March 22, 2012

.family photos…part 2: the Graf’s & Koch’s.

 koch family tree
This is about my Dad’s Dad’s family. I love the story of this family!
Let’s start with my Dad’s grandma. Her name was Anna Graf. She was the oldest daugher of Arnold and Anna Handschin Graf. She had 2 younger brothers and 6 younger sisters. They were from Rickenbach, Switzerland.
I believe this picture is of Anna, her mother, and sisters.
This is Anna Graf Koch.
The wedding picture of Johannes (John) and Anna Graf Koch. There are no family pictures of the Koch family prior to this that I know of. John Koch was an orphan, raised by relatives in Bavarian Germany. We know his parent’s names were Andreas and Anna Feyer Koch. John studied in Basel, Switzerland to become a minister.
They were married in the 1910’s. History during this time tells us that World War I was on the horizon. John, as a German citizen, was not welcomed in Switzerland and so they became missionaries and went to Australia.
While in Australia, Anna Maria (1916) and my grandfather Ernst (1917) were born.
This is them – aren’t they adorable?!
They returned to Switzerland when the war was over and lived in Rickenbach with Anna’s family. While they were there, Siegfried (1921) was born.
Not long after that, the family went to Brazil as missionaries. (I think it’s amazing that they did all this world travelling in the early 1900’s when it was so difficult to travel!) While there, Anna (the mom) and the new baby girl fell ill to typhoid fever and both passed away. John was sponsored by a church in Wisconsin to come to the United States as their minister.
When they came to the United States, “Grandma Anna’s” (how they distinguished between the mother and the daughter) sister Emma came from Switzerland to help John settle in and to care for the children. Four of Anna’s younger sisters never married and lived together their entire lives (Emma, Ida, Liesl, and Martha). The sisters always kept in close contact with their niece and nephews. When the last sister passed away, they left all their combined “fortune” to John and Anna’s children – Anna, Ernst, and Siegfried. Since my Grandma Ernie (Ernst) had already passed away, my Dad received the inheritance money. We used it to go to Switzerland in 1999 to see Rickenbach, the famed chalet where the sisters lived, and to meet cousins from the Graf family. I loved that experience!
Back to the history: John relocated to Lake Elmo, Minnesota and put an ad in the newspaper for a nanny. Katharina () answered the ad and as a true love story goes, they fell in love.
John and Katie were married and had a child, Walter. This family photo was taken before his birth.
They lived in Lake Elmo until their deaths, his in 1976. He was the minister of a small church. This is a portrait of them in their later years.
This is a family photo in the early 1970’s. I don’t remember what the occasion was. John and Katie are seated in the middle, their children on either side of them:
(from the left) Walter, Siegfried, Anna, and Ernst.
Their families are standing behind them.
I just think this a great picture. This is my Dad’s cousin Dennis and his wife, Sharon, at their wedding in 1972. Dennis is the son of Anna Koch Hooley. We usually stay with Dennis and Sharon when we go to Minnesota. Of all the Koch family, we’re closest to Dennis and Sharon and their family.
We are lucky to know so much information about the Koch family because my Great-Grandpa Koch write a book “The Story of My Life.” I read it as a teenager, but I haven’t for quite a while. He had such a unique life for the time period he lived in; it’s fascinating to read about his experiences. I am so proud of my family history. I wish we could find more information out about the Koch’s from Germany, but since we don’t know John’s parent’s names, my searches on hit a dead end.   

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