Robert H. Piratzky
27 May 1835 (Prussia) – 19 September 1912
Agnes Frinier Piratzky
29 June 1841 (Quebec) – 19 February 1925
Mary Ann Frinier Bouchard
5 July 1836 (Quebec) – 4 March 1913
Robert Piratzky was a successful photographer, lithographer, and engraver who immigrated from Prussia in July 1857. He met Agnes Frinier sometime after that and they married in 1861.
In 1860, Agnes was working as a milliner and living with her employer who ran a millinery and whose husband had a saloon. It’s hard to say what her living arrangements looked like, and how she met Piratzky likely would make a good story, but her social promotion was likely fairly dramatic.
By the time of their first census as a married couple in 1870, their oldest daughter Anastella (Stella) was almost four years old, and they were able to employ a live-in domestic servant.
In 1880, the family shows up twice in the census about a week apart. They are listed at the same address on both so this just seems to be a confusion on the census takers’ part. At the time they a young live-in domestic servant who appears to have been some kind of relative of Agnes’. It’s possible it was her niece Mary Bouchard (daughter of her sister Mary Ann Frinier Bouchard), but that daughter is also on the 1880 census with her parents’ family (which would make her counted on the census three times in the same year). It might also be a Bouchard niece, but in any case, it seems she was taken on through family connections.
By this time their younger daughter Alma has been born and is four years old (which finding this gave me the final bit of info I needed to figure out Alma’s real date of birth! No sneaking from being four years old on the census, Alma).
Unlike with most families, we do have a glimpse into the next twenty years for the Piratzkys in spite of the lack of the 1890 census. As a family, they traveled abroad in the fall of 1889 (Robert applied for his passport in May of that year and the family returned to the US in October on the ship the City of Paris, departing from Liverpool and arriving in New York).
In 1893, Stella married Napoleon Picard (like her mother, also a Canadian immigrant from Quebec so perhaps the couple met through family connections). The wedding was lavish and written up in the Tribune: “The bride wore a gown of heavy white satin made with a high bodice and long sleeves, and trimmed with pearl passementerie. Her tulle veil was fastened with a diamond ornament, and she carried white roses.” As I mentioned in the Stubbs bio, the wedding breakfast was served at her parents’ house on Ashland where there were 100 guests, and a large reception was also held later in the afternoon, so that house must’ve been something. The couple then left for Canada for a month-long honeymoon. So they were monied is what I’m saying. The Picards had six children, three of whom were named after Stella’s parents and sister.
Historical side note: This was at the same time as the Columbian Exhibition was taking place and there was an ad on the same page as the wedding article for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West which was performing twice every day rain or shine opposite the World’s Fairgrounds and was pitching the cleanliness of the event grounds as a selling point.
In 1902, Alma married Edwin Stubbs and as the couple lived with the Piratzkys for the next twenty years, I covered a lot of this history in the post on their mausoleum.
Robert died in 1912 having done well enough in life to have a lavish house, servants, and to have retired in an era when retirement was rare.
The following year, Agnes’ sister Mary Ann also passed away and for whatever reason, she was interred in the Piratzky mausoleum rather than alongside her late husband. It seems as if the family was very close though.
In 1925 after moving a few times with her younger daughter and son-in-law and after finally having her own flat in the bustling downtown near her family, Agnes passed away and joined her husband and sister in their mausoleum. Alma and Edwin would have their own mausoleum erected right next door so that the little family could be together for eternity.
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