Fred and Rose Rempel

I have been working on a longer blog entry about Julianna (Julia) Kirsch Rempel, my great-grandmother Martha’s oldest sister and, being the first Kirsch relative to immigrate to Canada, likely the one responsible for the family’s presence on the prairies. Her husband, August Rempel, was a sewer and watermain contractor in Winnipeg and my great-grandfather, Julius Kelm, worked for him and boarded at the Rempel home at 808 Bannatyne Avenue where he met Martha (read the story here). While searching for information about August, I found information that I think confirms question marks from previous blog posts concerning Martha’s relationship with the Rempel family and her passage to Canada.

I documented my search for Martha’s immigration record in this blog post, which includes a record of a woman named Marta, a domestic traveling to Winnipeg with Friedrich and Rosa Rempel, an older couple who could go on to live in the area of Oakbank, Manitoba. While the information aligned with family stories, I was unsure if this Marta was Martha Kirsch and, if it was, I could not determine a relationship between Friedrich and Rosa Rempel and August Rempel.

“[Rempel family in Montezuma ship manifest, 1908]” from Canada Passenger Lists, 1881-1922, accessed 08 Nov 2020 through FamilySearch

My documentation of August’s place of birth, “Petrould,” comes from a border crossing record, from when August visited his son William Rempel in Detroit, Michigan, in 1933.[1] The handwriting is difficult to read, and I suspect it might refer to Petrikau in Poland (though it’s my observation that a city like “Petrikau” gets recorded often in later Volhynia records when the less recognizable village of birth is nearby). There is a birth record for August Rempel, born July 18, 1866, in Ignacow, Lodzkie, Poland, which is around thirty-eight kilometers west of Petrikau, or Piotrkov Trybunalski as it is known today.[2] His obituary in Der Sendbote, a German Baptist newspaper, states, “Brother August Rempel, Sr, born July 18, 1867, in Russia, after a short illness, died February 21, 1943.”[3] The matching of July 18 in this date to the birth record (despite the discrepancy in year) perhaps verifies that both records refer to the same August Rempel.

August’s parents in the aforementioned birth record are Jan Frydryk Rempel and Anna Rozyna Blesing. The older couple “Marta” traveled with was Friedrich and Rosa, who would also go by their less European name variants, Fred and Rose. Rose’s obituary reads: “Mrs. Rempel was born in Russia, and 26 years ago came to Canada with her husband, the late Fred Rempel, and family. They settled on a small farm in Oak Bank […] Surviving is one son, Augustus of Winnipeg.”[4]

I now believe that, in learning more about her brother-in-law, August, I have verified Martha’s immigration record and learned more about the couple that took her in, employed her, and helped her come to Canada. According to the family story, the Rempel family were very good to Martha. When Rose Rempel was dying, “she only wanted Martha to look after her. Martha left her husband, Julius, and children to care for Mrs. [Rempel] who died within a week.”

[1] “August Rempel” in Detroit Border Crossings and Passenger and Crew Lists, 1905-1963, accessed 17 Mar 2021 through Ancestry

[2] [“August Rempel birth record, 1866”] from Akta stanu cywilnego Filiału Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Dziepółci, accessed 17 Mar 2021 through Geneteka

[3] [“August Rempel obituary from Der Sendbote newspaper, 1943”] from United States, Obituaries, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1899-2012, accessed 16 Mar 2021 through FamilySearch [Note: Der Sendbote was a newspaper issues by the German Baptist Publication Society from 1874 to 1971, with contributions by the North American Baptist Conference – Library of Congress]

[4] “Mrs. Rose Rempel” obituary, The Winnipeg Tribune, June 7, 1935, accessed 17 Mar 2021 through

Finding Serafina Kelm

Note: As always, I will update this blog entry with more information and sources as I find it. If you have more information about Serafina, or Seraphine, Kelm, feel free to comment or email me at

In my previous blog post, I talked about Julius’ and Serafina’s immigrating to Manitoba. Serafina was Julius’ first wife. The first record I have that mentions her is the birth record for her daughter, Olga Kelm, entered in a Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe database. Olga was born in Neudorf, Novograd Volynsk [Volhynia], Russia, on July 12, 1903, making her almost three years old when she arrived in Manitoba in May 1906. In the birth record, Serafina is recorded as “Seraphine Albert,” which makes me wonder if one of the boarders, H. Albert, (a single thirty-year-old Polish man) mentioned as living at 677 Ross Street with the Kelms in the 1906 Census of Canada is a relative.

