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  • Ann D. Watson

Nana Bauer

Updated: May 4, 2022

part one of two

Anna Fredericka (Keim) Bauer, about 1895. Photo held by Ann D. Watson, 2022.

At the end, she had dementia, closeted upstairs in her daughter’s house, living her final days in confusion and fear. The only thing her great-grandchildren remember of her is her yelling out the window and not knowing who they were. But I would like to think of my great-grandmother as a strong, lively woman, who bore nine children and lost three, who spent thirty years with her husband and lived on for another forty after he died. By the time she was thirty-six years old, Annie had borne nine children and lost three of them, along with her mother and three brothers. She gave parties and played cards and danced and entertained her many friends. Her life spanned earth-shaking changes: the end of the Civil War; African-Americans and women getting the vote; the shameful defeat of Native Americans out west; the first telephone; the advent of electric lights in homes; the erecting of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor; the dawn of aviation and Charles Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic; Prohibition and its aftermath; two world wars and the 1918 influenza epidemic. She saw a lot.

Annie Fredericka Keim, age 12, about 1874
annie's early years 1863–1882

Anna Fredericka Keim was born during the Civil War in New York City on February 22, 1862 or 1863, the fourth of five children. She was always called “Annie.” Her father, William Keim, was a butcher. Annie had two sisters, Louisa and Wilhelmina, and two brothers, John and George. When Annie was twelve, the family moved to Keyport, New Jersey. There she met Herman Oscar Bauer, a barber who like her parents had immigrated from Germany. [1]

marriage 1882

The day dawned bright, with only a few bands of cirrus clouds in a blue sky. There had been rain two days ago, and a little frost on the ground the day before; but today was fine with a temperature in the thirties. [2] The night before, Annie and Herman might have gone out under the stars to see the still faintly visible Great comet of 1882, possibly the brightest comet ever seen. [3]

It was Christmas Day, 1882. Marrying on Christmas Day was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, but not because of a romantic notion about marrying on Christmas. Working people only had off Christmas Day and the day after Christmas. Employed in Charles Miller’s busy barber shop, Herman Bauer likely was in this category, so a Christmas Day wedding was practical. [4]

Herman and Annie met that day at Keyport's Reformed Church, which still stands on a big lot on Warren Street, between Division and Osborn Street. [5]

Keyport, New Jersey church where Annie Keim married Herman Bauer. Photo by Ann D. Watson.

Anna Fredericka Keim at the time of her marriage, December 1882

A photo of Annie, probably taken at the time of her marriage, shows her hair pulled close to the sides of her head in the tight style and curled bangs popular at the time. A beaded headpiece adorns the crown of her head. A stylish bar pin sits at her throat and a large chain with a pendant lies on her flowered dress. Earrings sparkle at her earlobes. Annie looks slightly stiff and uncomfortable. There is only a slight hint of a smile. Perhaps she was nervous; and she had to hold still for the camera. [6]

children and losses 1883–1898

Annie and Herman's first child, Willie Herman Bauer, was born on September 22, 1883, followed by Charles Winfield two years later. Annie was soon pregnant again, but during her pregnancy, Charlie died at the age of eight months, on April 25, 1886 of “a congestive chill” — likely pneumonia. Annie hardly had a chance to grieve; Emily Wilhelmina was born that November. Elsa arrived in October 1889 and Anna Fredericka (my grandmother) on April 29, 1891, then Herman Oscar in May 1892 and Minnie in April 1893. In ten years, Annie bore seven children and buried one. [7]

Annie endured more losses during that decade. Her mother, Sophie (Doll) Keim, died on September 4, 1884. A year later her brother George, who had suffered from “inflammatory rheumatism,” died at age nineteen in November 1885. John, Annie's older brother who had recently started up an “ice cream saloon” on the waterfront, contracted peritonitis in January 1889 and died at the age of twenty-six.

Annie's husband Herman, who seemed to have his finger in every pie from the Hook and Ladder Company to the Maennerchor, a German men’s singing group, was probably out on many evenings. During the day he plied his scissors at his barber shop up the street. Annie ran the household. In December 1890, Herman even left Annie and (at the time) their three children to make a short trip back to Germany.

