“Grandma, let’s watch Captain Kangaroo” I would say. She’d respond, “That’s a good idea. You know, he’s my boyfriend.” I have fond memories of sharing Captain Kangaroo and Mister Green Jeans and their friends with my Grandma Weber in the 1950s.
Otillia Catherine Kuhn Weber, mostly known as Tillie, was my maternal grandmother. This lady touched many lives, as she did mine. I have chosen to write about her next in the ‘Ladies In My Line’ series. This is a brief glimpse at her story. I’ll post links to her descendants and ancestry at the end so that anyone who is curious can see the people, places and dates in her genealogy.
Otillia Catherine was born February 22, 1891, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Charles A. and Mary Anna (Risch) Kuhn, and baptized two days later in Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The photo here is of Tillie at approximately 12 years old as she was growing up with her six siblings on High Street, near the brewery where her father worked.
This south side area of Indianapolis was where many German immigrants made their homes and built their businesses and practiced their religions. I still have more to find concerning Tillie’s youth and the Kuhn family; however, we can imagine she heard the German dialect and ate German-style meals. Family history does relate that Tillie’s mother’s family, the Risches, were very musical. Tillie learned to play the piano and taught at least one of her daughters, my mother, Rosemary.
At 22 years old, Tillie Kuhn married Harry Lawrence Weber in Sacred Heart Catholic Church on June 4, 1913. Her involvement in Sacred Heart carried on until she moved to her daughter, Peg’s, home in the 1960s, where she became a member of St. Jude Catholic Church. A few years after they were married, Harry and Tillie were able to purchase their home at 2160 Singleton Street, near Garfield Park, in Indianapolis. Tillie gave birth to four daughters and two sons between 1914 and 1927, all of them maturing in this family home, only a few miles from Tillie’s childhood home and within the same church. The photo above is the family, plus three sons-in-law (back row) on the porch of the Weber home.
A sad part of Tillie’s story are the years between 1931 and 1946 when she was a patient at Central State Hospital. These are years when her children only saw her on visits. My personal experience doesn’t include those times; although, I am collecting the impressions and facts surrounding the ordeal. I will write more about that period some day as well.
For now, my story leads into her later life, in her 60s, when I remember her straining grapes through a rag to make grape jelly from the fruit of the vines in the back yard. And I also recall taking naps with her in her big bed in her room at the front of the house. Of course, who could forget her hair wrapped into a bun on the back of her head with those wire hairpins holding it in place.
There were many Weber family Christmas celebrations at her home on Singleton Street in the late 40s and through the 50s that are remembered by me and my cousins. Tillie had her peaceful touch on them all. Also in that time period, a number of the families of Tillie’s married children lived with her for short time frames in that home. She never had a driver's license, but always had assistance from family. In the photo here, she and her eldest son, Bob, seem so pleased to be together. Tillie passed away on March 23, 1965 at 74 years of age and is buried at St. Joseph Cemetery, Indianapolis.
There is a great deal more to her story. But for now, this is Tillie, the daughter, wife, sister, mother and grandmother whom we all loved, who had lilies of the valley growing at the side of her house on Singleton Street in Indianapolis.
Do you have a favorite memory of Tillie? Please leave a comment below.
For more genealogical information on Tillie Kuhn Weber, go to my family lines page and scroll down until you see the Kuhn ancestry and Tillie's descendants list, or click here: Genealogy link.