Hertha Gretsch in 1907.
To see full picture scroll down to 1907.
Benjamin Harrison, a Republican lawyer and Sunday school teacher, was sworn into office as president of the USA. His opponent in the election was President Grover Cleveland.
Philippine Gretsch, youngest sister of Fritz Gretsch, and known to all of the Gretsch children as “Tante Beenchen”, is married in Manhattan to Max Morgner. Her brother Karl Gretsch is a witness. They are married in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The exact year of Hertha Gretsch’s birth is unknown as of this date (2008).
Various census records, her passport application and her death certificate disagree as to the year.
The date, November 4, is always constant.
According to the census record taken closest to this date, February 1892, Hertha was three years old. This would set Hertha’s birth as 1889.
However, in Hertha’s 1918 passport application, she states her birth as November 4, 1892.
It is certain, however, that Hertha was the third daughter and sixth child of Rosa Behman Schnaupaff and Friedrich (Fritz) Gretsch.
In 1885, Fred and Rosa lived at 866 Willoughby Ave. in Brooklyn, and by 1890 they had moved to 20 Hart Street. In this time frame, Rosa’s father had died and Rosa’s mother, Caroline Schnaupaff, had come to live with the young family of Gretsch’s.
At the time of Hertha’s birth 1889/90, her father’s business was located at 130 Middleton Ave. in Brooklyn.
His business was growing nicely. Hertha’s uncle, William Gretsch, lived at the time at 268 Hart Street, just several blocks away from where Hertha’s family lived. William, the half brother of Hertha’s father, had a liquor business which was also doing well.
Hertha’s father’s cousins, Emily and Wilhelmina Gretsch, had not yet purchased their home at 620 Decatur Street. Perhaps, at this time they were living at 33 Central Street in Brooklyn.
Hertha’s Aunt “Tante Beenchen /Tante Bena”, Philippine Gretsch Morgner, is living in Manhattan.
Nellie Bly, born Elizabeth Jane Cochran , journalist for the New York World, left on her voyage around the world mimicing the fictional voyage of Jules Verne. NOTE: Nellie Bly’s well publicized departure was just 10 days after Hertha’s birth.
“Seventy-two days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds after her Hoboken departure” on January 29, 1890, Nellie arrived in New York. At the time, this was a world record for circling the earth, though it was bested a few months later.
All New York was reading the New York World and talking about Nellie’s trip. Certainly, the travels of Nellie Bly influenced the new baby, Hertha. Just the year before, Nellie Bly became famous for her expose of the Women’s Insane Asylum on Blackwell’s Island.
Setting the scene:
Some things, I don’t know for sure. I don’t want to pretend that I do know when I just plain don’t. I do know though that spending time with people by figuring out the facts of their lives is one way of getting to know things. You don’t always have to be there.
For instance, I do know for sure that on November 14, 1889 in Hoboken, New Jersey, just a few miles away from Brooklyn, New York, Nelly Bly stepped on board the Hamburg-American liner “Augusta Victoria” to begin her groundbreaking adventure of traveling around the world in less than 80 days. She was already famous for her previous work as a journalist. Women, who aspired to be writers, travelers, or adventurers would have been following her exploits closely. Even women who were just curious and had no plans for their own travel were keeping track of Nellie’s exploits. For weeks leading up to her departure, the “New York World” had been printing articles preparing its readership for the start of her journey. Every day after that, Bly’s travel experiences were published in this well-circulated newspaper.
I also know for sure that at that very time, there were several young Gretsch girls and women who were living in Brooklyn and nearby New York City. They were no doubt in some way affected either by their attention or their inattention to Bly’s well-publicized journey.
Dora Gretsch was just 11 years old at the time. Old enough to read the newspapers and certainly old enough to be acquainted with the possibilities of travel adventures. Although she and all of her siblings were born in Brooklyn, both of her parents were born in Germany. From the time she was born, and even long before then, her family was surrounded by family members who were traveling in and out of her father’s busy home. Aunts, uncles, cousins and even a grandmother came from Germany. Some stayed and some departed again for points west and south.
Dora’s older half sister Wilhelmine was just 20 years old when Nelly sailed. Wilhelmine, like Dora, had been born in Brooklyn. Unlike Dora however, she would remain in the town of her birth until she was very old and only then would her traveling adventures begin. Although, Wilhelmine would be remembered (and indeed very soon forgotten) for having no big adventures in her life, perhaps at the age of 20, she had dreams of such possibilities. But as I said, I don’t know for sure.
Emilie, the eldest of the three Gretsch half sisters, was 34 years old at the time and already she had been teaching in the Brooklyn schools for 16 years. She was a woman who prided herself on her work as a teacher and a writer. She would later become a devotee of Mary Baker Eddy and there can be little doubt that she kept at least one eye focused on the press as Nelly Bly’s trip progressed. But Emilie, unlike her younger half sisters, never left the city of her birth to live elsewhere.
Not far away was another Gretsch household. Here, Fritz a first cousin to the three aforementioned half-sisters and his wife, Rosa, had just welcomed their sixth child into their busy household. Hertha was their third and would be their youngest daughter. This new born child was to be their most adventuresome child. She was also to be their most independent child. She would travel the farthest away from Brooklyn. She was to be the only one of their offspring who would venture to live and work in a foreign land. So I don’t stray from a truth, when I say that this newborn child was also affected by the trip that Nelly Bly embarked on in November of 1889. Like Nellie, Hertha would become a world traveler.
Also, not very far away just across the East River in the city of New York, there lived another Gretsch girl, Philippine Gretsch Morgner. Bena, as her family endearingly called her, had like all her siblings been born in Germany. In 1889, at the age of 28, she had been married just the previous May. She was the youngest sister of the aforementioned Fritz. Bena like her niece, Hertha, who was just newly born, was the youngest girl in the family and also the sixth child of her parents. Bena was a first cousin to Dora and Wilhelmine and Emilie, all of whom were born in America. It was into their household that Bena and her siblings had come when they first arrived in America.
Now, in 1889, having come so far herself from her native Mannheim, Bena had no more dreams of traveling. Once, the adventures of Nellie Bly might have attracted her but not now. Bena and her sister Pauline, when they were much younger and living in Germany, had followed the exploits of their older cousin Pauline Gretsch from Boppard as she sailed for America. They watched closely as their brothers followed this adventurous cousin and the two eagerly waited their own turn.
Now, in 1889, Bena had been in America for 11 years. She had cared for her uncle’s American-born children, both before and after his death. She had nursed her sister through a long illness and sad death and cared for her two young nieces until their widowed father brought home a new wife. She had even traveled back to Germany and cared for her widowed stepmother. Bena had no more illusions about travel. She just wanted her married life now, new as it was and hopeful.
Hertha’s cousin Johanna Morgner is born in Brooklyn. This new cousin is the daughter of Tante Bena and her husband Max. Tante Bena, aka Philippine Gretsch Morgner, and her family have moved to Marcy Street not far from the Gretsch business on Middleton Ave. Perhaps, Bena’s husband is now working for Hertha’s father.
Another girl cousin is born, Olga Gretsch, daughter of Louis Gretsch and Clara.
Hertha’s brother Herbert Gretsch is born.
According to the New York State Census, Hertha Gretsch, age 3 is living with her parents and her siblings.
On this date, in New York, Wilhelm Casimir Gretsch witnessed passport papers for Florentine Timm von Gerichten.
Finding these papers proves that the Gretsch family was in close contact with the von Gerichten family.
This sets up the very real possiblity that Hertha Gretsch visited her cousins in California when she traveled west in 1919.
According to the Brooklyn Eagle, Letters of Guardianship for Dora, Ralph and William Gretsch were granted to Louie Gretsch on this date.
On this date, Florentine Von Gerichten, aunt of Rosa’s husband Fred, returned to New York from Europe.
Florentine (age 49) was the widow of Hertha’s father’s uncle, C.P. von Gerichten.
They had been married in California in 1870(?). C.P. died in San Diego in 1884.
Florentine and her daughter were returning from a year in Europe. There they most likely visited with Florentine’s sister who was married to the brother of Florentine’s late husband. She lived in Dresden.
Florentine was traveling with her stepdaughter Katie, and with several of her own daughters, who were cousins of Hertha’s father. Traveling with her was also her granddaughter, Ella Wentschler.
Kate, age 24, Lena, age 21, Amy age 17, Elle age 11, and a grand daugter, Ella Wentschler, age 8.
Surely, this family was in contact with Fred and Rosa and their children. Several of the girls were the same age as Fred’s children.
Later, when Hertha traveled to California, she may have made contact with her cousins there. Ella Wentschler Marston was by then married and closest in age to Hertha.
This group traveled on the Fuerst Bismarck, on which Hertha’s dad himself would travel to Europe just two years later. It was on board this ship, that he became ill with Cholera and died.
Economic Panic. How did this affect Hertha’s father’s business?
A third daughter is born to Louis and Clara Gretsch. Her name in Wilhelmina. She is Hertha’s first cousin.
This picture of Hertha with her mother and her siblings was probably taken around 1894. Hertha is the youngest girl. The fourth child from the left.
On the back of the picture in very fancy printing the following information is given: S.T. Harding. Artistic Photography. Brooklyn, Hicksville and Sea Cliff, Long Island. Open at Sea Cliff from July 1st to October. Views of Sea Cliff, Glen Cove, Glenwood and Roslyn.
Hertha’s cousin Llewellyn Gretsch is born in California. He is the son of Philip Gretsch.
Ralph Gretsch, son of Jacob Gretsch, is cited in the Brooklyn Eagle as being an excellent 3rd base player for the baseball team, the Empires.
Wednesday, Hertha’s father writes his will. The witnesses were John Brunnemer and Florence Callahan both of 55 Hart Street The executors were Louie Gretsch of 20 Vernon Place and George Seidenzahl of 23 Broadway in Brooklyn. The will left everything to Rosa. In the event of her death or remarriage, everything went to the children and their issue.
Thursday, Hertha’s father sails for Europe on the Fuerst Bismark.
Hertha’s father, Fritz Gretsch dies in Hamburg.
