Labor Day, for many,  is the signal of the end of summer, the last weekend for a camping trip, the last big bar-b-que, the neighborhood swimming pool closes, no more white pants, the beginning of the football season, and  [huge sigh of relief for parents, disappointment for kids] the signal for the start of school.  Now, school has often started already, you can wear what you want, when you want and at least in Phoenix, people might begin to think about the possibility of a camping trip soon.  In July and August you would never be without AC intentionally!

Labor Day was first celebrated in New York City, Sept 5, 1882 according to a Department of Labor publication.[1] It was first made a legal holiday in Oregon in 1887 and soon all the other states followed suit until today it is a statutory holiday nationwide and in Canada.  Many other countries celebrate May 1st as a day to commemorate the efforts of workers.[2]

I am not personally a big supporter of labor movements today, but from stories that I have heard, both of my grandfathers were very heavily involved in them. Since this is a genealogy blog and not a social history blog, I will tell a little of their stories to commemorate the holiday in their honor.

My paternal grandfather, Charles Mathias Boll, who was possibly one of the triplets pictured in my “ Triplets in the Family?” post, was an iron molder. Family tradition says that he was an union organizer and was “black balled” for these activities.  My mom says that she remembers hearing that he worked at Bridge, Beach & Co., a prominent stove manufacturing company whose products can still be found on ebay and in antique stores. According to the 1910 Census he worked at a stove foundry.[3]  The 1920 Census shows him still as a molder in the stove industry, as does the 1930.[4],[5]  By the time we get to 1940, a subtle difference seems to be evident, he no longer works in the stove industry, but just in the steel industry, only working 24 hours in the selected week of March 24-30, 1940 and working only 26 weeks in the year 1939.[6]  My suspicion would be that his labor organizing activities were during this time period since my father, the source of any knowledge my mother had, was 8 on the 1940 Census and it seemed to be a memory he had that effected his life.  I tried to find evidence of Charles Boll’s union activity during this time, but in the interest of actually getting this posted ON Labor Day, I had to delay finding confirmation of this.  My grandfather definitely could not have been just then organizing union activity at  Bridge, Beach & Co., because what I did find was evidence of a major labor dispute that began with the Iron Molders Union against Bridge, Beach & Co.in St Louis, MO that spread to several other cities, but it was in April 1887, when my grandfather was only 3 years old.[7]  My grandfather Boll died before my parents were married so I never knew him, but union activity must have been an important part of his life since it is one of the few things that I can remember my father telling me about him.


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Charles and Emma Boll holding my father Charles 1931

Although my father was in corporate management for his entire adult life, my mother relates a story about their courtship that illustrates his commitment to his father’s values.  When my parents first met, my mother was working for the catering department of a downtown St Louis hotel.  My father was somehow involved in the procurement and delivery of supplies for the kitchens.  He was a union member and she was a member of management.  One of the unions representing workers at the hotel went on strike and my father, although it was not his union on strike, would not cross the picket line to make any deliveries.  Upper management knew that my mother and father were dating and they put pressure on her to get her beau to cross the lines.  She, of course, would not even consider trying to get him to go against his principles, not that it would have worked anyway.  If I am remembering the story correctly, this incident may have led to them both changing their employment.

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John Pogorzelski about the time he began working for the Post Office

I had always heard about my grandfather Boll’s union sympathies, but it was not until a few years ago that I learned from my mother that her father, John Pogorzelski, had also been a union organizer and suffered because of it.  My grandfather Pogorzelski worked all his life in the Post Office.  As far as I know he was not a delivery person, but a clerk in the branch.  The earliest record that I have for his being a postal clerk is his WW1 Draft registration.  Although I cannot read the date on it, he gives his age as 22, so it is around 1917.  He was still a single man, living at his parents’ home on 2225 N Market St in St Louis and his occupation was PO Clerk 25, Post Office Dept USA, 18th and Clark Ave, St Louis, MO.  He retired from the Post Office sometime in the mid-1950s.   I will post more later on just what his activities were.

Now it’s time to be off to spend this holiday with living family !



[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day     Retrieved 2013-09-02

[3] 1910 U.S. census, St Louis City, Missouri, population schedule, St Louis ward 12, sheet 1A, dwelling 2, family 2, Charles M. and Emma A. Boll; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 2 September 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 816.

[4] 1920 U.S. census, St Louis City, Missouri, population schedule, St Louis ward 24, ED 480, sheet 6, dwelling 137, family 138, Charles M. and Emma A. Boll; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 2 September 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T625.

[5] 1930 U.S. census, St Louis City, Missouri, population schedule, St Louis ward 24, Precinct 3, ED 167, sheet 40A, dwelling 730, family 955, Charles and Emma Boll; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 2 September 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T626 and FHL film#2340976, image 808.0.

[6] 1940 U.S. census, St Louis City, Missouri, population schedule, St Louis ward 24, ED 96-629, sheet 5B, 5304 Devonshire, family 129, Charles and Emma Ball; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 2 September 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T627. Roll 2206.

 

[7] I’m also quitting the footnoting here – in the interest of getting this online today