Archives for St Louis

Time Travel

This morning I was sitting at my desk, going through my email and preparing to deal with the mundane chores of paying bills etc. when suddenly I was transported into another world.  Into a time and place where the situations of daily life make me vow to never complain again, about anything, ever, I mean it!

Hine, Lewis photo of Eddy Lou Young


I was reading my latest issue of  Family Tree Magazine Genealogy Insider and clicked, as I always do, on the link for Maureen Taylor’s Photo Detective blog . The post this week was about Ancestral Occupations and in her article Maureen Taylor made reference to photographer Lewis W.  Hine.  From 1908 to 1924, Mr. Hine worked for  the National Child Labor Committee and traveled around the United States photographing children at work in the mines, mills and factories.  His haunting photos went a long way toward the implementation of more stringent Child Labor Laws.  Over 5000 of his images are available online at the  Library of Congress.  The photos themselves, with the captions that Mr Hine added are very moving and just perusing them took several hours of the day, but Maureen Taylor also made mention of the work of  Joe Manning and his Lewis Hine project.  Joe Manning has taken many of the photos that particularly inspired him, and using his skills as a historian and genealogist, has researched the lives of some of the children portrayed in the photos, tracked down their descendants and interviewed them.  The photo above was merely identified by this caption, “Two of the “helpers” in the Tifton Cotton Mill, Tifton, Ga. They work regularly, 1909. Photo by Lewis Hine.” In looking through all the photos from the Tifton Cotton Mill he found the little dark haired girl on the right was in all of them.  

Young family of Tifton GA by Lewis Hine


In this picture of the 9 stair step children, the little dark-haired cutie is right in the center.  The caption Lewis Hine had for this one gave Mr Manning enough information to begin the tale,” A family working in the Tifton (Ga.) Cotton Mill. Mrs. A.J. Young works in mill and at home. Nell (oldest girl) alternates in mill with mother. Mammy (next girl) runs 2 sides. Mary (next) runs 1 1/2 sides. Elic (oldest boy) works regularly. Eddie (next girl) helps in mill, sticks on bobbins. Four smallest children not working yet. The mother said she earns $4.50 a week and all the children earn $4.50 a week. Husband died and left her with 11 children. 2 of them went off and got married. The family left the farm 2 years ago to work in the mill. January 22, 1909. Location: Tifton, Georgia. Photo by Lewis Hine.”   

Mr Manning spent about 5 years tracking down and telling the life story of each of these children, the 2 not pictured here,  and their parents.  Amazingly, all of the children lived to adulthood and several lived past the age of 75.  The tragedy of this photo is that within 3 months after it was taken, the 7 youngest children here were all dropped off at an orphanage and would never again be together as a family.  Imagine the heartbreak that this mother, Catherine Bailey Young faced when her husband, Andrew Jesse Young died in 1906 or 1907 at the age of 37.  She was either pregnant still or had just had her 11th child, Jesse.  Somehow the family had managed to stay together and keep food on the table for 2 years.  Maybe the only way that they were able to survive was by having the children work?  It is pretty difficult from our vantage point 100+ years later to make hard and fast judgments about what should have been done .  The ethical issues involved in child labor seem easy to decipher now, but was it so easy then?

It is a logical fallacy to argue that just because one event transpires after another event that the second event was caused by the first, but in this case you have to wonder if the visit of Lewis Hines to the Tifton Cotton mill somehow precipitated the breakup of this family?  Each individual was affected differently and had differing degrees of abandonment issues etc., but maybe one or more would not have even survived to adulthood if they had remained working in the mill?  You’ll have to read the stories yourself, but for me, I’m just profoundly blessed that I never had to make a decision like Catherine Young did.

All this got me to thinking about my grandparents, who were about the same ages as the Young children. My great grandfather Louis Trzecki was a butcher and for at least part of his life he owned his own shop.  He and his wife Antionette( Tucholske )Trzecki had 7 girls and 1 son between 1892 and 1910.  My grandmother, Agnes was the third child, born in  1895 and she always said that she and her older sisters all worked in the butcher shop.  A butcher shop does not sound like a real great place for kids to be working, but I guess it was better than a factory.   Here is a picture of the Trzecki kids minus the oldest, Helen and the youngest, Irene.Wood River Ill Butcher Shop


Josephine, the youngest in this photo was born in 1905 and looks to be about 3 here, dating the photo around 1908.  It was supposedly taken in front of the butcher shop which according to family tradition was in Wood River, IL, just across the river from St Louis.  I do love the wooden sidewalks, and maybe those are more likely in Wood River than in St Louis?  I have not yet located the shop, in the 1910 Census the family lived in St Louis, but in a news story when Helen witnessed a shooting in August of 1909 they lived in Wood River. [ The news story will have to wait until another posting.]

