Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Happy 100th Birthday Grandma Ruth Wheeler!


      Today is the day! Grandma Ruth Wheeler nee Ilg would have been 100 years old today. She has been gone now for about 5 years and every day I miss her so. She was the reason I got into genealogy research to begin with. She had no clue what she was starting when she gave me those boxes of photos. She never realized the secrets I would uncover in my research. And I wish I could share some of them with her today.
     There is another reason this particular day is special and why I've been waiting for it to arrive. Today is the day I can send off for her birth certificate from the state of Michigan. They have a privacy law when it comes to birth certificates. You can request a copy of the birth certificate only if you are listed on the birth certificate (ex. the parents or the person being born). What do you do if all the persons listed are deceased? Well, you can try to request a copy by filling out paperwork and showing proof you are a descendant or you can wait until the date of the certificate has passed 100 years. To ensure there wouldn't be any problems or disputes, I decided to wait until the 100-year mark. And that is today!!
     So I am taking the envelope with the application to the post office today to be sent off. It is supposed to take about 5-6 weeks for a reply, but with the pandemic going on, I suspect it will take longer, but that's ok. At least it's sent. And I didn't want to send it before the 100-year mark fearing it would arrive a day before and they reject it. I'm not taking any chances.
     I don't expect to find any surprises on the birth certificate, but you never know when it comes to my family. I have no clue what was required on the certificate at this time, so it should be interesting. Will it provide an address for my great-grandparents? I have no clue where they lived when they stayed in Michigan. I just know they went up there to get married to hide the fact that they got pregnant out of wedlock. They stayed up there until my grandma was about 1-1 1/2 years old, then came back home to St. Louis. Otherwise, it will just be another source to add to my collection.
     I will be putting together a video reveal when it arrives so be sure to check back for that. But off to the post office, I go! Hopefully, they 5-6 weeks pass quickly.



Monday, September 7, 2020

Maggie Helfrich - My Brickwall Ancestor


      We all have the one ancestor that no matter what research you try to do, what rabbit holes you dig, and what lies you try to dispel, they continue to hide behind that proverbial brick wall. While I have done extensive research on my 3rd great-grandma, I can not get past her to go back any further. Her life in St. Louis, Missouri was easy to track. I have a ton of sources and documents that add to her life in Missouri. But when it comes to her life in Tennessee, that's where things get fuzzy and complicated. So the purpose of this post is to lay out for you the information I have on Maggie Helfrich in, the sources that back it up, and the questions I have still yet to find answers to. Let's dig in!

Birth

     Margaret Mary Molten was born supposedly on 15 June 1863 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. Why do I say supposedly? Well, some sources contradict this information. Let's start with what we have that backs this information up.

  1. Family Date Book - This book was given to me by my grandma Ruth Wheeler, great-granddaughter to Maggie Helfrich. The information contained in this book was written by at least two people: Pauline Ilg and Margaret (Honey) Ilg. Honey is the granddaughter of Maggie Helfrich and the mother of my grandma, Ruth Wheeler. Honey was raised by Maggie Helfrich for most of her life, so she was pretty close to her. That would make the information written by her in the book credible. Unfortunately, the credibility of Honey would be called into questions later when it was found out she lied about the year she got married to her husband to cover up the fact she got pregnant out of wedlock. But for now, we take the information written in this book about Maggie Helfrich as it is written. The birth information in this book is written as "Born 16 June 1863 in Tennessee". 

  2. Missouri Death Certificate - Missouri Digital Heritage has been a great resource for me when it comes to researching my family. I found Maggie Helfrich's death certificate and downloaded it. The birth written on this death certificate is the same as listed above: 15 June 1863 in Nashville, Tennessee. The informant on this death certificate is Ruth Kelley, the second granddaughter of Maggie Helfrich who was also raised by her. I have not found anything to question the credibility of Ruth Kelly, so her word can be taken truthfully.