Rosa Gretsch purchases a lot in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
Frederick G. Vogel wrote in 1895 “That the world-famous cemetery was regarded as the promised land in the 19th century is an historical fact. It was the place to be buried: it was the place where the affluent could really go out in style.” Rosa’s choice of cemeteries is interesting. There was a family plot at The Evergreens where her father was buried in 1887. Fred’s uncle Jacob and his wives were also buried at The Evergreens. Rosa however chose Green-Wood Cemetery. It was closer to where the family lived and it also had a more stately air. Rosa’s husband, Fred Gretsch was the first Gretsch to be buried in this cemetery.
On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Hertha’s father’s body was buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
It was 6 months after his death and the same month that Hertha turned 6 years old.
Main Entrance to the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
At 3 a.m. Hertha’s grandmother, Caroline Schnappauff died at 20 Hart Street. She had been sick for 8 days with pneumonia. Caroline and her husband Adolf had adopted Rosa, Hertha’s mother, when Rosa was a baby.
Caroline Schnauppauff was the only grandmother that the Gretsch children knew. She was buried at The Evergreens Cemetery along side her husband Adolf, who had died in 1887.
After the death of her mother, Rosa, a widow with seven children, decided to supplement the family income by taking in boarders. Perhaps, there was now an extra room in the house on Hart Street.
Quite possibly, it is at this time that Jacob Hyman, a retired businessman came to live with the family.
There is no record of exactly when Jacob came to live in the family home at 20 Hart Street but a newspaper report states that in 1915 he had been living with the Gretsch family for almost 20 years.
In 1897, Hertha was approximately 7 years old. She was the youngest girl in the family and apparently the most reserved. No doubt she had been saddened by the sudden death of her father and, so soon afterwards, the sudden death of her grandmother. Jacob Hyman and Hertha would become good friends in the years to come.
Jacob Hyman, in his retirement, often took the Gretsch children to the movies or fishing. He had been a very prominent businessman and he no doubt was helpful in the years to come in giving advice to Rosa and her sons as they found their footing in the world of Brooklyn finance and business.
Jacob Gretsch, Hertha’s young uncle, the youngest brother of Hertha’s father died of Tuberculosis. He was 30 years old. It must have been a very sad time for the Gretsch children to lose so many relatives in such a short period of time.
Jacob Gretsch was buried alongside Rosa’s parents in the Evergreens Cemetery. He was not buried with his brother Fred in the newly purchased Green-Wood Cemetery plot.
The warship Maine exploded in Havana Harbor.
William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal headline read “THE WAR SHIP MAINE WAS SPLIT IN TWO BY AN ENEMY SECRET INFERNAL MACHINE”.
War declared on Spain. Secretary of State Hay to Teddy Roosevelt ” a splendid little war”.
Brooklyn Eagle reports that Louie Gretsch, Hertha’s older brother, graduated from Public School # 25.
According to the US Census, Hertha is 10 years old, born in May. She lives with her Mother, Rosa and six siblings at 20 Hart Street.
It was around this time that Hertha came down with Scarlet Fever.
The symptoms of this childhood disease are a bright red rash on a base of goose pimples that feel like sandpaper, swollen neck glands, a sore throat, a fever, distinctive markings in the inner creases of the elbow and a whitish coating on the tongue with reddened taste buds giving it the appearance of an angry strawberry. It is caused by the same microbe which causes strep throat. Only about 10 percent of children infected with strep throat develop scarlet fever. ( New York Times, 7/25/06. Howard Markel, M.D.)
Headache and fever at first…headache sore throat and queer feeling….you can get scarlet fever and be fine afterwards…..take belladonna…a remedy……..the fever turns, she sleeps naturally, her skin is damp and she breathes easily. (notes from reading Little Women 2007)
Hertha had to stay in bed in a darkened room for weeks. She had pain in her limbs and was subjected to uncontrolled movements in her arms and legs. This disease left toxins circulating in her blood stream long after the acute symptoms of the infection subsided.
Later these toxins would develop into rheumatic fever, an autoimmune reaction and harmful inflammation of the heart and its valves and joints. This was the cause of her early death.
But more immediately, this childhood illness of scarlet fever forced Hertha at an early age to spend much time alone in her sick bed.
It was this time that laid the foundation for her future travels. This time of isolation and contemplation allowed her to think about alternatives for herself. She was not to be allowed the life of her healthier older sisters Elsa and Helen. She started thinking differently.
Hertha’s nephew Ted Clauss believed that Hertha grew to be such a large woman (much larger than either of her sisters) because she spent so much time in bed in the years that she was growing. Ted believed that his cousin William Gretsch also grew to be such a large man (much bigger than either of his brothers) because, due to infantile paralysis, he also spent a lot of time in bed as child.
October 3 The house on Hart Street is sold to Josephine M. Gatter. The family moves to Bath Beach very near to where Bena (Philippine) Gretsch Morgner and her daughter Johanna live. Johanna and Hertha are first cousins and very close in age. Quite possibly they were close growing up. Both girls grew up without a father and both girls traveled very far from home.
May. Luna Park opened on Coney Island. Hertha is able to see the lights from the Park on the beach near her house at Bath Beach.
January 20 Hertha’s brother Fred marries Charlotte Sommer. Walter and Elsa are the witnesses.
This is one of the few pictures of Hertha that still exists. The image is not dated but is probably in the early 1900’s. It was given to me by Elsa’s oldest son, Teddy, circa 1990.
Hertha is sitting on the right. Her older sister Elsa sits on the left. They are sitting on a boardwalk by a beach perhaps, near Bath Beach where they lived at this time. Note how much taller Hertha appears than her older sister. Teddy always told me that Hertha grew to be so tall because she spent so much time in bed as a growing girl because of her illness, rheumatic fever.
According to the New York State Census, Hertha is living at 79 Bay 25th Street with her mother, Walter, Louis, Elsa, Helene and Herbert. Hertha is 15 years old.
It was around this time that Hertha came down with Rheumatic Fever.
Rheumatic fever is caused by the toxins released by Streptococcus pyogenes. The onset of rheumatic fever is characterized by mild and passing aches and pains in the legs and arms. These symptoms then suddenly burst into fever and more severe pain. Or it can begin with a case of Scarlet Fever. Three percent of those who come down with Scarlet Fever go on to have rheumatic fever.
I am not sure how Hertha contracted Rheumatic Fever. Perhaps, in these years, she had Scarlet Fever along with some of her brothers and sisters. It often travels in a family. If so, she was the only one in her family to be scarred for life by it.
Perhaps, she didn’t have the warning of high fever and red rash that Scarlet Fever allows.
Perhaps, Hertha just woke suddenly one night with severe pains in her legs and arms…terrifying her family in her screams of agony. The recovery would have taken months. She would have been confined to her bed in a dark room and would have needed complete quiet and lots of care.
It would have taken several weeks for the pain to be gone and then a long time in bed until the fever was gone. Suffering from incredible pain and high fevers, she needed to be bathed whenever her bed cloths were drenched in her own sweat. Calomel was prescribed and then rhubarb and soda, after that salicylic acid and hot fomentations on her knees needed to be constantly renewed.
Initially just the vibrations of someone walking into the room would have put her in agony. The ordeal of bed pans– just a touch was torture–was unbelievably difficult. Sometimes her limbs would be splinted. Immobilized, they didn’t feel so much pain when the bed shook. ( Many thanks to Helen Hoven Santmyer’s book, …And The Ladies of the Club for its description of the late 19th century treatment of rheumatic fever.)
If Hertha first contracted scarlet fever, the rheumatic fever would have set in after the initial fever passed and the rash disappeared. The toxins of the Streptoccocus pyogenes were left circulating in her blood stream long after the acute symptoms of the scarlet fever infection subsided.
Hertha’s nephew told me that she spent a lot of time in bed as a child. So I imagine that she must have had several bouts of rheumatic fever when she was young. It was something that her family would always be on guard against.
She should not be allowed to get a chill, or be tired in any way. Any type of illness could so easily develop into another painful and perhaps lethal bout of rheumatic fever.
It is interesting to note, a picture I have of Hertha about this time: Hertha with her sister Helene and her two older cousins Emily and Wilhelmina are sitting by a lake, on the grass under a tree. Hertha is all bundled up with a coat and hat. The other women are hatless and very relaxed looking.
Later these same toxins which caused the rheumatic fever of her childhood would explode into the rheumatic fever which was the cause of her early death.
But more immediately, this disease in her childhood years left Hertha with much time to be alone in bed in a dark room. It was this time that laid the foundation for her future travels. This time of isolation and contemplation allowed her to think about alternatives for herself. She was not to be allowed the life of her healthier older sisters Elsa and Helen. She started thinking differently.
Hertha’s nephew Ted Clauss believed that Hertha grew to be such a large woman (much larger than either of her sisters and several of her brothers) because she spent so much time in bed in the years that she was growing. Ted believed that his cousin William Gretsch also grew to be such a large man (much bigger than either of his brothers) because, due to infantile paralysis, he also spent a lot of time in bed as child.
March 10 Hertha’s first nephew, Fred Gretsch Jr. is born. He is the son of Hertha’s brother Fred and his wife Charlotte Sommer Gretsch.
April 18 “The Great San Francisco Earthquake hit at 5:12 a.m. and it was over in a minute. Much of San Fransicso was in rubble, and much of what was still standing burned in the firestorm that followed.” NYT, April 11, 2006.
Hertha had an uncle Philip Gretsch and a cousin Lewellyn who lived in San Francisco. It is not know if contact was made with them immediately after the quake but surely the family was concerned and fearful for their relatives.
Click to enlarge image
Pictured here around 1906-07 is Hertha, on the right hand side of the back row. Standing next to Hertha is her sister Helen and next to Helen is Elsa, the eldest Gretsch sister. The woman seated in the center is Emilie (Mill) Gretsch. Next to her is her sister Wilhelmina (Min) Gretsch. Emilie and Wilhelmina were half sisters to Dora Gretsch. The father of all three girls was Jacob Gretsch. Emilie, Wilhelmina and Dora were all born in Brooklyn and were first cousins of Hertha’s father, Fritz who was born in Germany. Hertha’s two brothers, Louie on the left and Herbert on the right, complete the picture.
Around 1906-1907, the picture above was sent as a postcard to Dora Gretsch, Lakeside House, Orange Lake, New York. Below is a picture of the Lakeside House where Dora was apparently staying.
