Alois Hitler, the illegitimate son of a housemaid, was born in Strones, Austria in 1837. He left home at the age of thirteen to serve as a cobbler's in Vienna. He did not enjoy the work and five years later joined the Imperial Customs Service.
In 1864 he married Anna Glass, the adopted daughter of another customs collector. Anna suffered from poor health and was unable to have children. When she died in 1883, Hitler married Franziska Matzelberger. She gave birth to two children before dying of tuberculosis.
Hitler married Klara Polzl in 1885. The couple had five children but only Adolf Hitler and a younger sister, Paula, survived to become adults. Hitler, who was fifty-one when Adolf was born, was extremely keen for his son to do well in life. Alois did have another son by Franziska Matzelberger but he had been a big disappointment to him and eventually ended up in prison for theft. Alois was a strict father and savagely beat his son if he did not do as he was told.
His father was incensed when Hitler told him that instead of joining the civil service he was going to become an artist. The relationship between Hitler and his father deteriorated and the conflict only ended with the death of Alois Hitler in 1903.