Saturday, March 3, 2018

White Line Laundry

In the early to mid 1940's, my grandma Ruth Valdes (nee ILG) had taken a job at White Line Laundry. She was currently divorced and living with her parents and first born son, Gerald. Her first husband ran off with a neighbor. During that time, there was man working there working as a delivery person for the Laundry company. His name was Les Wheeler. I wonder how their first meeting happened. I wonder if it was love at first sight. I wonder if they were just friends first. I wonder who flirted with who first. Yeah I wonder a lot of things as this was my grandma and grandpa. The story of how they met and got together interests me I guess because it is similar to how my husband and I met and fell in love. We worked at bookstore together, fell in love and got married.

Left: Les and Ruth Wheeler / Right: Mark and Jen  Rickards    

I wanted to memorialize my grandparents in some way. My husband and I just recently purchased a house with so much space. Maybe not a lot to you, but coming from a two bedroom apartment with one bathroom, and moving to a three bedroom, two bathroom split level with a garage... yeah to us that's lots of space. Included with all this space was our very own laundry room. An actual room for our washer and dryer! (Can you tell I'm excited??) I've wanted to make this home ours in every way, and that included the laundry room. So, I decided to decorate our laundry room with White Line Laundry mementos and photos to celebrate my grandparents. Yeah, I'm a romantic deep down. 

First thing I had to do was research White Line Laundry. Everyone I talked to didn't know anything about the business except they thought it was located off of Chippewa. After doing some searching on the internet and, I finally located some things. The business started in 1928 and was located at 4150 Chippewa Street, St. Louis, Missouri. The image at the top of this entry was an ad or possible business card. Here are a few more images I came across.

These photos were taken in 1930 probably around the time they had just opened.

I saved these from from the St Louis Post Dispatch.
I found quite a few articles and advertisements for the business.

This one came from a post card that was available for purchase on Ebay-cir 1950s

Now this... this item is my find of the century. My husband suggested searching ebay for old signs/items of the laundry business. Look at what I found! This is a coin from the White Line Laundry Co. I could not believe it! And you know what is even more special about this coin? It is a 1945 coin... the same year my grandma and grandpa got married! Can you say meant to be? Oh I can!

Now with all my newly acquired items and information, I've gone to work on my laundry room. One thing I wanted to do was to make my own sign for the door. Now my creative abilities are limited sometimes, but I gave it my best effort. 

I found an old wooden sign at goodwill for $1.00, then painted over it with white chalk paint and distressed it myself. Now the lettering would be the hard part. I typed up what I wanted the sign to say first. I included the year it was established, their price, phone number and address. Then I traced it on the sign and painted it. So now this sign hangs on my laundry room door.

Our laundry room shares space with our HVAC unit and hot water heater, but still is pretty spacious. The first picture is from before purchased the house. The brown cabinet went with the seller, which didn't bother me at all. I wanted to have that space. The picture on the right is my work in progress. still need to add some shelves above the washer and dryer, but I've enjoyed decorating with what I do have already.

Here is a close up of some of the walls. You can see the articles, photos and even my coin. I also printed out some vintage advertisements for Kenmore, Sears and Tide. Plus I purchased some items from a local antique store to give it some more character. 

Now my final piece. The picture of my grandma and grandpa shared above. I placed it on the corner shelf behind the dryer. So every time I go to do laundry, I can look at my grandma and grandpa and remember them and their story. I still have some other details to work on, but the main theme of the room is complete. And so far, it's my favorite room in my new home.

Grandpa and Grandma Les Wheeler
married Jan 13, 1945

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Found it! - Maggie & Jacob Helfrich Marriage

Thanks to a fellow member of GAA, I was able to finally locate the Marriage record for Maggie and Jacob Helfrich. I have been looking for this record since I first began doing genealogy research in 2012. It all started with the Family Record book that I received from my grandma. That has been my only source of information for Maggie and Jacob, until now.

Here is the page mentioning Maggie and Jacob. As you can see it says Maggie "...came to St. Louis Oct 19, 1890 married Jacob Helfrich..." So I assumed she met and married Jacob in St. Louis based on this information. I have had great success finding marriage records for my family in St. Louis. I've only had one or two difficult searches, but usually the record was eventually found. Not in this case. It has frustrated me for years.

So I posted in my GAA group, asking for help with researching. I was mainly asking for help in locating Maggie's mom. I figured another set of eyes would help. So Sharon posted a couple of articles she found. I'm glad she found both of the articles because I wouldn't have believed the second article. In the first article, it states Mary M. Dennis is suing Logan Dennis for a divorce. Mary is Maggie's middle name. Then in the second article, only two months later, states Jacob Helfrich acquired a marriage license to wed Mary M. Dennis.