  3. Cemetery Headstone - Maggie Helfrich is buried in St. Trinity Cemetery in Affton, Missouri. Ruth Kelley was the executor of her will and in charge of making the arrangements of everything. The headstone that is placed has a birth date of 15 June 1863. I have created a Find a Grave memorial based on this information. You can see it here: Maggie Helfrich Find a Grave Memorial

  4. Census Records 1900-1940 for the state of Missouri - All census records back up the year within a couple years on either side. It is unclear who for sure was giving the information for each census.
  5. Obituary - Her obituary lists her age of 79 at the time of her death. That puts the birth year being 1863. The obituary would have been put together probably by Ruth Kelley as part of making the final arrangements. This obituary was found in my Grandma Ruth Wheeler's datebook. It was published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

     As you can see, I have quite a few sources to back up this information. But the one thing they have in common is they are all sources from St. Louis, Missouri. It's when I trace back to Tennessee that the birthdate comes into question. I will get to those sources in just a minute. Let's continue with what we know.

Marriages

     Most of the information I started with came from the Family Datebook I mentioned above. It provided me with the names of her two husbands: Logan Dennis and Joseph Helfrich. Unfortunately, no marriage dates were listed. The book states:

"Married Logan Dennis had 1 child Oma. Came to St. Louis Oct. 19, 1890 married Jacob Helfrich who was killed."

     Finding the marriage information for either of these marriages was a challenge. Since the 1890 US Federal Census was destroyed in a fire, the next census available was the 1900 US Federal Census. By then, Maggie was listed as a widow. I also found City Directories for St. Louis, Missouri starting in 1899 that lists Maggie as the widow of Jacob Helfrich. Besides these sources, I had nothing connecting Maggie to Jacob. I did follow a paper trail of sources to finally determine Maggie's connection to the Helfrich family. Read the blog post here: My Helfrich Connection. As you read in that post, I did track down the marriage information for Maggie thanks to a fellow GAA member. Here is the post talking about that connection: Found it! - Maggie & Jacob Helfrich Marriage. The big surprise with this was the fact they were married in Tennessee. So I closed out doing research in Missouri and transferred my focus to Tennessee.

Tennessee Sources
     As you read in the post about Maggie and Jacob's marriage record, I also found a newspaper article mentioning the divorce of Maggie and Logan. These articles list Maggie by her middle name of Mary. Since I knew that she married both Logan Dennis and Jacob Helfrich, I knew this had to be her. Research in Tennessee has not been easy. Unfortunately, fires have destroyed many records over the years, so things are scarce at best. I was able to find an 1880 US Federal Census record mentioning Logan and Maggie early on in my research but questioned whether or not this was the correct couple or not based on the incorrect age of the Maggie listed. According to this census, Maggie was 24 so that would have put her birth around 1856. That's a seven-year difference. But further research has since made me believe this is the correct couple and Maggie lied about her age later on in life.
     The 1880 census has them living in Jackson County, Tennessee. So that means research needed to be done in that county for sure to track down this couple. After performing searches online for Jackson County, Tennessee records, I came across a website that has transcribed records from the Chancery County in Jackson County, Tennessee. A quick search of the page brought about this transcribed record:
"[NEW] DENNIS, MARY M. vs. DENNIS, LOGAN H. et al Circut 1873
BILL OF COMPLAINT: Mary Maynes [or Magnes] Dennis against
John Dennis, William E. Smith, & John Whitiker, all Jackson Co. except Logan Dennis of parts unknown.

Married 30 October 1872 in Jackson Co. Morning of the day therafter defendant abandoned her. Lists personal property, including crops growing on land of John Dennis, William E. Smith, & John Whitiker. 29 Nov 1872 M. M. [X] Dennis

ANSWER: Defendant does not recall marriage ceremony. Was so drunk he didn't remember. Never courted complainant, never promised to marry her. He is not a drunkard but sometimes imbibes too freely. On the day of said marriage, defendant had gone to Cookeville to hear Andrew Johnson speak. Before he returned, drank more of the ardent than he should have. Started for his home in the Free State, got as far as the home of David Case in Black Springs. Complainant was living there at Case's at the time. Respondent was drunk to imbecility. Was told they bedded together, has no recollection. Awoke, found himself in bed with Mary Magnus [?Maynes] Martin Dennis. Complainant told him there was no sexual intercourse. Crawled out of bed as quietly as possible, got his mare and left.
ANSWER: William E. Smith, says he does not believe marriage is valid."
     Now, this is interesting! This is only a transcript. So the misspelling of Mary's last name is understandable. I have not been able to review the original record as of yet. When I located this information, I did question if this was the correct Logan and Maggie Dennis or not. So I tried to perform more searches of the area to see if there were any other Logan and Maggie Dennis' in the area. I have not yet found any, so given that, this must be them. But the age still threw me off. If I was to go by Maggie's age from the sources above, she would only be 9 years old. Yeah, not happening. But if I were to go by the age from the 1880 census, she would have been 16. That makes more sense. Let's go on from here and see what else we can find.
     Thanks to that newspaper article I found mentioning Maggie's divorce from Logan and this transcript from the Chancery Court, I decided to reach out to the Metro Archives at the Nashville Public Library to ask for some guidance. I had a marriage date of 30 October 1872 and a divorce time frame of April 1890 for the divorce. Unfortunately, a marriage record for Logan and Maggie was never found, BUT the divorce decree was! I shared my exciting find here: The Search for Maggie Molten Continues: Huge Shock!
     The decree listed the marriage date, which matches the Chancery Court record, and the name of Mary being used first, which matches the newspaper articles. Unfortunately, the divorce decree doesn't mention an age for Maggie, so I can't compare the birth years. Although, as you read in the blog post, I received a huge surprise. Turns out Maggie is not related to my family by blood. She is not the biological mother of my 2nd Great Grandma, Oma. From my understanding, no one in my family knew about this. So with that secret looming, it makes me question Maggie's character as far as truthfulness goes. I don't judge Maggie or blame her for keeping certain secrets. She lived during a different time period that was really difficult for women. Unfortunately, though, it makes it hard to trace her life.
     One last record I have that mentions Logan and Maggie comes from a court case that they both just happen to be mentioned in that took place in Jackson County, Tennessee. There was a Bill of Complaint of G.B. Braswell against Pollie Braswell in 1889 that drags Logan and Maggie into the middle.
". . he and the defendant Pollie Brazzill were intermarried in Jackson Co. TN on the 1st of March 1864. He states that he is a poor man and has been for years afflicted with disease of the lungs, which affliction came upon him shortly after his marriage. . . . [Polly] has been guilty of divers lewd acts of adultery with one Berry Coomer . . . She has left the country and gone to Nashville TN to live with one Logan Dumis, whose wife Mag Dumis, formerly Mag Moton, is a woman of lewd character . . . He asks for divorce. -bp. G. B. Brasel (his mark)"
     This is a transcription that was found on a blog at first, then found in the Chancery Court files. Maggie is accused of being a woman of "Lewd Character" which I find hard to believe based on what I know of her. Now, Logan is a man of lewd character, fathering a child with another woman that Maggie chose to raise as her own. He was also very abusive to her as claimed in the divorce decree. It wasn't long after this court case that Maggie filed for the divorce. Then she married Jacob Helfrich and moved to St. Louis. 

