Sometimes a photo just catches our eye or our imagination. The one below did both for me. The woman laughing was my mom’s Aunt Annie, married to her father’s brother, Edward George Meintzer. I don’t have everyone identified, and I don’t know what the occation was, or the date. IF I knew who the kids were, it might help narrow the date, but I don’t.
The best I can say is that it was before Annie’s death, 23 July 1936.1 Annie was three months shy of 49, with her youngest child not yet 8 years old. My mom was 14 at the time, so her memory of Annie was pretty good. I like this photo because Annie looks like a fun person to be around. I don’t know whether or not that was true, but she was obviously tickled about something as the photo was snapped.
I initially thought this other photo was taken at the same time. Many of the same people were in both, with some (my grandmother, Minnie Meintzer, and Annie, herself) wearing the same clothes. Upon closer inspection, I noticed Annie wore a high collared lace blouse or dickey in the first photo, but was not wearing it in the one below. The younger child below might be my mom’s cousin, Toots (Edelyn Mueller Morrissey), standing with her mom. If so, she looks about 3, tentatively placing that photo in the 1915 to 1916 window.
Some other differences between the photos? The top one was taken in the front yard (sidewalk behind the ladies), while the bottom one was in a side yard, aimed toward the back yard.
I don’t know why these pictures were taken, but it may have had something to do with my grandmother’s best friend, Alma Meier Moore. She moved with her husband to Virginia after getting married, but she returned to Shermerville/Northbrook regularly, to visit her mother. It seems reasonable her old friends would have gotten together at some point during her time there.
So what about Annie? She was born Marion Ann DesLauries. Or Deloris. Or Delores. Or one of several other variations. Her parents were listed as French Canadian on census records, and I imagine the pronunciation of the French surname messed up the spelling repeatedly. Annie was born 17 October 1887, in Chicago, Illinois, in the middle of twelve children in the family.1 Ten survived to adulthood.
While her death certificate listed her as Marion Meintzer, as did several census records, most other records used Anna or Annie, and that seemed to be the name she used every day. With an older sister, Mary, and a younger sister, Marie (both surviving to adulthood), using a variation of Ann probably made family get-togethers less confusing!
According to one of her father’s obituaries, her parents moved the family to the Shermerville [Northbrook] area in 1893, when her father found work in one of the brickyards.
Annie met my granduncle, Edward George Meintzer, at some point. With Annie’s family being Catholic, and Ed’s being Lutheran, they certainly didn’t meet at church! But Shermerville was a fairly small community, so mostly everyone knew everyone else. The two married 30 June 1909, in St. Norbert’s Church.2 It would seem that Ed converted, as all their children were raised Catholic. Annie and Ed were buried in Saint Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, in Northbrook.
Their seven children arrived between 1910 and 1928, with a set of twins right in the middle. As far as I know, Annie didn’t work outside the home. A combination of the era, and having that many children, would have made outside employment difficult.
The beginning of 1924 was difficult for Annie, because the family was quarantined for six weeks due to scarlet fever. In addition to that, Annie was expecting Jeanne (child 6) shortly! The family weathered through the scarlet fever, but soon afterwards four-year-old Bernard, one of the twins, caught a cold. That turned to croup, and then diphtheria—which caused his death.
Annie and Ed lived in rented houses on Shermer Avenue from 1910 through 1930. Whether it was the same house or different ones is hard to know, because the town didn’t number houses until shortly before 1930. My mom remembered her cousin, Helen (Annie’s oldest daughter) walking over to babysit her and her brother, so they must have lived near my mom’s family.
Regardless of their specific residence, the other women in the photos also lived near Annie, so certainly would have been her friends, neighbors, and relatives through marriages. Her name was regularly linked with theirs in the news (gossip) column for Shermerville/Northbrook in the newspaper.
Annie’s 1936 death certificate listed the cause of death as cerebral hemorrhage, with chronic hypertension for 2 years as a contributing factor, but her obituary said it was a heart attack. I’m not sure why the discrepancy. Maybe Ed was told it was a heart attack as an “informal” cause, before the doctor filled in his section of the death certificate? Either way, I assume her death came as a surprise to her family. Forty-eight was still fairly young, and I’m sure her father did not expect to outlive her.
Sometimes people get hung up on having pretty, formal photos. I agree those can look very nice, but I find myself drawn to more casual ones. They seem to better capture the spirit of the people. If I knew them in real life, the photo tends to confirm what I knew about them, but if they were someone I never met, it’s often the only opportunity for me to imagine what they were like.
1State of Illinois, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Marion MEINTZER death certificate (25 July 1936). Date conflicts with that in the newspaper funeral service notice. Age 48y 9m 6d.
2“Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1968”, database, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch Record Search (https://familysearch.org), accessed 22 January 2022, citing Gechney [Techny], Cook, Illinois, reference 511462, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,030,460. Edward MENTZER (22) and Anna DELORIES (22).