Ohlrich Kucks, part 2

Continued from part 1.

Grandmother’s memories of Ohlrich

My grandmother was about 13 when Ohlrich died (1938). She remembered him well and described him as rather dapper. He was always well dressed and wore three-piece outfits. In the family collection, we have a picture of him that shows him in his later years as having snow-white thinning hair and a nice bushy white mustache – wearing that three-piece suite. In the picture with Ohlrich is Elizabeth, her son, Edward, and Edwards first daughter – grandmother as an infant. Four generations of Kucks in one sitting.

Grandma’s impression of him was that he was kooky. She remembers that in his later years, Ohlrich would come and stay with each of his children and their families for months at a time and they let him be the keeper of the candy (pastel mints) to dole out to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Grandma recalls that as he got older he got funny in the head and would hide the candy instead of sharing with the children. So his adult children stopped letting him manage the candy.

Census records illustrate his family hopping ways:

  • In 1910 he was living with the family of Martin Kahler. The exact relationship is unknown, however, a Kahler family always seems to be living nearby and may have been related to Margaretha’s family. 
  • In 1925 he is living with Margaret Neidermeyer (a Hinkle family lived nearby). 
  • In 1930 he was living with his daughter, Marie (sic) Weiderholz. 
  • He lived with his daughter, Margaret, at the time of his death in 1938.

He always kept a pocket watch on his vest. On the other end of his watch-chain, he kept a little pocketknife, which he used as a watch fob (his grandchild, Merne, inherited the knife). The grandchildren learned in the winter never to take their mittens off because he loved to trim their nails with that knife – real short.

Sometimes he would keep his false teeth in his vest pocket….

At some point, to earn a little extra money, he would wait for summer bounties to be issued for Gophers. Gophers were a menace to alfalfa fields. He would trap them, kill them, cut their paws off and take the paws to town for the bounty.

One time, while gopher hunting, he found a bird egg and put it in the same vest pocket that he kept his false teeth in and forgot about it. He later put is teeth in the pocket and broke the egg!

Grandma also remembered him as always having been a bartender at various locations (supported by the 1910 census). She claims to have seen a photo of him with two other gentlemen at an establishment he once worked at, standing in front of a bar. She thinks this bar was in Council Bluffs, Iowa but the name of the establishment was not recorded. She only knew one of the gentlemen in the photo as Ohlrich, but she didn’t know which one he was as he looked younger than she remembers him. She believes her sister may have that photo. Grandma thinks he might have been following the railroad to find work. Chicago history mentions workers arriving in that city to look for work with the railroads; bars being very popular among the immigrant men arriving and settling in that area, specifically Germans. Following railroad work may have been how he got from New York to Chicago where he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

Grandma was always told by her parents, Aunts, and Uncles that Ohlrich spoke with a strong German accent, but she doesn’t remember his accent in her childhood. This could be attributed to her having grown up listening to him and therefore having a “deaf” ear to his accent. Growing up, I didn’t believe my mother had an accent (she’s an immigrant also). But after moving away, I noticed her accent more and more when we visited.

Genealogical summary:

Ohlrich Kucks was born 22 August 1853 in Sassenholz, Prussia, Lower Saxony, now Germany. He was the son of Ohlrich Kücks and Mary Schröder.

Ohlrich immigrated to the United States on the steamship Hansa about May 1870 via New York. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in Chicago, Illinois on 9 October 1872, deserting on 6 May 1873. Through his life he was a blacksmith (1870), an Army laborer (1872-1873), a farmer (<1885-1905), and saloon proprietor (1910).

He married Margaretha Hinkel on 25 January 1878 in Mondamin, Harrison County, Iowa. She died 22 February 1896.

Ohlrich died 19 June 1938 in Allen Township, Harrison County, Iowa and may be buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Harrison County, Iowa.

Image of Ohlrich’s funeral card. Original on file in the family collection.

Ohlrich and Margaretha had four children:

  1. John Kucks: He married late in life to a Weiderholz (sp) and had two boys: Max and Dale. He started his family late enough that Max and Dale were closer to my grandmother’s age (John would have been grandma’s great-uncle). Dale was in the army and took up carpentry when he got out of the military and moved to Omaha. Ohlrich lived with John the most, resulting in Ohlrich spending more time with Max and Dale. 
  2. Elizabeth Kucks Aleck: This was grandma’s grandmother.
  3. Maggie or Margaret Kucks: She married August Neidermeyer. Maggie had a son that died as a young adult. This son had two daughters before his death and grandma remembers his wife continued to go to family funerals.
  4. Mary Kucks: She wore very large hats. She also married a Weiderholz (sp), brother to John’s wife, but they had no children. After John and his wife’s death, Max and Dale spent more time with Mary than Maggie or Elizabeth. Probably because of their Weiderholz relations.