Bachelor Uncle

Maybe? Maybe not?

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Ignatz Joseph Schweiger was one of my grandmother’s older brothers.. Sometimes he shows up as “Ignatius” in records. He was born 15 October 1889, and had a twin sister (Clement Mary) who died 5½ months later. We find him in the 1900 census¹, an eleven-year-old schoolboy, and in 1910, 20 years old², with an occupation “Teamster, Street.” I don’t know precisely what that job entailed, but in 1910, it’s likely to be a horse and wagon, rather than a motorized vehicle.

Prior to 1913 (Al was married and in New York by then). Uncle Iggy is on the left. Photo credit: Fred Schweiger.

Even though Iggy and Al (Unusual Name) were working full time in 1910 (Sylvester and Fred were still in school), it would seem all were pressed into service at the family restaurant, probably on the weekends.

Uncle Iggy died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 9 June 1964; within my lifetime. He was brought back to Northbrook and buried in the Schweiger family plot (Cemetery), with his parents and some of his siblings. While I recall hearing about him (trust me, “Iggy” is a name a kid remembers!), I’m sure I never met him in person. But I’d always heard that he was my grandmother’s unmarried brother.

I’m not sure why he decided to move away from the family, to Milwaukee. It wasn’t that far away from everyone else–a couple hours, maybe? I’m sure he could have found similar work in the Chicago area, if he had wanted. From everything I’ve heard, he was a nice enough guy, and as you can see from the photos, he came back to visit the family. Whether it was for a 4th of July picnic . . .

4 July 1929. Uncle Iggy is to our right of the cute kid (my dad!) with the tree growing out of his head. Not sure of the source for the photo.

Or a visit from his brother in New York . . .

Iggy is 2nd from the right. Dorothea died 29 October 1932, so obviously this is before then. Photo credit: Fred Schweiger.

Or a family picnic when my grandmother’s three sons (and son-in-law) were safely home from the service . . .

23 June 1946. Iggy is in the back row, with the tie and suspenders!

In September, when I wrote about the education levels of Iggy and his siblings (Back to School), I tracked all of them down in the 1940 census. Highest education level was a question on that one. He was easy enough to find, living as a boarder with a family in Milwaukee. He was still a “team driver,” this time doing “city work.”

As I checked the other columns, a surprise jumped out at me. The marital status column had a “W.” Widower. Huh?? Had there had been a marriage I didn’t know about?

The census information was provided by the head of household, who, I learned from Iggy’s 1942 WWII draft registration4, was also his boss! Now, census records can have errors for a variety of reasons:

  • Sloppy handwriting (this page is very neat)
  • Careless copying (census pages are created from the “field notes” forms filled out. But only 2 other entries on the page had a “W,” so I doubt the enumerator “lost track” of where he was. Iggy was also on the last line.
  • The person providing the information not knowing. “Widower” is not the choice I would default to if I didn’t know someone’s status. I would think “single” would be the more likely assumption to make, if you saw no signs of wife or children. This was also his employer, so may have known him better than a random landlord might.
  • The person involved (in this case, Iggy) telling someone a status that involves the least amount of explanation. Again, “single” would generate fewer awkward questions to answer than “widower,” “divorced,” or even “married” when there’s no wife or children around.

So I decided to try and track down a confirmation one way or another for this supposed marriage. It’s entire possible he had a short-lived marriage (lots of women still died from childbirth complications) that either no one knew about, or they just didn’t talk about, because it was upsetting. If enough time goes by, it can just be forgotten about.

