Eddie Rommel the Knuckleballer

The following photograph depicts Edwin Americas Rommel (1897-1970), his wife Emma Elizabeth Fahey (1897-1971), and their children, Edwin Americus Rommel, Jr. (1924-2000) and Patricia Ruth Rommel (1925). I assess this photograph was taken in 1925.

Rommel Family

They are sitting on the porch of 1610 Chilton Avenue (AKA as Chilton Street) in Baltimore, just a few doors down from the subject of my previous post, 1614 Chilton Avenue where the Drevo family lived.

The batch of photographs associated with the Drevo family contained no captions or identities, which caused me to first assume these folks were Drevos. But I could see the above porch is not on an end unit and the stone work doesn’t match that of 1614. I matched the photograph to 1610 using Google Earth’s Street View and that led to the Rommel family. Though there are hundreds of photographs of Eddie online the comparison wasn’t a simple one, so I found a fellow genealogical researcher who is also a distant relative, Bob Rommel, and he confirmed their identities. He didn’t have a name for the dog–and I spent too much time looking for one.

The Rommels bought the house in November 1923 and lived there until their deaths.

Eddie was the son of Frederick A. Rommel (1848-1934) and Louise S. Bennecke (1864-1940). Louise was born in Germany as were both of Frederick’s parents. Emma was the daughter of Bartholomew J. Fahey (1897-1934) and Emma M. Kares (1868-1949).

Here is ESPN’s statistics for Eddies career as a pitcher. It is said that Eddie was the first person to employ the knuckleball in a MLB game, a pitch he learned after the spitball was outlawed.

The following photograph is probably Edwin Americus Rommel, Jr. riding his trike on the sidewalk of 1610 Chilton.

Baby on trike.jpg


Eddie Rommel the Knuckleballer

1614 Chilton Avenue

Joseph Drevo, Sr. (1880-1957), his wife Johanna M. Luk Drevo (1882-1956), and their son William Luk Drevo, Sr, (1905-1993) sailed from Bremen, Germany aboard the SS Chemnitz and arrived to Baltimore, MD on 13 December 1905. They were natives of Pacov in what was then Austria-Hungary but now is the Czech Republic, and their contact in the USA was Joseph’s brother, Frank Drevo, who immigrated in 1903. In the 1910 Census the three of them were enumerated in the same residence as Frank and his wife Mary at 722 North Milton Avenue. Both Frank and Joseph were cabinet makers in a factory.

Joseph and Johanna, who was also known as Jennie, purchased 1614 Chilton Street in June 1923 and lived there until her death in 1956 and his death in 1957. Here are some photographs of that house and the neighborhood. Unfortunately there were no identities associated with the people pictured.

1614 Chilton Avenue 1

1614 Chilton Avenue 2

1614 Chilton Avenue 3

1614 Chilton Avenue 4

Group @ 1614 Chilton

Joseph and Jennie raised three children on Chilton Street: William who married Olga Nenadal (1909-1989); Anna Helen Drevo (1906-1999) who married Emil J. Novotny (1900-1971); and Joseph Charles Drevo, Jr. (1908-1985) who married Dorothy Victoria Jacob (1913-1958).

William Luk Drevo, Sr. was an architect who graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art and George Washington University, which probably explains why this batch contained photographs of buildings. The only building I can identify is the Standard Oil Building on St. Paul Street in Baltimore:

Standard Oil Bldg superstructure

Standard Oil Bldg

Here is the building as of November 2017:

Standard Oil Building

Of the several photographs of people in this batch, the only Drevo I can positively identify is Robert Joseph Drevo (1949), the son of Joseph Charles Drevo and Dorothy Victoria Jacob, whose baby picture is shown below, along with a note from his mother to his paternal grandparents:



You’ll notice there are no last names on any of these photographs, so where did the name Drevo come from? There were four Czech language postcards from Pacov in the batch, and one was addressed to Joseph Drevo at 1614 Chilton Street. Here is a sample:

Postcard 2 front

There are more photographs to examine but it’s time to move on. Next up, photographs of a Chilton Street neighbor family that was a little bit famous.