After John’s death Herman and Annie took over his building, and Herman opened the Bayside Hotel, which, occupying a prime spot right across from the steamboat landing, was probably a big success. Annie may have helped him, although with three children to look after and another (Anna) born in April 1891, she probably didn’t have very much leftover time or energy.

Annie (Keim) Bauer, about 1895. Photo held by Ann D. Watson, 2022

Annie and Herman belonged to a community of German Americans in Keyport. Herman was very outgoing and involved himself in many activities, and the couple were prominent and popular. On their tenth wedding anniversary in December 1892, they gave a party for some sixty friends. The guests danced until midnight, then Annie and Herman served “an elegant supper” in their home, which they had decorated with greens, potted plants, and a lighted Christmas tree stretching from floor to ceiling. [8]

The worst losses for Annie came in the summer of 1895. That summer, her eldest child Willie and her youngest, Herman, were stricken with diphtheria. At first Annie might have hoped that Herman’s fever and hoarse voice were just a cold, but a few days later a thick gray coating appeared at the back of his throat and he began to breathe rapidly. The dreaded “angel of strangulation,” diphtheria, had arrived. Five days later, Willie had a sore throat, fever, and swollen glands. I wonder whether Annie and Herman were aware that some children were being treated with the newly developed diphtheria antitoxin. Another Keyport doctor had successfully treated two other children the same week. Whatever the reason, Doctor Williams didn’t administer it to Willie and Herman. They died within two weeks of each other, Willie on August 13, and little Herman on August 26. [9] One can only imagine the agony of Annie's grief. How did she go on?

Photograph of Herman Jr. and Willie Bauer. Probably put together after their deaths; there is something artificial about the images, particularly Herman's. He is much too large for a three year old in comparison to Willie's size. Photo held by Ann D. Watson, 2022.

Ann Silcox, granddaughter of Minnie Bauer, decorates the Bauer plot for Christmas, 2018. The three small stones at lower right are Herman, Willie, and Charley's stones. "Mother" is Annie; "Father" is Herman. Green Grove Cemetery, Keyport, New Jersey. Photograph by Ann D. Watson.

And yet Annie did go on. She had two more children: John Frederick, born June 1897, and Georgia Oates, born December 1898.

Annie also had a half-brother. Her mother, Sophia Doll, had come to America to marry fellow immigrant Raymond Burg. They had one son, Frank. After Raymond’s early death, Sophia married William Keim. In 1895 Frank Burg came to live with the Bauer family, and died on November 9, 1898 of kidney disease.

Annie spent the next years raising her children. She must have felt pride as she watched her girls often make the honor roll at school. [10] Later, Emily and Ann not only went through nursing school, but achieved the rank of head nurse at prestigious hospitals. Minnie studied at business college and worked for many years in the Keyport post office, always earning high marks on her annual postal service exam, while Georgia went into teaching. [11]

Annie Fredericka (Keim) Bauer with her husband and surviving children, about 1901. L to R Elsa, Herman Oscar Bauer, Emily, Minnie, Georgia, John, Annie, Anna (my grandmother, Ann (Bauer) Dingman). Photo held by Ann Watson, 2022.


Besides motherhood, Annie dedicated herself to civic service. In 1898 she helped organize and was elected president of the Ladies’ Raritan Guard Association, an auxiliary to Keyport’s Company G of the 3rd division, of which Herman was Captain. The auxiliary welcomed the men home from the war, gave dances and card parties, and held receptions and “box sociables” to raise money for Company G families. [12]

Annie served as president of the Long Branch Hospital Association and belonged to the Ladies Auxiliary (Keyport) of the Monmouth Memorial Hospital as well as the Ladies’ Auxiliary of Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, her husband’s fire company. She was a member of Lady Colfax, Rebekah Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), a fraternal organization promoting philanthropy and charity. [13] Fraternal organizations were enormously popular from 1860 to 1920, drawing millions of Americans to them. The IOOF offered sick and funeral benefits as well as life insurance. Lodges were a way for men to network for employment, business, and credit, and the social advantages of fellowship, entertainment, and belonging to a certain class attracted many. Its stated purpose was to "visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan." However, the the Odd Fellows only admitted white people. This was not changed until 1971. [14]

