Trick or Treat

A Halloween burial, along with tricks and treats in the family history.

My dad grew up knowing three of his four grandparents. You met many of them in an earlier post. His maternal grandfather, Ignatz, died a couple months before Dad was born, and it seems the family soon moved back to Glencoe, Illinos, to be near Ignatz’s widow, Dorothea. She lived as a widow for eleven years.

Dad was not quite eleven when Dorothea died, but he had vivid memories of her. She taught him how to play Rummy. It wasn’t a particularly “grandmotherly” activity, but it appealed to a young boy. It may have let him feel grown up (a sometimes rare commodity for a youngest child!), and I don’t think she let him win all the time, either.

As you can see from her funeral card, she died 29 October 1932 (a Saturday). The card didn’t tell you she was buried on 31 October (a Monday).

Yes, she was buried on Halloween! At least, I think so. A slight discrepancy exists. Unfortunately, her obituaries in the Chicago Tribune¹ are in the higher tier at Newspapers.com, so I can’t see what date was published, to resolve the issue. And I don’t recall if Dad metioned whether or not they missed going out to Trick or Treat, due to the death and funeral.

Dorothea was buried in the Schweiger plot in Sacred Heart cemetery, with her husband, son, and grandson. The plot card has only a 31 October 1932 date next to her name, not her death date.

Plot card, Sacred Heart Cemetery, Lee & Dundee Roads, Northbrook, Illinois. Section 2, Block 6, Lot 2.

Searching the Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths,² 1916-1947 index (FamilySearch.org or Ancestry.com), her burial was listed as 1 November 1932. The actual death certificate is not viewable online, so I can’t verify if the indexed date matched the certificate. Death certificates are completed before the burial, not at the time of or afterwards. It’s possible the informant didn’t actually know when the funeral would be scheduled, and put down November 1st (a Tuesday).

I’m slightly more inclined to trust the plot card, since it should have been created directly from the event. Having said that, fact checking the plot card turned up a couple discrepancies, so it isn’t perfect:

  • Anton Schweiger—the year should be 14, not 16. The 30 September date is in the Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922,³ but with a 1914 year more consistent with his 1914 death. I think the “16” on the paper is a typo. I’m not sure if the paper I have is a photocopy of the actual card, or a redrawing of it. If it was rewritten/retyped, that could easily be a typo.
  • Baby girl, stillborn. She was my cousin, Marilyn Victoria Busse. I had always heard she was stillborn, but when I located the record (not image) in the Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-19474, I saw she also wasn’t named there (explaining no name on the plot card). More importantly, I discovered she had actually lived for 23 hours! That was a bit of a surprise. Her burial dates match, however.

So why do I think Dorothea’s date on the card is right, when I think Anton’s is wrong? Mistyping a single digit in the year is more likely than mistyping the month AND the day. I think that mistake would have been noticed and corrected.

Now that great-grandma is straightened out (sort of!), what else do I know about Dorothea, aside from being buried on Halloween and that she taught my dad to play Rummy?

She was born 26 March 1858, in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, the eighth child (of nine) of Peter Harry and Elisabetha Boullie; the 2nd child born in the USA. Their surname also shows up spelled Harré, Hary, and Hare, making it a little hard to search for, but had 2 syllables, and was pronounced like the “Harry” it morphed into.

One item that hadn’t really registered with me before now is that her father died when she was only 2½. I’ve been unable to locate Dorothea (and her family) in the 1860 census. It’s hard to misplace a family with six kids! They are AWOL for the 1870 census, too. While the two oldest children were married by then, the 4 youngest should have been with their mom. Even paging through the enumeration districts, or searching for the kids, didn’t turn them up. I don’t think Dorothea or her family moved away from Two Rivers, because several children got married there in the 1860s and 1870s. Their mother, Elisabeth, was still living there, alone, in 1880! They are simply lost for a while . . .

Dorothea finally resurfaced in 1880, working in Chicago as a servant in the Nussbaumer5 household. Apparently this was not an unusual situation. Rural Wisconsin farm girls regularly relocated to the Chicago North Shore as household help for those families. In this case, the husband and wife were both born in Germany, so I imagine having help who could understand if they lapsed into German would have been useful. The census recorded her as two years older, so either her employers didn’t know her actual age, and guessed, or she fudged it a little upwards to seem a little more mature when getting hired.