This 1910 Census of the Trzecki family (line 70-78, family 41) shows the 3 older girls all working.  The older 2, Helen and Stella, both worked in a “Dry Goods” Store, but my grandmother, Agnes, at age 14 was working in a shoe factory.  I wonder how long she had been working? The 1940 Census says that she completed the 6th grade, so she may have begun working at 12 or 13.

Trzecki 1910 Census


The shoe industry was big in St Louis in the early 1900s and Brown’s shoe company was one of the most important.  I wondered if Hine had ever visited St Louis in his quest for documenting child workers and found that he had.  While most of his photos in St Louis dealt with newspaper boys, there are a couple from Brown’s .

Brown's Shoe factory Hine


This photo of “Young girls going home from Brown’s Shoe factory (Washington & 18 th Sts.) at close of day. Location: St. Louis, Missouri” could be my grandmother, or at least friends of her’s.  The photo was taken in May 1910.  Notice the hats that they are all wearing!  My grandmother’s first husband, Stanley Santorski died in March 1923 leaving her with a son, my Uncle Leroy.  I know that for at least 2 years, until she and my grandfather, John Pogorzelski, married in October 1925 Agnes had her own millinery shop.  These fashionable hats, worn by even the shoe factory girls, could have been the inspiration for my grandmother’s later career.  I don’t know for certain if she worked for Brown’s shoe company or not, but the address that Hine gives for the factory is only .8 miles from the address where my 14 year old grandmother lived in 1910 so it is very likely that she dressed exactly like these girls in the photo and walked that .8 mile to the factory and back every day.  Maybe she rode the trolley car like the one in the background of the photo. [ One day I will write about the family story that my great great  grandmother Anastasia (Wonsewicz) Tucholske died from being hit by a trolley.]

Sometimes I get so caught up in the facts and dates and the documentation for all of those that I forget to put myself in my ancestors’ place and  take the time to think what day to day life was really like.  Photos have a way of making it all come alive.  I feel like I would like to just step into the photo and ask them about their lives.  Sometimes I diminish the important of documenting the stories of my parents and grandparents as only being in the 20th century because I am so busy trying to track down things from the 17th century.  These photos really make me think about how different childhood was for even my grandmother.  And how grateful I am.

What is Labor Day??

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 & 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.


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.


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]     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, ( 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, ( 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, ( 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, ( 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

Triplets in the family??

John Boll & Barbara Platzer tripletsThis haunting photo was found in a Bible that originally belonged to my great grandmother Lena Wilhelms Kohler.  It was passed on to her only child, my grandmother, Emma Kohler Boll and then came into my family with Grandma Boll’s death.  Grandma Boll recorded family information in this Bible for both her family and her husband’s family so I hope that the pictures that were inserted in the Bible could be from both families also.  In 2010 I sent this photo in to Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective to see if it would interest her enough to write about in her blog for Family Tree Magazine.  I believe that it is a photo of my great grandparents John Boll and Barbara Platzer Boll holding my grandfather, Charles Matthew Boll, his twin? brother George, and maybe a third baby who did not survive long enough to be baptized with Charles and George 15 days after their birth. For one segment of Maureen Taylor’s analysis of the photo see it    here .  My sole basis for this identification of the photo is because my grandfather’s was the only multiple birth I have discovered in any of the family.  If this is indeed a photo of Charles Matthew Boll and his siblings, it would make sense that it would be found in a place of honor in his wife’s Bible.

Many people in the 1800’s and early 1900’s had professional photos taken as their only memento of a deceased loved one.  The collection of photos in Grandma’s Bible includes several photos of obviously dead people.  Now, with the proliferation of cameras we have multiple pictures of all our family members, some people even have videos of their children’s birth and in the case of a still born baby the hospital will take photos and the family often will also, even with their phones.  At the time of this picture people did not have their own cameras, they had to pack up and trek down to a photographer’s studio or have a photographer come to their home.  It was not a casual thing.  The reverse side of this carte-de-visite size photo has an advertisement for the photographer.

SpZS9dQ5mEKYKv1Fkp7vJDSQ6lgt-RuYJvMHD2soNFo   Tobias & Co specifically addresses mothers and heads of families regarding the difficulty of obtaining “good and permanent Pictures of Babies”  and advertising that they have a patent on a new process to facilitate this.