1614 Chilton Avenue

A Few Hoff Family Members


According to the caption written on its back, the above photograph depicts May, Louis, and Annie Hoff who lived at 1711 North Bethel Street:

Kids pic

The photograph was in a big bunch I bought at an antique store in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore in early 2018. I discovered after I got home that I had also scooped up the the following photograph which, according to its caption, depicts their father, John Hoff.

1 3

Dad's pic

While it is obvious that the captions were written by the same hand, we can also see that John Paul Hoff (1866-1946) and Amelia Achatz Hoff (1871-1947) lived at 1711 North Bethel Street between 1902 and 1910. The children are too young for the photograph to have been shot at this address but I had no success in fixing the photograph’s setting. We learn from the 1910 Census that John was born in Switzerland and was a carpenter whose mother tongue was French. Amelia was born in Germany and was a homemaker. They had been married 19 years in 1910 and 10 of the 12 children Amelia bore were still living.

Mary Anna Hoff (1883-1963) was also known as Mae. She married Francis Kirby McManus (1890-1983) and they had two daughters, Anna Irma McManus (1913-2003) and Mary Althea McManus (1917-2018).

Louis A. Hoff (1896-1969) was a plumber. He married Cecilia Morris (1897) and they had one son, Louis Nicholas Hoff (1925-1970).

The only traces of Annie Hoff (February 1895) I could find were in the 1900 and 1910 Censuses.

Ernsberger’s Photograph Gallery appears to have been located at 501 and 503 North Gay Street, Baltimore, MD in 1891, but the property went for auction that same year. In 1996 J. G. Ernsberger was operating his “photographing establishment” up the street at 588 North Gay Street. This dates the photograph of John to circa 1891.

John appeared with his family in Census records until 1920, but in 1930 and 1940 he was enumerated as a patient at the Spring Grove State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Catonsville, MD. Amelia was enumerated in the Census as married in 1930 and 1940. By 1924 she was listed as single in the city directory and living at 4322 East Eager Street in Baltimore, a house Louis bought in 1923. Starting in 1924 Amelia was listed in city directories as the “widow of John P.”

A Few Hoff Family Members

Anna Sophia Wanecker Schnabel


The above photograph depicts Anna Sophia Wanecker Schnabel (1881-1955). I could find no record of Roy’s photography establishment at 515 South Broadway in Baltimore, but we know Kann’s store was at 509-513 South Broadway from at least 1887 until S. Kann, Sons & Company of Washington, DC sold the property to the Broadway Theater Company in 1913.

The book she is holding appears to be 1890 version of “The Reformed Church Hymnal” which was copyrighted in 1890. You can buy your own copy here. According to an item in The Baltimore Sun on 21 December 1895 entitled “Christmas Music,” Sophia was going to be a soprano in the choir at Faith Reformed Church on Christmas Day. Faith, which apparently was established circa 1887, held “opening services” at it’s new location at the corner of Gough Street and Patterson Park Avenue on 17 November 1888. The building currently at that location, a church building converted into condominiums, was built in 1920 according to some real estate advertisements.

Can we assume this photograph commemorates her confirmation? Do you wonder, as I do, which hymn is marked by her finger.

According to the U.S. Social Security Application and Claims Index, 1936-2007, Sophia’s parents were Gustav Wanecker and Mary H. Gardner. I could find no record of Gustav. Elsewhere, Sophia’s maiden name is given as Waneker, specifically in the above mentioned Christmas music announcement in 1895, an announcement that Sophia and her husband obtained a marriage license in 1899, and Sophia’s and her husband’s obituaries. I make this point so emphatically because it is new information to genealogists of the family who have created family trees on Ancestry.

All other available evidence indicates Sophia’s mother’s name was Mary A. Gardner (1848-1911). We first see her in the 1880 Census entry in which she is enumerated as Mary Wunderlich, seamstress, native of Prussia, either widowed or divorced, and living with daughters Minnie (1863-1947) and Margaret (1870-1946) at 286 Canton Avenue (now Fleet Street) in Baltimore. The name Wunderlich, which Google Translate informs means “whimsical” in English, was sometimes rendered Wonderling. The 1990 Census gives Mary’s immigration date as 1882 and backs that up by showing she had been in the U.S. for 18 years, but that is obviously incorrect given that she appears in the 1880 Census. The birthplaces of Minnie and Margaret are consistently Maryland. Confusion abounds.

