The above photograph depicts Ruth Elizabeth Melhorn (1903-1989). York County, PA newspapers from the 1920s to the 1970s are full of mentions of Ruth as a pianist or organist, as the accompanist at weddings and other social events, and as organist and choir director at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. In the 1960s and 1970s Ruth was very active in the Hanover YWCA, serving as an officer of the Garden Club and teaching needlework and sewing classes.
Ruth was born in Williamsport, PA, the daughter of William H. Melhorn (1869-1905) and Anna (Annie) Kate Trone (1867-1942). William’s grandfather Simon was a German immigrant. William was a printer of the newspaper Grit which originated in Williamsport in 1882. Annie’s father, Henry Luther Trone (1835-1926) was York County’s oldest surviving member of the Grand Army of the Republic when he died.
After William’s early death, Annie and Ruth moved back to Annie’s hometown of Hanover, PA to live with Annie’s parents in the house at 136 Baltimore Street where she grew up. Annie worked as a stitcher in a shoe factory. Ruth was last noted living there in 1946 when she was listed as a saleslady at J. C. Penny Company, Inc.
Ruth and Clair Jacob Berkheimer (1901-1968) obtained a marriage license in Hanover on 29 December 1949, but I don’t know what day they married. Clair, who had also not previously married, was residing in the family home on Clarlisle Street in Hanover. The two apparently met through their involvement in church music. Clair spent 38 years as a clerk and salesman for the Hanover Hardware Company before retiring in 1962. Their home at 36 Clearview Road in Hanover and all its contents were sold in a public auction on 9 October 1989.
There is no good way to date this photograph. I’m lousy at judging a person’s age from their appearance. Joseph E. Poist took over John G. Feeser’s photography operation in 1907 and his children J. Elbert Poist and Francis M. Poist assumed control in 1929, so that leaves a wide window of years. We can assume that the photograph was taken before Ruth married because the inscriber went back later to add her married name and used a different ink: