Mathilda Marie Kempe (1895-1981) oral history

Track 1, Transcript p. 1-5:
Kempe, Mathilda Marie, 1895-1981, Interviewee
Maselli, Briggs
, Interviewer
Media Type:
Item Type:
Interview with Mathilda Marie Kempe by Briggs Maselli on November 4, 1979 at 418 Ridge Road, Wilmette, Illinois.

Abstract: Born on Ridge Road across the street

Father Otto L. Kempe came via New York, Niles to Wilmette — was a shoemaker from Saxony - came as a young man in 1881 with a group of young men - Mother was from Chicago

Started a shoe repair business on west side of Ridge Road — put in a stock of shoes for sale
Built a new building at 418 Ridge (on east side) and moved and incorporated the first building within it
Mathilda one of four children 2 boys and 2 girls - Mother died in 1923 - Father lost interest in store — sister and brothers not interested in operating it so Mathilda tried and continued operation (43 years) until 1933

Moving day from west to east side of Ridge Rd. - Lived upstairs - all children worked in store until old enough to go from there and take jobs with other people — boys became plumbers - schooling - dressmaking in Evanston with a Frenchwoman
Contents of store — shoes — all rubber footware — men’s and boys’ clothing and headware — grocery goods. Father gardened and had fruit trees and sold fruits and vegetables — he had made shoes as well as repaired them

Gross Point School - eight grades - 1 through 4 on first floor in one room — 5 through 8 on second floor - east side of Ridge Rd. within Wilmette School District so Miss Kempe finished at Central School.
Home life while growing up - Mother canned fruits - made jams and jellies — knit woolen stockings - made sheets and pillowcases - girls’ clothing - quilts made with neighbors’ help - hot bricks and feather beds in winter

Elaborates on holiday celebration and father’s shoemaking.
Date of Original:
4 November 1979
Local identifier:
R977.31 KE
Language of Item:
Copyright Statement:
Protected by copyright: Uses other than research or private study require the permission of the rightsholder(s). Responsibility for obtaining permissions and for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Copyright Date:
Copyright Holder:
Wilmette Public Library
Copyright Holder Contact Information:
1242 Wilmette Ave.
Wilmette, IL 60091
Recommended Citation:
Kempe, Mathilda Marie, and Briggs Maselli. Mathilda Marie Kempe. Wilmette, Ill: Wilmette Public Library District, 1979.
Wilmette Public Library
WWW address:
Agency street/mail address:
1242 Wilmette Avenue
Wilmette, IL
U.S.A. Phone: 847-256-6930
Mathilda Marie Kempe (1895-1981) oral history
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