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Catherine Holl
Kaye

 1864 - 1960
 
 

Catherine Holl 
1895

Katherine Holl Kaye Collection


Catherine Holl Kaye
 
 
Katherine Holl Kaye Collection

Catherine Holl was born December 23, 1872 in Brown County, Wisconsin. She was the eighth child born to Margaret Dollar Holl and Jacob Holl. Her birth came just a bit more than a year after the Peshtigo Fire of October 8, 1871 and by the time of her arrival in the family, repairs had been made and life was back to normal. Witnesses for the baptism of Catherine on Christmas Day at Holy Martyrs of Gorcum Catholic Church, Preble, Brown County, WI. were Zotas Visard and Catherina Burten.

Her life was filled early with losses and personal successes. When Catherine was the age of two, one of her older sisters, Gertrude, died April 16, 1874. Catherine later attended the one room log schoolhouse near the family farm and was an excellent student, having gone several steps ahead of her age group in reading and sums. In a large family where education was considered important, Kitty enjoyed learning.

She had just reached the age of  8 years old when her father died of pneumonia in February 1880. At that age, she was certain to have felt the loss of her loving father. The family continued to live and work the farm as they attended school and the older brothers began working away from home in the winters at the John Hammes Lumber Camps out of Padus to the north. She experienced another great loss with the death of her other older sister, Margaret Holl, on March 28, 1887. Margaret was five years older than Catherine and was working as a domestic and nanny for a family in Marinette, Wisconsin., when she contracted Typhoid Fever and died there. She was 19 years old and Catherine, at age 14, attended the burial at Holy Martyrs of Gorcum Cemetery, in Preble, where her sister Gertrude and father Jacob were already interred. Senior family members remember visiting Margaret's grave with a stone marker in the early 1900's but that stone is no longer visible and the grave locations are lost to time, as no record of early burial plots was kept. Catherine was now the oldest daughter and in inherited the traditional responsibilities that came with that status. She was now "second mother" to her 3 younger siblings.

Family history tells us that by the age of 16, Catherine had fully completed 1 through 12 graded rural schools curriculum and had passed the test for rural school teaching. She traveled to town of How in western Oconto County and became one of the first teachers in that new school system in 1888. There she lived with, and among, her older brothers who had homesteaded land, been married, and were raising young families. Each of these brothers were active in many community and civic activities, holding unpaid positions in local government and school system. During her years of teaching, Catherine's widowed mother remarried, in 1889, to Frank Hammes, a widowed neighbor. Frank Hammes was a very different person from her father and the marriage was not a happy union. That same year, the estate of her father, the late Jacob Holl, went through probate court with the farm and all other properties were left to his widow Margaret Dollar Holl, and in the event of her death, to their children. Frank Hammes was thus prevented in his bid to own and sell the Holl family property and continued unrelenting pressure of  Margaret Dollar Holl Hammes to selling the land for his benefit. She steadfastly refused. By 1892 Catherine's younger sister Anna and brothers Matthew and Edward were also in Oconto County, living with oldest brother John Holl and his wife and young children on the Sunny Hill Farm in town of How. Their mother, Margaret, soon followed. 


J. Edward Kaye and Katherine Holl
Engagement Photograph
1895
Dorothy Holl Runge Collection

G. Edward Kaye and Catherine Holl 
1895
Katherine Holl Kaye Collection

Around this time Catherine secured a teaching position in Brown County, where she moved. It was here that she met a young man named J. Edward Kaye who owned a Tailor Shop in Green Bay. The couple married in Green Bay on November 25, 1895. Catherine was 22 years old and gave up teaching to be a traditional wife, known affectionately in the family as "Aunt Kitty Kaye". Although J. Edward Kaye went on to become a founder in state banking as well as a successful businessman, he always wrote his occupation as simply "tailor". Younger sister Anna came to live with them in Green Bay for several years as a  girl and young woman.


Edward and Catherine were also instrumental in obtaining the restoration of money to his mother-in-law Margaret, in 1904, from the late Frank Hammes Will that was contested by the Holl family in probate court. In the years preceding his death, after Margaret and the children had left Brown County in 1892,

Frank Hammes had Margaret declared incompetent in Bown County Court and himself given Power of Attorney over her affairs and property. He then proceeded to sell her land. Margaret was not notified of this court proceeding and was not present. From the time of her second marriage, she had refused to let Frank sell the Holl land, as it had been probated to her and the children of Jacob. The incompetency decision was overturned in court and she was restored to independent status with the previous records of incompetence destroyed. Frank was directed to make reparation for the loss of Holl property.


J. Edward Kaye and Katherine Holl
Engagement Photograph
1895
Dorothy Holl Runge Collection


However, Margaret never received any of the money from the sale of her land or her personal items that had to be left at the time of her sudden move to Oconto County. Margaret was not even mentioned in the late Frank Hammes Will. The court installed J. Edward Kaye to replace Frank's son as executor of estate. Known as a fair man, Margaret received the estimated price of the sold land, as well as several pieces of furniture from before her marriage to Hammes. However, her clothing and personal possessions, such as family business papers, letters, and photographs had been burned by an angry Frank Hammes upon her taking leave of his home. He had threated to shoot anyone who came back for her possessions. Her jewelry from the Dollar family, farm equipment and other items had been sold by Frank Hammes. Since a dollar amount could not be placed on these items. there was no monitory settlement for all else lost. Margaret did not ask for any Hammes money or possessions, wanting only what she had brought into the marriage. After her modest settlement, the substantial remaining Frank Hammes estate was then carried out according to his Will and the court approved the settlement. Kitty remained  close to younger sister Anna throughout their lives and oversaw helping family members when it was needed.Kitty and Edward Kaye did not have children of their own, but helped a large number of young members in both their families over many years. Edward died August 15, 1948 and was laid to rest in Fort Howard Cemetery, Brown County. Toward the end of her life, Kitty lived with the family of Edward's nephew. She died April 29, 1960 and was buried beside her husband in Fort Howard.

J. Edward Kaye




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