His 1917 draft registration (hard to find because his name was spelled wrong!) lists him single, and in Milwaukee. That’s usually a help in locating 1920 records. But no, I cannot find him in Milwaukee, or anywhere else:

  • He’s not in New York with his older brother.
  • He’s not with his parents.
  • He’s not with either married sister (in Illinois OR Wisconsin).
  • “Fuzzy” searches (first name OR last name, with a wider birth year range) netted nothing

After 3 days of beating my head on the wall (or keyboard), I decided to contact my cousin, Barb. I was hoping she had run across one or both census records. Many hands make light work, right? More like misery loves company. Talking (texting) it out, gave me other search ideas. For 1930, I looked up the family he was boarding with in 1940 — just in case he was still there. Nope. I located his 1917 and 1940 addresses, trying to determine the enumeration districts for 1930. I paged through two different districts, hoping to spot him. Again, no luck. None on Barb’s end, either.

Since I had this blog to write, further searching needed to be deferred. Why can’t we find him in 1920 and 1930?

  • We’re looking in the wrong place. He’s in Milwaukee in 1917, and 1935 (from the 1940 census), but he could be elsewhere in between.
  • He was missed by the enumerators. Twice? Somewhat less likely, but people DID get left off.
  • His name is mangled. I tried searches to bypass that, but may not have found the correct work around. And I searched page-by-page in 2 districts.
  • He was abducted by aliens for a decade and a half.

You may wonder why I’m obsessing about census records, when I’m trying to figure out a possible marriage. I did look for marriage records and found nothing. But not all of them are available online, so not finding a record doesn’t tell me why I’m not finding it. Not online, or never happened? On the other hand, the census always reports married state, and it’s a fairly complete record set. Finding him there might help me determine if the 1940 “widower” is accurate or not, and suggest if I should keep looking elsewhere, or give up. Yes, it could be wrong, but it at least gives me a clue.

I also searched Newspapers.com for records in Illinois and Wisconsin. I hoped for a marriage announcement, or maybe an obituary for the “mystery wife.” I found Iggy only as a survivor in his mother’s and his sister’s obituaries. I didn’t find one for him, nor do I have his death certificate. My experience is that death certificates are less likely to be accurate in the areas NOT directly recording the death. That information is provided by doctors or other people involved with the death event; the other data is provided by whomever. Especially in the case of a single person not living near other family, that will be a friend, neighbor, employer—whoever happens to be available—not necessarily someone who knows!

So I’m left, once again, with an incomplete story, and inconclusive answers. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to resolve it, as “proving a negative” is really tough to do. Unfortunately, none of the people best able to answer it (Iggy, his siblings), are alive. Even the next generation (my dad, his siblings, and cousins) has only a handful still alive, and they would have been babies at the time of the marriage, or not even born!

In the meantime, we’ll have to simply enjoy our memories and photos of Uncle Iggy, and save our questions of what the truth is for when we catch up with him. 

#52Ancestors


¹1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Glencoe, e.d. 1172; sheet 11B; dwelling number 188; family number 193; line 94; Ignatz SCHWEIGER household; accessed 4 March 2019. Ignatz J. SCHWEIGER, age 10, Oct 1889; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 293; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Glencoe, e.d. 57; sheet 9A; dwelling number 168; family number 169; line 24; Ignaty[z] SCHWEIGER household; accessed 29 April 2018. Ignatz J. SCHWEIGER, age 20; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 239; digital image, Ancestry.com) (https://www.ancestry.com).

³1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, e.d. 72-313; sheet 2A; household number 27; line 40; Louis BRZEZINSKI household; accessed 30 August 2018. Igantz SCHWEIGER, age 51, lodger; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 4554; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

4“U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942”, database, (https://www.ancestry.com), Ignatz Edward SCHWEIGER, serial no. 1071, order no. not given, Draft Board 14, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin; citing World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Wisconsin. State Headquarters ca. 1942. NARA Publication M2097, 326 rolls. NAI: 623284. The National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. U.S.A.; accessed 4 March 2019.

Work

Sometimes our work and our loves coincide . . .

You met my grandfather, Edward Mathias Haws, in Invite to Dinner. He was born 12 February 1887 in Kossuth, Manitowoc, Wisconsin—in the house you met in The Old Homestead. His father, Frank, was a farmer, and I’m sure Ed did his share of farm work growing up. But I always knew of him as a carpenter.