I don’t know if this was the only family she worked for—specific records for that don’t exist. Decades earlier, I had noted she had worked for a Kirsch family living in Niles Center (Skokie). I couldn’t locate that family in the 1880 census, so I can’t corroborate that. She didn’t marry Ignatz6 until April, 1885, so she had at least five years working, possibly more, if she moved to Illinois pre-1880.

After marrying Ignatz, she had 9 children in 15 years, and assisted with the restaurant. She and Ignatz were among the founding familes of Sacred Heart Church in Hubbard Woods (northeast section of Winnetka) in 1897, when St. Joseph’s parish (Wilmette) got too large. She was the first vice-president of the parish’s Married Ladies Soldality, organized 14 April 1898. When the school opened, her children attended.

She and her family lived above the butcher shop, and then the restaurant, until Ignatz died in 1921. The building and business were sold, and Dorothea moved a two-story house at 404 Woodlawn built by her son-in-law, Edward Haws, for the next eight years. The last two years of her life were spent living with her daughter, Rose. Somewhere in there, she taught my dad to play Rummy.

While there are still gaps in her timeline, and I obviously don’t know much about her personality, it would seem Dorothea worked hard throughout her life, much of it directed toward her family and her parish.

#52Ancestors


¹”Dorothea Schweiger, Glencoe Resident,” 30 October 1932, Newspapers.com: accessed 1 November 2019, record number: not given; citing original p. 14, entry for Dorothea SCHWEIGER, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, online archive (http://www.newspapers.com).

²”Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 1 November 2019, entry for Dorothea SCHWEIGER, 26 March 1858, citing FHL microfilm 1684557, citing Public Board of Health, Archives, Springfield.

³”Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 1 November 2019, entry for Anton SCHWEIGER, 28 September 1914, citing Illinois, Cook County Deaths 1878–1922, Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010; FHL# 1239987. Illinois Department of Public Health. Birth and Death Records, 1916–present. Division of Vital Records, Springfield, Illinois.

4“Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 1 November 2019, entry for Baby Girl BUSSE, 25 May 1942, citing FHL microfilm 1953745, citing Public Board of Health, Archives, Springfield.

51880 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Chicago, e.d. 189; Page 432D (printed), 28 (written) ; dwelling number 91; family number 155; line 12; Chs. NUSSBAUMER household; accessed 31 October 2019. Dora HARRY, age 24; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 199; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

6“Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 4 November 2019, citing “Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010. Illinois Department of Public Health records. “Marriage Records, 1871-present.” Division of Vital Records, Springfield, Illinois. Ignatz SCHWEIGER (25) and Thora HARRY (27).

Road Trip

Are we there, yet?

I’ve had more than my share of road trips, racking up 50 states, and 32 countries so far. When my dad was a kid, though, road trips were were much rarer. It’s likely that until he joined the Navy, he traveled only between Wisconsin and Illinois!

He was born in Wisconsin, not too far from his paternal grandparents, Frank Haws (The Old Homestead) and Anna Bruder Haws, but that would soon change.

His family returned to Illinois not long after my dad was born. They appear in the 1922 city directory, living in Glencoe¹ with Victoria’s recently widowed mother, Dorothea Harry Schweiger (Back to School). By 1925, they had moved to a rental house (25 East Webster) in Highwood,² while my grandfather, Edward Haws, built their house on Rosemary Terrace, in Deerfield. They now lived a long way from Dad’s paternal grandparents, so couldn’t see them often.

Once, though, on a trip to Manitowoc or Door County when I was a teenager, Dad reminisced about his trips up there when he was a kid. It was Ed, Victoria, and 4 kids piled into the family car. I’m not sure if it was a Model A or a Model T, but my money is on the Model T, being a more reasonably priced car. Dad said they always had at least one flat tire on the trip—maybe more!

If I’d thought about it at the time, I’d have pressed him for more details, and written down the answers. Ah, the foolishness of youth!