Minnie’s obituary gives her father’s name as Christian Wunderlich but I dug up no further details about him. Minnie never married and is buried beside to her mother in Saint Matthew’s Cemetery, findagrave.com memorials¬†188540486 and 75923287.

Margaret, who was known as Maggie, married George A. Slater (1870-1915) and they had two children, Gustav Slater (1897-1991) and Mary (1899-1905). That Margaret named her only son Gustav further substantiates a marriage between Mary and Gustav Wanecker. Margaret, George, and Mary were buried in the Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Congregation of Baltimore Cemetery, also known as Trinity Cemetery, but their graves were moved in 1972 to make room for I-95. I did not try to find their current location.

Mary married Nicholas J. Thorn (1820-1901) in 1888. An unsourced document registering the wedding listed her name as Mary A Warnerger which is probably a garble for Wanecker. Their daughter, Nellie E. Thorn (1889-1970), married Joseph Francis Wess (1889-1948) and they had five daughters.

Sophia married George Frederick Schnabel (1872-1947) in 1899 and they had three children, Frederick August Schnabel (1900-1901), William Paul Schnabel (1902-1993), and Nellie Ruth Schnabel (1909-1983). They are all buried together, along with George’s parents, Frederick August Schnabel (1847-1903) and Elizabeth Meinschein (1844-1929), in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Baltimore County, MD. No direct descendants of Sophia and George have survived to the present day.

The following is the reverse of the photograph. I purchased the photograph at an antique store on The Avenue in the Baltimore neighborhood of Hampden.

1 1

Anna Sophia Wanecker Schnabel

Three Men in a Car


The above photograph depicts Carl Verner Kelley (1891-1969), Carl’s brother-in-law William A. Coutcher (1891-1955), and William’s son Frank William Coutcher (1923-2005), who was also known as Frankie. I’m guessing that’s Carl in the front seat with Frankie sitting on his father’s lap in the back seat.

It took a while to figure things out using the information in the caption written on the back of the photo. To start with, this photograph was in a box that contained a lot of photographs from Michigan (See my previous post about the Morgan Sisters) and that gave me a hint about where to start looking. It turned out Carl and William died in Monroe County, MI where Frankie was born. I arrived at the name Coutcher by trial and error, then connected the Coutchers with the Kelleys. The final bits of evidence were Carl’s signatures on his WWI and WWII draft registration cards (see below) which matched the handwriting of the caption, also proving that the caption was written by Carl. We can suppose the photograph was taken by Ethel Chloe Kelley (1893-1986) who was Carl’s sister, William’s wife, and Frankie’s mother.

Carl and Ethel were two of the four children of Alonzo Caleb Kelley (1846-1914) and Alice Suray Miller (1870-1959). Carl, who never married, was a metal worker by trade. He is buried near where he was born in Hancock County, OH, in McComb Union Cemetery along with his parents and 100 other Kelleys.

William was the son of Frank Coutcher (1870-1947) and Christina Ring (1872-1934). He married Ethel in 1916. William was a WWI veteran and the inventor of a cruise control apparatus for motor vehicles for which he received patent US2503802A in 1950. William was a laborer (1910), barber (1920), and carpenter (1930), but in the 1940 Census was listed as a chiropractor.

Frankie moved to Tampa, FL in 1948 had a career in medicine. He married Ruth Ellen Byus (1927) and they had several children. You can read his obituary here.

All of the photographs I examine have hidden stories, but this one sparks my imagination more than many. In all of the 1920’s William, Ethel, Frankie, and Carl were living in Toledo, OH,¬†much of the time in the Kelley house on Yondota Street where there is now a vacant lot. A trip to Santa Rita, NM must have been part of a grand tour. Santa Rita would not have been the destination of such a trip, only a stop along the way. Obviously this was not the only photograph Ethel took, but perhaps this is the only one Carl captioned. Assuming Frankie is sitting on his father’s lap, what is Carl telling them? William does not look pleased. What is causing that look of alarm on Frankie’s face as he looks down at the ground?

Following are two examples of Carl’s signature. On the left is his signature on his WWI draft registration signed on 5 June 1917. On the right is his WWII draft registration signed on 27 April 1942.