He wasn’t a woodworker-type carpenter—tables, chairs, and whatnot. He was what I would call a house framer–building structures. I’m sure carpenters have a more appropriate term, but that’s the simplest term that comes to my mind. He did, however, make a couple of end tables that have stayed in the family. My cousin, Barb, has one she inherited from her dad, and my brother has another, inherited from our dad:

grandpa haws table barb
Barb’s table (photo used with permission)

Grandpa Haws table_cropped
My parents’ table (which apparently had a stain on top, hence the runner! (photo in my possession)

Grandpa Haws table Warren
Top of table on the right, refinished by my brother: “I sanded the top to remove the stain and finished to reveal the three woods that make the top, walnut, maple, and oak.” Photo credit, Warren Haws. Also the refinishing work!

Each table is fairly simple. They don’t match. I’m not sure if they were even made at the same time, or if Victoria said, “Hey, I need a table for next to this chair,” and he pieced together something with the wood he had handy at the time. Next time it was a different wood selection. Nevertheless, both are older than me, so probably have 3/4 of a century of use already.

So how did Edward Haws morph from farmer to carpenter? I don’t have a clear cut answer, but I have found information allowing me to create a timeline of his work life. In the 1900 census¹ he was still in school—probably not for much longer, as he had only an eighth grade education.² I’m sure his father had him working hard on the farm, too.  What has me puzzled, though, is when and how he made the switch from farming (what he grew up with) to carpentry?

The 1905 Wisconsin State Census³ has him off the family farm at age 18—working for Charles Kasten for 7 months as a “hired man”—”day laborer” in nearby Two Rivers. Kasten was a farmer, so the “day laborer” seems a little odd to me. There are other entries in that column for “farm laborer,” so there’s clearly a distinction. The enumerator would have been told the occupation, so someone (Ed? his employer?) saw Ed as something other than a farm worker. Is this when the shift started? Granted, on a farm you are going to end up doing a lot of building repair, and construction, so it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination. There were also two carpenters on the farm adjacent. Did they help him hone his skills? Who knows?

Family lore (AKA probably my dad or Uncle Henry) has Ed moving to Glencoe, Cook, Illinois, when he was 21—about 1908. Unfortunately, Ed is AWOL (so far!) in the 1910 census. Neither he nor his older brother, John, are on the family farm. I even checked out the Kasten family Ed was working for five years earlier—nada. Nor do I find him in Glencoe, near the Schweiger family, which he will marry into in four years.

Realizing the last name has lots of misspelling potential, I paged through 4 of the 8 enumeration districts in New Trier township, with no success. My eyes needed a break before tackling the rest of them! Barb did the same thing in Wisconsin. We found lots of other Haws relatives, but no sign of him. Several options exist:

  • The enumerators missed him entirely (he was young, single, and possibly moving around)
  • His name(s) got horribly mangled, so we can’t find him in the indexes
  • Whoever he was lodging with was careless with providing information—either missed or wrong
  • He was living and working some place we aren’t looking at
  • More than one of of the above!

He and Victoria marry in 1914, and they needed to date prior to that, but it’s possible he wasn’t living in Glencoe in 1910. Without knowing a specific location, that’s a LOT of microfilmed/digitized images to page through between Manitowoc and Chicago . . .

At some point in the 1910s, he built 2 houses on next to each other in Glencoe—one for his in-laws, and one for himself. His 3 older children were born in that house on Woodlawn, and that’s where he was living for the 1917 WWI draft.4 So in June, he was a gardener, day laborer. I do know he liked to do gardening. Maybe he had that as a sideline, so if he wasn’t working on a house construction job at the time, I can see him listing gardener as his occupation, and not carpenter.