Click to enlarge the image
The message written on the back of the picture reads:
“This fine looking crowd sends you love, Mill and Min”
It was never mailed as a postcard. Teddy, the son of Elsa Gretsch, gave it to me circa 1990. It was the first picture I ever saw of Hertha.
There is no stamp on this postcard so perhaps, this card was sent in an envelope. Maybe, it was never sent. That would explain why years later it was still in the possession of the Gretsch family and not with Dora.
In May of 2001, I gave the original postcard to Dora Gretsch’s daughter, Elsa Sitzer Francisco.
“An electric railway from Newburgh affords easy and quick communication with New York.” This ad in the 1890’s Brooklyn Eagle, explains how easy the commute was from Brooklyn to Newburgh, New York where the Lakeside House was located.
The above picture was also given to me by Ted Clauss. It shows Emilie and Wilhelmina, with Helene and either Hertha or Elsa sitting by a lake. Ted identifies the spot as Red Bank, New Jersey, where he says the Gretsch’s had a summer home. Ted identified the girl in the photos as his mother, Elsa. I think it is Hertha. She is the only one in the photo with a covering on her head. I think she is bundled up on this spring day because she is considered sickly from her bout with Scarlet Fever.
December 13 Hertha becomes an aunt again when William Walter Gretsch is born to Hertha’s brother Fred and his wife, Charlotte.
April 10 Hertha’s uncle Louis Gretsch died.
No doubt Louis, the brother of Hertha’s father, had assumed a guardianship role over the family after his brother died.
June 24 Soon after Louie’s death, Rosa Gretsch marries David Kling in Richmond Hill. Teddy told me it was a large wedding and that his mother, Rosa’s oldest daughter, Elsa, was a bridesmaid. I can find no mention of it in the local papers.
Also in June, Helene, Hertha’s sister, graduates from Erasmus High School.
Elsa, Hertha’s oldest sister, graduates from Teacher’s Training School.
Hertha and her siblings traveled back and forth to Brooklyn once they moved with Rosa to Richmond Hill. This old postcard of the Long Island Railway Station, Richmond Hill. L.I., shows the building where they met the train.
Click on the image to see an enlargement.
Hertha’s cousin Dora goes to Germany to visit her friend who lives there. Hertha must have taken note of her older cousin’s traveling. Perhaps, this is when Hertha began to dream about traveling herself.
Certificate # 7. Forty two shares of the Fred Gretsch Manufacturing Company were transferred to Elsa Gretsch. Walter Gretsch, Treasurer, and Fred Gretsch signed the document.
Were similar shares given to Helene and Hertha?
October 16 Dora Gretsch, age 29, arrived in New York on the ship “William der Grosse” from Bremen. Appearing next to her on the ship’s passenger list were Julius Becky age 32, and William Blessing age 28.
Dec. 16 “The Great White Fleet” left to sail around the world. Did Hertha pay attention to its path?
June 14 Hertha’s third nephew, Dick (Richard) Gretsch, son of Charlotte and Fred, was born
Shirtwaist strike. The first strike of women factory workers. There is a lot of press. Hertha undoubtedly read the newspaper reports.
Elsa married Joe Clauss at Elsa’s mother’s home on Waterbury Ave. in Richmond Hill, the home of Elsa’s mother. Hertha and Helen were bridesmaids.
Elsa and Joe’s oldest son Teddy told the story that, in 1908, his father Joe Clauss worked with Louie Gretsch at a bank in Brooklyn.
Both men were bachelors. Louie lived with his mother and siblings at the time. One night, Louie took Joe home to dinner. At the dinner table, Louie introduced Joe to his three sisters, Elsa, Helen and Hertha. “Pick one,” he said. So the story goes. Joe, who was raised Catholic, left the church when he married Elsa. This caused a great riff between him and his parents.
Charlotte, the wife of Rosa’s oldest child Fred, was, on the other hand, adamant about raising her children in the Catholic Church. One can imagine the family discussions around these issues.
Teddy tells me that his mother’s wedding was a big wedding but I could find no mention of it in the press.
New York American carries a story about the arrest of Mary Mallon (“Typhoid Mary”) and her habeas corpus hearing at the New York Supreme Court. The Press was sympathetic in 1909. They quote her as saying, “All the water in the world wouldn’t clear me from this charge in the eyes of the Health Department. They want to make a showing; they want to get credit for protecting the rich and I am the victim.”
Hertha’s cousin, Johanna Morgner, daughter of “Tante Bena”, applies for an American passport.
She is 18 years old and apparently on her way to Europe.
She asks that her passport be sent to her mother, Philippine Morgner at Myra Cottage, DeBruin’s Lane, Bath Beach. Her witness is R. O. Mitchell who lives at 1830 Bath Ave. in Brooklyn.
Dora Gretsch, another cousin of Hertha’s, had gone to Europe just two years earlier. I wonder if all these trips by her cousins, made Hertha also want to travel.
Perhaps Hertha, the youngest girl of seven children and in precarious health, felt that she would never be able to travel. Her mother, a widow, could hardly afford to send her anywhere.
Did Hertha talk to her friend Jacob Hyman about the obstacles which stood in the way of her traveling. Jacob Hyman was a boarder in the Gretsch house household. He was a grandfatherly figure to all the children.
Perhaps, this is part of what encouraged Jacob to write his will the way he did, so soon after Hertha’s cousin made her own plans to travel to Europe.
(Found this record August 31, 2008, late at night. The next day, I left for Evanston and Mary Wade’s first day of kindergarten.)
Jacob Hyman writes his last will. The witnesses were Nathan Aschner living at 175 Amity Street and Frederick B. Aschner living at 389 Fulton Street. Both of these men lived not too far away from 109 South Oxford in Brooklyn where Mr. Hyman was living at the time. Imagine the delight of these three old men to leave such a fortune to three young girls.
This will contains many surprises. When Jacob dies in 1915, these surprises will initiate a court case brought by his slighted relatives. This will also sets in motion Hertha’s financial security which allows her to travel in the years to come. Jacob’s will shows clearly the close relationship between Jacob and the Gretsch family as early as 1909. It especially shows Jacob’s admiration and respect for Hertha, the youngest of the Gretsch girls.
See a copy of this will:
At the time this will was written, Jacob Hyman was not living with the family. He had lived with them earlier on Hart Street. He would live with them again on Sidney Place when he died in 1915.
Hertha’s sister, Helene Gretsch, gives a performance as Helene Hope at a New York theatre.
March 15, Thursday
Hertha’s sister, Helene Gretsch, graduates from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
The American Academy of Dramatic Arts is the oldest organization for the training of actors in English-speaking countries. Founded in 1884 by Franklin Haven Sargent, the academy is located in New York City with a recently founded branch in Pasadena, California (1974). The courses do not just include stage work but television and film as well. Former students include Anne Bancroft, Kirk Douglas, Ruth Gordon, Agnes Moorehead, and Spencer Tracy.
A New York Times article dated March 16, 1910 reads “The graduation exercises of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts were held at the Empire Theatre yesterday afternoon and consisted of the awarding of diplomas to members of the class and of an address by Helen Ware.”
In 1980, Ted Clauss wrote to me that the American Academy of Dramatic Arts was a four year program held at Carnegie Hall.
Before entering that course, Helene studied at The Emerson School of Elocution in Boston, Mass.
Hertha’s older sister, Helene ( Gretsch) Hope on stage during this period.
Ted Clauss wrote further of Helen’s work: “Aunt Helen’s first work in the theater was secured for her through the Academy, and she had small parts in plays with De Wolfehopper. Later, she toured in straight with Sidney Drew, in light comedy, and also with John Drew, in the heavy stuff. She did no musicals. During the years she did several short plays with William Farnaum (Farnum), one of which I saw at the Flatbush Theater (2207 Church Street) in 1918, and can still remember it. She had a regular agent, who shipped her on tours all over the U.S. and Canada. She used the stage name Helene Hope . She also toured with Otis Skinner of theatre fame and knew Cornelia Otis Skinner the monologist.”
Mary Mallon in the papers again, being released from custody.
Elsa Gretsch Clauss, eldest sister of Hertha’s gives birth to her first child, Theodore.
US Census enumerates:
David Kling (49) and Rosa (50) living with Walter, Louis, Helene, Hertha (20) and Herbert at 28 West 97th Street in Manhattan. They are renters in a large building which housed 11 other units. From the census, it looks like it was the largest building in the neighborhood. David Kling is listed as a “Waiter,” Walter is a “Manufacturer,” and Louis is in “Real Estate”. Hertha and Helene are not working and Herbert is in school.
US Census enumerates Jacob Hyman at 109 S. Oxford Street in Brooklyn. He is one of four lodgers living with Albert Ulnick and his wife Janet and their son Albert Jr., age 19 and daughter Janet, age 16. Jacob is listed as a 67-year old jeweler. Edwin Becker, 22, a banker, James Ferguson, age 50, works at the Navy Yard, and Andrew Whitehall, an engraver, are the other lodgers. Jacob is not living with the Gretsch family. He however seems to enjoy the ambiance of living with a family. Surely, he could have chosen to live in a lodging house with no children.
US Census show: Emilie (56) and Wilhelmina (41) and Dora (31) living on Decatur Steet. Emilie is a public school teacher and Dorothy works as a secretary for a chemical firm. Another family rents rooms in the house: William Rothman (78) and his daughter Elizabeth (34). Neither work.
According to later news paper reports Hertha graduated about this time from Erasmus Hall High School. It was located on the corner of Flatbush Ave and Church Street. it would have been a bus ride for her from her home in Manhattan. Prehap, she graduated before the family moved to Manhattan. Helene graduated from here in 1907.
Fire destroyed Dreamland. The fire began at 2 in the morning and burned for 12 hours.
The Japanese Tea House there had traditionally dressed waiters who waited on the many visitors. No doubt Hertha visited there with her cousins and sisters.
Perhaps, Johanna watched the fire burn from the beach near where she lived.
This picture of Hertha’s cousin Dora Gretsch was kept by her daughter Elsa Francisco.
February 12 Hertha’s cousin Dora Gretsch was married in Detroit, Michigan to Daniel H. Sitzer.
