Honoring Ancestors who died too young: Milton Reinhardt

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Milton Reinhardt was the illegitimate son of my great-great Aunt Elizabeth Reinhardt[1].  Milton was born on December 5, 1900[2], and to Elizabeth’s credit she kept him and raised him.  I haven’t found a birth certificate for Milton.  His death certificate lists a William Reinhardt as the father[3], however I doubt there was ever a William Reinhardt that fathered this child.  It was well known among family that Milton was the “illegitimate” son of Elizabeth.  Illegitimate was a term used then to describe a child born to an unwed mother. On the 1910 census Milton is listed as living in the same household as his mother and grandparents, but is listed as the son of the grandparents not the grandson.[4]  Perhaps the truth was known among family members, but not to the outside world.  I think if neighbors and acquaintances knew this it might have been the talk of the town in 1900.  So perhaps it was kept quiet.  I found a letter that Milton wrote his mother on July 8, 1917 from Chicago.[5]  His mother was living in Ottawa, Illinois at that time.[6]  I am attaching a copy of the letter in this post.  I don’t know how easy it will be to read. So I will transcribe it here.

Chicago, Ill

July 8, 1917

 Dear Ma,

 Received the letter with the two boxes.  I was at Municipal Pier today with Doc and Ralph and had a fine time.  I’ve got a $3 Brownie Camera it’s a good one and took 12 pictures.  I was in the big music hall listening to a concert and I met Charlie Rude.  I took his picture a couple of times.  Ralph and I are going over to Charlie’s Tuesday eve.  I was at Madison, Wisc. working with Al.  I didn’t take anything because he paid my expenses and had a good time.  Agnes wants me to stay awhile and take a ride with her and Charles.  Did not here from Brownie yet.  Are all the bunch working .  I suppose I’ll have to loaf around again when I get back.  I don’t know for sure yet what day I’ll be back.  Ralph is coming down in a few weeks and try to get a job.  I hate to go back to Ottawa.  That pier certainly is great.  There’s about 2000 soldiers on the pier camping.  Charlie Rude says would do better if I worked up here this summer.  I wish I had more money to get films.  I haven’t got much left to spend.  Will write soon and keep Kaiser tied up.  Don’t borrow the wheel.  Tell Tom to answer that letter.  Well I guess that’s all I can say.  Ralph comes over nearly every night so it’s not dull.  Write soon.

 

                                                                           With Love,

                                                                           Milton

Letter from Milton Reinhart to his mother part1

Letter from Milton Reinhardt to his mother part 2

 Envelope to Elizabeth Reinhardt 1917

I tried to transcribe it as written with mistakes and all.  Every time I tried to write this story I would get sidetracked tracing the people in the letter.  Agnes is Elizabeth’s sister[7] and I wonder if he was staying with her, it sounds that way.  Ralph is Milton’s cousin[8].  My grandmother, her brother Ralph, and her sister were all near or the same age as Milton.  My grandmother loved Milton.  She thought the world of him and described him as a “wonderful boy”.  I do not recognize the other names in the letter.

The family story goes that Milton returned to Ottawa, Illinois and fell doing some kind of work.  He told his mother he didn’t feel well and soon after that died.  However, his death certificate tells a different story.  Apparently, he died from Pulmonary Tuberculosis with contributory cause of Pneumonia on March 28, 1918 at 17 years old.  Much too young to die. [9].  His mother married in 1920 at age 39.  Aunt Liz as I knew her lived to be old and died when I was 19 years old.[10]  She had quite a colorful and secret life.  Someday I will write about her life before and after Milton.


[1] Family story told to author many times from 1960 – 1981 by Helen Bowers Kaiser (niece of Elizabeth Reinhardt).

[2] “ Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths 1916 – 1947,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N3ZX-9YT): Milton Reinhardt 28 Mar 1918: citing reference FHL microfilm 1544185

[3] “ Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths 1916 – 1947,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N3ZX-9YT): Milton Reinhardt 28 Mar 1918: citing reference FHL microfilm 1544185

[4]  Year: 1910; Census Place: Ottawa Ward 5, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll T624_301; Page: 11 A; Enumeration District: 0129; Image: ; FHL microfilm 1374314.

[5] Letter written to Elizabeth Reinhardt, 630 Washington Street, Ottawa, IL from Milton Reinhardt, Chicago, IL, dated July 8, 1917.  In possession of author since 1980 to present 2013.  Originally found in the home of Helen Bowers Kaiser niece of Elizabeth Reinhardt 1980.

[6] [6] Letter written to Elizabeth Reinhardt, 630 Washington Street, Ottawa, IL from Milton Reinhardt, Chicago, IL, dated July 8, 1917.  In possession of author since 1980.  Originally found in the home of Helen Bowers Kaiser niece of Elizabeth Reinhardt 1980

[7] Year: 1910; Census Place: Ottawa Ward 5, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll T624_301; Page: 11 A; Enumeration District: 0129; Image: ; FHL microfilm 1374314.

[8] First hand knowledge of the relationship of Milton to Ralph by Helen Bowers Kaiser and told author many times from 1960 – 1981.

[9] “ Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths 1916 – 1947,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N3ZX-9YT): Milton Reinhardt 28 Mar 1918: citing reference FHL microfilm 1544185

[10] Elizabeth Farrell died 5 August 1966 from date book of Helen Bowers Kaiser.  Now in possession of author 2013.

Copyright © 2013 Gail Grunst

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About Gail Grunst Genealogy

Gail has been researching her own family since 1979. Her research has taken her back to 1800 Belgium and 1800 England. Gail has worked in a library for the last 20 years and has answered genealogy questions for patrons and helped patrons with their research. In addition to her degree in Library Media Technology, Gail has a two degree in Basic American Genealogy Research from the National Genealogy Society. She has done volunteer work for various Genealogy Societies. Gail teaches several Classes in Genealogy for the Round Lake Area Library, and would be happy to conduct a class for your organization. If interested in a class or if you would like a one-on-one consultation, please contact Gail. Please enjoy Gail's family History Blog

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