Maureen Taylor could not absolutely confirm a date for this photo because they are just wearing everyday clothing that did not change according to fashion trends. But, as I am writing this I have thought of 2 other avenues of research to pursue to better nail down a date for this photo. 1.  I will go back to the baptismal records and check the 15 days between the 8th of Dec 1883, their birth, and the 23rd when the baptism of Charles and George took place.  Possibly the 3rd baby was baptized immediately at birth because of his/her weakness or still-birth.  When the baptismal records were originally obtained, many years ago, I had not even thought to look for another birth/baptismal right around the same time.  My eye was immediately drawn to the one for Charles Matthew and I found it although the surname was Bohe rather than Boll (subject for another post sometime).  Lesson 1-  always look on pages surrounding your record, this especially applies when looking at Census records.   2.  I will research patents obtained by Tobias & Co.  If this patent was not registered until 1900, then it could not be on the reverse of a photo printed in 1883.  Now, care needs to be taken here because either the photographer could have applied for the patent, but not have had it issued already officially, but still advertised it as “secured”  or this photo could be a later reprint of a negative taken in 1883.



Welcome to my new Blogger hosted blog.  I am at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Blog Blitz Workshop at RootsTech 2013.  This is right now a practice blog to learn more about blogging.  Be sure to check out my other blog and website at  That one was designed by the wonderful folks at and they help me design and post there still .  This one, I am attempting on my own, with Lisa’s help, of course.

Here is a photo that I just wanted to post somewhere.  This photo was in with a box of photos from my Grandmother Boll’s house.  His name could be Boll, Kohler, Platzer, Wilhelms or someone associated with those families probably in St Louis, MO.  Looking at the ax that he is holding I have wondered if maybe he was a fireman.

St Louis Genealogy

Of all the places that your ancestors could have lived I would wish for you that they lived in St Louis!  I began my research there because St Louis was my family’s home for 4 generations. I now know just how fortunate that was!    There are many reasons why St Louis is one of the most research friendly places on earth, but the first and foremost is the work of the St Louis Genealogical Society.  Their members are among the leading genealogists in the nation.  I was fortunate to be able to attend all three of the Research Institutes that have been held to date and each one added so much more to my St Louis research skills.  Their website is and even without joining there is a wealth of information available.  For those with St Louis ancestors, the $35 annual fee to join is well worth it.  There are many databases that are accessible on the site and it is the first stop for those who want to know more about the home of their St Louis ancestors.  I searched  their Naturalization Records database for my great –grandfather, Valentine Pogorzelski and found the reference for the date and court where he became a citizen of his adopted country. With that information in hand I was able to search the correct film from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to find the actual document.

pogorzelzki naturalization

I might not have found it so easily had I not searched on this more localized site because his name was indexed as Poyorzelski, his first name was sometimes Valentine, sometimes Walenty and a few other spellings also.  He renounced his allegiance to the “Emperor of Germany”  on  13 October 1892, so using Polish or Poland in my search would have eliminated this entry.  In fact when I first searched under Pogorzelski, even using the Soundex option, there was no entry for Valentine. There was however an entry for a Stephan Pogorzelski, which I looked at as you should always do, especially with unusual names.  There I found Valentine Pogorzelski testifying that Stephan Pogorzelski had come to the United States as a minor and had been there 5 years and so was eligible for citizenship. Now, I had another person, who was quite likely a relative, born outside the US. Following Elizabeth Shown Mills’ FAN principle (Friends, Acquaintances, and Neighbors) I have learned that one of the best tactics for “jumping the pond” is to get as many people as possible that could have come from the same place.  Even if your ancestor did not leave any records naming their birth village, maybe someone else did. Stay tuned for more articles about the many resources available for St Louis research.

St. Louis, Missouri

My favorite city for genealogical research is St. Louis. As the home of my ancestors for over 150 years, St Louis is full of treasures. I will bring you a wealth of knowledge in your search for ancestors in St. Louis.

Natchitoches, Louisiana

My husband’s family has taken me to in-depth study of the Natchitoches, Louisiana area from the time when it was the border between French held and Spanish held territory, to the Carolinas, where Bamberg county was named for a relative, and to New York and Holland Land Purchase research.

Early Boston Settlers

Another line led to research in Puritan Boston in the 1630s, to a brother-in-law of both Rev. John Cotton and Rev . Richard Mather. He was numbered among the early Baptists in spite of his relations. Lutheran church planters and New Light Baptists in the Appalachians, LDS pioneers and Catholics, church records yield some of the most interesting insights into their lives.

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