Frank Haws and Anna Bruder Haws outside their house at 508 Birchwood Drive, Francis Creek, Wisconsin, after he retired and sold the farm. They are with 6 of their grandchildren: my dad (little guy on right), his siblings (George & Henry next to Frank, and Marie next to Anna), and two of their cousins: Paul and Lorraine, I think. I’d estimate the year to be 1926 or 1927, based on my dad’s size. That’s a couple years earlier than the 1929 date I have for Frank and Anna moving from the farm, but that year is estimated from Frank’s obituary—not necessarily the most accurate source! Dad looks 5 or 6 in this photo.

This week’s prompt jogged my memory, so I started thinking about those trips up north. According to Google maps, it’s 164 miles from Deerfield to Manitowoc, and takes 3 hours 47 minutes on non-interstate roads. The roads in the late 1920s/early 1930s were not as good as roads today, and the cars slower.

The top speed for a Model A was 28 MPH; 40-45 MPH for the Model T. I’m sure neither car drove those speeds on the roads of that era, but let’s be generous! If the Model T went 30 miles per hour, that’s a 5 hours and 28 minutes trip, minimum.

Then there’s stopping for gas, bathroom breaks—4 kids, remember?— lunch at a “roadside park,” slowing down for towns, plus time to fix a flat tire. We’re looking at an all-day trip, each way. If they went up to visit, it probably wasn’t for a day, or even a weekend; a week is more likely, maybe two.

I suppose Ed could have driven Victoria and the kids up, and gone back home to work during the following week, then come back for them, but that’s a lot of driving for him. Besides, most of his siblings lived in the area, so it would have been one of his few chances to see them.

As frequently happens when checking the facts for a blog post, either I find something new, or I unearth a detail I’d forgotten about. This week was no different! I’ve always known they spent time in Highwood—my dad remembered (and talked about) living there before moving into the house in Deerfield. I just assumed that was the only other place they lived in. So I was surprised last fall to discover them at Dorothea’s house so soon after dad’s birth! I always thought Dad lived in Wisconsin for at least a couple years.

While he told stories about Grandma Schweiger’s house, I always thought they were from visits there. Indeed, he may have had no memory of ever living there. Regardless, when I found and documented the 1922 directory listing, I didn’t really think about it, or fit it into a timeline for the family. I was hurrying to harvest as many records as I could, and didn’t mentally process it properly.

Thank goodness I decided to enter it in my software, anyway, instead of blowing it off! I could have easily dismissed it as, “Oh, that’s Dorothea’s house, I don’t need to record that.” That would have been a mistake—I’d be missing dots I needed to connect.

So, what had started as an innocuous road trip story, ended up filling in more dates and places in my dad’s, grandparents’, and great grandparents’ timelines. That’s always a good thing!

#52Ancestors

__________________

¹”U.S City Directories, 1822-1995″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), citing R. L. Polk & Co. Evanston City and North Shore Directory, 1922-1923. Entry for Edw. HAWS, p. 630, accessed 7 September 2018.

²”U.S City Directories, 1822-1995″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), citing Polk’s Waukegan City Directory, 1925. Entry for Edw. M. HAWS, p. 685, accessed 7 September 2018.

Closest to Your Birthday

What? 100 years isn’t close?

You are probably expecting to read about someone who shares my birthday, or has a birthday close in date to mine. With 5000+ people in my tree, finding a shared or near birthday shouldn’t be difficult. There are only 365 days (366, counting leap year), so you have to start doubling up fairly quickly. If that’s what you are looking for, though, you will be disappointed!

