In 1931 Harry and Tillie Weber's family came upon a difficult family challenge. Tillie entered Central State Hospital due to delusions that she was experiencing. Unfortunately, the doctors were unsuccessful in treating her for many years. At least that is the diagnosis that we have. This story is about one way that the family coped with that tragedy.
Trying to fill in the blanks about Anna's role and how she took on the family caretaker responsibilities led to some interesting research results. For instance, the 1920 census indicates Anna was a boarder with a family living near Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the Weber family parish, and that her occupation was practical nurse. Aha! The midwife story receives some validation. But, by the 1930 census she is living by herself and her occupation is “none.” Therefore, when Harry Weber sought out a family caretaker in 1931-32, she was in her early 40s and was possibly not employed. By that age her midwifery responsibilities would probably have provided her with a good many years of experience in assisting families with children. Additionally, the custom of using midwives for birthing at home was diminishing. Most children were born in hospitals. In fact, the Weber family bears out this fact. After 1920, the children were born in St. Francis Hospital.
The circumstances came together perfectly for the Webers and Miss Wintz. She became the housekeeper and the children's companion, staying with the family for between ten and fifteen years. She looked after the children while their father, Harry, worked at Fletcher Trust Company. Memories of Miss Wintz pop up in conversations, photos and records of the six children she helped to raise. Anna lived in their home on Singleton Street, sleeping in the large front bedroom on the second floor with the girls, Rose, Gin, Peg and Dolly. By the time she moved in with the Weber family Bob was 17 and Rose 15. She would have, I presume, a stronger impact on the lives of the younger children. Although my mother, Rose, did have memories of Miss Wintz being with them for some time.
In the photo above Anna proudly poses with Dolly and Harry. Dolly recalled in a family history letter shared by her son, Ron, that “...we grew up with a housekeeper who was very stern, but I guess treated us as well as a mother, except for affection.” Aunt Peg reflected on the bicycle in this photo of Miss Wintz, saying that it was most likely not hers. Probably she was helping young Harry to put it away. As far as Peg remembers, Miss Wintz never rode a bike. Peg recalls, “We all walked everywhere, including to church and to visit the Mappes family, where Miss Wintz had lived before coming to live with us. She even walked with us downtown for the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday at the World War Memorial.”
Another fond memory of Miss Wintz is her culinary skill. Peg and Gin often wished they had one of her fabulous coffee cakes, a melt-in-your-mouth yeast coffee cake that can’t be duplicated. She also made excellent jelly from the grapes grown on the vines along the sidewalk in the Weber backyard. My mom, Rose, spoke of her good cooking as well.
The memories of Miss Wintz seem to say she provided motherly support at an important juncture for the Weber family. I think it could be truly stated that it was fortunate that Miss Anna Wintz was a part of the lives of Bob, Rose, Gin, Peg, Dolly and Harry.
Note: This family story is from my stash written before this blog existed. I believe these stories need to become a part of our history on Indiana Ties. Besides, I'm thinking maybe some of you have more information to share. Could we make some improvements? If there are family who know additional details to add or corrections, please leave comments below.
For related stories click on these links in the left column:
Ladies In My Line (See Tillie Kuhn Weber)
Copyright 2013 Nancy Niehaus Hurley