A German American Family in Chicago

Several years after German immigrants Fred and Emma (Stube) Wiese of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois posed for a photograph together in their garden, they were photographed outdoors once again, this time with their children.

Fred and Emma (Stube) Wiese with children, from left, Leonard, Rose, George, and Oliver, circa 1904, Chicago, Illinois; digital image circa 2000, provenance of the original unknown.

Their youngest son, Leonard, seated at left, provides the biggest clue in dating this photograph, as his age is the easiest to pinpoint: assuming that he was, perhaps, three years old here, it can be dated circa 1904.1 George, standing between his parents, would have turned seventeen that year, Rose would have turned twelve, and Oliver, seated at right, would have turned eight.2 Sadly, Fred and Emma’s oldest daughter, Lillie, had died of meningitis as an eight year old in 1897.3

The Wiese family is pictured outside what may have been their own Victorian-style home at 2502 North Neva Avenue in Chicago’s Montcalm neighborhood.4 Only one of the six looks directly at the camera. Perhaps a second photographer was off to the side, where the other five members of the family directed their attention. This image is a scan of an original of an undetermined medium; it is rather heavily damaged with wrinkles, scuffs, and blotches.

Fred, who was a cigar maker by trade, sports a full mustache and wears a dark suit and tie.5 He is in his late thirties here.6 Emma, also in her late thirties, wears a white collared shirtwaist with a brooch at her throat, paired with a walking skirt in a darker color.7 A belt with a decorative clasp can be seen at her waist. A skilled seamstress, Emma was especially known for crocheting elegant garters, a talent she used to help support her family in her later years.8 It can well be imagined that she had a hand in making sure that she, her husband, and their children were well-dressed.

George wears a suit and tie much like his father’s; his fair-haired younger brothers sport rather voluminous white shirts and dark pants. Rose’s hair is pulled back into a braid and set off with a large bow; her simple shirtwaist and skirt, which falls mid-calf, are accessorized with a belt tied at her waist, a corsage, and a string of beads at her neck. These beads resemble pearls, although her mother was also known to make fragrant, darker-colored beads out of crushed rose petals which she would then alternate with pearl beads to create a necklace.9

This is the only known photograph of Fred and Emma (Stube) Wiese with their children. Despite the beating that the original print appears to have taken, it remains a special memento of a day in the life of this German American family in Chicago.

Copyright © 2019 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.


SOURCES
1 “Leonard Weise,” The Sioux City (Iowa) Journal, 12 March 1947; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 15 October 2019).
2 1900 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, Chicago Ward 14, enumeration district (ED) 453, sheet 9-A, p. 320 (stamped), dwelling 64, family 164, Fred Wiese; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 March 2014), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 623.
3 Cook County, Illinois, death certificate no. 20672 (reg. no.), “Lillie Wiese,” 24 October 1897; digital image, Cook County Clerk’s Office: Genealogy Online (http://cookcountygenealogy.com : accessed 15 November 2015).
4 Cook County, Illinois, death certificate no. 27281 (reg. no.), “Fredrick Wiese,” 14 October 1914; digital image, Cook County Clerk’s Office: Genealogy Online (http://cookcountygenealogy.com : accessed 15 July 2013), and visit by the author to 2502 N. Neva Ave., Chicago, Illinois, in 2006.
5 Cook County, Illinois, death certificate no. 27281 (reg. no.), “Fredrick Wiese,” 14 October 1914.
6 Cook County, Illinois, death certificate no. 27281 (reg. no.), “Fredrick Wiese,” 14 October 1914.
7 Cook County, Illinois, death certificate no. 31298 (reg. no.), “Emma Wiese,” 6 November 1937; digital image, Cook County Clerk’s Office: Genealogy Online (http://cookcountygenealogy.com : accessed 5 March 2013), and “Women’s Clothing from 1900,” Memorial Hall Museum Online (http://www.memorialhall.mass.edu/activities/dressup/notflash/1900_woman.html : accessed 15 October 2019).
8 Phyllis (Wiese) Adam, conversation with Melanie Frick, 2013; notes in author’s files.
9 Phyllis (Wiese) Adam, conversation with Melanie Frick, 2005; notes in author’s files.

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