This totally blows my mind! Now I know why I couldn't find a marriage record for them in St. Louis. And this also answers the question why she came to St. Louis since she didn't have any family here. Jacob was from St. Louis and his family was already here. Plus this also gives me information about Maggie's divorce from her first husband. Well at least with this information I was able to track down the marriage record in Tennessee. 

I am beyond ecstatic right now. Proof of something is always a good thing. Of course I am far from done researching Maggie. This is just one more chapter I can close.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Honoring All Mothers on Mother's Day

Mother's day is fast approaching. A day set aside to celebrate all the wonderful things mother's do for us. A day that is supposed to be full of joy and happiness. And for most mothers, it is. But for some mothers, this day brings sadness and pain. It is a reminder of the children they have lost. For most of us Mothers we will receive hand drawn cards, mud pies, handpicked flowers, homemade crafts and many other wonderful things that come from the minds of our precious children. We will save these little treasures because they are from the hearts of our children. For some mothers, they will not receive these gifts. Their children may have went to heaven before they even had a chance to take their first breath. Some children were able to spend a few years here on earth and in the arms of those mothers, but are no longer here. No matter what the circumstance, there is a saying that a parent should not have to bury their children. It is the worst pain that can be felt. I have never gone through this, but the pain I feel when I lose someone I love is excruciating. I can not imagine going through that kind of pain. Some mothers have been blessed enough to have more children, but that does not take away the pain of missing those children who will not grow up with their siblings. So this blog post is honoring those mothers who have loved and lost.

Through my research over the past few years, one thing I have come across quite often is children who have died young. This is the saddest information I have had to record in my tree. I know I have my problems with the medical field and sometime scoff at doctors, but I have to admit, because of their medical advances, more mothers are able to hold their children much longer than in past. A lot of children died from malnutrition and poor health. Many things that could have been prevented though modern medicine. One example is Maggie Jones Rickards. She passed away in 1866 from blood poisoning just before she turned three years old. What we know of today as lockjaw. This is treated with a tetanus shot. If we would have had this available back then, she could have lived. Sadly, she died a horrible death. Her mother had passed away not long after she was born, so her Aunt Amelia had taken on the role of mother to her. She took the death of Maggie very hard.

There are many mothers in my tree that have lost at least one child. This was a very common occurance in the 1800s to early 1900s. I do not know how these mothers survived this. Even though they knew the risks and the odds were against them, it still had to be heartbreaking. Whenever I think about this topic, there is one mother that comes into my head. Pauline Ilg. My 2x great grandmother. She was married to Frank Ilg in 1889. They would have at least nine children in their marriage. Sadly, only four made it to adulthood, then two passed away in their young 20s. The five young children passed away from either sickness or malnutritian. They were a very poor family and could not afford much. I never would have known about all these children if it wouldn't have been for the little German date book that was kept with all this information. I have never known someone to keep all that information unless this was very important to them. Some families tried to forget they lost children because of how excruciating the pain was. But Pauline kept record of each child. I can't imagine going through all that. She must have been a very strong woman.

Even though there have been a lot of breakthroughs in the medical field, there are still circumstances where babies do not make in this world. This is still a very tragic and heartbreaking event. So this Mother's Day as you are celebrating with family, sharing photos, etc., try to remember there are some mothers who won't have that opportunity. Am I saying you shouldn't celebrate and be happy? By no means. Just don't forget about those mothers as well. Maybe do something nice for them, to let them know you are thinking of them. Make this day special for them too just as your family makes it special for you.

Thank you to all the strong women in my family tree. I know life hasn't always been easy and a lot of you have been through some very hard circumstances. Thank you for your strength to go on. I hope I honor you with my research and my life. Happy Mother's day to you all.

Maggie Fuchs
Ruth WheelerRuth Wheeler
Millie RickardsMillie Rickards
Pearl SwopePearl Swope
Honey IlgHoney Ilg
Pauline Ilg
Lilly RickardsLilly Rickards
Sadie McGrewSadie McGrew
Mary Alice SwopeMary Alice Swope
Lizzie DamesworthLizzie Damesworth
Ann FuchsAnn Fuchs
Louise StrawhunLouise Strawhun
Maggie HelfrichMaggie Helfrich
Nellie FuchsNellie Fuchs
Mary HilkeMary Hilke
Sarah RickardsSarah Rickards
Mary KendellMary Kendall
Amelia JonesAmelia Jones
Grace RickardsGrace Rickards
Mary Elizabeth WheelerMary Elizabeth Wheeler

Friday, April 14, 2017

Connecting the Hilke Family

My husband's grandma, Lilly, was a Hilke. She was the second child born to Edward Otto Hilke and Mary B Schulling. I had the privilege of knowing her before she passed and we also had the privilege of introducing our daughter to her as well. Other than Lilly, I have only met one other Hilke relation. Lilly's niece Nancy; daughter of Eugene and Jeanie Hilke. My information has been compiled from what was given to me from my father-in-law, some from Nancy, and research from online sites such as Ancestry and Missouri Digital Heritage. I never realized how many Hilkes were out there until I started trying to trace them. I kept running into duplicate names with slightly different birth dates, but had different parents. So it has been a little difficult tracing the correct family lines. The purpose of this blog post is to clarify some research that has been done and to prove which line is the correct line and how they are related to the other Hilkes in the St. Louis, Missouri area. I will share as many sources as I can to prove this information.