Dora left her home in Brooklyn where she lived with her two half sisters, Emily and Wilhelmina, and went to Detroit to marry.
Dora was 34 years old. She had known Daniel since at least 1907, most likely earlier. They met while Dora was vacationing in the Catskills with her family.
Fred Gretsch, President of the Fred Gretsch Manufacturing Co., and Walter Gretsch, Treasurer sign a certificate which certifies that Elsa Clauss is the owner of 42 shares of its capital stock. Shares were values at $100.OO each.
Note Elsa’s birthday was December 27th. Perhaps, this was a birthday present.
This is the earliest date I have found for Hertha’s travels.
Perhaps she was inspired by her cousins, Johanna and Dora, who just the year before set off on big adventures.
“Hertha Gretch”, listed as 19 years old, born in Brooklyn and living at 1183 Berger Street, Brooklyn, arrives in New York from Bermuda. Is this our Hertha? Here, her name is spelt “Gretch,” which is how it is listed when she applies for a passport in 1919. Interesting —–
She is listed next to another single women Idella Mumford age 58 from Saginaw, Michigan. Idella has applied for many passports, so I assume that she has traveled a lot. Her first passport was issued in 1906, another in 1908 and a third in 1910. Perhaps, she was the inspiration for Hertha’s travels.
As early as 1906, Idella was listed as a widow. She lived at 514 N. Franklin Street, in Saginaw, Michigan.
In the records I have found, Idella always listed her birthplace as Bradley, Maine, and her birthday as November 16, 1854.
Also next to Hertha on the passenger list is Mary G. Whiting 57 years old. She is listed as single but she is traveling with her husband George Whiting age 52. Both live at the Hotel Wadsworth in Boston, Mass.
Was Hertha traveling with these women or merely standing next to them? Perhaps, she was on another winter trip to warmer weather and traveling with these older women who were somehow friends of the family. Or perhaps, she merely met these women on board ship and registered with them.
(2017) Maybe it was Hertha’s assumed weakness because of her Scarlette Fever which instigated her family to send her on this trip. Or maybe, she was acting as a helper to these older women, or maybe they were helpers to her in her weakness?
Several times in this month, Hertha’s younger brother Herbert is mentioned in the New York Times for his playing third base on the Columbia University Baseball Team.
At this time Margaret Sanger was working in New York City.
Hertha’s brother Herbert graduates from Columbia University with a degree in Civil engineering. He is the only one of the Gretsch children to graduate from College. He is also the youngest of all the children.
June 28 Archduke Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated. In August WW1 begins.
December 23 Hertha’s aunt, Philippine Gretsch Morgner commits suicide. The cause of death as stated on her death certificate was “Illumination Gas poisoning”.
Philippine or Aunt Bena as Hertha would have called her, was the youngest girl in the family of Manheim Gretsch’s.
An article in the Brooklyn Eagle of that date reads “Suicide By Gas In Her Boarding House. Mrs. Morgan, Keeper of Myra Cottage Ends life in her Bath Beach Place. Mrs. Philpmenia Morgan, 53 years old, who conducted a boarding house at the foot of Bay Twenty-third street know as Myra cottage, committed suicide today by inhaling illumination gas in her home.
At 8 o’clock this morning, John Anderson, a boarder smelled gas escaping and made an investigation. He discovered that it came from Mrs. Morgan’s room, and when he could get no response to his knocks, he forced open the door and discovered her lying upon her bed. All the gas jets in the room had been turned on and the windows tightly fastened.
When Dr. Kahn of the Coney Island Hospital was called in, he said that the woman had been dead for some time. No reason is known for the suicide. She left two letters written in German, which were turned over to the coroner’s office.”
N.B. John Anderson had been living in the same boarding house with Phillipine for more than ten years. First he worked as a scaffold rigger and later he worked in the boarding house as a general helper.
In 14 years, Philippine moved at least three times within the same neighborhood. She supported herself and her daughter by running boarding houses.
For several years, Hertha and her family lived in Bath Beach near Philippine and her daughter Johanna. It is quite possible that Hertha and her cousin Johanna were close friends.
For more information about “Anna Maria Philippine Gretsch Morgner”, go to her “Timeline” on the navigation bar of this website.
“Fair and Warmer” a major hit play play by Ivery Hopwood.”
Here, Hopwood had a young husband and wife—not each others’—create a classic “compromising situation” to excite the jealousy of their respective spouses. The players mix cocktails, hide under beds, and lock bathroom doors until finally the maid sorts out the mess to restore domestic harmony.” ( See Avery Hapwood, by James Tobin, Michigan Today)
Hopwood was a young playwright who had graduated from the University of Michigan. His career continue to sparkle until the 1922.
Surely, Helene Hope (aka Helene Gretsch) knew of his work.
Jacob Hyman dies in the Jewish Hospital in Brooklyn. He was living at the time with the Gretsch family with whom he had lived as a boarder for 20 years. Jacob was a retired prominent Brooklyn business man.
January 14 The following picture and obituary appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the day after Jacob’s death.
Jacob Hyman, of 42 Sidney place, a well known figure in downtown Brooklyn business circles, died yesterday in the Jewish hospital, aged 72 years. After coming to this country from Russia as a boy, Mr. Hyman quickly became a merchant of prominent in lower New York City, both in the clothing and in the jewelry business. From these enterprises he gained a considerable fortune, and about 20 years ago retired and from that time on till he died he resided in Brooklyn among old friends of his younger days. Soon after his retirement from business he became an ardent devotee of fishing, and hardly a day in summertime passed when he did not bring home a credible catch. To his love of this sport, his general outdoor life and his cheerful mode of living, Mr. Hyman gave the credit for his long life. Mr. Hyman was well known for his numerous works of charity, and many struggling Jewish congregations revere the name of the kindly old man whose generous aid helped them to success. Lawyer Isaac W. Jacobson, executor of the estate intimates that a surprise will be sprung this week when Mr. Hyman’s will is offered for probate. Funeral services will be held in the chapel at 18 Clinton street tomorrow morning at 11 o’clock, Rabbi Steven Wise of the Free Synagogue in Manhattan officiating. Interment will be in the family plot Bay Side . L.I.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Page 16,
GIRL WHO SAT STILL REWARDED IN WILL
Bertha Gretsch, Fishing Companion Of Jacob Hyman, Gets Half Estate.
An echo of the pleasant afternoons fifteen years ago, when he used to take fishing with him a little girl who, of all those he knew sat stillest when the first were biting, is reflected in the provision of the will of Jacob Hyman, late of 42 Sidney Place, retired merchant, that one-half of his estate, amounting to a substantial sum, should go to Miss Bertha Gretsch, 23 years old, of the Sidney street address, with whose family Mr. Hyman had made his home for many years. The beneficiary is a sister of Louis Gretsch real estate dealer, of 177 Remson street.
Mr. Hyman, who was well known for his numerous acts of charity and the aid he gave many struggling Jewish congregations since his retirement twenty years ago, as a clothier and jeweler on Broadway, Manhattan, died of cancer in his seventy-third year at the Jewish Hospital on January 13. He was never married and Lawyer Isaac W. Jacobson, the sole executor of the estate, is now preparing, preliminary to the filing of the will this week, a list of first cousins, among whom the other half fo the estate is to be distributed. There are sixteen altogether and they are widely scattered.
Miss Gretsch was graduated from Erasmus High School several years ago. She had three sisters and four brothers. Mr. Hyman lived with he family in Bensonhurst. Mr. Hyman had two recreations, one fishing and the other matinees. He attended a matinee almost every afternoon, frequently taking the Gretsch children with him. The children also were his fishing companions.
Mr. Jacobson declared today that Mr. Hyman’s estate will be very large.
After the news had broken, the story because it was so charming was picked up and sent around the country.
Marion, Ohio newspaper, News Nuggets, Front Page
“Reward for Sitting Still” ” Because she always sat still in the stern sheets when she went fishing with him. Jacob Hyman a wealthy jeweler bequeathed his niece Hertha Gretsch age 23, on half of his estate, mounting to $50,000.”
January 28 On the front page of the Washington Post,
” SHE SAT STILL GOT FORTUNE
Jeweler remembers girl who keep quiet and didn’t scare the fish.
From the New York Sun
Miss Bertha Gretsch of 42 Sidney Place Bensonhurst inherited half the estate of the late Jacob Hyman about $25,000 simply because even as a little girl she knew how to sit still in a boat. this story of the odd reason for Miss Gretsch’s good fortune has been verified by Isaac W. Jacobson, executor of the estate.
Miss Gretsch when a child would some times go fishing in a boat with Mr. Hyman, and she would sit so still that she did not frighten away the fish.
Mr. Hyman, a retired Broadway jeweler died at the Jewish Hospital on January 1. He was 73 years old. For many years, he had made his home with Miss Gretsch’s family but she was the only one of eight children remembered in his will, the presumption being that the others were poor fishermen. The half of the estate not bequeathed to Miss Gretsch goes to 16 first cousins. Miss Gretsch is 23 years old.”
The story also appeared on the same day in the Fort Wayne, Indiana paper. Several of the facts were wrong however. In the Indiana paper Hertha was also listed as Bertha, she was also noted as Jacob’s niece and his estate was stated as $50,000.
One can imagine the stir this must have caused in Hertha’s life.
Jacob Hyman’s lawyer files a petition to The Surrogate Court of the County of Kings to prove the last will and testament of Jacob Hyman.
Helene Gretsch who was in the county of Hamilton, Ohio at the time petitioned the court that K. C.& M. V. McDonald at 189 Montague Street in Brooklyn appear for her in the up coming proceedings.
Helene was apparently traveling with an acting troop.
K.C. & M.C. McDonald send a notice of appearance to the Surrogate Court.
During the proceeding the cousins of Jacob Hyman claim that his last will “was procured by fraud and undue influence practiced upon the decedent by Hertha Gretsch, Helena Gretsch, Elsa Clauss, and of other persons acting in concert or privity with them, whose name or manes are at present unknown to those objectors and contestors.”
The Brooklyn Eagle reports:
Miss Hazel King, daughter of Mrs. J.F.H. King entertained a number of friends, at her home, 71 Midwood street, on Tuesday evening.
