Sunday, September 15, 2019

Discoveries at the Auction?! – Harry and Tillie Weber’s Life in the 1930s and 1940s

       Once upon a time I was enjoying myself at an auction of miscellaneous estate items in southside Indianapolis.  I didn’t know the owner’s name or anything about her. I was just there to explore. Among the boxes of ephemera left at the tail end of the auction were personal letters and cards from the 1930s and 1940s, as well as many other unidentified paper items. These types of ephemera always fascinate me. I’m not alone in that respect, but I was able to win the bid on a couple of those boxes of stuff for just a few bucks. Oh goodie! There was going to be some exploring when I could really take a look at the contents to see what I had.

        Well, I began pulling out the personal family history of a lady who had lived in Indianapolis her whole life.  This woman, Stella, had many friends, family and coworkers who appreciated her and kept in touch from around the world.  And she had a long career in the banking industry, judging from letters, cards and other documents dated in the 1930s through the 1950s.

Tillie Kuhn and Harry Weber -- 1913
         As I took a closer look, I realized that Stella worked for Fletcher Savings and Trust Company in downtown Indianapolis, the same company that employed my grandfather, Harry Lawrence Weber, in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. As I read through these many pieces of history, I became aware of the close connections between Stella and Harry.   My grandfather’s name appeared repeatedly in the items she had saved.   Among the items Stella left were programs from the “Twenty Year Club” meetings and dinners honoring longtime employees. Listed as honorees in 1938 and 1939,  right along with Stella Colman, were Harry L Weber, as well as two of his cousins, Albert Buennagel and Sylvester Kasberg.    I was so excited to see these programs shedding light on our family’s day-to-day lives over the years. (See program with green arrows posted here.)

    I also found copies of the bank’s newsletter, The Desklamp, from 1925, 1931 and 1950. All of these newsletters provide interesting family history information.  In the 1925 newsletter Harry and Stella, as well as Buennagel and Kasberg, are listed in the Company’s Officers and Managers. It’s fascinating to learn that Stella worked alongside these three in her position as Assistant in the Savings Department. At this point in his career, Harry is the Assistant Cashier in the Loan Department.

  Looking further at the Desklamp contents. Stella seems to have saved the February 6, 1931, issue because she was mentioned in the news portion. It reads: “Mrs. Stella Colman is to undertake new service in the Insurance Department.”

      And once again there is a connecting coincidence. The item just above hers in this same column reads: “Harry Weber is on the injured list, with a broken arm, and Mrs. Weber is seriously ill as the result of an automobile accident.”  (See below excerpt. Click to enlarge.)

  •      What?!  Yes, there is a family recollection from Harry and Tillie’s children that their parents were in an automobile accident. In fact, two aunts told me that the car turned over with Harry and Tillie inside. But this is the first we have any information of when it was or the injuries.
     How ironic that I would come across these pieces of personal family history in this manner. The odds have to be against me connecting through a random auction of personal belongings.  I believe that Harry and Stella were at the very least coworkers who had contact on many occasions. I wonder if they might have been friends,  perhaps sharing interactions as a result of their career paths for many years. 
     It will always be a wonderment as to how well Harry and Stella knew each other.  But they certainly shared this Fletcher Trust Company portion of their lives in the 1930s and 1940s. I'm glad I was nosy enough to bid on those boxes at the auction. Thanks to Stella I know more about my grandparents’ lives and was able to see these mementos. She felt the importance of the Fletcher Trust Company in her life and, by way of her saving attitude we have a more focused image of our family history.
      I’m inserting here several photos of the items I’ve mentioned above. I have more that I’m happy to share as well. Email me if you'd like to receive copies.


     Harry and Tillie Weber's lives were complicated, as are all of ours. I'm glad that I just happened across these pieces of their story.  We may now have new speculations as to the what, hows, whens and whys of their lives.   I'll keep sharing as we fill in those pieces.  For now, if you're interested in catching up on a few other parts of those life stories, you'll find more Kuhn and Weber links at the left side of this page.

Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,
Nancy (Niehaus) Hurley

Copyright (c) 2019

1 comment:

  1. This is all so fascinating!! I'm glad you were at that auction that day!  So is there a way to look back at a newspaper somewhere and find a report about that car accident?  Since this was February 1931 were they driving on ice or snow?  So many questions, like you said!  Can't wait to find out what's next!!!  Good job, Nancy!


Hi: Your own stories or suggestions are welcome here any time. Thanks for being a part of Indiana Ties.