Margaret Agnes Kersten was the grandmother that I never met. My Aunts and father both stated she was a religious woman. She is one of my ancestors that I wished I could have met.
Margaret was born to Peter and Anna Stalhaber Kersten in Chicago on March 13, 1906. She was the second child born to Peter and Anna. She was baptized at St. Anthony of Padua on 15 April 1906 (Source: Delayed Birth Certificate). Margaret and her older brother William were first-generation German Americans. Just for a frame of reference, in 1906, Theodore Roosevelt was the President of the United States.
In the 1910 Census, the family is living at 2804 Calumet Avenue. Also living there are three boarders. Her father Peter is a brewer.
Kersten Home-1910 Census (source: Alookatcook.com)
When she was 8 years old, World War I started. I wonder what it was like for such a young girl when I am sure her parents were worried about loved ones that were still in Germany.
When she was 14 years old, Women got the right to vote with the passing of the 19th amendment. I wonder if she ever voted?
In 1920 Census, the family is living at 2411 South Park Avenue with her parents, her Uncle Johann Kersten, her cousin Harry Stalhaber and three lodgers. She is 13 years old. Margaret and her brother are listed as attending school. I wonder what she thought about having three lodgers in her home. I know at 13 years old, young girls and boys are wanting their privacy. I am sure there was not much of that in the household of 8.
Kersten Home-1930 Census(source: Alookatcook.com)
I have a letter from Fred to his father, Papa dated 7/27/26. He is living and presumably working at the Palmer House in Chicago. He writes,
Marge is all enthused with expectancy and I hope not in vain. I know I will do my utmost to make her as happy as my means and brains will allow. She is sure one sweet girl and deserves a whole lot more than she is getting but if I can make her happy, I sure will as she wants.
On September 18, 1926, Fred and Margaret were married at Saint Dorothy’s Church in Chicago, Illinois. The witnesses listed were Joseph Donnelly and Helen Diefenbach. I believe Helen was Margaret’s first cousin. The story about how my grandparents met is a little vague. I think it was Aunt Lee that told me she heard that Margaret and her friend were walking down the street when Fred and his friend walked by. Apparently, Fred starts chatting her up. The rest is history…
In the 1930 Census, Fred and Margaret are raising their first-born, Vivian, at 509 79th Street, Chicago. Fred is listed as unemployed and Margaret is listed as working as a stenographer in the Chemical Industry. The rent is $50 per month and they have a radio. It is interesting that Fred is not listed as a veteran. In some records, the census taker makes a notation as to who they spoke to at the residence. This record does not list that. I wonder if Margaret’s mother is caring for the young Vivian, or is Fred taking care of her. Recall, this is 1930 and the depression is in full swing.
Whitehead Home-1930 Census (source: google maps)
By the 1940 Census, the last one that has been made public, Fred and Margaret are living at 618 East 77th Street. Fred is indicated as the respondent in this census. He is now working as an Accountant doing tax appraisals. Margaret is listed as not working outside the home. But, how could she, she had Larry, age 3, Annette, age 7, and Vivian, age 12. The question about education level shows that Fred, completed the second year of high school and Margaret, completed the 7th grade. So, why did Margaret stop going to school? Is this accurate?
Whitehead Home-1940 Census (source: Google Maps)
I have a 1950 Tax Return. This was the tax return for the year her husband, Fred, died (4/3/50). It listed her occupation as a Stenographer. The family is listed as living at 7939 Champlain Avenue with her parents. It shows that Fred last wages were for James R. Casey on Clark Street. If I recall, I think this was an accounting office. Margaret’s listed occupations in 1950 were at Maywood Park Trotting Association and Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railway Company.
Kersten Home (Source: Google Maps)
At some point she moves to 8638 South Sangamon Street, as that is the residence listed on her death certificate. Margaret died 27 August 1967. She was 61 years old.
Margaret Whitehead’s Home (Source: Google Maps)
I would like for my Aunts and Father to chip in and send me some more memories of their mother. I have written far more than I had planned. Hopefully we all learned about a wonderful woman, Margaret Agnes Kersten Whitehead.
Below are some more pictures that I wanted to include.
Fred and Margaret
Fred and Margaret
Margaret, Larry, Vivian, Kathy
Happy Easter! Join me again later as we explore backwards!