Alexander Kaiser
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Alexander Kaiser (1904 - 1978)

Alexander "Alex" Kaiser
Born in Grimm, Saratov, Russiamap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1 May 1926 in Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, United Statesmap
Descendants descendants
Died at age 74 in Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, United Statesmap
Problems/Questions Profile manager: Julie Mangano private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 2 Feb 2016
This page has been accessed 2,492 times.



Volga German
Alexander Kaiser was a Volga German.
Alexander Kaiser has German Roots.
Flag of Russia (German)
Alexander Kaiser migrated from Russia (German) to Wisconsin, USA.
Flag of Wisconsin, USA

YDNA Haplogroup I-M170

Note: Alex and his wife Mollie were distant cousins.

  • Mollie Fritzler Kaiser (Fritzler-23) is a direct descendant of Johann Jakob Fritzler, son of Johann Michael Fritzler.
  • Alexander Kaiser (Kaiser-1024) is a direct descendant of Maria Katharina Fritzler Brester (Fritzler-43), Johann Michael Fritzler's daughter and Jakob Fritzler's sister. Brester was his grandmother's maiden name.
  • Alex and Mollie have the same 5th and 6th great grandparents, Johann Michael Fritzler (Fritzler-36) and Anna Katharina Maul (Maul-231). (They are 5th great grandparents to Mollie, and 6th great grandparents to Alex.)

Birth Date and Place

  • 29 June 1904
  • Grimm, Saratov, Russia




Death Date and Place

  • 18 September 1978
  • Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, United States

History [1]

Alexander Kaiser's family was originally from what is now Germany. On July 22, 1763, Catherine the Great issued a Manifesto inviting Germans to come settle in Russia. The Empress' invitation came at a time when the provinces of Germany were ravaged by the Seven Years War, famine and crippling poverty.

Catherine’s offer was difficult to refuse: generous acreage, free relocation expenses and supplies, no taxes for thirty years, freedom to practice their religion, no conscription in Russia’s Army, local self-government and more. German settlers were promised loans to help them buy livestock and equipment with no interest and a reasonable repayment plan.

The Empress knew many Germans were desperate to provide for their families and would jump at the opportunity to improve their lives. Germans already had a reputation as hardworking and industrious, so if anyone could help the Russians tame their desolate frontier, she believed it would be them. Thousands of Germans accepted Catherine’s offer and moved their families to Russia. Many settled in small villages along the Volga River.

Life was far different from what they expected. These new Russian citizens were forced to remain in hostile territory plagued by unpleasant weather patterns, rocky soil, vermin and disease. The earliest settlers battled with nomadic Kazakhs from China and Mongolia, and as a result, many Germans lost their lives. Still they persevered.

In 1874 the government enforced conscription on all men, including the Germans along the Volga. This was a serious breach of promise to the settlers who were strong pacifists. Many Germans in Russia moved their families to America to avoid being forced to join the military, while others stayed behind, hoping their government would re-exempt them.

Many of these Germans immigrated to North and South America in the late 1800s and early 1900s. For those who stayed in Russia, life remained harsh as they were ranked near the bottom of the country’s class system and routinely treated poorly.

By the early 1900s, those still living along the Volga River still considered themselves Germans, not Russians. Socialization with other native Russians was minimal. Intermarriage was considered taboo.

This was the social climate in Grimm, Russia, when Alexander (Alex) Kaiser's parents, Jake Kaiser and Charlotte Kerbel, were growing up. Both were descended from original settlers of the village. The couple married in 1903, and Alex was born the following year on 29 June 29 1904. He was baptized 9 days later on 08 August 1904, and his godparents were his uncle Peter Kaiser and his wife Anna Pinnecker. [2]

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Germans were disillusioned with life in Russia. The government had reneged on some of their promises to the settlers, and many dreamed of a better life in another country. In early 1907, Jake and Charlotte Kaiser decided to immigrate to the United States with their young son Alex. [3] They traveled in a group with other family members and their children. [3] Upon their arrival at Ellis Island, it was discovered that one of the children had an ear infection and the child was denied entrance to the U.S. [3] Rather than break up their families, neither family chose to remain, but that said, they still did not want to return to Russia. [3] Once back at their original port of departure, Hamburg, Germany, the families decided to go to Argentina, where there was already a large population of Germans and Volga Germans. [3]

The circuitous route took them back to Hamburg Germany, where they boarded a ship bound for La Plata, Argentina. Traveling steerage, they made the ardurous journey which included stops in Dover, England; Boulogne-sur-Mer, France; Coruña Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; and finally La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Note that although the two brothers' families were listed together in the passenger list, the surname for Alex's family was misspelled as Heiser, instead spelled correctly as Kaiser.

Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 [4]

Name: Alexander Heiser [sic] Kaiser
Gender: männlich (Male)
Departure Age: 1
Ethnicity/Nationality: Russland (Russian)
Relationship: Sohn (Son)
Birth Date: abt 1905
Residence: Saratow (Saratov)
Departure Date: 2 Feb 1906
Port of Departure: Hamburg
Destination: Buenos Aires
Port of Arrival: Dover; Boulogne-sur-Mer; Coruna; Lissabon; La Plata; Buenos Aires
Ship Name: Cap Blanco
Shipping Clerk: Hamburg-Amerika Linie (Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft)
Shipping line: Hamburg-Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrt-Gesellschaft
Ship Type: Dampfschiff, kein Auswandererschiff
Ship Flag: Deutschland
Accommodation: Zwischendeck
Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 175
Household Members: Name Age
Georg Heiser 29 [sic] Kaiser
Charlotte Heiser 24 [sic] Kaiser
Alexander Heiser 1 [sic] Kaiser

The ship docked in Argentina, and the two families made their homes there. Already pregnant at the time of their travels, Alex's mother gave birth to son August Kaiser on April 26, 1907, in Bahia Blanca. [3] The growing family remained in Argentina for perhaps a year, but Alex's mother was miserable. As soon as it was financially possible, their family moved back to their village in Russia, probably in late 1908 or early 1909. Another child, Alex's second brother, Jacob, was born in Grimm on April 28, 1910. [3]

Back in Grimm, nothing had changed, and Alex's parents were still restless for a better life. Once again they made plans to immigrate to the U.S. For the first leg of the journey, the family left Russia and made their way south to England. Once in England, they headed to Liverpool where they boarded American Line's S.S. Merion and set sail for the Port of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Passenger List [5]

Name Alexander Kaiser
Event Type Immigration
Event Date 1911
Event Place Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Gender Male
Age 7
Birth Year (Estimated) 1904
Birthplace Russia
Ship Name Merion

Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger List Index Cards [6]

In this record, it mentions "Father Christian Kaiser" as the family's contact in Russia. That was actually his grandfather, his father's father. The family was enroute to Johann Jacob Meier's home at 520 Noble Street, Chicago, Illinois. Jacob Meier was probably his father's older half-brother, both having the same mother. The surname Meier was originally spelled Major in Grimm.

Name Alexander Kaiser
Event Type Immigration
Event Date 1911
Event Place Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Gender Male
Age 7
Birthplace Russia
Ship Name Merion
Birth Year (Estimated) 1904
Contact/Destination Jacob Meier, 520 Noble Street, Chicago, Illinois

The trip must have been far easier than the one the family took four years earlier to Ellis Island. That's because service to Philadelphia was designed to carry only one class of passengers, rather than three classes. According to Glenvick & Gjønvik Archives, the passenger service on the S.S. Merion was considered exclusively second class, a far better option for those who usually traveled in steerage. [7] At a top speed of 14 knots and with no additional stops, the trip would have lasted almost 10 days. [8] The ship entered the Port of Philadelphia on October 3, 1911. [9] This time there were no problems with sick travelers and the family was allowed to enter the country.

Although the family's first destination was Illinois to visit friends from Russia who had already settled in the U.S., the Kaiser's first residence was in Colorado. [3] As was typical for Germans from Russia, father Jake was a hard worker, willing to do anything to support his family. Whatever he earned at his first jobs, however, wasn't enough to cover the needs of his growing family. Alex's mother may have worked intermittently after her boys were in school during the winter months. When Alex was a young teen, he was forced to drop out of school and start working to help support his family, working in the nearby sugar beet fields. [3]

At some point between 1911 and 1924, Alex's family moved to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, since they are listed as residents of that town in the 1920 U.S. Census. According to Dr. Brent Mai, Fond du Lac residents from the Volga German villages were almost exclusively from Grimm.