Annie (Keim) Bauer's ceremonial Rebekah Lodge collar. Held by Ann Silcox, 2022. The beehive represents "cooperative industry;" the moon and seven stars, "the never failing order which pervades the universe of God and all of nature;" the dove, peace; the lily flower, "a symbol of the purity of character, of thought, of word, and of action which are aspired to in the hearts and lives of members of the Rebekah Lodge." [15]

She also joined the Degree of Pocohontas, the female auxiliary of the fraternal “Improved Order of Red Men.” Sadly, this organization appropriated stereotyped aspects of Native culture and was formed “solely by, and for, white women,” just as the male counterpart was only for white men. I’m disturbed that my great-grandmother participated in this type of racist organization. Some of the organization's current stated beliefs are “Love and Respect for the American Flag” and “The American Way of Life” as well as “Keeping alive the customs and legends of a once-vanishing race.” [16] The latter mission is now recognized as cultural appropriation and racist. An interesting article exploring class, racism, and patriarchy in fraternal orders can be found here.

This story will be continued in the next posting.

Read my longer piece about Willie and Herman Bauer's deaths from Diphtheria at


[1] Although some records have her birth in 1863, a birth record which is likely for Annie lists her birth as 22 February, 1862. "New York, New York City Births, 1846–1909,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 April 2022), entry for “Keim,” female, born 22 February 1862; citing v. 10 p. 225, New York Municipal Archives; FHL microfilm 1,315,314. See also 1900 U.S. census, Monmouth County, New Jersey, population schedule, Raritan, Enumeration District (ED) 123, p. 43 (stamped), Sheet 13 B, dwelling 307, family 333, Herman O. Bauer; image, ( : accessed 29 April 2022); citing NARA microfilm T623, roll 986. Also, 1870 U.S. census, New York County, New York, population schedule New York Ward 19 District 17, p. 37 (penned), p. 220 (stamped), dwelling 150, family 248, William "Kein"; image, ( : accessed 29 April 2022); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, froll 1004.

[2] “Weather Record,” The Monmouth Inquirer (Freehold, New Jersey), 28 December 1882, p. 3, col. 1; image, ( : accessed 22 February 2020).

[3] Ibid. Also, same newspaper, p. 2, col. 7. Also, Joe Rao, “The Greatest Comets of All Time,” ( : accessed 22 February 2020).

[4] “Here’s Why There Used to be so Many Christmas Weddings,” Find My Past ( accessed 22 February 2020). Also, Kristen den Hartog, “Christmas Weddings in Victorian England,” The Cowkeeper’s Wish: A Genealogical Journey” ( : accessed 22 February 2020).

[5] State of New Jersey, marriage return B-70 (1882), Bauer-Keim, 25 December 1882; photocopy provided by New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.

[6] Anna “Annie” Fredericka (Keim) Bauer photograph, ca. 1882; privately held by Ann D. Watson, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] New Haven, Vermont, 2020. The back of the photograph says “Married December 25 1882” so researcher suspects it was taken at the time of her wedding. Clothing and hairstyle match the early 1880s.

[7] Willie's birth and death, Charles and Herman Jr.'s deaths: See Green Grove Cemetery (Keyport, New Jersey), Willie H. Bauer marker, plot 526; personally read, 2018. For Willie's birth, see New Jersey, death certificate (1895), William Bauer; State Archives, Trenton.

[8] Tenth Anniversary,” Keyport Weekly, 31 December 1892, p. 3, col. 1; image, ( : accessed 23 April 2022).

[9] New Jersey death certificate (1895), William Bauer. Also, New Jersey, death certificate (1895), Herman Bauer; State Archives, Trenton.