Now What?
     I've been researching Maggie Helfrich since I began genealogy research in 2012. It has taken me this long just to get this far. I have not been able to get any further back than Maggie. Her death certificate mentions a mother by the name of Betsy McDaniel but no father. I have tried searching for a Betsy McDaniel to no avail. So here are the questions I have yet to answer:
  • Was Betsy Married to a man with the last name of Molten? Where did the last name Molten come from? Where is Betsy McDaniel?
  • When Maggie got married in 1872, she was living at David Case's residence in Black Springs. Why was she living there? What is her relationship to David Case?
  • What is Maggie's correct birth year? Why did she change it?
     Maybe one day, I will find the answers to these questions. Obviously, a DNA test won't help lead me to these answers as Maggie is not related to us by blood. I am hoping one day to travel to Nashville, Tennessee to do some research. I have reached out to Jackson County, Tennessee for any help and they have no other records mentioning Maggie.
     It is worth noting that Maggie was illiterate. She could not read nor write. So the spelling of her last name could be different than what I have. In the datebook, it is spelled Molten, but I have found spellings ranging from Moulten to Molton. In the one court case, it was Magnus or Maynes and the other court case was Morton. It's possible Maggie never knew how to spell her last name. We can only go with how it was pronounced. Which makes it really hard.
     I don't know if I will ever find the answers to these questions, but I am for sure not going to give up until all avenues are exhausted. The Reasonably Exhaustive Research will continue. Any help is appreciated.


Monday, August 24, 2020

Identifying & Combining Photos from 1970-1990

     Dad is very protective of his photos. He barely lets me out of the house with them. He finally has conceded temporarily to allow me to digitize them for safekeeping. But first, they have to be organized. You see, they are all just thrown in these boxes in no order whatsoever. Photos ranging from the 1940s all the way up until the early 2000s. Today, I am going to be focusing on photos ranging from the 1970s to the 1990s. All from Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas. I first separated the ones from Bull Shoals out from the other photos, then took some time to break them down into piles from there.


     Now, I am by all means not an expert at identifying & dating photographs, but I have learned a couple of tricks that use to help me group the photos together. It does help I have background information about these photos that help with the identification process. Let me share some of the tricks I used to group these photos together. Fair warning, yes this is very time consuming, so if you know you don't have hours to dedicate to this, find somewhere you can work where you can leave your photos out until you come back.

Where To Start?  

     When starting with a huge box of photos, it can be very daunting. But once you start dividing them up into smaller groups, it becomes more manageable. What groups do you start with? Well, it depends on what kinds of photos you have. If they are not in any order at all, just start grabbing groups to look through. If dates appear anywhere on the photos, group them by that first. If you are dealing with no dates, which is what most of my photos were, group them by other categories such as location, event, people, or estimated years. For me, I pulled out all photos I knew were from Bull Shoals Lake. That was like a second home to me so I knew what photos at the lake looked like. Other categories include different houses such as the first house I lived in and then the current house my parents live in. If I had school pictures, I grouped those together. If there were professional photos, that was another group. If there were photos of other vacations/trips/outings, I grouped those together. Getting started is always the tricky part. So group your photos based on what you have and what works for you. So let's start with the Bull Shoals Lake photos.
     Like I said, these photos range from 1970-1990. From there, I checked for dates and markings. Grouped those together. Then I took out all the polaroid photos and put them in a group by themselves. I will explain later. The next step is to look for similarities in the photos. I described this part to my daughter as being like a cross between the game "Memory" and the "Find What's Different" game in the old Highlights magazine. 

Similar People, Clothing, & Surroundings

     First, I look for similar people and similar clothing. I found a few photos of my mom & was able to combine them with some photos of her wearing the same outfit. So I knew they went together & were taken at the same time. Then if she was in the photos with certain people, I look for those people in other photos wearing the same outfit they were wearing in the photo with my mom. Because that means those other photos go with these. See examples below:

 
     My mom was wearing pink pants and a shirt with the number 11 written on it. So I knew the four lower photos in the first picture all belonged together. But if you look in the one photo with my mom on the right, in the background there is a lady sitting in a chair with a red sleeveless shirt on. That matches the lady in the photo next to her, so I could conclude the photos with this woman were taken on the same day. 

     These photos are of me and two of the children my mom used to babysit. Since we are all wearing the same things in these photos, I could deduce that all these photos go together. My hair is the same (I'm in the life jacket) and the two kids are wearing goggles.