1920 United States Federal Census [10]

Name: Alex Kaiser
Age: 15
Birth Year: abt 1905
Birthplace: Russia
Home in 1920: Fond du Lac Ward 14, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Street: W Arns Street [sic] Arndt
Residence Date: 1920
Race: White
Gender: Male
Immigration Year: 1912 [sic] 1911
Relation to Head of House: Son
Marital Status: Single
Father's name: Jacob Kaiser
Father's Birthplace: Russia
Mother's name: Charlotte Kaiser
Mother's Birthplace: Russia
Native Tongue: Russian [sic] German
Able to Speak English: Yes
Naturalization Status: Alien
Attended School: Yes
Able to Read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Jacob Kaiser 42
Charlotte Kaiser 38
Alex Kaiser 15
August Kaiser 12
Jacob Kaiser 9

In reality, however, they must have gone back and forth between Wisconsin and Colorado for a period of time since their youngest son, Paul, was born there on March 29, 1922. [11] Furthermore, his brother August graduated from high school in Fort Collins in 1924. From what can be determined from Alex Kaiser's notes and information, he must have stayed with his family in Colorado and become "the man of the house" while his father was in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, working and saving money to move their family into a permanent home. [3]

By 1925, the family was all together Fond du Lac, a town where many of their friends and family members from Grimm were living, including several of Jake's brothers and at least one of Charlotte's sisters. [3] Alex's father put his carpentry skills to work at Northern Casket Company, just blocks away from the family's home on North Brooke Street. [3] Alex's first job in Fond du Lac was in the offices of Fred. Rueping Leather Company. [3] He later sold leather made at the tannery to companies that made shoes. [3] He regularly traveled around the Midwest for many years, but the traveling eventually took a toll on his health. He was forced to retire in the early 1950s. [12]

As an adult, Alex was a respected elder in the German Brotherhood, a worship group comprised of Volga Germans who met routinely in the Milwaukee and Fond du Lac areas. [3] This religious group did not take the place of what most would consider traditional churches, such as the Lutheran church, where most Germans from Russia were members. The German Brotherhood provided a way for the Volga Germans to preserve their early memories, traditions, and worship style. Services were conducted in German, and sermons were given by lay-persons who were church members. Congregants were somewhat strict in how they raised their children in their new home country. While they assimilated as quickly as possible, learning English and blending in with the locals, they frowned on drinking alcohol, dancing, and playing cards. The German Brotherhood was also active in Colorado, where Alex lived as a child. Growing up, he was a member of the Brotherhood's band, comprised of people of all ages, where he played the clarinet with a group of older tens and adults who all eventually moved to Fond du Lac. [3]

Despite his lack of a high school diploma or any college classes, Alex continued to self-educate himself, becoming a successful salesman and businessman. [12] He was a Kiwanis Club member and routinely spoke around the Midwest. [3] He also compiled as much information as he could about his family's life in Russia, and he spoke regularly about these Germans, how they ended up in Russia, and how they suffered under the hands of the Russians. [3]

Alex met his wife Mollie Fritzler, also a Volga German, in the mid 1920s, although they very well may have known each other as young children in Grimm. They quickly fell in love and married on May 1, 1926. [3] Their first child, Robert Kenneth Kaiser, was born about two years later on August 31, 1928.

Birth Record for Son Robert Kenneth Kaiser [13]

Name Robert Kenneth Kaiser
Event Type Birth
Event Date 31 Aug 1927
Event Place Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States
Registration Date 07 Sep 1927
Registration Place , Cook, Illinois
Gender Male
Race White
Father's Name Alexander Kaiser
Father's Birthplace Russia
Father's Age 23
Father's Estimated Birth Year 1904
Mother's Name Mollie Fritzler
Mother's Birthplace Russia
Mother's Age 19
Mother's Estimated Birth Year 1908
Certificate Number 40527

After the birth of Robert, the family left Chicago and moved back to Milwaukee. In 1930, two of Alex's younger brothers, August and Jacob, were living with him and his family. His youngest brother, Paul, still a minor, remained with his parents. Alex's daughter Ruth later revealed that her uncles lived with their brother because their father [her grandfather] was a strict disciplinarian and the young men felt too restricted living under his roof. [12] Once August and Jacob turned 18, they chose to leave their family home in Fond du Lac and live with their brother in Milwaukee. [12]