Below is the basic line traced back as far as I could prove at the time. The names are highlighted.

As stated above, Lilly was the second child born to Edward Otto Hilke and Mary B Schulling.
Here are all the children of Edward and Mary. (Not in order; look at the dates for correct order)

This information has come from my father-in-law Paul, son of Lilly and Joseph Rickards. This is where I have gotten majority of the photos as well. Only a few have come from Ancestry. Below is Lilly's obituary from when she passed away in 2006.

Lilly M. Rickards (nee Hilke), age 98, died on Saturday, March 11, 2006 at the Mary Mount Manor in Eureka, Mo. She was born on May 28, 1907 in Holden, Mo.
She was the beloved wife of the late Joseph F. Rickards; dearest mother and mother-in-law of Paul (Mildred) and the late Keith Rickards; dear grandmother of Lisa (Rob) Frank, Traci (Tim) Granger, and Mark (Jenni) Rickards; dear great-grandmother of Andrew, Hayden and Milessa Frank, James Granger, and Sancia Rickards; dear daughter of the late Edward Otto and Mary (nee Schulling) Hilke; dear sister of Grace Wakeman, Eugene Hilke, and the late Frances Schnittger, Laura McCollum, Ruth Chandler, Edward Hilke, and Lucille Loddeke; dear aunt, cousin and friend.
Mrs. Rickards was a retired employee of the U.S. Post Office, member of Rock Hill Baptist Church and was a former, long time parent volunteer at the Bellefontaine Habilitation Center. Memorials suggested to the Parents Association of BHC, 10695 Bellefontaine Road, St. Louis, MO 63137 or W.M.U. c/o Rock Hill Baptist Church, 9125 Manchester Road, St. Louis, MO 63144.

This is where the information got confusing. Tracing back from Edward Otto Hilke. Let's start with what we could find on him. He was known to everyone as Otto. We started with his headstone at Laurel Hill Gardens on Page Ave in St. Louis, Missouri. Lilly, her husband Joseph and her son Keith are also buried here along with her sister Ruth Chandler nee Hilke.
From this, we were able to get their birth years and death years. Edward Otto was born in 1878 and passed away in 1959. After adding this information on Ancestry, I got hints for Census records and a hint for his marriage to Mary Schulling.

1940 Census
1930 Census
1920 Census

1910 Census
1904 Missouri Marriage License

Along with these hints, other hints were coming up for an Otto Hilke with a similar birth year. I also started looking at other Ancestry member trees. Most of them had Otto's father being George. But the year did not match up. That Otto was born around 1876. Now since Census records can be off by a few years, I was inclined to take this as gospel truth, especially since there were a ton of records and people were accepting this. So it is easy to just go down this path as others did. Then I searched on Missouri Digital Heritage for the death certificate of Edward Otto Hilke. They have Missouri Death Certificates starting in 1910 and are currently up to 1965. (They are adding more every day, so don't forget to check there often.) As you can see from the Death Certificate below, this proves that the parents of this Otto Hilke were Edward Hilke and Unknown Schmidt. The informant on this certificate is Otto's daughter Frances.

Missouri Death Certificate

Now that I have the correct parents, I am able to find the 1900 and 1880 Census. The 1900 census shows him living some one as a Farm Labor. The 1880 Census lists him with his parents along with a couple of siblings: Edward, Maria (we now have a first name for his mom, Anna Maria), Maria and Gerhart. The address on the census has them living on Obear Ave. I actually have a photo of the house on Obear that was given to me by my husband's dad. So that also confirms the correct family.

1900 Census
1880 Census

1527 Obear

Thanks to the census and the hints on Ancestry I found the death indexes for Edward and Annie M. (Anna Maria) Hilke. Their addresses were listed on the index which matches up with Obear. I was  also able to find other children from the Missouri Birth Records. I found a Mary Elizabeth Hilke and a Margaret Hilke. Now you may be wondering why I am taking the time to mention these two particular Hilke children. Well they will be keys to helping me trace other Hilke relations later. But let's finish tracing Edward and Maria first.

Edward Hilke Death Index

(Missouri Birth Records - COMING SOON!)