An interesting musical program was enjoyed and dancing followed.
The program consisted of songs given by Miss Hazel King, W. Russell, Miss Laura Gilder, Albert Salmon, Willard Salmon, Harry Bennett: and piano selections by Robert MacMillan, and Miss Grace Gilder. Those present were Miss Marjorie Bruce. J.F.H. King, Bertell A King, Miss Marjorie Nelson, Miss May Brown, Miss May Russell, Miss Hertha Gretsch, Herbert Gretsch, Joseph Tuggle, Charles Rice , Mr. Williams and Theo Schutltze-Berge.
Gretsch Building at 60 Broadway, Brooklyn incorporated.
Hertha’s stance in the courtroom is noted in this Brooklyn Daily Eagle article which appeared on May 5. Unfortunately, the article only records her silence and tells us no more about her life. To see an enlargement of the article click on the image.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Girl Gets Hyman Estate
Cousins Fail in Contest of Jacob Hyman’s Will
The jury in the Surrogate’s court yesterday refused to take from Miss Hertah (sic) Gretsch of 42 Sidney place the $10,000 inheritance she was given by Jacob Hyman. The jury took but a short time after the cousins contestof Mr. Hyman’s will was given to them, to decide that the will was valid and should be admitted to probate. Surrogate Ketcham accepted the verdict and denied a motion made by counsel for the contestants to set it aside as against the evidence.
Miss Hertah (sic) Gretsch and her two sisters Helena Gretsch and Elsa Claus, are thus given the entire estate of $20,000 left by Hyman, who had lived with their family for almost twenty years. Miss Hertah (sic) Gretsch receives one-half the estate and each of her sisters receives a fourth.
New York Times
Silence Wins a Girl $10,000. Angler’s Legacy to Companion Who Kept Quiet is Upheld.
A jury before Surrogate Ketcham in Brooklyn yesterday decided the will of Jacob Hyman who gave his estate to Herta Gretsch and her two sisters, Helena and Elas was valid. Hyman lived with the Gretsch family at 42 Sidney Place Brooklyn. He died January 13.
Miss Herta Gretsch while a young girl often accompanied Hyman on fishing trips. Her sisters also went along but Herta always obeyed Hyman’s instructions to keep perfectly quiet while the fish were biting and this won Hyman’s admiration for her to the extant of his leaving her half of his estate of $20,000. The other sisters each received one forth. After the will was filed for probate relatives of Hyman contested it. They alleged that the testator was mentally unsound.
The Lusitania is sunk by German submarine.
Sunday, The New York Times. “Fifteen old two and three story frame buildings that have stood on lower Broadway in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn for a quarter of a century were torn down last week to make way for an eleven-story reinforced concrete building to be erected by Gretsch Brothers at a cost of about $650,OOO.OO.
The building occupies the entire block frontage of Broadway from Betty Street to Wythe Avenue with the exception of the Manufacturer’s Citizen’s Trust Company building. This is the fourth loft building to be erected by the Gretsch Brothers during the past five years and indicates the demand among manufacturers for lofts in this section
Although the building will not be ready for occupancy until January 1916, seven floors have been leased from the plans for twenty-years terms, one of the leases to Braunworth & Co., bookbinders, aggregating about $600.000.
Not only have loft buildings attracted the real estate operators to this section, but the records show more modern sixteen to thirty family apartment houses are now in course of construction than in any other part of Brooklyn.”
These must be the “unsightly buildings” that Nathan Jonas referred to in his autobiography, Through the Years.
” After we merged with the Manufacturers National Bank in 1914, there was a row of unsightly building taking up the whole block below the office of the Manufacturers National Bank. Acting upon my creative policy as bank president, I prevailed upon Fred and Walter Gretsch to plan a large manufacturing building on that site. helped them with their plans and with their financing including assistance in securing a first mortgage in the building.”
For more information about the relationship between the Gretsch family and Nathan Jonas, see “The Library” section of this website. There you can read more about his autobiography, Through The Years, in which Charlotte Gretsch and her husband, Fred are frequently mentioned.
This building was 60 Broadway.
2am. Edith Cavell, a British nurse at a Red Cross Hospital in Belgium was executed by a German firing squad for helping 200 allied soldiers to escape. Her execution helped harden American opinion against the Germans.
Hertha would have known about this and no doubt was effected by it.
Another niece of Hertha’s bother Fred dies in New Jersey. Emilie Sommer, Charlotte’s younger sister dies in the fall.
Hertha and her sister Helen Gretsch arrived in New York on the ship Havana which sailed from Havana, Cuba on February 26
This was a leap year so there was a February 29th on board ship.
Perhaps, this is their first real trip after receiving their inheritance from Jacob Hyman.
Hertha was 26 and Helen 28 years old. However, they gave their ages as 24 and 25 respective
Summer months Hertha spent some time with Elsa’s family on Fire Island. Elsa’s son, Teddy told me that they teased Hertha and called her “wackelig” or “Watcheinder Gang” because she waddled when she walked because she was such a large woman.
And maybe also, I came to understand later, because Hertha walked with a slight limp. This would have been due to her rheumatism, which was a residue from the scarlet fever she had as a child.
Margaret Sanger opened first Birth Control Clinic in USA: in Brooklyn, on Amboy Street in Brownsville.
I imagine that in the fall of 1918, Hertha went to the west coast. Her cousin, Johanna Morgner Brose was expecting a baby in early 1919. Hertha grew up living close to her cousin Johanna. Johanna’s mother, Tante Bena had committed suicide in December of 1914. Johanna had no siblings. It is easy to imagine that Johanna would want her cousin Hertha there for the birth of her first chilld. Hertha would have traveled with her family’s blessings to Washington to help her cousin at this important time.
Hertha would have left in the late fall or early winter of 1918. Leaving New York before the winter set in, she would be in Washington State in plenty of time for the expected March arrival of Johanna’s baby.
This was an unsettled time all over the world. As Hertha made her plans to travel farther, she must have been aware of the events that were unfolding in Asia as well as in Europe.
She would have known for instance about Agnes Smedley. An American woman who was arrested in NYC for violating the Federal Espionage Act. Agnes had acted as an agent for the Indian National Party. India, although Hertha wasn’t aware of it at the time, was to play a large part in Hertha’s travels.
End of World War 1
Also on this date, the death of Florentine Tim Gerichten was reported in “The San Diego Union”.
Florentine was the wife of C. P. Gerichten, a brother of Hertha’s grandmother, Anna Maria von Gerichten.
C.P.. was a very successful citizen of San Diego.
Hertha, who at this time was on her way to visit her cousin Johanna Morgner in Washington State, would have taken note of the death of her great aunt.
Florentine’s children and grandchildren, Hertha’s cousins in San Diego, were already part of Hertha’s traveling plans.
Lowell Thomas comes to New York and opens his lecture show on this date at the Globe Theater.
“Palestine Redeemed” and “Allenby in Palestine” consisted of over 240 lantern slides and 30 film segments focused on the Arab war of independance and the British role in it.
Allenby and T. E. Lawrence (later known as Lawrence of Arabia) were prominent figures.
The show was such a success that it moved to the Garden Theater on Madison at 57th Street on April 1 and ran until April 17. There it was billed as “Freeing Holy Arabia” There were shows every evening at 8:30 and matinees on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday.
This was the beginning of the Lawrence of Arabia legend. Its focus was the freeing of Arabia from Ottoman Rule. The initial thrust behind the endeavors of Lawrence (and the British Empire) in Arabia was the securing of the Suez Canal for the British Empire and away from the possibility of Turkish-Prussian rule.
Lowell Thomas’s slide show and lecture was a huge success in New York City.
Certainly, Hertha’s nephews saw it, Fred was 14, Bill was 13, Dick was 10.
Only three years later, Hertha herself would be traveling through Egypt and the Suez Canal. She was the first member of her family to do so and, perhaps, the last for a very long time.
Johanna’s son is born. Hertha was likely with her cousin for this event.
Hertha keeps traveling. Perhaps, she went from there to California to visit her cousin Llewellyn Gretsch, the son of her uncle, Philip Gretsch. According to her nephew Teddy, Hertha stayed for six months and then went to Honolulu. She wrote home constantly.
May Fourth Movement constitutes a watershed in China’s modern history. On that fateful day in 1919….. their outrage at the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty ending World War I. Infuriated by provisions of the treaty that threatened to turn China’s northern province of Shandong into a virtual colony of Japan.
On June 5, the day the news reached Shanghai, the city was brought to a standstill by a shopkeepers’ closure, followed by a five day shut down of the country’s largest industrial center forcing the hand of Beijing…the government offered a public apology, released arrested student demonstrators, discharged three officials involved in the Paris talks, and refused to affix its signature to the Versailles Treaty. see Perry.
June 10 Cecile Reynolds sailed from San Francisco, California, for Hawaii.
June 16 Cecile arrives in Honolulu listed as a single woman.
July 29 Hertha sailed from San Francisco, California aboard the S.S.Sachem for Hawaii.
August 6 Hertha arrived in Hawaii. (This information found October 7, 2009.
Cecile stayed on in Honolulu through 1920. She appears in the 1920 US Census there.
Hertha’s older brother Walter Gretsch applies for a U. S. Passport in New York. He intends to go abroad on business. He submits two letters of recommendation. Walter clearly states that his father was born in Germany.
On this date, we find the first papers on Hertha’s relationship with Cecile Arnoux Reynolds.
Hertha signed a sworn statement to the U. S. district Judge in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“I, Hertha Gretsch solemnly swear that I am a native of the United States, that I reside in Honolulu, Hawaii that I have known the above named Cecile Arnoux Reynolds personally since birth and that I know her to be a native citizen of the United States: and that the facts stated in her affidavit are true to the best of my knowledge and belief. Signed, Herta Gretsch, occupation, none, Address, Honolulu, Hawaii. Sworn before A.E. Harris.
This sworn statement was attached to the application of Cecile Arnoux Reynolds. Cecile was according to her application, the widow of James Reynolds of Rochester, New York. she was born in St. Louis on the 9th of July in 1893. Cecile attests to the fact that she is a stenographer and that she resides in Fort Worth, Texas. She also swears that she is going abroad to Japan, China and the Philippine Islands to accompany her brother for six months. Upon receipt of passport, she will be traveling on a vessel as yet unknown.