Some time in the next 9 months, he moved the family back to Wisconsin, settling in Manitowoc (town), to work in the shipbuilding yards. Their last 2 children—George and my dad—were born there, and the 1920 census5 lists shipbuilding as his occupation. By 1925, the family is back in the Chicago area, renting in Highwood6 while Ed built the family’s new home in Deerfield.

The 19307 and 1940² censuses list his occupation as carpenter. What they don’t tell you, is that he was a member of the carpenter’s union, and wouldn’t work on a non-union construction job. As difficult as times were during the Depression, adding that limitation to where he would or wouldn’t work would have made them more so. Nor do those documents tell you that he helped with the construction of the rectory where my parents got married (Going to the Chapel), or other “side projects.”

For instance, when my parents bought their 1st house in 1952, it had no garage. Grandpa came out and helped my dad build a 2-car garage. And the two of them constructed custom storage in the upstairs hallway, using unfinished dressers for the base, and building a cupboard top above it, all the way to the ceiling. Whether he constructed anything similar in his other children’s houses, I don’t know, but it would seem likely.

He died in 1966, at the age of 79. but I don’t know when he retired from work. How and where my grandfather learned his carpentry trade, I don’t know, but it was a huge part of his life, and seemed to spill down to later generations, including (but not limited to):

  • my dad, who rebuilt the front half of the garage next door to us (which partly burned down)
  • 2 of my brothers, who developed considerable skill in woodworking
  • at least 2 of my children, who also “kick around” in wood a good bit. You know how kids are—we don’t always hear everything!

Is there a “woodworking gene”? I don’t know, but part of me wouldn’t be the least bit surprised!

#52Ancestors


¹1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth Town, e.d. 69; Page 7A; dwelling number 122; family number 131; line 34; Frank HAWS household; accessed 6 September 2018. Edward HAWS, age 13; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1797; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Lake, Deerfield, e.d. 49-107; Page 14B; household number 301; line 48; Edward HAWS household; accessed 10 September 2018. Edward HAWS, age 53; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 828; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

³1905 Wisconsin state census, population schedule, Manitowoc, Two Rivers town, p. 928, family no. 188, line 98, entry for Edward HAAS [HAWS], age 18 in Charles KASTEN household; accessed 7 Septermber 2018, index and images; FamilySearch, FHL microfilm 1020454.

4“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.familysearch.org), Edward Matt HAWS, serial no. 933, order no. 60, Draft Board 3, Cook County, Illinois, citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 1504112. accessed 6 September 2018. Registered 5 June 1917.

51920 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Manitowoc Ward 6, e.d. 106; Page 9A; dwelling number 1860; family number 169; line 36; Edward M. HOWE [HAWS] household; accessed 7 September 2018. Edward M. HOWE [HAWS], age 32; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1994; digital image, Ancestry.com. (https://www.ancestry.com).

6“U. S. City Directories, 1822-1995”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), citing Polk’s Waukegan Directory, 1925. Entry for Edw. HAWS, p. 685, accessed 7 September 2018.

71930 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Deerfield, e.d. 49-17; Page 2A; dwelling number 23; family number 23; line 21; Edward HAUSS household; accessed 10 September 2018; NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 528; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

Black Sheep

Or maybe just a lost lamb?

When the prompt list came out at the beginning of the month, I was REALLY glad this was scheduled at the end of it! I had absolutely no idea what I could write about. Here we are, weeks later, and I’m still clueless.

You already heard about my witches (Misfortune), so that’s old news. To my knowledge, there are no horse thieves, bank robbers, con men, suffragettes, or “working girls” lurking in the tree, either. Was/is everyone perfect? Certainly not! But several factors conspire against me:

  • Neither side of the family tended to air “dirty laundry”–and especially not around the kids! Apparently, at 60 I’m still a kid . . .
  • Some situations probably qualify . . . but they still have people attached to them. Maybe not the direct person, but close, nevertheless. These aren’t necessarily my stories to tell, particularly if someone might be hurt by it. Off limits.