When I began my genealogy life (Start), I soon learned that three of my eight great grandparents—all on my dad’s side—were born 100 (or 99–a little fudge factor, there) years before me:

  • Frank Haas/Haws: born 3 March 1858,  Two Rivers, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. He was the first or second child in his family born in the USA. I can’t quite nail down where his sister, Dorothy was born, but I’m sure for Frank. He stayed on the family farm (The Old Homestead) until he retired. None of his sons continued on as farmers.

    frank haws_0001
    Frank Haase/Haas/Haws 1858-1933. Photo came from one of the Haws grandaunts 40+ years ago. Taken before 4 May 1933 (Frank’s death date).
  • Dorothea Harry : born 26 March 1858, Two Rivers, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. She was the second youngest child of Peter Haré/Hary/Harry and Elisabetha Bullea/Boullie. You met Dorothea’s mother in Travel, as she carried one child and kicked the other as they walked to the farm. Dorothea moved to the Chicago North Shore to work as live-in help for one of the families. That was not uncommon for the time, and one of the few ways a girl could find a way out of rural Wisconsin. That allowed her to meet Ignatz!

    HARRY Dorothea portrait
    Photo credit: I thought I got it from Barb. She thought she got it from me. I probably got it from Fred. THANKS, FRED! 

    Dorothea Schweiger_0001

  • Ignatz Schweiger:   born 13 May 1859, Niederhoefen, Bavaria, Germany. He was the 2nd youngest child of a cheese maker. He came to America about 1882, as a butcher. How he learned that trade, I’m not really sure, but the family’s life revolved around that, and later, the restaurant. Everyone in the family worked there at some point (Black Sheep), and it was how my grandparents met each other (Invite to Dinner). How he and Dorothea met, I don’t know, though I suspect it was at church. I doubt that either one had much free time.

    Ignatz Schweiger barb
    Photo credit–ditto. I know Ignatz is a year off, but it’s pretty darn close!

    Ignatz Schweiger_0001

    As a teenager, the fact that I born 100 years after these direct ancestors caught my eye, and connected me to those great grandparents a little differently than the other five. I obviously never met them, and my dad knew only two of them, but somehow they just seemed closer.

The generational gaps from them to me were a little wider than typical. In genealogy, if we’re trying to decide when a parent’s birth might have occurred, we start looking 20-25 years before the birth of their oldest child. But this descendancy follows:

  • middle and younger children to
  • middle children (Ed & Victoria) to
  • youngest (Dad) to
  • youngest,

so we have 29 to 37 year gaps. Getting those to come out evenly to 100 is a little tricky—like when the cash register rings up with an even dollar amount, instead of stray cents. It’s not impossible, but seems to happen rarely—certainly less often than one in 100 transactions!

So is there any great significance to the last two digits of their birth years matching mine? Not really. It’s one of those serendipitous things that pops up in family trees—coincidences that have us wondering if they are accidental. None of my immediate cousins can make this same claim–not even with the other great grandparents. One of my children, though, was born 100 years after a great grandfather on my mom’s side, while another was born between two great grandmothers—so 99 and 101 years later. That’s something I never even thought about until just now.

Should I cue the Twilight Zone or X-Files music, yet? No, but I will probably continue to try and notice when these quirky coincidences happen. Maybe life isn’t as random as it sometimes seems.

#52Ancestors

Travel

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”—Lao Tzu

With the closest relatives three and a half hours away, our children grew up in the car/van/minivan. Family visits, coupled with tent, then pop-up camper, finally Holiday Inn Express vacations, got them all to the lower 48 states by 1998. Alaska was added in 2010. Two children completed all fifty–with Hawaii on their own dimes (before Mike & I got there!)–prior to that. Family vacations were apparently time well-spent, because our children have lots of stories to tell (some more entertaining than others!) of those trips, and they all seem to enjoy travel as adults.

For my ancestors, the trip from Europe to America was not for relaxation. They uprooted themselves from the life they knew and traveled to a completely foreign place. Both Mike’s and my families are relatively new to North America, with only a handful of ancstors showing up in the 1850 census records. No Mayflower Society or DAR/SAR memberships in this house!

I’ve not had terribly good luck locating ships’ passenger lists. Part of the difficulty has to do with:

  • inexact emigration dates
  • non-existent naturalization records–or incomplete information on them
  • lack of ships’ records from that time
  • difficulty in reading the records that do exist!
  • extremely vague descriptions of the passengers. With a somewhat common name, is that “farmer from Germany” mine, or someone else’s?