Description of Applicant: Age: 25. Stature: 5 feet, 5 1/2 inches, Eng. Forehead: Medium. Eyes: Blue. Nose: Straight. Mouth: Medium. Chin: Round. Hair: Blonde. Complexion: Fair. Face: Round. Distinguishing marks; None.
The applicant desired that the passport be sent to the following address: P.O. Box 380, Honolulu, Hawaii.
A U.S. Passport was granted to Cecile on October 23, 1919.
This relationship with Cecile Arnoux Reynolds continued at least until 1921 in Shaighai when Hertha again was a witness for Cecile’s passport application.
There is a possibility, I am still doing research as of November, 2012, that this Cecile Arnoux Reynolds might be the silent film star known as Cecile Arnold. Cecile Arnold appeared in several silent films with Chalie Chaplin among others. She left the film industry to marry a banker and she died in the Far East in 1932.
In June of 1921, Cecile and Hertha were together agian in Shanghai. Follow the timeline below to this date to read about them further.
When Hertha Gretsch applied for her United States passport on December 1, 1919 in Honolulu, the Territory of Hawaii, she was thirty years old and knew one or two things about the process of applying for a passport. She knew for instance that her older brother Walter had applied for a passport earlier in July of this same year and that he had had to gather two letters of reference to accompany his application. Hertha was not applying in her home state. Her family and most of her acquaintances were far away in Brooklyn where she had lived all of her life before she started this trip west. To quickly gather references for her trip to the Far East, something would have to be done to facilitate the passport process from her present base in faraway Hawaii.
Another big sticking point was the fact that her father was born in Germany. Since the America had recently been at war with Germany, this “enemy alignment” in her most recent past might hold up her application. It would be easy for her to declare that her father was born in America. Then the question of her own relationship with Germany would not be obvious.
But her brother’s recent passport application stood in her way…..What if the Passport Office checked her name against his application? Walter had unambiguously stated that his father was born in Germany. There had been some talk in the family that Walter should lie about his father’s connection to Germany. Letters passing back and forth between Hertha and her mother had given details of the process of Walter’s application. Their father had died years before and in these anti-German times, it might be easier for Walter to get a passport with a little bending of the truth. But in the end, the talk among the family members subsided and it was decided that the danger in lying to the government was too great. Walter declared that his father was born in Germany. If the connection were found between her brother Walter Gretsch and herself, Hertha’s sworn statements would be declared false and she might be denied a passport all together.
However, she imagined that if she changed the spelling of her name, ever so slightly, just so that the family name could not be readily conceived as the same name as her brother’s. Then the chances of her being found out were lessened. So she picked up the danger that her brother had dropped. She declared that her father was born in American and she applied under the name of “Hertha Gretch”, dropping the “s” from her family’s name.
In this falsified process, not only was Hertha’s name misspelled but also her birthday was changed to 1892. In fact, a New York state census in that year shows Hertha Gretsch to be 3 years old. Perhaps, Hertha felt that this change in birthdays would also diminish the possibility of her being associated with her brother’s application.
Next was the problem of her birth certificate. The application states ”A person born in the United States should submit a birth certificate with the application, or if the birth was not officially recorded, affidavits from the attending physician, parents, or other persons having actual knowledge of the birth”. Perhaps, Hertha decided not to take the time to provide these papers. She would need her family’s assisatance in Brooklyn to secure records of her birth and, perhaps, she didn’t want her family to know that she was applying for a passport.
So the other alternative was decided upon. A witness was produced. This “other person” would be in fact the necessary someone who could vouch for the Information on Hertha’s application. Cecile Reynolds, a stenographer from Honolulu was that person. On Hertha’s application Cecile stated, “I Cecile Reynolds solemnly swear that I am a native of the United States; that I reside at Honolulu, Hawaii that I have known the above named Hertha Gretch personally for two years and know her to be a native citizen of the United States; and that the facts stated in her affidavit are true to the best of my knowledge.”
As far as I know, Hertha had no cousin named Cecile Reynolds. Cecile. Whoever Cecile Reynolds was, she was definitely helping Hertha in her plot to produce an American Passport under false circumstances.
Hertha applies for a U.S. Passport in Hawaii and appears before the same Judge.
She lies several times in her application which was a sworn statement.
In her application, Hertha spells her name “Gretch” not “Gretsch”.
She states that she was born on November 4, 1892. The New York State census of that year, records Hertha as three years old.
She swears that her father Fred Gretsch was born in New York. He actually was born in Germany.
According to her application, Hertha plans to go to Japan, China and Hong Kong. Initially, the Philippine Islands was her third destination but that was crossed out and Hong Kong added. She is traveling for health and to study the country. As soon as she receives her passport, she will sailing aboard a vessel as yet unknown.
“Description of Applicant: Age: 27. Stature: 5 feet, 6 1/2 inches, Eng. Forehead: Medium. Eyes: Brown. Nose: Straight. Mouth: Medium. Chin: Round. Hair: Brown. Complexion: Fair. Face: Round. Distinguishing marks; None.”
Cecile Reynolds signs the sworn statement which is part of Hertha’s application. In it, Cecile states that she lives in Hawaii and works as a stenographer. She states that she has known “Hertha Gretch” personally for two years and all of the facts which Hertha stated are true.
Attached to the application is a typewritten document which states, I , Cecile Reynolds. a native and loyal citizen of the United States, do solemnly swear that Herta Gretch was born on the 4th day of November A.D. 1892 in Brooklyn, in the state of New York; and I further solemnly swear that I am the cousin of the said Hertha Gretch.”
This sworn statement was given before the same Judge A. E. Harris, who two months earlier had accepted Cecile’s application.
Hertha asked that her passport be sent to the same Post Office Box in Honolulu, where Cecile’s was sent.
Who was Cecile Arnaux Reynolds? Was that even her real name?
There are so many discrepancies in both Hertha’s and Cecile’s passport applications, that it is impossible to tell just exactly what was going on. Perhaps, this is just what they wanted.
It is certain though, that these two women had concocted together some sort of a scheme. Together, they managed to get passports at a time when passports were being carefully monitored by a war-weary world.
According to Teddy Clauss, after leaving Hawaii, Hertha went to Hong Kong for about a year. He said that she worked for Weatherall Limited a British firm. In 1993, the offices of Weatherall, Green and Smith in London told me that they had no offices in the Far East in 1918. They did not expand to the Far East until the 1980’s.
Teddy told me that Hertha could type and take shorthand. She also spoke German fluently. He said it would have been easy for her to find work. According to her passport application, work was not part of her plan.
According to US Census, Elsa Gretsch Clauss and her husband Joe and their two sons are living at 1707 Ave. N. in Brooklyn.
Ted remembers his mother receiving many letters and packages from Hertha. It seems there was always postage due and Elsa had to always run and get some change to give to the postman. Elsa was always annoyed that she had to search around for money for the postman. Teddy was always intrigued by these packages from different parts of the world.
They are still living at the same address in 1930.
Hertha’s brother Walter and his new bride sail for Europe on a wedding/ business trip.
Hertha’s mother Rosa was probably hopeful that Hertha would join them and come home with them. Hertha had other plans.
Pearl Buck’s daughter Caroline Grace Buck is born in Nanjing….soon the family went to the US for the removal of a tumor in Pearl and returned in the fall of that year.
Hertha and Cecile were not the only white women traveling in the Far East at this time. Stella Benson, the English poet and novelist, took a job in a Mission School as a teacher in Hong Kong in May. From there, she went to the Rockefeller Institute in Peking. Stella was a contemporary of Hertha’s born in 1892. Like Hertha, she traveled from California to the Far East.
Hertha’s older brother Walter is in Basel, Switzerland, at this time. Hertha’s uncle William Gretsch is there trying to secure a passport to return home. William is now 77 years old and a doctor’s report declares him unable to travel because he is suffereing from “arterisclerosis (sic) which manifests itself in attacks, memory-weakness and fidiness.”
William has been living in Europe since 1893. He is now quite old and frail. Hertha’s brother, William’s nephew. Walter, is helping him. William’s property in America was seized during the war as enemy alien property.
According to passport applications, William is too sick to travel.
Stella Benson in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Ray French, the American baseball player, applies for a passport in San Francisco to go to Japan to play ball.
Michael Canter pointed out to me that on Jume 27, 1919, there is a short article about the 1920-21 Tour of Japan in “Vintage Baseball”, an online Baseball history site.
“In 1920 a team of lesser major and minor leaguers toured Japan. The ill-Fated tour included a reported mutiny by half the players, as well as the notable first appearance in Japan of Herbert Hunter who would go on to lead similar visits in 1922 and 1931. along with other coaching trips. The trip was captured on several scarce postcard printed in Japan.”
Ray French is not mentioned.
Gene Doyle knew how to promote baseball. He was an LA Sports Reporter. Twenty of the players broke from the Tour in Kobe in January 1920.
This is the only mention of the Tour that I can find in J.G, Tayor Spinks, Judge Landis and his twenty five years of baseball.
However, the book does state that Landis did not endorse another tour of Japan until the 1930’s. He was sure to note that all the players must have their wives accompany them so that the trouble of the 1920 Tour would not reoccur.
I can’t help but think that Ray French had something to do with this tour and the trouble.
Also, that Cecilia Reynolds was involved with French and he by connection with Hertha Gretsch.
Cecile Arnoux Reynolds left Honolulu bound for Manila on the Korea Mari. There is no record of Hertha’s being with her.
Cecile Reynolds and Ray French an American baseball player are married in Kobe, Japan.
For more information about Ray French and his baseball career follow this link:
The documents below were located in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. by Chris Naylor.
In these documents, Cecile gives her name as Cecile Leilani Reynolds, her place of birth as Hawaii, her birthday as July 9, 1898.
Her occupation is a private secretary. Her father is consistently listed as born in New York and her mother is consistently listed as born in St. Louis, Missouri. Click on the documents below for more information.
There are just enough facts about this Cecile Reynolds which coincide with the Cecile Arnaux Reynolds, who was traveling with Hertha, to catch my attention.
