Sunday, July 20, 2014

Heinrich Friedrich Menge (1852 - 1940), My Maternal Great Grandfather

Heinrich Friedrich Menge
Heinrich Friedrich Menge was born May 31, 1852 in a town called Goslar in Hanover, Germany. According to Wikipedia Goslar is a UNESCO World Heritage site. He was the son of Heinrich Christian Menge and Joanne Prelle. Heinrich Christian was a glove maker but that is all I know about him. I don’t even know if there were other children in the family – probably there were several children but until I go to Germany to do research we won’t know. 

According to the 1940 census Heinrich Friedrich “Henry” left school after completing the eighth grade which was not unusual at that time. In about 1869, when he was only 17, he served in the German army as a lieutenant. Ten years later he married Elizabeth Ingles Stolte on September 16, 1879. Elizabeth was the daughter of Louise Bremeke and Casper Stolte, a cooper master – someone who made kegs and barrels. Henry named his daughter Emma Louise no doubt after his mother-in-law.
Page from Emma Menge's book about her parents written in German

When Henry was 27 his father Christian died in February of 1880. About a year and a half later he and Elizabeth immigrated to the United States. They sailed from Bremen, Germany and arrived in New York on September 9, 1881 – the same year that US President Garfield was assinated. I don’t know how they traveled to California but it was probably by train, and I don’t know what they did in route but they were in San Francisco by 1883 and were living at 520 Folsom Street when their daughter Emma Louise Menge was born on August 1, 1883. 
Emma Louise with her parents Heinrich & Elizabeth

As early as 1884 Henry was listed in the San Francisco city directory (equivalent to a telephone book) working as a “bandagist” at J.H.A.Folkers & Brothers at 118 Montgomery Street. An ad in the 1890 directory lists J.H.A. Folkers under Truss Manufacturers and describes the business as manufacturing the: “Best Trusses, Shoulder Braces and Apparatus for Deformities. Only first class Goods on hand and to order.” 

In 1885, when Henry was 33 he was still living in San Francisco at 909 Buchanan but by March 17, 1886 he had moved to the East Bay and was living in Oakland where his son Heinrich “Henry Jr.” Friedrich was born. From 1888 to 1892 he lived at 911 Adeline Street in Oakland in what was identified as a “pre-industrial home” according to the census records.  This would suggest it was a simply built structure lacking post-industrial amenities. Today that site has been redeveloped as the Courtyards at Acorn – an affordable housing complex. In 1892 the Menge family was living at 1450 Fruitvale Avenue. Henry continued to live at this address until sometime after 1907.  By 1912 he had moved to 1505 11th Avenue where he continued to live for 28 years until his death in 1940.  Sanborn maps from 1910 to 1923 indicate the house was valued between $1300 - $2400, they show he had $200 of personal property and a car valued at $100. In 2014 I went to the site but the home was gone. 
Sanborn map showing Henry's property on E. 15th & 11th Ave

According to voter registration data Henry became a naturalized US citizen on August 30, 1888. A handwritten note stamped “Vital Search” and dated 4/19/22 provides several details of information: Henry is described as a native of Germany since 1852; he lived at 1450 Fruitvale Avenue near 16th Avenue from 1888-89. That property is now a commercial building that houses several small businesses and La Clinica.  The census showed his occupation as a truss maker, and that he was naturalized in Brooklyn Township, Fruitvale Precinct 3, in Alameda County. So he was naturalized before Brooklyn had merged with Oakland and was still considered a separate city. After becoming a citizen he registered as a democrat consistently.  
Note found on Google regarding Henry's naturalization

On January 6, 1890 Henry and Elizabeth’s second son Hugo Friedrich “Fred” or “Fritz” was born in Hildesheim, Germany. So they went to Germany to visit family and while there Fred was born.  Their daughter Emma would have only been 6 ½ when they made the trip but she remembered and talked about having gone to Germany with her family.

Henry’s wife Elizabeth died on June 12, 1895 from pneumonia when she was only 40 years old. Henry spent a few years as a widower before he married for the second time to Edna Francis Scholtzhauer, known as “Addie”.  Addie was born on May 11, 1858 in El Dorado County, California and worked as a matron at St. Paul’s Hospital in Oakland. It was a second marriage for Addie as well. She and Henry had a daughter named Adelaide who was born in February of 1898, so at 15 Emma and her brothers had a half-sister. Strangely, I have no recollection of Gramma ever speaking of a sister though there were many references to her brother Henry and a few of her brother Fred. Addie had 4 other children from a previous marriage but by 1900 only 3 were living. I only know the name of one of these children – she had a daughter named Dorothy Scholtzhauer nicknamed Doad – rhymes with Toad – must have been a great cause for teasing.
Addie Schlotzhauer 

On August 8, 1922 Addie and Henry visited Germany again to see relatives. They left from New York on a ship called Manchuris and landed in Hamburg. Henry’s passport application verifies several key statistics about his life and it also provided a photo and physical description as follows: he was 5’10”, had gray hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, and “a full face with a medium nose, medium forehead, medium mouth and round chin”.  He had “no distinguishing marks”. His granddaughter Dorothy Menge described his personality as “an old goat and a grouch”. 