Few of my ancestors passed down information about their emigration. When I expressed surprise about that 45 years ago to the grandaunts & granduncles (their parents were born in the USA, but they had aunts and uncles–and grandparents–born in the “old country”), their reply was that everyone was trying so hard to fit in and become American, they didn’t talk about the past. It’s also possible those memories saddened them, so not talking about it made it easier.

But we do have snippets of their adventures. My great-grandmother, Dorothea Hary/Harre/Haré/Harry (just a few of her variations!) was born in Wisconsin, but her parents and older siblings were not. I still haven’t found the passenger list for the ship they came over on in 1854. But shortly after I got married, I was contacted by a Mr. Leslie Larson. His wife descended from Dorothea’s older sister, Margaret. At some point the story about the last leg of their journey, after arriving in New York, was recorded. I don’t know who the story originated from (possibly Margaret?), or who wrote it down, but this is what I read:

“Great grandfather [Peter] did not have enough money when he arrived in New York to bring all the family to Two Rivers. Great Grandmother HARRÉ [Elisabetha] lived in New York and worked at a hotel for at least a couple of months until she had earned enough money to pay hers and the children’s fare to Cooperstown near Two Rivers. She carried Peter and kicked Johnny to keep him from lagging behind, and they walked all the way from Cooperstown to Two Rivers, a distance of approximately 15 miles.” (from narrative obtained from Leslie Larson)

Peter & Elisabeth (Boullie/Bullea) Harré arrived in New York some time in May, 1854. I don’t know exactly what route or method they used to reach Wisconsin. The Erie Canal was completed in 1825, so all they needed to do was get to the starting point. While cross county train travel was not available yet, apparently New York State had several railroads linking different parts of the state.¹ Taking a train to the canal wouldn’t have been difficult. Or they could have traveled up the Hudson by boat.

Water transportation would have been much easier and quicker than overland travel through the relatively new (and still rough around the edges) states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. From the description, it sounds like Peter went on ahead–probably to secure land, get seeds planted, start on a house, maybe? The oldest of their four (at that point–two daughters had died before they left) children was under age 10:

  • Mary–9 1/2
  • William–8
  • John–5
  • Peter–barely a year

None of them were old enough to be helpful to him. It made sense for them to stay with their mom while she earned the traveling money.

Arriving in Two Rivers, she was still not home free! According to Google, (click for map) it’s a 16.3 mile walk to Cooperstown, and takes just under 5.5 hours–following present-day roads. I can’t begin to imagine doing that with children and questionable roads! Peter wouldn’t have known exactly when to expect them, so couldn’t have been there to meet them in Two Rivers and give them a ride back. Did Elisabeth have to deal with luggage, too? Hopefully not, if she was carrying the baby! Were that left in town, for Peter to drive in for later, with a wagon? So many questions, so few answers . . .

Sometimes in genealogy, we get so focused on the ship crossing the Atlantic, we forget that wasn’t the end of the road. Interstates didn’t connect places. No Holiday Inn Expresses to stay in, serving cinnamon rolls. And no Game Boys (or whatever the current equivalent is) to keep the kids from complaining during the trip.

As far as I know, none of my ancestors kept diaries, documenting their travels. I’m grateful to have this one description to give me at least a taste of what it may have been like for the others.

#52Ancestors


¹ Website describing state-wide train service in New York beginning in 1830: click here

Cemetery

So many to choose from!

The remains of my family are scattered throughout the Midwest. Big cemeteries (Ridgewood in Des Plaines, IL, or Ascension in Libertyville, IL), little cemeteries (Columbus, in St. Clair County, MI), and everything in between. One of my favorites, though is Sacred Heart Cemetery, in Northbrook, IL. It’s not the smallest one, but still very quiet and quaint. It’s on Lee Road, just north of Dundee. The I-94 Edens Spur turned Lee Road into a dead-end road (irony!), keeping it quiet. A single drive takes you inside, with a keyhole loop at the end, so you can turn around.