So what to do? Who to write about? My brain kept looping back to my Granduncle Leo (middle, above). He was a younger brother to my grandmother, Victoria. I don’t like the label of “black sheep” for him. Maybe a little gray. But mostly, he was a guy who, for whatever reason(s) seemed to have a tough time of it. I’m choosing him, but hope you remember it’s not the best fit, and he wasn’t a bad guy.

Dorothea & kidsThis photo is the clearest, and you can see he was fairly good looking . . . and had a much better hair deal going on than most of his brothers! Unfortunately, I don’t really know much about Uncle Leo. I never met him. I never heard his name until I started doing the family tree (Start). Even then, it was with a shake of the head and a, “We don’t really know what happened to him,” said with regret, not shame or disappointment in him. Most relatives who knew him personally aren’t alive to talk about him anymore. Dad and his brothers are gone. My mom doesn’t recall ever meeting him. My dad’s cousin Fred, almost 86, and smarter than two of me put together, probably knows the most. Much of what I know about Leo, I learned from Fred in the first place. I’ll try to link what I’ve heard with the little bit of paper trail I could find. Paper trail, first.

He was born Leo Matheau Schweiger on Christmas Eve, 1896, the eighth child out of eleven, with two of his older sisters dying before he was born. He was baptized either at the new Sacred Heart Parish in Winnetka, or at the family’s former parish, St. Joseph in Wilmette. Older and younger sisters were baptized at each place, but I don’t know about him. He grew up above the family butcher shop, later a restaurant, on Park Avenue in Glencoe. Presumably he attended Sacred Heart Catholic Grade School, like his older siblings, but he continued on to complete four years of high school¹ like his younger brothers. He would later develop Type II diabetes, like his mother and sisters, Victoria & Rose (not sure about the other siblings).

Schweiger boys on fence
Leo at far right, hard to see with the exposure. It looks to me like he’s having a good time, though! Circa 1908

My timeline for Leo includes:

  • 1900 census, age 3; in Glencoe with parents²
  • 1910 census, age 13; in Glencoe with parents³
  • 1918 WWI draft registration, age 21; in Glencoe with parents, working for a livery company (probably a driver, like below)4
  • 1920 census, age 23; in Glencoe with parents; chauffeur, garage5
  • 1930
  • 1935–on 1 April, living with his sister, Rose Rau (according to 1940 census) ¹
  • 1936–in December he applied for a Social Security number 6
  • 1940 census, age 43; in Wilmette with his sister, Rose; clerk, drug store.¹
  • 1942 WWII draft registration, age 45; living in Glencoe; clerk, drug store. Contact person is his sister, Elizabeth (not Rose!)7

Schweiger siblings
All the siblings, a different day. Not the best image. Once again Leo is in the center. It’s interesting the boys are in the same order as before, but the girls change it up a bit. Possibly their mother’s funeral (31 October 1932). Al lived in New York, so probably didn’t get in often.

On the whole, it’s not a bad timeline–except for the noticeable gap in 1930–technically 1920-1935. I cannot find him anywhere in the 1930 census. He’s not living with his mom and the other unmarried siblings or his married siblings. A very fuzzy search (first name, first 3 or 4 letters and a wildcard for “Schweiger,” and a range for his birth year) in the 1930 census turns up nothing. I swapped in his middle name. Still zip. His Social Security Number yielded nothing, either.

