Well it’s week 2 and I’m finding myself challenged! My lofty goal of writing short biographies of each of the chosen 52 ancestors is proving to be more difficult than I first thought. Why? Well, this week the ancestor I chose to write about is Matilda Peterson Gretzinger, my husband’s great-grandmother. However, when I went to her record in my database, I found it incomplete. Very little data with incomplete citations. Not even her obituary.
Which leads me to my current state of frustration. Is the mission of this 52 week challenge supposed to allow me to highlight 52 ancestors or is the mission supposed to point out holes in my family tree which essentially leads to more in-depth and properly cited research?
Since this is my blog and my challenge, I choose both!
So here is this week’s post:
Matilda Peterson Gretzinger was born in February of 1889, the daughter of John and Anna Peterson. The first record I have of Matilda is the 1900 census in which she is living in the Town of Matteson in Waupaca County, Wisconsin. She is eleven years old and is listed as being “at school”. Other members of the household include seven brothers & sisters and one half-sister, Mary Euhardy. (Mary was the daughter of Peter Euhardy, Anna Hormish’s first husband).
At this point I don’t have detailed information on the Peterson family’s life in rural Waupaca county in 1900, but we do know that Matilda’s father was a farmer and more than likely his children attended a one room school with farm chores to keep them busy at home.
Jump ahead ten years to the 1910 census and we find Matilda still living in Matteson, Waupaca County with her parents and siblings. Her older sister Anna is not living with the family, nor is her half-sister Mary. We can only assume that they have married and have families of their own. Speaking of getting married. In 1910, at age 21, one has to wonder if Matilda has yet met the handsome John Gretzinger whom she will marry two years later at the age of 23?
Note: The photo above lists the marriage date as 1911, yet Matilda’s obituary lists her marriage date at October 28, 1912. (A research trip to Waupaca county is required!)
Shortly after their marriage, John and Matilda moved to rural Forest county and started their own family farm. By 1920, the family has grown to include children Dorothy, Roy, Earl and Ann. The exact location of the farm enumerated in 1920 is not known. It appears that the farm was enumerated on Range Line Road in the Town of Crandon with the Gretzingers nearest neighbors being the Ernest Feight and Isaac Dehart families. Whether this location was the “old farm” now located on Linneman Road remains to be seen.
John and Matilda lived in rural Forest county near Argonne for approximately 30 years. Their ten children (Dorothy, Roy, Earl, Ann, Ruth, Frank, Delores, Matilda (Tillie), John and William) and eventual grandchildren and great-grandchildren must have kept their lives pretty busy with family celebrations, get-togethers and the daily life a large family farm. (The only known tragedy occuring when Matilda and John lost their son, Roy, on July 4, 1955, when he drowned in Lake Metonga during a July 4th celebration.)
In 1942, John and Matilda returned to Clintonville, eventually making their last move to Shawano a few years before Matilda’s death in 1961. They are buried together in Graceland Cemetery in Clintonville.