[10] “Honor Roll,” Keyport Weekly, 5 April 1901, p.2, col. 2; image, ( : accessed 23 April 2022). Also, “Roll of Honor,” Keyport Weekly, 30 December 1899, p.2, col. 2; image, ( : accessed 23 April 2022). Also, “Honor Roll,” Keyport Weekly, 7 February 1902, p.2, col. 2; image, ( : accessed 23 April 2022). Also, “Honor Roll,” Keyport Weekly, 8 February 1901, p.2, col. 3; image, ( : accessed 23 April 2022).

[11] “Passed Test With High Averages,” Keyport Weekly, 8 June 1917, p. 1, col. 2; image, ( : accessed 24 April 2022). Also, “Town Topics,” Keyport Weekly, 9 April 1920, p. 8, col. 1; image, ( : accessed 24 April 2022). Also, “Town Topics of a Week,” Keyport Weekly, 6 September 1912, p. 8, col. 2; image, ( : accessed 24 April 2022). Also, “Borough Briefs,” Keyport (New Jersey) Enterprise, 3 July 1930, p. 5, col. 2; Keyport Weekly, 8 June 1917, p. 1, col. 2; image, ( : accessed 24 April 2022).

[12] “Ladies’ Auxiliary,” Keyport Weekly, 12 March 1898, p. 2, col. 1; image, ( : accessed 25 April 2022). Also, “Home and Vicinity News,” Keyport Weekly, 31 January 1902, p. 3, col. 1; image, ( : accessed 23 April 2022). Also, “Home and Vicinity News,” Keyport Weekly, 11 March 1899, p. 3, col. 2; image, ( : accessed 23 April 2022). Also, “Home and Vicinity News,” Keyport Weekly, 28 December 1900, p. 3, col. 1; image, ( : accessed 23 April 2022). Also, “Home and Vicinity News,” Keyport Weekly, 4 May 1898, p. 3, col. 2; image, ( : accessed 23 April 2022). Also, “Home and Vicinity News,” Keyport Weekly, 11 January 1901, p. 3, col. 1; image, ( : accessed 23 April 2022).

[13] Deaths: "Mrs. Herman O. Bauer," The Matawan (New Jersey) Journal, 28 January 1954, p. 8, col. 2; image, ( : accessed 11 November 2019). Also, “Town Topics,” Keyport Weekly, 1 October 1926, p. 8, col. 1; image, ( : accessed 24 April 2022).

[14] “Independent Order of Odd Fellows,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 23 April 2022). Also, "History of American Odd Fellowship," Independent Order of Odd Fellows ( : accessed 28 April 2022). Also, J.C. Herbert Emery, "From Defining Characteristic to Vitiation of Principle: The History of the Odd Fellows' Stipulated Sick Benefit and its Implications for Studying American Fraternalism," Social Science History 30 (Winter 2006); JStor ( : accessed 28 April 2022).

[15] "Rebekahs," Independent Order of Odd Fellows ( : accessed 28 April 2022 "The Degree of Pocahontas: Women's Auxiliary Improved Order of Red Men," The Improved

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May 06, 2022

Hi Annie.

Interesting life story.......and that's some hat !


May 05, 2022

The toughness of our ancestors never ceases to amaze me!! The mental, physical and emotional stresses they endured, and took in stride, puts what we today call tragedies in our lives to shame. We are so much less challenged than they were. How much better our world would be if we only lived up to their full measure. Keep the stories coming, Ann. They are fascinating and inspiring!


Ann D. Watson
May 05, 2022
Replying to

Thank you, Bernie! Yes, if it were not for their courage and strength, we would not be here.


May 04, 2022

You found out so much about our great grandmother! How wonderful to have her brought back in a way that honors everything she did before the sad period at the end of her life, when she was all but forgotten. I appreciate the work that went into putting this together, and will make sure my own children see it.

Ann D. Watson
May 05, 2022
Replying to

Thank you! And there is more to come in Part 2.


May 03, 2022

I love reading your historical writings. So engaging and you make them come alive!

May 04, 2022
Replying to

Thank you!

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