So, what about that gap? I don’t have a solid answer for that. Uncle Leo would drop contact with the family for a stretches of time–maybe that was one of them. When I emailed Fred with questions about the blog for Aunt Rose (The Maiden Aunt) he related this story:

“Leo deliberately separated himself from the family in about 1940 was found on “skid row” with a bad diabetic wound, she was contacted by the welfare agency.  She and Joe took Leo in, nursed him back to health, and found him a job. Unfortunately, a year later he disappeared once more and never was found again. “

The 1940 census has Leo in Rose & Joe’s house in 1935 and 1940, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was continuous. He applied for a Social Security Card in 1936, so he was working. Maybe something happened after that point. The rest of Fred’s story fits, with Leo getting back to Rose & Joe before the census. Why he’s moved out by 1942, I don’t know. Was there a falling-out with Rose? Other stories I heard implied Leo had problems with alcohol. Was he not following some “house rules” regarding behavior and self-care? If he moved out simply to be independent, why wouldn’t he have used Rose for his contact person? Maybe I’m reading too much into it?

I doubt we will ever know what happened to Uncle Leo, and that’s a shame. From everything I heard, he sounded like a really nice guy–when he was taking care of himself and making better choices. I don’t know what demons distanced him from a family that kept trying to be there for him. I hope he’s remembered–and knows he’s remembered–for his good points–not his shortcomings.

#52Ancestors


¹1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Wilmette, e.d. 16-297; sheet 6A; household number 95; line 16; Joseph RAU household; accessed 25 June 2018. Leo SCHWEIGER, age 43; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 782; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Glencoe, e.d. 1172; sheet 11B; dwelling number 188; family number 193; line 97; Ignatz SCHWEIGER household; accessed 2 April 2018. Leo SCHWEIGER, age 3, December 1896; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 293; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

³1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Glencoe, e.d. 57; sheet 9A; dwelling number 168; family number 169; line 27; Ignaty[z] SCHWEIGER household; accessed 29 April 2018. Leo SCHWEIGER, age 13; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 239; digital image, Ancestry.com) (https://www.ancestry.com).

4“U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.ancestry.com), Leo Matthew SCHWEIGER, serial no. 107, registration no. 9, Draft Board #3, Cook County, Illinois; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 1504112; accessed 20 November 2017. Registered 5 June 1918.

51920 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Glencoe, e.d. 119; sheet 27B; dwelling number 543; family number 561; line76; Ianatz [Ignatz] SCHWEIGER household; accessed 26 June 2018. Leo SCHWEIGER, age 23; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 361; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

6“U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 29 June 2018, citing Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007, (index only); dated December 1936. Entry for Leo Mathew SCHWEIGER, SS no. xxx-xx-xxxx.

7“U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942”, database, (https://www.ancestry.com), Leo Matthew SCHWEIGER, serial no. 1183, order no. not given, Draft Board 3, Cook County, Illinois; citing World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Illinois. State Headquarters ca. 1942. NARA Publication M2097, 326 rolls. NAI: 623284. The National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. U.S.A.; accessed 9 June 2018. Registered 27 April 1942.

Photos and labels from Fred Schweiger.

The Maiden Aunt

Maiden aunts are in short supply in my family. There might be one on Mike’s Nolan side, but I’m not positive. I don’t really know much about her, anyway. I have LOTS of widowed aunts, but with kids and grandkids, they don’t really fit the bill. There are a handful of uncles who never married, but most of their stories end with, “the last we heard, he was headed for St. Louis . . .” St. Louis seemed to be the Mecca of unmarried uncles, and none were heard from again.

So I’m going to go with my Aunt Rose Schweiger. She was born 21 February 1900, in Glencoe, Cook, Illinois. She was the 9th child (of 11) of Ignatz Schweiger and Dorothea Harry (also Haré, Hary, Harré), five years younger than my grandmother, Victoria. Rose’s middle name was Dorothea, after her mother. She was only 3 months old on the 1900 census,¹ and two of her older siblings had already died. Like my grandmother, she grew up working in the family restaurant.² By 1930, she was working as a bookkeeper, as her father had died, and the restaurant apparently closed.

She and Joseph Rau married 30 April 1932 at St. Joseph’s Church, in Wilmette, Illinois. They married when she was 32 years old, and he was 48. According to my mom, they “kept company” for a good long while before getting hitched–8 years, or so–causing speculation about if they would ever tie the knot. Obviously they did.