1930 United States Federal Census [14]

Name: Alex Kaiser
Birth Year: abt 1906
Gender: Male
Race: White
Birthplace: Russia
Marital Status: Married
Relation to Head of House: Head
Home in 1930: Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Map of Home: View Map
Street address: 31st
Ward of City: 20th pt
Block: 2427
Institution: x
House Number: 5183
Dwelling Number: 4
Family Number: 5
Home Owned or Rented: Rented
Home Value: 35
Radio Set: Yes
Lives on Farm: No
Age at First Marriage: 20
Attended School: No
Able to Read and Write: Yes
Father's Birthplace: Russia
Mother's Birthplace: Russia
Language Spoken: German
Immigration Year: 1913
Naturalization: Alien
Able to Speak English: Yes
Occupation: Salesman
Industry: Tannery
Class of Worker: Wage or salary worker
Employment: Yes
Household Members: Name Age
Alex Kaiser 24
Mollie Kaiser 22
Robert Kaiser 2
August Kaiser 22
Jacob Kaiser 19

Daughter Ruth Virginia was born five years later. [12]

Alex became a naturalized U.S. citizen on April 11, 1934.

Illinois, Northern District Naturalization Index [15]

Name Alexander Kaiser
Event Type Naturalization
Event Date 1934
Birth Year 1904
Birthplace Russia

Alex and his family lived in Milwaukee through the 1930s and 1940s. He was by his mother Charlotte's side when she passed away in 1939 at a hospital in Milwaukee. [16] [17]

1940 United States Federal Census [18]

Name: Alexander Kaiser
Age: 35
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1905
Gender: Male
Race: White
Birthplace: Russia
Marital Status: Married
Relation to Head of House: Head
Home in 1940: Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Map of Home in 1940: View Map
Street: N 37th Street
House Number: 5550
Farm: No
Inferred Residence in 1935: Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Residence in 1935: Same House
Citizenship: Naturalized
Sheet Number: 12A
Number of Household in Order of Visitation: 238
Occupation: Manager
House Owned or Rented: Owned
Value of Home or Monthly Rental if Rented: 6,000
Attended School or College: No
Highest Grade Completed: High School, 4th year
Hours Worked Week Prior to Census: 60
Class of Worker: Wage or salary worker in private work
Weeks Worked in 1939: 52
Income: 5,000+
Income Other Sources: No
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Alexander Kaiser 35
Amalia Kaiser 32
Robert K Kaiser 12
Ruth V Kaiser 7

After a career as a leather salesman he retired and opened a shoe store on a busy commercial street in Milwaukee. Eventually, old downtown locations began to see sales drop as indoor shopping malls sprouted up across the nation. Spotting the new sales trend early, Alex closed his family shoe store and opened a specialty children's shoe store in Brookfield Mall, not far from where he and his wife lived.[12]

As a grandfather, Alex was always concerned about his grandchildren wearing shoes that were made properly and fit well. It must have come as a shock to him when one of his granddaughters, this author, had one of the widest foot sizes ever recorded for a child. I remember when he visited us in California, how he would take me out to shoe store after shoe store, trying to find shoes to properly fit my wide feet. He would hold his chin between his thumb and index finger and shake his head back and forth every time a pair of shoes didn't fit me. Which was often.

Alex was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. After the death of his beloved wife Mollie in 1976, his heart was broken and he seemed to lose his love for life. He died on September 18, 1978 and was buried in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [19]

Name: Alex Kaiser
Last Residence: 53226 Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Born: 29 Jun 1904
Last Benefit: 53209, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States of America
Died: Sep 1978

Wisconsin Death Index [20]

Name: Alexander Kaiser
Age: 74
Sex: M (Male)
Birth Date: abt 1904
Death Date: 18 Sep 1978
Location: Milw (May be abbreviated)
Certificate: 204755


