Louis Fred Melcher
February 23, 1870 – January 18, 1941
Wilhelmine “Minnie” (Klaves) Melcher
1870 – 1959
William “Willie” Melcher
1906 – March 10, 1909
(reposted from @postsinthegraveyard, January 5, 2021)
The research on this one was complicated by the fact that there were two couples named Louis & Minnie Melcher who lived at about the same time in Chicago and it took a bit of poking to realize this as their names weren’t the only ones both families shared.
Louis was born in Chicago*, but Wilhelmine “Minnie” Klaves immigrated from Germany when she was about twelve years old. She and Louis married in their late twenties and had at least six children. Louise, Fred, Louis G, and Clara (who, along with her husband and son, lived with her parents in 1940 and who lived to be 99 years old) as well as Charles and Willie who both died very young (Charles possibly stillborn though the records are unclear; he would have been born when his mother was in her early 50s).
Louis was variously a teamster, mill worker, and late in life, a warehouse watchman. He seems to have been able to retire in his later years as the 1940 census (a year before his death) lists him as not working but with another source of income.
This was likely at least in part a pension from one or more of his previous jobs, but it also appears as if he was in the first wave of recipients of Social Security after it was created in 1935. He would’ve been exactly the right age to retire at 65 and be eligible and there is a record of his making a claim or signing up for Social Security.
Minnie lived another eighteen years but we don’t have the 1950 census data yet to see if she might have still been living with her youngest daughter, Clara.
This is a singularly beautiful headstone, simple, elegant, and very different from all the rest around it.
*His find-a-grave entry says otherwise, but every census says Chicago. This may be a misreading of his death certificate as he was the child of immigrants himself.
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