While Catholic Cemeteries manages all the Cook County, IL, cemeteries currently, originally each church kept up its own. This cemetery was attached Sacred Heart Church in Winnetka. Sacred Heart was a spin-off from St. Joseph’s Church in Wilmette. St. Joseph’s parish had grown, requiring another church to take care of the parishioners further north. St. Joseph’s Cemetery was also filling up, so it made sense for the new parish to start its own cemetery. At that time, Northbrook (which was really Shermerville) was out in the boondocks, so presumably land was cheap and available. It made sense to put the cemetery out there.

My great-grandparents, Ignatz Schweiger and Dorothea Harry (Invite to Dinner, Valentine, The Maiden Aunt) purchased Lot 2, Block 6, Section 2 in the cemetery. They were among the original families to start up the new parish, so I don’t know if they simply got in on the ground floor, or purchased it after they had a need. My earliest memory of it was when my grandpa, Edward, was buried. I was only seven, and don’t recall much, but I think it was a drizzly–or at least overcast–day. Fitting for a funeral.

Sacred Heart cemetery_0003
In Loving Memory of Iganatz Schweiger, born May 13, 1859; died Aug. 15, 1921. Dorothea Schweiger, born Mar. 26, 1858; died Oct. 29, 1932.

Sacred Heart cemetery_0002
In Loving Memory of Anthony G. Schweiger, born Jan. 17, 1891; died Sept. 28, 1914. Paul J. Haws, born Nov. 24, 1914; died March 3. 1915.

Towards the center of the plot, Ignatz & Dorothea installed a tall monument. The family name is arched at the bottom of the front side, with Igantz and Dorothea inscribed above. On an adjacent side are listed Anthony G. Schweiger (my grandmother’s brother) and Paul J. Haws (my father’s oldest brother). Prior to starting on the family tree, I hadn’t heard of either person.

Fortunately, my dad was with me on that trip to Sacred Heart, and could fill me in. Anthony died age 23, after being kicked in the head by a horse. He graduated from Sacred Heart’s grade school, and when we find him in the 1910 census¹, he’s a driver for a grocery. Sometimes we find him as “Anton” in records. Other than these small snippets of his life, we don’t know much, so it’s nice he has such a solid remembrance.

Paul J. Haws is the oldest brother of my dad. He was born 24 November 1914, and died 3 1/2 months later, on 3 March 1915. Victoria laid him in the crib the night before, and when she went to get him up the next morning, he was cold. There was no hint of illness prior. Some time before she died in 1955, as SIDS was first being recognized, she mentioned to my mom that what happened with Paul seemed to be the same thing.

The other sides of the monument are not carved–flush to the ground headstones were placed for the others. Buried there are my dad (and Mom–at some point), his brother, Henry (along with his wife, Mary), and sister Marie. Their other brother, George, is in Wheeling Cemetery (despite the notation below. He decided he didn’t want to use those graves. Marie’s daughter, Pattie, is there, instead. My grandparents, Victoria and Edward are there, as well as Victoria’s unmarried brother, Iggy (Ignatz).

Sacred Heart cemetery_0004
Plot card from some time after 1988, when Uncle George still was thinking about using 2 of the plots. He later changed his mind and is in Wheeling Cemetery. Uncle Henry and Aunt Mary’s cremains share the plot next to my dad. My cousin Pattie is in one of the others–I think next to her mom.

Besides baby Paul, Aunt Marie’s first daughter, Marilyn Victoria, is buried here. According to the plot card above, she and Paul were both buried in the southeast corner, so I guess they are in the same plot with Henry and his wife, Mary. With cremation urns, it’s not a big deal, I guess, and it’s nice they have company. I may see if the card can be updated, though, to include her name, as there is no marker. I’ve told my children, and some nieces and nephews, but they may not remember, and I don’t want her forgotten.

The family’s Sacred Heart plot is almost full of people, and certainly full of memories. The plot card reminds us that not everyone has a marker, so asking for the plot card information can be important. It sometimes has information not available from the cemetery websites.

#52Ancestors


¹1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Glencoe, e.d. 57; sheet 9A; dwelling number 168; family number 169; line 25; Ignaty[z] SCHWEIGER household; accessed 29 April 2018. Anton SCHWEIGER, age 19; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 239; digital image, Ancestry.com) (https://www.ancestry.com).

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).