About the Knapstein Family

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  • (Click here to see a map that shows the region Mathias Knapstein and his family came from.)

    Mathias Knapstein emigrated to the United States in 1855. The voyage took 104 days. He brought his family to Wisconsin straight-away, and purchased a 300 acre farm.

    Theodore Knapstein (b. Nov. 12, 1848, Prussia, Germany, d. 1917), Mathias' eldest son, married Miss Frances Werner (b. 1855, d. 1915) in September of 1879 and together they had twelve children: Margaret, Mathias W. (b. 1879, d. 1955), Magdalane, Frances, Irene (b. 1884, d. 1949), Henrietta, Henry (b. 1886, d. 1960), William M. (b. 1888, d. 1958), John, Theodore Jr. ("Tead") (b. 11/20/1892, d. 1/19/1974), Raymond and Loraine.

    John appears in the New London centennial paper in a couple early 1900s photos. (1908) (circa 1910)

    Henry Knapstein (b. Nov. 17, 1853, Prussia, Germany; d. June 18, 1925), Mathias' younger son, married Miss Isabel Steffen of Hortonville (January 27, 1880), and together they had six daughters: Josephine (b. 1881, d. October 12, 1964 at age 83), Margaret (often referred to as "Gretchen") (d. 1986), Rose (b. 1886, d. 1976), Cecilia (b. 1888, d. July 7, 1976, age 87), Helen (b. 1891, d. Nov. 25, 1988), and Beatrice (b. 1895, d. 1988).

    Josephine married Luther Millard Wright (b. 1876, d. February 18, 1967). They had two children: Harry and Margaret. (Harry married Dorothy, the author of That Grand Old House.)

    Margaret (Gretchen) married Fred Mieklejohn. They had two children: Robert and Jeanette.

    The other four never married. It appears that Rose, Cecilia and Helen were darn near inseparable, and that Beatrice was, well, a troubled soul who spent most of her life in institutions, according to Dorothy Wright's That Grand Old House. (see below)

    Ron Knapstein giving a presentation at the Henry Knapstein house in June 2006.

    This is a picture of the Henry Knapstein house, restored, taken in early June 2006. Ronald Knapstein is the gentleman in the tuxedo. He is giving a presentation on the Knapstein house as a part of the New London Tour of Historic Homes. Built around 1890 by Charlie Steffen, who happened to be Henry's brother-in-law, this house stands at the corner of Algoma and Cook streets in New London, Wis.

    Dorothy Wright wrote an enlightening book in 1988 entitled That Grand Old House; The Story of the Knapsteins, which is about the Henry Knapstein family. It gives a very detailed and vivid description of this beautiful Victorian home.

    It also gives a great deal of insight about Henry and his family. Henry was very interested in local politics. He served several terms as alderman of the 3rd ward, he was elected and served as mayor from 1881 to 1883, and again from 1900 to 1912. (Henry sold his interest in the brewery to Theodore in 1909.) His last public office was that of postmaster, which he served from August 1, 1915, until he gave the post up due to poor health; Henry developed terminal prostate cancer. He was bedridden for over a year, and succumbed to his illness in June 1925. Isabelle died in 1934.

    That Grand Old House is an entertaining, enlightening and poignant account of Henry's daughters. It is written from the perspective of a woman who married into the Knapstein family. The book consists of fewer than 50 pages, but it is well worth the time spent reading it, if you should get the chance. We obtained a copy from the New London Public Museum, New London, Wis.

    Theodore Knapstein served as a Wisconsin assemblyman in 1889 and 1891. He served as the Seargeant-At-Arms of the assembly in 1893 during the 41st session of the state legislature.

    The 1893 Wisconsin Blue Book included Biographical Sketches of the Officers of the Legislature:

    THEODORE KNAPSTEIN (Dem.), of New London, was born in Prussia, November 12, 1848; received a common school education, and is by occupation a brewer; came to Wisconsin in 1855, and settled at Greenville, Outagamie county; was a member of the village board and afterwards alderman of New London from 1872 to 1884; mayor of the city in 1884, and president of the common council in 1885; was a member of the assembly in 1889, and re-elected in 1890, receiving 2,927 votes against 1,316 for W. D. Ackerman, republican, and 138 for W. D. Boynton, prohibitionist; was elected sergeant-at-arms as a democrat, receiving 56 votes against 43 votes for C. Morse, republican.

    Family Photos

    Here's a wonderful vintage photo of Theodore Senior's grown children.

    Back row, left to right: Henry, Mathias, John, Raymond, Theodore Jr. (Tead), William M.

    Front row, left to right: Margaret, Irene, Frances, Lorraine, Magdalena (Magdalane), Henrietta.


    Left to right: Matt (Mathias W. Knapstein) (b. 1879, d. 1955), later in lifeand his wife, Nora (Eleanor) (b. 1879, d. 1958). They had four children: Edwin, Mary, George and Lewis.

    Edwin Knapstein married Geraldine (Gerry) Daumas. They had two sons: Edwin Jr. ("Windy") and Ronald. (photo below)

    George Knapstein married Kathryn (Kate) McKeon.

    Mary (Mae) Knapstein married Joe Kische. They had three children: Richard, Mary and Jerome.

    Lewis Knapstein married Mary Alyce.


    Matt & Nora Knapstein



    All family portraits should be this nice. This is a vintage portrait of Matt and Nora and their children: Edwin, Mary, George and Lewis.






    Edwin undertook another business venture in New London in the 1950s: Knapstein's Color Shop, a paint store.



    Here is a photo of Edwin in the store, and a photo of Edwin Jr. (Windy) beside the company truck.







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