A newspaper article dated September 12, 1903 notes that Henry and Addie purchased lot 7 of the Bray Tract in Brooklyn Township. Another article dated April 28, 1907 reported that they gave the lot to Henry’s son Henry and his daughter Emma. This was a few months before Emma married John Thornally, so the land may have been a wedding gift. The Bray tract is the same part of Oakland where William Thornally purchased a tract of land and developed it with his son Will Jr. as single-family homes. Addie died at 68 on January 11, 1927 and is buried at St. Mary’s cemetery in Oakland.

At some point Henry formed his own business – the Pacific Truss Company or he may have taken over Folkers and renamed it. The Pacific Truss Company was destroyed during the San Francisco earthquake and fire. The Oakland Tribune’s April 19th 1906 coverage of the aftermath of the fire and earthquake included a story that referenced the Pacific Truss Company.  The headline read: “Opera Company has Terrible Experience” and referred to Mr. and Mrs. Menge who “lost $10,000 in the destruction of their store occupied by the Pacific Truss Company, at 321 Twentieth street, besides $600 advance rent they had paid on the building.” The article also noted that Mr. and Mrs. Menge were connected with Maison Piedmont – a restaurant owned by Paul Schlotzhauer who no doubt was a relative of Henry’s wife Addie Schlotzhauer.

Shortly after the earthquake Henry and his son Henry Jr. opened a branch of the Pacific Truss Company in Oakland where they continued to manufacture trusses and surgical instruments. In 1908 the business was located 317 Elm Street. Other Oakland addresses were on 12th Street and at 520 8th Street which was a vacant lot in 2014. Between 1908 and 1925 the Pacific Truss Company regularly appeared in newspaper ads. A 1908 Oakland listing identified Henry Sr. as the President of the business and Henry Jr. as the Vice President. An ad in 1914 referred to the business as “Menge’s Truss Company”.  
Ad for Pacific Truss Co. Oakland Tribune

A November 24, 1911 headline in the Oakland Tribune announced: OAKLAND ATTRACTS FACTORIES, Many Branch Plants Established, IMPORTANT SALES MADE THIS WEEK! Business Property in Demand on Leases; Firms Improve Establishments. The story began:  That Oakland is rapidly developing as a manufacturing, commercial and residence center is readily seen by a glance at the many new factories, business places and residences that are being constructed.  Several large manufacturing firms, with distributing stations all over the country, are locating branches here, and new, modern business structures are being erected in the central section of Oakland. Near the end of the article the new businesses being established in Oakland were listed and included a note that H. Menge rented a storeroom at 431 San Pablo Avenue from A.A. Moore for $3000, so my great grandfather was part of the business boom happening in Oakland at that time.

During this same time period Henry also listed his business at various addresses in San Francisco. From 1901 – 1908 it was listed at 503, 321 and 329 Kearny and from 1924-1931 it was shown consistently at 445 Kearny. I found one ad that shows the business being at 636 Van Ness Avenue. 
Directory showing Henry Menge as President of Pacific
Truss Co. and Henry Jr. as VP & Treasurer. Addie & Fred
are also listed. 

Henry Jr. worked in the business his entire life and his son Lawrence also worked there. A 1903 directory listed Lawrence as a “foot specialist”. The 1910 census notes that Henry Jr.’s wife Maye was working for the company as well. Henry Sr’s other son Fred was also in the truss business. Fred is identified as President of the Pacific Truss Company in the 1921 Oakland directory. Five years later he is listed as manager at M&P Surgical Appliances – sounds like a competitor. Fred’s wife Beulah Trexler also worked in the business.  
Henry with 3 of his granddaughters Marion, Dorothy &
Margaret Menge. Taken at Lake Merritt in Oakland.

Henry’s third wife Teresa appeared with him on the 1930 census. I’ve found little about this woman. I know she was born in Maryland in the mid1860s and that her father was also from Maryland but her mother was from Germany. Teresa was 66 years old when she married Henry and he was 78 at the time. The 1940 census shows Henry living with “Patricia” but I suspect that Patricia is the full name and “Teresa” a nickname. Teresa is listed in the 1941 Oakland Directory as Henry’s widow and still living in the home they’d shared on 11th Avenue. Teresa died of pneumonia in 1946 and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in East Oakland.

Henry died from a stroke on September 22, 1940 and is also buried at Evergreen Cemetery near an olive tree but there is no headstone marking his grave – possibly a commentary on how people thought of him. His granddaughter Lottie’s only recollection of Henry is that he rarely spoke English and sat in a chair in his kitchen on 11th Avenue where she and her mother Emma would go to visit with him. She also remembered that when he died his body was prepared and left in his home until the burial. There were lots of candles in the house and people came to visit to pay their respects. 
Henry's signature