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!

Harvey J. Segnitz in 1931 (any Michigan researchers wanna take this one on?)

Harvey J. Segnitz, in 1931, The Plymouth High School class

Harvey J. Segnitz, in 1931, The Plymouth High School class

Handsome Harvey J. Segnitz, with possibly the rarest last name in the US! When you search for Harvey Segnitz pretty much only he and his dad (also named Harvey) come up. Good and bad news. Good, I’m VERY sure it’s him. Bad, there’s more questions than answers.

Harvey John Segnitz was born on October 4, 1912 in Indiana to Harvey Charles Segnitz and Clara Mohr. He had several older siblings Magurite and/or Beatrice (who apparently died young), Leroy (1911-2000) and Ramona (1910-1992). He also had a much younger brother, Aurthur, who was born in 1930! No trace of him since the 1940 census.

The family lived in Plymouth, Wayne county, Michigan during the 1930 census and Harvey was attending Plymouth High School (hence the photo). His father was a commercial “sailsman” according to the census taker who needed a remedial spelling lesson. Five years later, Harvey married Lucille Moss. They would have at least 2 children, maybe more, William and Richard. Harvey owned “Segnitz & Rodman” filling station in Oakland county, Michigan and worked there as an attendant according to local city directories.

Then in 1958, at the age of 46, he died. I’ve found no record other than the Social Security death index; no obituary, even Find a Grave doesn’t know where he’s buried just that he’s dead. He wife apparently died (either without remarrying or without changing her name) in 1982. No one is searching for the family through Ancestry or other online trees. I hope Harvey J. can find a descendant.

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?