I also found the 1870 Census. The census has Edward and Mary (Anna Maria) listed with a son, George. (His death record has him passed away in 1872). They also have a few other people living there, along with an Otto Hilke. Another Otto and possible relation. Sadly, the 1870 census does not have a relationship listed, yet another key to tracing more Hilke relations. Otto is listed as a Grocer. (Important information for later)

From here, there are no other census records tracing Edward and Anna Maria. They were both born in Germany so it's possible they immigrated around this time. I have yet to find their marriage record. It is possible they married in Germany before immigrating; no proof yet. Anyway this is where the trail goes cold. I could not find anything that lists the parents for either Edward or Anna Maria.

So I decided to trace the other Hilke's in the area. Trace each of them by the census records and connect them. I won't bore you with all the ins and outs of the search and how I connected them. I will just share my results. The following Hilkes are siblings to Edward Hilke: George, Otto, Gerhart, Christopher and Anna Marie. Proof following. As you can see, similar names were used quite a bit. So I traced them all by birth dates from census records and death records. The death records were extremely helpful. Between these records and an obituary for Christopher Hilke, I connected George, Gerhart and Anna Marie with him. Their parents are listed as Henry Hilke and Mary Fraizer. I also have Otto's death certificate, but it lists an Arnold and Margurette (close to Mary) as his parents. The father doesn't match, but this information is coming from his step-son and is considered secondary information, as this son was not present at his step-father's birth. I plan on getting more obituaries from the St. Louis County Library Headquarters on Lindbergh as soon as I can.

George Hilke Death                            Gerhart Hilke Death

Otto Hilke Death                          Anna Mary Sack nee Hilke Death

Christopher Hilke Obituary and Death Certificate

Well that still leaves Otto and Edward having yet to be connected. That took a little more digging. Since both Edward and Anna Marie passed away in 1890, they still had two children that required being cared for: Mary Elizabeth and Margaret. They were only 6 and 4 when their parents passed. Since the 1890 census is unavailable, (ugh!)I needed to find them in the 1900 census. That would make them 16 and 14. Turns out Mary Elizabeth went and lived with Otto and his family. It helped that it had her listed as Niece.

After much searching, I found that Margaret went and lived with Christopher. She was listed as adopted daughter.

So that was a start to connect Edward with Otto and Christopher, but as the saying goes, the more sources you have to back up your information the better. So onward I search. It's time to look over all the information I have collected to glean info from them. Remember back when we found an Otto living with Edward back in 1870? Could that be a brother? The age doesn't quite match up, but census records are not always accurate with age. Ok so where is Otto in 1880? Took some searching, but found him with Christopher, listed as brother.

Ha! There we go! And he is listed as a Store Keeper, similar to a Grocer as in 1870. Upon further research, I found a newspaper article about an Otto Hilke that worked as a Grocer on Bellefontaine. That was his address in 1880. So that helped solidify this lead.

Oh my, as you can see, he was a bad boy. Based on the information in the article, we see the Schmitt family lived near the Hilke family, confirmed by the 1880 census. I plan on trying to acquire court records on this event if they are available.

Now here is the biggest find I've gotten as to date. Thanks to some helpful members in GAA, they found the Probate record for Edward Hilke. I had originally saw this hint on Ancestry, but thought it was for another Edward Hilke in Franklin County, Missouri. This definitively proves Edward's relation to Christopher and George. Here are my findings:

Settlements listing children, Application letter named Christopher Executor and lists George as helper

Edward Hilke last will and testament

Soon after this, I went to the Missouri Digital Heritage site and did some searching through the guardianship files. I did find an index mentioning Edward's daughter Maria A Hilke and his brother Christopher. That could be Maria Elizabeth or Margaret. I would have to send away for this particular record. When I get this record, I will share it.

So after all this research, it is safe to say the parents of these Hilkes are Henry Hilke and Mary Fraizer. There is no record or proof they were ever in the United States. I found everyone's immigration information except, of course, Edward Hilke since he passed in 1890. I have not found any naturalization records yet. After 1880, the census records had a spot for citizenship, so I was able to find some naturalization records and even some ship manifests. One manifest that stuck out to me was one dated July 22, 1896. A long time after the initial immigration. George and Christopher were the only two listed. They also had applied for a passport for this trip.

Christopher Hilke Passport App            George Hilke Passport App

From here, I only have opinion. I think it's possible George and Christopher went back home to settle up the death of their father. Again, I have no proof of this, but this is just my assumption. If I ever find more information, I will update this post.

After all is said and done, I think I have proven to the best of my current ability the Hilke connections. If you have information to add or that is contrary to what I have here, please contact me. Bare in mind, you need to have proof to back up your information. Provide sources and cite them as well.