April 29, 1885 – October 15, 1910 (age 25)
Mary was born in Chicago to German immigrant parents John and Maria Wendt. She was baptised on May 21, 1885, at Trinity Lutheran in Chicago, and her baptismal name was Maria Sophia Wilhelmine.
In 1900, she was living at home with her parents and four brothers (two older – Charles and William – and two younger – Louis and George) and working as a bookbinder folder. The census notes that she could both read and write.
Cemetery records indicate she had an elder sister named Emma who was already married at this time but who also died relatively young in 1915. Her mother Maria died in 1918 which always makes one wonder about the Great Influenza.
Mary married Edward Kropp (four years her senior), a metal worker, on September 15, 1906, and on June 7, 1908, she gave birth to a son named Fred who was baptised a month later as Friedrich Heinrich Carl, also at Trinity like his mother before him.
The 1910 census registered this small family living on Moorman Street on April 26th. Fred was not quite one year old, Mary was 24 but would turn 25 in just three days. Six months later, she would be dead.
Mary’s older brother Charles had only recently died in January at the age of thirty, and her younger brother Louis had died at just eighteen years old in 1907. Of the Wendts’ six children, though all survived childhood, only two lived into old age.
There’s no cause listed for Mary’s death, and the most likely one for a young housewife would be something related to pregnancy or childbirth, but an accident, a fall, domestic violence, or some other illness might also have been the culprit.
She is buried at Concordia near her parents, sister Emma, and brother Louis, and brother William and his wife. It’s interesting that both sisters were buried with their parents in spite of being married with children at the times of their deaths. Charles is buried at Rosehill with his wife and her family.
The 1920 census shows Edward Kropp remarried and having just welcomed his only child, a son, with new wife Ella.
Fred lived with his father and stepmother until sometime after his 21st year (he’s still on the census at home in 1930). He later married a woman named Fern, and they had three children (two daughters and one son) and a very long marriage. I think Mary would be happy to know her only child lived a long, full life, dying in 1999 at the age of 90.
RIP Mary Wendt Kropp and all of her loved ones.
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