Was this the same woman? Her birthday date is the same but the birth year and place of birth is different. Certainly, Hawaii is a much more exotic place to be born than St. Louis. Nor is it unusual for a woman to lie about her age. Cecile’s marriage certificate to Ray French is the only place I have found where she lists Hawaii as her birth place.
Were these two woman the same? Cecile Arnaux Reynolds and Cecile Leilani Reynolds had the same birthday, July 9th.
Are both these women and Cecile Arnold, the American silent movie star, all the same woman?
The possibilities are intriguing.
The documents below state that Cecile and her new husband were due to sail for home on February 4, 1921. However, later passport documents prove otherwise. Note below that she is in Shanghai in July and in the Settlement Straits in Java in December of 1921.
A “Cecile Reynolds” arrived at San Francisco on 16 Dec 1922 on the S.S. President Cleveland, which had sailed from Shanghai on 28 Nov 1922. She was 24 years old, single, and born in St. Louis on 18 June 1898. Note, on these records, Cecile had returned to using St. Louis, Missouri as her birth place. Her address in the U.S. was given as Fort Worth, Texas. This is where she lived before she left for Hawaii and the Far East. Thanks to Joan Lowry for this find. This is possibly our Cecile Reynolds.
Cecile did not return home with her new husband as he thought she would. In his letter to the American Consul in Kobe, he states “we sail back to the United States on February 5th “. Note that Cecile is in July in Shanghai with Hertha. See the letter below.
Margaret Sanger visited Hong Kong. In her autobiography, Sanger talks about being upset by the way Americans took advantage of the cheap labor force available in China. She specifically puts down American and European households that pay their servants in China only pennies a day.
Hertha’s nephew Teddy told me that Hertha wrote home to her sister Elsa, Teddy’s mother, that she was able to live like a queen in China. She had a maid, a cook and servants all for only pennies a week.
This coincidence is amazing to me. Margaret Sanger was talking about my own great aunt and not in a very complimentary way.
However, at this time Hertha was still in Shanghai according to Cecile’s passport application.
Gründung der chinesischen kommunistischen Partei in Shanghai.
Finding of the Chinese communist party in Shanghai.
During the time that Hertha was in Asia, her nephew Teddy (who was a little boy at the time) also remembers that his Aunt Hertha would send lots of things home to her mother and sister, Teddy’s mother. Teddy remembers that there was always postage due. It was an exasperation in the household that money had to be found to pay the postman whenever packages or mail arrived from Hertha.
Again, Hertha acts as a witness to Cecile when Cecile applies for a passport.
Hertha is in Shanghai living at 31 Carter Street.
Cecile is renewing her passport and working at China Realty Company at 27 Nanking Road.
Hertha renews her passport in Manila.
Mrs. Ella Lindenfeld, who has known Hertha for 6 months is her witness.
Hertha’s Manila passport photo.
The Prince of Wales sails into Bombay at the start of his tour of India.
The whole world is watching the Prince as he is quite a celebrity.
“There was a lot of anxiety about this trip not only because of thre recent massacre at Amritsar.
Also Gandhi and the Congress organization struck a temporary alliance with the Muslin Community….at one point they threatened a completely boycott of the Prince’s visit”
Donaldson, Edward VIII
Cecile renews her passport in the Strait Settlements in Java.
In the winter of 1921-22, Pearl Buck started writing in Nanjing the story of her mother’s life. It was shortly after the death of her mother.
Hertha has left China and is on her way home.
I only have sketchy facts here given to me by Hertha’s nephew Teddy Clauss.
Hertha went to Calcutta (worked for a different British Firm).
Perhaps, this is when she met the Indian prince who, according to her niece Gertrude Gretsch, she fell in love with. Gertrude remembers stories of horse races and ladies wearing large hats…all very elegant and romantic!
The place of the race track in Calcutta:
The stream Nolly Nullah forms South Border and here is the Race Track and the Victoria Memorial. The west side is Hooghli River, east side Chouringhee Road
Hertha started home through Greece and Turkey.
Why was she returning home?
Hat sich der Mut verlassen….did her courage desert her?
What happened? was auf was sie nicht eingerichtet ? Teddy told me that her brothers and mother insisted that she come back home.
When Hertha first came to Calcutta in early 1922, there was a lot going on not only in the country itself but also at the bank where, I imagine, she would be working. Several of the facts below are gathered from :
History of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Vol.III: The Hong Kong Bank between the Wars and the Bank Interned 1919-1945
Frank H.H. King, Professor of Economic History, University of Hong Kongwith Catherine E. King and David J. S. King
Calcutta had always been considered a difficult agency (King). Now in early 1922 there were troubles not only in the offices of HSBC but in the country as a whole.
D. M. Ross was in Calcutta as sub manager. He had just been on a year’s leave and took up this position at a new location. It was thought that he would replace Stephen in the future but in Calcutta some “peculiarities of character” (King) showed themselves and W. K. Dods suggested that the Bank buy Ross out of there. W. K. Dods had been in Calcutta for many years. It was not ordinary for a bank manager to stay in one place for such a long time but Does had spend most of his career in Calcutta. It must have been a very unsettling time there to have D. M. Ross come in and be so disruptive right after Dods departure.
Also at the time, Gandhi and non-violent opposition were just beginning to make themselves felt in India…the beginning of popular discontent. In 1919, the British in India passed the Rowlett Act. In protest, a nationwide cessation of work (Hartal) was called for. On April 13, 1919, the Amritsar Massacre occurred in Punjab. The non- cooperation movement, a non-violent resistance was started.
In early 1922, when Hertha came to India, India was in the midst of this non-violent revolt, this non-cooperation movement, a near total boycott of government services.
The Chauri Chaura Incident occurred. Gandhi felt the revolt was going off course. He called off the strike nationwide and went on a hunger strike to the death in order to get the strike to stop…appealing to the Indians to stop resistance. Over the next 21 days, millions of nationalists gave up their activities to save Gandhi (Wikipedia)
Hertha is in Bombay, India. She is applying to travel through Palestine.
Her previous known location was in Manila in October 19, 1921, seven and one half months earlier.
From here, she makes her way through the Suez canal, up though Greece to meet her family in Paris. Details are sketchy but can be imagined.
Hertha’s brother Louie and his wife Marion sailed for Europe on their honeymoon.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Monday, October 9, 1922
GRETSCH-FRANK WEDDING, THIRD IN GRETSCH FAMILY
“The marriage of Miss Wilhelmina E. Gretsch to Andrew N Frank on Nov. 1 will be the third nuptial celebration in the Gretsch family within a few months. In July, Miss Gretsch’s cousin, Louis Gretsch, a real estate broker of Montague st. was married to Miss Marion Downey of this city, and the wedding of his brother Herbert Gretsch to Miss Marie Regina Furey followed in August.
Miss Wilhelmina E. Gretsch is the daughter of Mrs. Clara Gretsch of 20 Vernon ave. and her fiance is the son of Mrs. Ellen Frank formerly of Manhattan and now of Boston, Mass.
The ceremony will be performed at 8 0’clock at the Hotel Bossert, The Rev. Dr. John J. Heischmann officiating. Miss Olga Gretsch will be attending her sister as maid of honor and Edward Jacob of Fordham, N.Y. will act as the best man for the bridegroom.
Mr. and Mrs. Louis Gretsch are spending their honeymoon abroad and they expect to have a family reunion in Europe in the near future. Their sister, Miss Hertha Gretsch, who is coming West from the Orient after a stay of about five years in China, will meet them on her way back and they will also be joined by Mr. Gretsch’s mother, Rosa Kling, of 41 Sidney pl. and by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Gretsch.”
The above article was found in early April, 2016, by Gretchen Elsner Sommer. It sheds a lot of light as to what was going on in the family at that time. Two of Rosa’s children, Louis and Herbert, choose to marry while she was out of the country—-very interesting!!
Hertha arrived home on November 10. She sailed with Walter and Gertrude from Southampton on October 25.
Hertha met her brother Louis and his wife Marion in Paris. Her brother Walter and his wife Gertrude were also there. Louie and Marion were on their honeymoon. Hertha’s brothers insisted that Hertha return home with them. Hertha had been traveling “alone” for several years.
Gertrude, daughter of Walter Gretsch told me in 1996 that when Louie and Walter met Hertha in Paris, she had opium in her suitcase. Hertha’s brothers apparently went through her suitcases and dumped all the opium into the Seine. Gertrude also told me that Hertha had an Indian prince as a lover. That they used to go to horse races together. Hertha wore big hats and was really beautiful.
According to an article found in the Music Trade Review dated September 9, 1922, Rosa Gretsch Kling, who has been abroad since early spring, had plans to join Walter and Louis in Europe. She planned also to return with them in October. This would mean that Rosa was there in Paris when Hertha met them there.
The article goes on to say that Fred Gretsch reports that Courturier Band Instruments are selling well, etc. It seems to me that Fred Gretsch (my grandfather) had fed this story about family travel in Europe as an “in” to talk about his business selling these band instruments. Note Hertha is left completely out of the article, yet in the family stories to come of this trip, Hertha is the main character!
According to ships’ records, David and Rosa Kling, both age 61 (Rosa was actually 66), sailed from Hamburg on October 12 on the “Reliance” and arrived in New York on the 26th of October. They had left for Europe on April 15, 1922.
Perhaps, they visited William Gretsch who was at this time in Basel with his wife.
A few months later in October, Hertha went home and lived at 42 Sidney Place with her mother Rosa and her step father David Kling.
In Hilary Spurling’s book, Spurling quotes Pearl Buck as writing “I remember quite clearly one August afternoon that I said suddenly, ‘This very day I am going to begin to write, I am ready for it at last.'” She was in Kuling with her sister and her daughter, it was 1922.
The very time that Hertha was getting ready was quite possibly already on her way home from Asia.
Rosa and David Kling sailed from Hamburg.
Walter and Gertrude and Hertha sailed from Southampton.
Hertha arrived home in New York on November 10 after sailing from Southhampton on October 25. She was traveling with Walter and Gertrude Gretsch on the Aquitania. Hertha’s birthday is listed as November 22, 1889. She was 33 years old on her return. Hertha and Walter and Gertrude are all listed as living at 429 Clinton Street.
Louis and his wife Marion sailed on the Mauritania from Cherbourg. They arrived home on November 24. Their address is listed as 154 Montague Street.