     Another tip for combining photos. Not only should you look at the same people & clothing, but look at their surroundings. That might help you group more photos together that you never knew went together. Let me explain with this example:

 
    The photos on the left are of my dad on the dock. He was showing off the fish he had just caught. He is wearing the exact same clothes in each photo so I can conclude these photos all belong together. But how did I know that the photo with my Uncle Howard was taken on the same day? You can see on the right that in both of these photos, there is a tackle box and a towel draped over a chair in the exact same position. So that helped me conclude these photos belonged together.

     How can you determine these groups of fish belong together and were taken around the same time? Look at the tools in the photo. They are in the exact same place. See what I mean when I said it's like those little "Find The Difference" games in the Highlights magazine? Except this time I feel like I'm trying to Find the Same haha!

Polaroids

     Polaroids were one of the best things that happened when it came to photos. Instant photographs. The first Polaroid camera came out in 1948 and they have been popular ever since. They dropped off somewhat in the late 90s early 2000s as digital photos were becoming more prevalent. They seem to be making a comeback with this next generation with the new equipment that has become available. We have a TON of polaroids from when I was growing up. Unfortunately, they are not labeled. But I did learn some information recently that has helped me with not only grouping them but dating them.
     These are the polaroids I am working with right now. They became available around 1980. Do you have some of these? When was the last time you looked at the back of one? Did you most of them have a unique number printed on the back of them? I sure didn't until I started looking closer. See photo below:
    This number on the back of the polaroids made it possible for me to group the photographs together. Now while it's not a guarantee the photos were definitely taken on the same day, you can believe they were taken in the same year. I was able to put photos in the same group that I never would have known belonged together. See some examples below:

 
     Just looking at this group of photos, I wouldn't be able to tell if they belonged together or not. But thanks to the numbers on the back of each of these photos, I can group them together. It sometimes can tell a story as to what's going on during the day. 

 
     Now I could deduce from the photos on the left that they go together because of the outfit of my Uncle Marty. But thanks to the numbers, I was able to add more photos to this group. My mom tripped me up in one photo because she put on a sweatshirt in another photo. Now, not only was I able to group polaroid photos together, I was able to group some 35mm photos with these polaroids. See what I am talking about below.

Mixed Media

     I don't know about your family, but my family had both a 35mm camera AND a polaroid and used them interchangeably, especially on vacation. So I had some photos that were taken on the 35mm camera that went with some photos that were taken with the polaroid. In order to combine them, I went back to the first tip I told you about. Look for similar people, clothing, and surroundings. By doing that, I was able to combine some more groups together. See examples below:
 
     Remember the photos I shared above with the fish? Well, apparently those photos belong with the polaroids I just shared above as well. My dad appears in the photos to the right. He is wearing a blue shirt and visor. So these photos definitely belong together.
     

Look At The Back

     My biggest suggestion of course is to always look at the back of the photos. Sometimes family will write information on the back, sometimes not. But look closely, cause sometimes there are stamps that contain information from when they were developed. That will help you not only date the photos but also group them together.
     I had quite a lot of these photos that had a date on the back. It's hard to see, but it says May 1989. So I grouped all these photos together. 

     These are just some tips that I hope will be helpful for you when it comes to grouping photos together. I've been able to date many photos in this collection only because I know about the time frame of certain details. I plan on taking these groups of photos with me back to my dad (after I digitize them of course, cause he probably won't let me leave the house with them again) and talking with him about what was going on in them. Get the back story if possible. It will help him get his mind off things too. Covid has been really affecting his mental state since he can't leave the house. So I'm trying to use this time to digitize photos and then talk to him about them. 

What tips do you have for grouping photos?

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Smells & Memories - "Smells Like the Lake!"

