County, Nebraska. She was the eldest daughter and 2nd child of Ohlrich Kucks and Margaretha Hinkel (sp).

On 12 February 1902, she married Charles Aleck in Magnolia, Harrison County, Iowa. She was 20 and Charles was 28. Charles and Elizabeth had two children: Edward and Lucille.

Ledger showing the Elizabeth’s side of the marriage return with Chas. H. Alick.  Their license was issued on 11 February 1902, the minister reported performing the wedding on 12 February 1902 and the return was registered on 22 February 1902.  Ancestry.com

She was 17 years old when the Spanish-American war took place, 27 when the Model-T was manufactured in Michigan. She would have read about the sinking of Titanic in 1912 when she was 31. The Great War (WWI) started just two years later in 1914 and the US entered in 1917 against Germany in response to Germany’s policy of sinking ships belonging to neutral countries. Elizabeth lived in Iowa during the Great Depression of 1929. She was 58 when the Second World War began, again opposing Germany and Hitler’s Nazi movement and the atrocious Holocaust. She would live long enough to see the next three military conflicts, the Cold War, Korea, and Vietnam.

She probably sat in front of the television on 20 July 1969 when Apollo 11 landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Jr. on the moon and witnessed the success of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the US in 1920 (she was about 39 years old). She would have heard Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” Civil Rights speech in 1963 either on the radio or while watching on television.

She died 24 January 1977 in Iowa at the age 95, outliving her son, Edward, who had died in 1944 and her husband, Charles who died in 1953.  She is buried in the Logan Cemetery in Harrison County, Iowa.

Image from Elizabeth and Charles’ profiles on Find-a-grave.com.  They are buried in Section 4, Row 1.

Grandma remembers Elizabeth Kucks (her grandmother). Elizabeth was sometimes called Lizzie but she didn’t like it. She is often recorded as Lizzie in public records.

She was a marvelous cook, but despite growing up in a German home and speaking German fluently with her father, she did not cook German food. Grandma attributes this to Elizabeth learning to cook while working in the household of wealthier folks. Grandma tutored under her and remembers how well meals tasted at her house. There was a neighbor man in Iowa who would walk right on past Grandma’s childhood home just so he could eat at Elizabeth’s table. That story always makes Grandma chuckle.

Grandma believes that Elizabeth learned German from a different source than her parents because she seemed to speak high German compared to Ohlrich’s common or low German. Elizabeth went to school in Council Bluffs where she learned to read and write German, so this may be where she learned to speak the language. Later in her life, she would translate Hitler’s speeches on the radio to the neighbors when they would gather to listen to the news. She would translate German letters or newspapers for the neighbors also.

Elizabeth’s children could also speak German, but they didn’t much because of their opposition to the Nazi movement and the fear of discrimination against German-Americans in the U.S. During the World War II, Elizabeth would hide her German possessions in the hay mound. Among her possessions was a picture of her German grandparents (not sure if it was the Hinkels or the Kucks). If anyone in the family knows what became of these items, please let me know.

As mentioned in Charles Aleck’s post, he and Elizabeth Kucks met at dances. He played the fiddle (somewhat). He would fiddle and she would play piano at the dances. She had two sisters, Mary and Maggie, and one brother, John.