Yes, I know technically she is NOT a maiden aunt.  However, not having children of their own gave her the opportunity to behave in more of a “maiden aunt” way. Rose and Joe were a doting aunt and uncle to their many nieces and nephews. My sister (below) had a doll bed made by Uncle Joe, and they would host other nieces & nephews, giving their parents a much-appreciated break. We’ve all needed that more than once!

aunt Rose and Carole
Aunt Rose Schweiger Rau holding my sister, Carole, 14 September 1946. This was at the wedding of my MOM’s cousin, Jeanne Meintzer. The woman at the right is Jeanne’s new mother-in-law–and Aunt Rose’s sister-in-law. Yes, Aunt Rose and Uncle Joe are aunt and uncle to my dad AND my mom’s cousin. Think about that one for a bit . . . .

The Schweiger family spread out a bit–Uncle Al to New York, Uncle Iggy to Milwaukee. Even for those staying in the Chicago area, they fanned out from Highland Park and Deerfield, through Wilmette and Glencoe, out to Hinsdale, and south to Oak Lawn. Not huge distances, but far enough that making the effort to get together–especially with kids in tow–was difficult. Rose spearheaded the effort to make sure the family got together at least a couple times a year, for holidays, picnics, and the Knockwurster Club (yes, they had their own “club”!) business meeting, usually held in her basement. Clearly, she was a woman who understood the value of family and a good time!

1929 07 04 Schweiger Haws picnic
4 July 1929 picnic. Back row: Henry Haws; Clara Goessl (Longevity); Marie Haws, with her brother, George, in front of her; a niece of Clara and Ed, partially hidden behind George–maybe Dorothy Posvic?; Bob Haws (Dad) with the tree trunk behind him; Uncle Iggy Schweiger; Victoria Schweiger Haws (holding Jeanette Goessl); and Ed Haws. Sitting: Ed Goessl; Joseph Rau; Rose Schweiger (still dating); and Dorothea Harry Schweiger (who taught my dad how to play Gin Rummy).

But life was not just a party. She was well-connected to the family, stepping in to help when needed. Her brother, Leo (4 years older), had some personal issues to deal with, and withdrew from the family. When she was informed by a welfare agency that he needed care, she took him in, nursed him back to health, and found him a job. That lasted for a while, and Uncle Leo did okay. At some point he moved to the house of  his older sister, Lizzy (1942 WWII draft registration lists her as the contact person), but unfortunately he disappeared again. Where he went, and what became of him, we don’t know. If he’d have turned up on Rose’s doorstep again, though, I’ve no doubt she would have welcomed him back. That’s just how she was.

When I first started working on my genealogy, some how-to authors advised that relatives who never married–or ones who married but had no children–didn’t need to be researched or followed. There were no offspring continuing the line, so there was no point. I never felt that way, though I couldn’t put my reasoning into words. Thankfully, genealogists no longer hold that position. We realize now that the unmarried aunts (and uncles) fill what would otherwise be a gap in our families.

They have the time and energy–and fewer distractions than their married-with-children siblings or cousins–to take on roles and projects the others can’t. They are sounding boards for our children (who will take advice from them they would never take from us!), care givers to aging parents, and sanity-providers when we need it the most. They are the whipped cream on a piece of pie. Yes, the pie tastes okay without it, but adding it makes it so much better. The family is better–and stronger–because of their presence.

#52Ancestors


¹1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Glencoe, e.d. 1172; sheet 11B; dwelling number 188; family number 193; line 98; Ignatz SCHWEIGER household; accessed 2 April 2018. Rosa SCHWEIGER, age 3/12, February 1900; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 293; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Glencoe, e.d. 119; sheet 27B; dwelling number 543; family number 561; line 79; Ianatz [Ignatz] SCHWEIGER household; accessed 2 April 2018. Rose SCHWEIGER, age 19, helper-restaurant; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 361; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).