Below is the caption on the reverse of the photograph.


Three Men in a Car

The Morgan Sisters

Sisters in front of the Floral Clock front

The young ladies in the above photograph are Christine Morgan (1931) and her sister Gwendolyn Grant Morgan (1933-2013). I don’t know which is which but I imagine Christine is on the left. The photograph was taken on 18 August 1935 in front of the Floral Clock in Deerborn, MI. The caption typed on the back is shown below.

The Floral Clock had just been dedicated in it’s new location in Henry Ford‘s Greenfield Village on 4 July 1935. The water-powered clock had originally been installed in Detroit’s Water Works Park. You can read a brief history of Water Works Park and the clock here, and see some nice photographs of the clock here.

The girls were the only children of Wendell Grant Morgan (1908-1992), born in Bay City, MI, and Prestonia Christine R. Woodruff (1910-2005), born in Nashville, TN. The photograph must have been taken during a vacation because the family was living in Charlotte, NC in 1935. Wendell, University of Michigan class of 1929, where he also received a master’s degree in economics, began his career as the dean of men at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte in September 1930. Prestonia received her Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude there in 1944. Wendell was business manager at the university, then business manager at Bishop College in Marshall, TX. He moved to Howard University as manager of service enterprises in 1947 and retired from Howard as assistant treasurer in 1973.

Here is a 5 June 1933 photograph of one of the Charlotte houses they lived in (caption shown below):

house front

Here is an April 2017 photograph of the house from Google Maps:

Beatie's Ford Road house detail

Finally, here is a photograph of Gwendolyn taken on 5 July 1933 when she was two months old. It was obviously taken in the front yard of the Beatie’s Road house. The houses across the street are no longer there. The caption written on the back is shown below.

Gwendoly Grant Morgan front

The captions:

Sisters in front of the Floral Clock back

house back

Gwendolyn Grant Morgan back

The Morgan Sisters

A Sense of Colorful Well-Being: Joan Marie Reiter

Joan swimsuit 2.jpg

The owner of that big, beautiful smile was Joan Marie Reiter (1929-2017). I found her photo album, dated 1948, at an antique store in the Baltimore neighborhood of Hampden in January 2018. I could afford to purchase only the pages which contained photographs of her and members of her immediate family and a couple of loose ones stuck inside.

Joan swimsuit 1

Joan was born in the Bronx to Robert Francis Reiter, Sr. (1883-1964) and Mae Margaret Terrell (1894-1962). She graduated from Metuchen High School in Metuchen, NJ in 1947. She was a member of the “Twirlers” who were described in the 1947 yearbook, the Blue Letter, as “high school girls in blue and white costumes” who “lined the halves at football games and generally gave to the school games a sense of colorful well being.” She was also a member of The Middionettes Club which “was organized not as a ‘good-time’ club but with the idea of being generally helpful . . . making favors, tray covers, etc., for hospital trays and lending a helpful hand wherever it is most needed.

Here is Joan posing with a 1941 Chevrolet Master Delux:

Joan by car front

Below is Joan and her ’47 classmate Ellen Ruth Christophersen:

Ellen and Joan front

Here is a photo of the previously mentioned Ellen Christophersen, classmate Elizabeth Anne Coffey (1930-2000), and Roger J. Canary III (1929-1974).

Roger Ellen Betty front.jpg

Below are photos from a pages in Joan’s album. First up are Joan’s mom, Mary Margaret Terrell (1894-1962) and Joan’s brother, William John Reiter, Sr. (1920-2002) who was known as Billy. Billy was a welder.

1944 Mother and Billy.png

Below are three photographs of Joan’s other brother, Robert Francis Reiter, Jr. (1922-1982), also known as Bobby, who was an accountant. I don’t know who the women are or the identity of the photobomber.


Finally, a photograph of Joan’s dad, Robert Frank Reiter (1883-1964)

Dad, Labor Day 1947.png

Joan married Joseph Michael Dalton (1925-1996) in 1954 and, after he died, Francis Michael Mirkay, Jr. (1938-2003). All three of them are buried in Potomac, MD.


A Sense of Colorful Well-Being: Joan Marie Reiter