      Smells can bring about very vivid memories. Have you ever been walking around somewhere when you caught a whiff of something familiar and instantly you are transported back to a certain moment from your past? That happens to me all the time. My husband makes fun of me for my strong sense memory. When I catch a whiff of something, I will sniff like a bloodhound trying to figure out the smell and how it connects to my memory. Food especially brings about strong memories.
     Think about all the food you have smelled in your life. Especially around the holidays. Turkey cooking in the oven. The smoke from a fireplace in the living room. The smell of snow in the air. (Yes snow has a smell, at least to me) Let me tell you about a specific memory involving food.
     Growing up we would take trips down to my family's lake house in Oakland, Missouri during the summer. There was always a crowd of people staying at the house, so there would need to be mounds of food. One thing my mom would make is a huge pot of homemade spaghetti with meat sauce. That would be perfect to feed an army. I can remember the smell of the kitchen when she would cook it. OH delicious. To this day, anytime one of us makes it, someone remarks, "Smells like the lake!" And they would be right. Cause that is when mom always made it. Great memories. 
      Below is a photo of me eating mom's homemade spaghetti. There is a story that goes with this photo. Mom told me that I would take the spaghetti off the plate, place it on her shirt, then eat it off her shirt. Apparently, that made it taste better? What can I say? I had issues. Haha!


What food brings back memories for you?


Monday, August 3, 2020

The German St. Vincent Orphanage - St. Louis, Missouri

     While researching my ILG family in 2014, I learned that a relative and her siblings were listed as inmates at a place called "St. Vincent Catholic Orphan Asylum" on the 1910 US Federal Census.[a] They were listed with the 200+ children at this orphanage. At the time the census was taken, they were all aged 10 and younger. I had recently become acquainted with the living descendants, so this was very relevant research. 
     After learning this, I knew I had to try to track down more information about this orphanage. If anything to share it with my newfound family. At the time, I was a newbie to doing this kind of research (only been researching for about two years) so I had no clue where to go or what to do to start out. I decided to start with the Census record I had. 
     Thanks to the 1910 Census, I was able to determine the address of the St. Vincent Orphanage: 1400 Hogan Street, St. Louis, Missouri. From there I performed a Google search for St. Vincent Catholic Orphanage with the address. I came across this article on the website, StLouis.GenealogyVillage.com, The article is called Historical Sketch of the German St. Vincent's Orphan Association by Rev. John Rothensteiner. [b] After skimming through this article, I learned some more information about St. Vincent's German Orphanage. 
FOUNDATION OF THE GERMAN ST. VINCENT'S ORPHAN SOCIETY
"The year 1849 became memorable in the history of St. Louis through two terrible visitations: the cholera that swept away five thousand lives, and a devastating fire. The diocesan orphanages were crowded. As about half of the Catholic population of the city consisted of German immigrants, the number of Catholic orphans of German parentage was very large. The German Catholic Clergy under the leadership of Vicar-General Joseph Melcher showed a deep interest in the plan. There were at the time only two German Parishes in the city, St. Mary's and St. Joseph's. Father Melcher was pastor of the former, with Father Simon Sigrist as assistant; St. Joseph's was attended by the Jesuit Fathers Hofbauer and Seisl. St. Vincent's served as a Parish Church for both the German and the Irish. SS. Peter and Paul's and Holy Trinity were in their initial stages. The German Catholics of St. Louis of that time were mostly young beginners. Not one could be called wealthy. But they possessed the two virtues, so characteristic of the pioneer age, generosity and strong faith; and these were sufficient to clear away all the obstacles they met in their pathway...
"On the 12th day of June 1850 the following appeal to the German Catholics of the city was issued by a Committee of priests and laymen: - For a long time the Catholics of St. Louis have felt the need of a German Roman-Catholic Orphan-Home, and the wish to found such an institution has often been expressed by the charitably disposed. Such an institution would have certainly been established long since, if the necessary means could have been raised by individuals. Now, as the means of the few are not sufficient to carry out this difficult project of satisfying this pressing demand, it seems advisable to organize a society. The undersigned Gentian Catholics avow it as their intention to build a German Catholic orphanage, so that support and education may be provided for the helpless orphans of both sexes, and they entertain the hope, that their compatriots, both far and near, will join the society, or at least, give their support to the undertaking...
"The appeal found an immediate response. On June 14 a meeting of German Catholic men was held at the Rectory of St. Mary's Parish under the presidency of Vicar General Melcher, at which it was unanimously resolved, to organize under the name of the German St. Vincent Orphan Society. The Society at once began operations. A plot of ground on Hogan Street be-, tween Cass Avenue and O'Fallon Street was bought for the Society by Father Elet, S. J...
On March 1st 1851 the German St. Vincent Orphan Society was incorporated by the State Legislature." - "Remembrance of the Diamond Jubilee - June 21, 1925 - 1850-1925 - German St. Vincent's Orphan Society" [b]
      Read more about the Orphanage on the page itself. I read down a little further and was able to determine this definitely was the correct orphanage that this family was living in. 
"The German St. Vincent Orphan Association, an incorporated body, founded in 1850, has since that time successfully conducted an Orphan Home at 1421 Hogan Street.”[b]
     The address listed on the 1910 Census had the address of 1400 Hogan Street. Bingo! So the questions now are: what happened to the orphanage? Are there any surviving documents? How do we find out more? Turns out, a few years after this census, it was determined that they would need a new building.
"1914 - In later years these premises and buildings have become inadequate and unsuitable for their purposes, and the necessity of erecting a new Orphan Home in more suitable surroundings became more urgent from day to day... After a painstaking and careful search for a suitable site by a Committee appointed for that purpose, a plot of ground in Normandy Park was accepted and purchased by the Society."[b]
      The survived through a Civil War, two World Wars, the Great Depression, and many other conflicts continuing to meet the needs of the orphans. Over the years, as the need for orphanages diminished, they transitioned to a Residential Treatment Center for at-risk teens called St. Vincent Home for Children.[c] Their building is currently located on Florrisant Ave in St. Louis. 
     It was important to trace the orphanage to find out where the original documents could be housed. Sometimes you just need to follow the trail until you hit paydirt. I found the website for the St. Vincent Home for Children and reached out to them via their contact form. I fully expected them to come back and tell me they had no clue where the records ended up or that they were destroyed. So you can imagine my surprise when I got some emails from the Director of Human Resources, Dennis Wasmer.
Dec 9, 2014
We retain the records from that time period, however there are not a lot of them, unfortunately. If you could give me the name of the relative that lived here, I will be glad to look them up and see what, if anything we have.