On June 24, 1906, just two days before the census takers arrived at 677 Ross Street, Serafina gave birth to a baby boy who soon died. Another son, William Kelm, was born the following year, on May 24, 1907. Serafina is recorded as “Josephine Herman” in the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency genealogy database, but “Josephine” may be a transcription error. Herman is a surname mentioned in the 1906 Census (see previous blog post); a boarder and possible relative, Christian [Herman], was living with the Kelm family in 1906. I would need look at William’s birth record, which I don’t have at the moment, to see if I can glean more information.

“[Unnamed Kelm death record].” Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency. Retrieved 21 Jun 2012. Courtesy of Phyllis Kelm Reakes.

Serafina (recorded as Seraphine Kalm) died February 20, 1910, at the age of twenty-six at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. Her death record (see below) states that she died of “organic heart failure” and that she had been sick for three months. The Brookside Cemetery Burial Search indicates that she was buried two months later, on April 16, probably because the ground was too frozen. At the time of her death, the Kelms were living at 261 Dorothy Street.1

Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 22 Feb 1910. Retrieved 14 Jan 2020 from

“[Seraphine Kelm death record]” Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency. Retrieved 21 Jun 2012. Courtesy of Phyllis Kelm Reakes.

1 Looking at the 1911 Census of Canada (see Census transcriptions at the Manitoba Historical Society website) reveals that 261 Dorothy Street, located next to the Canadian Pacific Railway station, was home to many tenants—at least 41 in 1911⁠—though there are no Kelms living there according to the 1911 Census (and I have been unable to find them elsewhere).

Blog Update

Welcome to 2020. My apologies for disappearing. 2019 was a big year—for me (I got a new job and moved apartments) and for the Kelm family in general. First of all, my grandma, Lyla Kelm, passed away on June 18, 2019. She was ninety-eight years old. I have included her obituary here and I am looking for stories about her, even short anecdotes. If you have a story about Lyla, I would appreciate if you would allow me to share it here. My email is

I have big dreams for this blog, but am waiting to acquire a few things in order to really get going: a decent scanner for several family photos I acquired this summer and a subscription to Adobe Photoshop so I can edit. My computer is very slow, so it may be a month or so before I am adequately equipped to share all that I want to.

“KELM, Lyla Ruth 1921 – 2019 Passed away peacefully and went to be with her Lord on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in her 99th year. Predeceased by her beloved husband Robert and her son Wally. Cherished mother of four daughters Ruth (Frank), Lois (Sam), Phyllis (John), Jean (Tony) and four sons John (Lynn), George (Debbie), Jim and Steve. Loving grandmother of 14 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Fondly remembered by her nieces and nephews. Lyla was an active member of Central Community Church. The family will receive friends at Central Community Church, 240 Scott Street, St. Catharines on Monday, June 24th from 11:00 a.m. A Celebration of Lyla’s life will follow at 12:00 p.m. Interment Victoria Lawn Cemetery. If so desired, donations made in Lyla’s memory to Community Care would be appreciated by her family. Heartfelt thanks to the doctors, nurses and staff at NHS, St. Catharines site for their compassion and care.”

“Lyla KELM Obituary,”, 18 Jun 2019. Retrieved 11 Jan 2020,

Obituaries for Julius and Martha Kelm

The following newspaper clippings contain obituaries for my great-grandparents, Julius and Martha Kelm, and are from the Winnipeg Evening Tribune and digitized for the University of Manitoba Digital Collections.

“KELM,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 28 Feb 1959. Retrieved 18 Apr 2019 from University of Manitoba Digital Collections,

“MARTHA KELM,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 21 Jul 1965. Retrieved 18 Apr 2019 from University of Manitoba Digital Collections,

“MARTHA KELM,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 22 Jul 1965. Retrieved 18 Apr 2019 from University of Manitoba Digital Collections,

Obituary for Jennie Heft

Jennie Kelm was born Eugenja Heft in Lublin, Poland, in 1902. She was married to Daniel Kelm, son of Julius Kelm and Martha Kirsch. I found the OCRed text of her obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press, dated March 24, 1995. The following is an excerpt.

“Jennie Kelm, aged 72 years, passed away at the Seven Oaks Hospital on March 21, 1995.

She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Daniel: two daughters, Sandra (Bruce) Mellon, Eleanor (Ted) Laidlaw; her son Daniel W. (Diana) Kelm; eight grandchildren, Rachel, Ester, Aaron, Clinton, Rebecca, David, James and Elaine; one great-granddaughter Clarissa […]

Jennie was confirmed in Zion Lutheran Church where she had been a lifelong member. For 20 years, Jennie was employed in the luggage department at The Bay. Jennie was a very devoted wife and mother whose pride and joy were her children and grandchildren. She loved to prepare meals and go berry picking…”

“JENNIE KELM,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 Mar 1995. Retrieved 17 Apr 2019 from NewspaperArchive,