Both of these addresses are in Brooklyn Heights. Also in Brooklyn Heights is 42 Sidney Place, a large apartment where Rosa lived with her husband David Kling and many of her children. In 1900, David Kling worked as a butler for Seymour L. Husted, a wealthy family at 157 Clinton Ave., also in Brooklyn Heights.
On the long ocean voyage home, Hertha would have had lots of time to talk with her brother Walter and his wife, Gertrude, about her adventures. It is interesting to note that it is Gertrude, their daughter, who told me the most about Hertha’s adventures. Teddy told me about her travels but he didn’t know or didn’t share the love details that Gertrude told me. Perhaps, Hertha shared these details with Gertrude’s parents on the trip home in November of 1922. Nine months later, Gertrude was born. She must have been conceived on board ship during this trip home with Hertha!
I wonder if Hertha was still keeping in touch with Cecile?
Did Hertha know that Cecile was sailing home in November.
Louis and Marion Gretsch return home to New York.
Cecile Reynolds left Shanghai and sailed for San Francisco.
This does not fit with the letter that her husband, Ray French, wrote stating that he and Cecile were sailing home on February 4, 1921. (See above on this date.)
Cecile Arnoux Reynolds left the US to return to Asia.
Cecile Arnoux Reynolds married David Toeg, a British subject and exchange broker in HongKong.
The above picture is Cecile Reynolds Arnoux Toeg.
Possibly this is also Cecile Arnold.
Hertha’s niece Gertrude Gretsch, daughter of Walter and Gertrude, was born.
Walter was 41 and Gertrude was 43 when their only child was born.
Gertrude had a son from an earlier marriage. The son was adopted after her marriage to Walter. Most of the family did not know about this first child of Gertrude’s until her funeral when this son showed up much to everyone’s surprise.
Little is known about Hertha in the time after she returned but less than two years after returning she was on the road again.
Did she have contact with Cecile Reynolds again?
Had her inheritance from Jacob Hyman run out?
Hertha’s uncle William Gretsch died at Friedmatt Insane Asylum in Basel, Switzerland.
Perhaps, Hertha inherited some money from his death.
Perhaps, that is what enabled her to think about traveling again.
Pearl Buck published in the Atlantic Monthly “In China Today”. Did Hertha read this? This article and another published two months later, were Pearl’s “debut as a writer”…..Hilary Spurling, Pearl Buck in China.
Pearl Buck published in Forum, “Beauty in China”.
I wonder if Hertha and Pearl Buck’s paths ever crossed…..they certainly were contemporaries with an interest in China….interesting to think about.
Cecile Arnoux Reynolds Toeg applies for a US Passport, in Shanghai, China. She is living with her husband and residing at No.28, Kiangse Road, Shanghai.
Irene Margaret Conant is her witness. Irene lives at the Astor House Hotel and has known Cecile for one year.
The picture of Cecile on this passport application is very much like the picture for the Cecile Reynolds that Hertha knew in Shaighai in 1921.
Cecile’s birthday is always July 9.
It is so interesting that at almost the exact time that Cecile applies for a new passport, Hertha also applies for a new passport—but in different parts of the world.
Hertha C. Gretsch applies for a passport in Dade County, Florida.
She states her birthday as November 4, 1894. (This is not correct Hertha was born in 1889 and would be 35 in the coming November.)
She states her father was born in Mannheim, Germany and is now deceased.
She lives at 8651 Palo Alto Ave, in Hollis, New York. Her occupation is a student.
She states that this is her first passport application. But we know differently.
Hertha is up to her old tricks of falsifying her passport application.
Vivian Thompson (male), a teacher, was her witness and claims to have know her for two years.
She gives her address as Plaza Hotel, Havana, Cuba.
She is five feet five inches tall and has a scar on her left temple.
How did she get that scar? She didn’t have it on her last passport application in 1919.
On the same day, Sarah M. Stoker a widow also applied for a passport at Dade Country, Florida. Her occupation was a writer and she lived at 132 State Street in Brooklyn. Hertha C. Gretsch was her witness. Hertha had known her for 20 years. Vivian Thompson was also a witness for Sarah. M. Stoker.
I have found that Sarah M. Stoker also traveled to Bermuda in February of 1913. Hertha was also in Bermuda at this time. Perhaps, this is when they met. In 1913, Sarah was living in Brooklyn at 1017 W. 10th Street and Hertha was living also in Brooklyn at 1183 Bergen Street.
It was not until the next year that Hertha’s became famous for receiving a fortune from Jacob Hyman.
Hertha’s passport picture from 1924
Sarah M. Stoker returns to the USA aboard “Leviathan” sailing from Southampton and landing in New York. Hertha is not with her. Where is she??? Did she stay in Europe for two more years until her mother and David Kling went to bring her home in September of 1928?
This would have been the second trip that Hertha set out on alone and came home with family members.
Hertha’s mother, Rosa and her husband David Kling moved to 115-31 Union Turn Pike in Forest Hills.
Rosa now lived just around the corner from her daughter Helen and her husband Jack Welsh.
Rosa’s son Fred and his wife Charlotte lived a few blocks away on Shorthill road.
Rosa’s granddaughter Gertrude remembers visiting her grandmother’s house and playing with the large bag of toys that was always waiting for her.
Gertrude also remembers Rosa’s husband David Kling as being very good looking and debonair.
Hertha’s niece Gertrude told me that Hertha had her own apartment on Burns Street and that she had a job in the city as a secretary. I can find no record of Hertha working other than the 1930 census.
Gertrude was always very impressed with her Aunt Hertha. Gertrude always thought Hertha was beautiful and exotic.
Hertha traveled to Key West, Florida from Havana, Cuba with her sister, Helene Gretsch Welsh and Helene’s husband, John P Welsh. Hertha’s birthday is listed as April 15, 1896. Helene is listed as being born August 22, 1985. John P. Welsh is listed as being born April 14, 1895. These dates are very out of synch with other reports of Hertha and her sister. They were obviously not disclosing their real ages.
It is interesting that they all traveled together to Florida in the cold weather of January.
In Goettingen, Germany, Erika Roessler married Herbert Bobs. Erika was the daughter of Dolly von Gerichten Roessler. Dolly was born in San Francisco in 1867. Dolly and Hertha’s father were first cousins. Erika had an older sister Hertha Roessler who was also born in Germany. She was close in age to our Hertha Gretsch.
Perhaps, Hertha was invited to this wedding of her second cousin. There is no record. I wonder—-
Note that Hertha’s older brother, Fred, his wife Charlotte and son Richard were also traveling in Germany at this time. There is no record of whether they attended the wedding.
June Trader Horn by Mrs. Ethelreda Lewis is published. Book stores had large paper-mache dummies of the book.
Did Hertha see all this commotion about the book and think of her own travels?
May 12 Hertha’s sister in law, Charlotte Sommer Gretsch, died. Charlotte was living at 37 Shorthill Road.
Sept.5 Hertha Gretsch, age 30 born November 4, 1898 is recorded on the ship Sierra Cordoba, and landing in New York. Her mother Rosa and David Kling are also onboard this ship.
She gives her address as 237 Greenway North, Forest Hills.
Hertha is living with her sister, Helen Welsh.
This record found June 28, 2007. I had no precious knowledge of this trip to Europe or that Hertha lived with her sister.
Note again that Hertha is taking liberties with her age. She is actually ten years older.
According to the US Census, David and Rosa Kling are living at 107 Union Turnpike in Forest Hills. David is working as a Real Estate Agent.
Hertha is living with them. She is working as a Renting Agent for Apartments.
According to the same Census, John Welsh and his wife Helen Welsh, Hertha’s sister, lived at 105 (237?) North Greenway Terrace. They had a maid Lena Sandmeyer.
According to the same Census, Fred Gretsch and his sons are living at 37 Shorthill Road with their housekeeper, Lizzie Wittrich, age 48, from Vienna. Austria. John Evans and his wife and son are living next door.
According to the Census, Elsa and her husband Joseph T. Clauss are living at 1707 Avenue N. Joseph is 53 years old and a Bank manager. Their sons Teddy 20 and John (Jack) 15 live with them.
The above picture of Cecile Arnold was taken on February 6, 1930.
Cecile Arnold, the American silent film actress died in Hong Kong from the flu. Was this Hertha’s traveling friend?
Did Hertha know of her death?
Nephew Teddy Clauss graduates from Lehigh University.
Hertha’s nephew Dick Gretsch travels around the world.
Did he seek advice from his Aunt Hertha who had lived and traveled in the Far East for several years?
Hertha’s mother, Rosa, dies at age 78. She dies from myocarditis with contributing causes of kidney disease. She was living at 115-31 Union Turnpike in Forest Hills.
Rosa died at the same time that her grandson Dick was returning from his trip around the world.
Rosa’s son Fred, Dick’s father, must have been torn between his mother’s death and his son’s return.
Hertha was admitted to the Holy Family Hospital.
Dr. Downey, a very prestigious doctor and the father of her brother’s wife (Marion Gretsch), took care of her there.
As a child Hertha had Scarlet Fever. Now, that long ago first infection, which still circulated in her blood stream, developed into rheumatic fever causing harmful inflammation of the heart and its valves and her joints.
Gertrude Gretsch was nine years old at the time of her aunt’s illness. Since Gertrude always thought of Hertha as a very glamorous person, Gertrude understood now that her Aunt Hertha was suffering from “romantic fever”.
Young Gertrude misunderstood the words “rheumatic fever” and thought it was very appropriate that her Aunt Hertha would have “ROMANTIC FEVER”.
Perhaps, Gertrude even as a nine year old understood her aunt better than any of Hertha’s own siblings. Gertrude saw a “romance” in Hertha that none of her brothers or sisters seemed able to connect to!
Teddy remembers visiting Hertha at the hospital and she would be getting infusions from canned blood.
Died Bacterial Endocarditic Pulmonary Infarcts. Contributory: valvular disease of the heart. Holy Family Hospital 1151 Dean Street Brooklyn .
Although Hertha was the youngest of the Gretsch girls, she was the first to die. Each of her older sisters survived her by more than 40 years.
Buried Greenwood Cemetery Brooklyn Lot #292-61 sec 145