J. H. Liesenfeld and the very tiny law class of 1896

Now this is a tiny photo! You probably can’t tell how small exactly, but it’s the 1896 law class from the University of Wisconsin squeezed onto a cabinet card (about 6 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches). Ambitious. To maintain photo … Continue reading

Thomas Vetter and the 1928 class of Reynolds School, Meadville, PA

This is the whole 8th grade class of 1928 Reynolds School in Meadville, PA. In the top row end on left is Thomas Vetter at about age 13. In the 1930 census, two years after this photo was taken, Thomas … Continue reading

Ralph Spitzer of Chicago, another son of German immigrants who fought the Germans

Ralph Spitzer in 1931

Ralph Spitzer in 1931

Meet Ralph Spitzer, a classmate of Thomas Wirth from St. Michael’s Central high school in Chicago. Ralph was born in Illinois in 1913 to Max Spitzer and Sophie Mawicke. Max and his parents were all from Germany and immigrated to the US in the mid 1870s. Sophie’s parents were also German, but she was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ralph was the youngest of 5 siblings (Loretta, Florence, Dorothy, Robert, and Ralph). The family appears to have all lived and died in Chicago.

In 1931, the year of this photo, Ralph was in high school. After graduation he continued to live at home and worked as a shipping clerk for a clock manufacturer; he did not attend college it would appear. His mother died in 1939, and, with the war in full swing, Ralph joined the army in 1942. He married Rose in 1948 (the same year his father died), although I don’t know if they had any children. I hope they did, so there will be some descendants who care about this photo!

According to several sources, Ralph Spitzer died in Chicago in July of 1981. His parents are buried in Saint Boniface Cemetery in Chicago, but I’m not sure where or if Ralph is buried.

Best of luck Ralph!

Thomas Wirth of St. Michael’s Central High School in Chicago

St. Michael Central High School, Chicago, 1931

St. Michael Central High School, Chicago, 1931

I LOVE when I get a “new” class photo that I’ve ordered. This week the 1931 class of St. Michael’s Central High School in Chicago came in. The “Central” is very important in order to differentiate it from St. Michael’s High school, which started co-ed but quickly became all girls. This school, it appears, was all boys, at least this class. Here’s a great site that gives some background on the school.

Thomas Wirth (1914-1939)

Thomas Wirth (1914-1939)

The first young man from the 1931 class that I will focus on is Thomas Wirth. In 1930, a year before this photo, Thomas lived with his parents and 2 sisters. He was 16, both his parents were born in Germany. His father, Joseph Wirth, was a elevator operation. His older sister Mary, named after their mother, was the only other worker in the house; she sold pianos and organs.

Looking back, in 1920 the family – with oldest son Joseph Jr. still at home – were still in Chicago. Mr. Wirth still operated elevators and Jospeh Jr. (age 22) was a bookkeeper for a railroad. The spacing of the children was interesting: 8 years between the 1st and 2nd, 8 years between the 2nd and 3rd, 4 years between the 3rd and 4th.

Thomas doesn’t show up in a census after 1930. It appears he died rather young, in 1939 at the age of 25 :( He was married to Erma Wirth. I’ve not found anyone searching for him. Not surprising given his young age when he died, but perhaps a niece or nephew or even a child of Erma’s who would be interested?