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?

Julia Howard, “the hairdo” of Chicago Ward 22

Julia Howard, 1910 class of Manierre School in Chicago

Julia Howard, 1910 class of Manierre School in Chicago

This one is not as cut and dry as I like. There are two real possibilities for a Julia Howard who lived in Chicago in 1910 – the date that this graduating class from Manierre School in Chicago was taken. One of them, (Julia 1) is the daughter of James and Margaret, born in 1893; the other (Julia 2) is the daughter of Julia F. Howard and unknown father born about 1894.

I believe Julia 2 is our woman. For one thing, she lives in Ward 22. I know, I know! I may be putting too much weight on Ward 22 – which is where all the other children from this class that I’ve researched have been from. It is a compelling factor at this point. But that can’t be the only reason I choose her. Julia 1 lives in Ward 31. Now, considering I’m not completely sure where the Manierre school was at this time it’s hard to know who lived closer. In 1910 Ward 22 and Ward 31 were not really close to one another. Therefore, unlikely that someone would live in Ward 22 for example and school in Ward 31.

Julia 1 also was listed as working at a grocery store in 1910. The census was taken in April of that year, when school would have likely still been in session. Although, true the picture may have been taken earlier and she may have been working in the afternoons, etc., etc. There are many reasons why Julia 1 may still be our girl. For the sake of Ward 22 I’m going with Julia 2!

In 1910, when this picture was taken, Julia 2 was about 17. She and her brother Walter lived as lodgers with the family of Ellen Rowan. In 1900 she and Walter lived with their mother and another brother named Kirby who was 15 at the time. They lived in Ward 11 in 1900 (not to far from Ward 22). In 1904 Julia’s mother, also named Julia, died of natural causes. Older brother Kirby, and Julia 2 for that matter, have not been found in any other documentation other than those census records. I don’t know what happened to Julia’s father – he doesn’t appear in the picture ever. And I don’t know her mother’s maiden name. So much still not known – and no one searching for this beauty that I can tell.

With that wonderful hairdo too! Good luck Julia.

Walter & May Ellis

Walter T. Ellis and wife May Holden Ellis

What a great photo! I’d like to do a recreation of this one. This is Walter T. Ellis and wife May Holden Ellis – according to the writing on the back. The photo was taken in Sioux City, Iowa. Click here to see the eBay sale of the picture by postype if you’d like to own it.

Here’s what I’ve been able to discover about the couple: Walter, whose middle initial is often F., was born about 1863. The couple were married in Chicago on November 22, 1894. In 1900, they lived in Des Moines, Iowa with son Harold who is 4. By 1910 they moved to Sioux City – still with only the one son. Walter was born in Iowa, May (or Mary as she is sometimes documented) in Massachusetts in 1867. They have a beautiful marriage license online at familysearch.com as well.

May died in Los Angeles, California in 1946; Walter had preceded her in death.

Reuel Keagy

This is Reuel Keagy, “about 6 mo’s”, according to the back of the photo. I just love the look on his

Reuel Keagy, about 6 mo’s

face. This photo was taken by Studeio Marquee in Decatur, Illinois – where I supposed the child was born given how young he is in the photo.

This is likely Abraham Reuel Keagy, born in 1893 in Illinois. His parents were Ira and Mary Keagy. There is another “Reul Keagy/Keaggy” born in Illinois in 1894 that lives in Arkansas in 1910 and in Michigan in 1920. I’m going with the person who has the exact spelling – but just wanted to let it be known that there is another possibility for identity.

Reuel lives in Illinois with is parents in 1920. There’s a great 1918 University of Illinois yearbook photo of Reuel – only a true professional would be able to tell if that 6 month old baby is the same as the 20 year old man! Reuel’s 1917 draft registration card says he was born in Decatur. There are a lot of families with little Reuel in their tree on Ancestry, so maybe one of them can confirm.

I own this photo, in case any family members want the original.

Three Ladies

Ida Guth standing, Ada Nafsinger left, Aunt Lizzy on right. In Washington, Ill.

This was a challenge, but I believe I did find all three of these ladies identities. It helped that two of them had full names on the back. Another huge help is the location of the photographer embossed on the frame – Washington, Illinois. Next I did some guess work around the age of the photo (early 1900’s was my guess based on dress) and of the ages of the women. Ida I presumed to be 35-40, Ada around 20-25, and Lizzy about 40-45. Initially I worked with a theory they they were sisters, that would be the easiest find after all.

Ida Guth was the easiest to find. She and husband Samuel are living in and around Washington in the early 1900’s. When I found her Maiden name of Ropp, there were unfortunately no other Ropp daughters that would have been her sisters. So the search continued with the theory that they might be cousins. That search took me to Ida’s parents siblings. It turns out Ida’s mother, Mary, did have a sister named Lizzie. But the real jackpot was the 1910 census in Washington, IL where Ida’s grandmother Catherine Kennel is living with her daughter Lizzie and her granddaughter Ada Nafziger. Bingo!

So it turns out Ida’s grandparents Catherine and Jacob Kennel had a lot of kids. Mary (Ida’s mother) was born in 1854. Lizzie (Ida’s aunt) was born in 1874 only 4 years before Ida herself was born. Ada turned out to be the daughter of another sister Amelia, born in 1857. Ada was born only 10 years after Lizzie in 1884. So I wasn’t too far off on the difference in the women’s ages.

While I don’t know the definite date of the photo, we do know That Ida Ropp Guth is pictured here with her niece Ada Nafziger and her aunt Lizzie Kennel probably around 1900.

I love it when a puzzle comes together!