Dec 10, 2014
I was able to locate the record that we have for your relatives. The nuns who ran St. Vincent Home for Children were not the best record keepers, so what we have from that time is fairly sparse.
     I was beyond ecstatic, to say the least. They were very generous to make copies and send them to me. And for their time, I made sure to send a donation to their organization since they did not require any form of compensation. While there isn't a whole lot, this was still a huge find. It's always so rewarding tracking down original documents from a time in your ancestor's life.
     I wrote this post to hopefully help others who might be researching the St. Vincent's German Orphanage. There was a post made in the St. Louis Genealogy Facebook group just the other day asking for help, so I shared with them what I knew. That's what made me decide to put this in a blog post. I hadn't looked at the information since 2014, so I revisited all the documents and data I had gathered. I also decided to reach out to the Missouri History Library and Research center for more information about the orphanage as well. Dennis Northcutt got back to me fairly immediately with some more leads about researching the Orphanage itself. He also sent me a link to something I didn't expect. A picture of the orphanage from 1911; that's the time period the family would have lived there. Another little special surprise. I wrote Dennis back to inform him that the St. Vincent Home for Children has some documents from the original orphanage in case they were interested in acquiring them to add to the Research Library for safekeeping. 
German St. Vincent Orphan Home
1421 Hogan Street
St. Louis, Missouri
1911

     Sometimes you need to follow a long trail to find the answer you are looking for. And that's what I did with this research. I shared my trail so you would understand how I got to where I ended up. I do hope this helps and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. If I don't know, I will send you along to someone who hopefully does know. Happy Hunting!
Sources
[a]: 1910 US Federal Census - Family Search.org
[b]: Historical Sketch of the German St. Vincent's Orphan Association by Rev. John Rothensteiner
[c]: St. Vincent Home for Children - https://www.saintvincenthome.org/