Friday, September 20, 2019

Marie Frances Ruppert Lees, Washington, D.C. 1907

"Marie Frances Ruppert Lees
1907- age 6"

Marie Frances Ruppert was born in Washington, D.C in about 1901. Her parents, Theodore and Amalia, were both German immigrants who had arrived in the United States in the 1880s. Marie was the youngest of their six children. She had four sisters- Mary Lena, Rosalie Christina, Margaret Anna, and Cecilia Bernata- and one brother, Frederick Carl. Their father was a grocer and a member of the Sons of Jonadab, a fraternal society that promoted temperance. 

In 1910, when Marie was 9-years-old, her only brother Frederick died. He was 18.  It was not the only loss she would experience as a young girl. In 1917, her father Theodore died suddenly of a stroke at the age of 56. The year before, 15-year-old Marie had attended the wedding of her oldest sister to Mr. Henry Wellington Floyd of Maryland. Mary Lena- who had been working as a stenographer for her father's grocery- was dressed in a gown of "white satin and chantilly lace" with a veil "wreathed with orange blossoms." Her sister Margaret was her maid of honor. Lena and Henry welcomed their first and only child, Anita, in May 1917, just days after Theodore's death. Then, when Anita was only 18-months-old, Lena passed away. At 17, Marie had lost yet another close family member. Soon, Henry Floyd moved in with the Rupperts so that they could help take care of his infant daughter. According to Anita's obituary, "she was raised by her maternal grandmother, Amalia Spahn Ruppert, and a bevy of loving aunts." I can imagine that after so much loss, Marie was delighted to have a little girl in the house to help care for and play with. 

As young women, the Ruppert sisters all took jobs to help support the family. Living in Washington, D.C, it wasn't hard to find positions in government offices. In 1920, 23-year-old Margaret was a stenographer for the Navy. (During World War I she had enlisted as a Navy "Yeomanette". After the war, she continued to work for the Navy until retiring in the 1960s.) Cecilia worked as a clerk for the War Department. Marie was also a clerk, but for the United States Shipping Board. Their sister Rosalie had by this time married John Whyte and started a family of her own. By 1930, Marie's life had again changed drastically. Her brother-in-law Henry remarried and moved with Anita to Maryland. Then, in 1929, her mother died at the age of 67. Marie, now 28, moved in with her sister Rosalie at 1261 Irving St. in DC. Most of the houses from this time appear to still be standing along Irving St. and while they're nice homes, they don't seem very big- certainly not big enough for the 10 people living at number 1261 in 1930. Along with Rosalie and her husband John were their 3 children, Rosalie's sisters Margaret, Marie, and Cecilia, Cecilia's husband Martin, and a lodger named Edith Johnson. 

Marie finally left the crowded house when she married Wilton W. Lees. Wilton was from Scranton, Pennsylvania and a veteran of World War I. He also worked as a clerk, just as Marie had when she was younger. His World War II draft card describes him as having blonde hair, blue eyes, and a ruddy complexion. Marie and Wilton never had any children. Marie lived to be 73-years-old. In 1974, the year after the death of her sister Margaret, she passed away at her home in Arlington, Virginia.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Ella Gibe Ruark, Atlanta, Illinois, 1880's

Luella Gibe was born in Bonpas, Illinois in 1869 to Adam and Elizabeth Gibe. Adam was a German farmer who had immigrated to the United States as a young man. Ella was the third of Adam and Elizabeth's seven children. At the time of the 1880 census, Ella was living with her parents and her siblings, Sarah, Jacob, Ida, Willie, and John, as well as their 80-year-old grandfather, Henry Gibe. 11-year-old Ella is also marked as being "maimed, crippled, bed-ridden, or otherwise disabled." I wonder what had happened to her?

Ella married George B. Ruark, a druggist, on October 16th, 1889. George was the co-owner of the Stokes & Ruark drugstore in Sumner, Illinois, until he established Ruark & Co. early in 1900.  Ella and George had 8 children, though tragically none of them survived past childhood. I could only find record of one of the children, a 6-year-old boy named after his father, in the 1900 census. In 1910 George was no longer working as a druggist and was taking odd jobs to support his wife and himself. Then, in 1915, he was admitted to Anna State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Anna, Illinois. He died there six years later at the age of 63.

By this point, Ella had disappeared. I'm not sure where she went after her husband was institutionalized, as she doesn't seem to appear in any records after 1910. She may have moved to a different state, or remarried and changed her name. George's death records state that he was a widower, though no one is exactly sure when Ella died.

I would love to be able to complete Ella's story, so if you know anything else about her, let us know in the comments!