Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Time to Change Gears!

Up to now, I have dealt with mostly parents and grandparents who I knew more about. Now, it’s time to start delving into the lesser-known ancestors who were farther back in time. Even though this blog is called “Happekotte Happenings”, I will be telling you about other families in the maternal line including Shepherd, Davis, Jenkins, Percy, Weaver, and maybe a few others as I find more about them. All of these other families are important “pieces” to the genealogical puzzle. There are some great stories here including a Civil War soldier, a ‘49er (not the football kind!), an early settler in Kentucky, and a Union sympathizer who lived in Tennessee, and a German colonist in Guatemala. This maternal line has definitely been more problematic genealogically speaking. The records of some of these ancestors seem to be few; so it is really a challenge to locate them.  But I have found some interesting stories and information about them. Enjoy the upcoming blogs about these people from our past; they deserve to be remembered!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Edna Shepherd Happekotte

Edna Louise Shepherd Happekotte was my maternal grandmother who was born in La Grange, Lewis Co., Missouri on December 23, 1904 to Robert E Shepherd and Mary E Davis. We had always thought that she was one of three Shepherd children; how wrong we were! It was not until Cindy and I were searching for some grave sites in Marks Cemetery in La Grange that we came upon a headstone with four names. Grandma, it turns out, was one of seven children. The siblings that we grew up knowing were Charles and Mabel. Those four children whose names were on that headstone had all died very young. Their names were Norma, Mildred, Robert Russell, and Mary Elma. Only Norma survived past the age of one; she was about four when she died.

I had always heard about a child named Russell, but it wasn’t the brother, Robert Russell, to which Grandma was referring. Her parents had taken in a child named Russell Mansperger and essentially raised him. All that I ever knew about him was that he had drowned in a Quincy municipal pool when he was about twenty. I had never known why he had been raised by my great grandparents; this still remains a mystery. 
Ralph & Edna
Edna married Ralph Happekotte in Quincy on November 14, 1925 which happened to be Grandpa’s 21st birthday. Maybe Grandma insisted on that date so Grandpa wouldn’t ever forget their anniversary! The story goes that they eloped; they were married by a justice of the peace. I don’t know why they chose to elope, but I wonder if it had something to do with religion? Grandpa was a Catholic and grandma was a Baptist. Grandma could be kind of headstrong at times and I can definitely see her insisting on not marrying in a Catholic church......just a guess!

In her youth, she and Grandpa both rowed racing shells for the Southside Boat Club in Quincy. They actually got to row for Quincy in the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. She met Grandpa when they were both working for Otis Elevator Co. She always told us the story that in order to work there, you had to be sixteen. She wasn’t; so she taped a piece of paper with the number “16” to the bottom of her shoe. That way, she could tell the employer that she was “over sixteen”. I have no reason to believe she didn’t do that; grandma was not one for making up a lot of stories! 

Artistically, Grandma was quite talented. She was very good at tinting black and white photos to make them appear as though they were color photos. I have one and am amazed at the workmanship that it took. She also had quite a business doing women’s hair in their homes....she said she gave them finger waves. Many of her customers were from Quincy’s East End which was the swanky part of town. She didn’t have a state license to do this and when someone turned her in, she had to stop. After that she went to work as an apprentice in a beauty shop owned by a Mrs. Wade. 

Ralph and Edna lived for a while in a duplex at 624 N. 18th St. Grandpa’s sister, Irene, and her husband, Elmer, lived in the other half. From there, they moved to S. 8th St. until the Depression made it necessary for them to move in with her parents at 615 Oak St. Eventually, as times improved, they moved to 1118 1/2 Ohio St. That turned out to be the last place they lived in Quincy. In January, 1936, the family made the move to Waterloo, Iowa. They lived in a
Ralph, Patricia, Edna
couple of different places near downtown Waterloo, including the Elmer Hotel. It was there that they became friends with Fritz and Edna Maeder; their daughter, Jeanne, would become one of my mom's best friends. For most of their lives, the Happekottes spent in the Sherwood Park area of Waterloo. They lived for a short time in one of Art Stitz’s many rentals. They moved to 150 Greenwood, but most of their years were at 204 Greenwood. I can still see Grandma sitting at that kitchen table which took up nearly half the space in that small kitchen. The table was always loaded with pencils, crossword books, or items needed for the beadwork she did or the plastic flowers she made. I can remember playing Scrabble and 500 Rummy with her at that table. It was a great place to be.... and there was always Costello’s ice cream in the freezer!