  1. Mangano, Julie, Braha, preface, published 2014, pages v through vii, used with permission from the author.
  2. 1904 Grimm Lutheran Church Registry of Births and Baptisms, compiled by John Groh, Village Coordinator for Grimm, Russia, compilation in progress; Birth #202, Alexander Kaiser, 29 June 1904, parents Georg Jakob Kaiser and Charlotta nee Kerbel, conveyed to Julie Miller Mangano via email dated 07 December 2018. See the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia website regarding future purchases of this compilation of birth and baptism records at
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 Kaiser, Alexander, vital information and personal stories about living in Grimm and the Germans' journey from Germany to Russia, as told to Julie Miller Mangano.
  4. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1793, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Bestand: 373-7 I, VIII (Auswanderungsamt I). Mikrofilmrollen K 1701 - K 2008, S 17363 - S 17383, 13116 - 13183, Alexander Heiser [sic], age 1, born in Russia; online database, accessed 08 July 2023.
  5. "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1883-1945," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 March 2018), Alexander Kaiser, 1911; citing Immigration, NARA microfilm publication T840 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,402,596.
  6. "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger List Index Cards, 1883-1948," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 March 2018), Alexander Kaiser, 1911; citing Immigration, NARA microfilm publication T526 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,380,283.
  7. Glenvick & Gjønvik Archives, American Line, Philadelphia - Queenstown - Liverpool Service1j.
  8., Liverpool, United Kingdom, to Philadelphia, United States, 14 knots, 3253 nautical miles, 9 days 16 hours, see:
  9. "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger List Index Cards, 1883-1948," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 March 2018), Alexander Kaiser, 1911; citing Immigration, NARA microfilm publication T526 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,380,283.
  10. 1920 United States Federal Census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Fond du Lac Ward 14, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; Roll: T625_1986; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 43, Alex Kaiser, age 15, born in Russia; online database, accessed 08 July 2023.
  11. Find A Grave database and images (accessed 28 June 2018), memorial page for Paul Edward Kaiser (29 Mar 1922–8 Sep 1965), Find A Grave: Memorial #74599467, citing Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by Jackie Edkins (contributor 47405045).
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Miller, Ruth Kaiser, vital information and personal stories about her parents and grandparents and their lives in Russia.
  13. "Illinois, Cook County, Birth Certificates, 1871-1940," database, FamilySearch ( : 18 May 2016), Alexander Kaiser in entry for Robert Kenneth Kaiser, 31 Aug 1927; Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States, reference/certificate 40527, Cook County Clerk, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm .
  14. 1930 United States Federal Census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Page: 35A; Enumeration District: 0258, Alex Kaiser, born about 1906 in Russia; online database, accessed 08 July 2023.
  15. "Illinois, Northern District Naturalization Index, 1840-1950," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 March 2018), Alexander Kaiser, 1934; citing , NARA microfilm publication M1285 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 94; FHL microfilm 1,432,094.
  16. Find A Grave Burial Record, database and images (accessed 28 June 2018), memorial page for Charlotte Kerbel Kaiser (24 Nov 1882–6 Jun 1939), Find A Grave: Memorial #74598794, citing Estabrooks Cemetery, Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by Jackie Edkins (contributor 47405045).
  17. Personal family records in the files of Julie Mangano, Round Rock, Texas.
  18. 1940 United States Federal Census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Roll: m-t0627-04549; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 72-201, Alexander Kaiser, age 35, born in Russia; online database, accessed 08 July 2023.
  19. Alex Kaiser; Issue State: Wisconsin; Issue Date: Before 1951, Alex Kaiser, born 29 June 1904, died September 1978, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; online database, accessed 08 July 2023.
  20. Wisconsin Death Index, Wisconsin, Death Index, 1959-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007, Alexander Kaiser, age 74, born 1904, died 18 September 1978, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; online database, accessed 08 July 2023.

See also:

  • Stump, Karl, The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the Years 1763 to 1862 (Lincoln, Nebraska: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Third Printing 1993).
  • Mai, Brent Alan, 1798 Census of the German Colonies along the Volga, Economy, Population, and Agriculture, Volumes 1 & 2 (Lincoln, Nebraska: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Second Printing 2005).
  • Beratz, Gottlieb, The German Colonies on the Lower Volga, Their Origin and Early Development (Lincoln, Nebraska: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Translation Copyright and Printing 1991; Originally published as Die deutschen Kolonien an de unteren Wolga in ihrer Entstehung und ersten Entwickelung in Saratov, Russia in 1915 and reprinted in Berlin Germany in 1923).
  • Kloberdanz, Timothy L., The Volga Germans in Old Russia and in Western North America: Their Changing World View (Lincoln, Nebraska: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia Second Printing 1997; First Printing Anthropological Quarterly, October 1975, Volume 48, Number 4).
  • Major, August, vital information and personal stories from the Kazakhstan territory, Russia and Berlin, Germany.

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Rejected matches › Alexander W. Kaiser (1904-1991)