The Forster Family

The Forster Family

The above photograph depicts the Forster family of Philadelphia. We know the names of people in the photograph and where it was taken because of a type-written note on its reverse. It was purchased at an antique/junk store on in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore, MD.

Heinrich Joseph Eduard Adolph Fäster (1817-1891), later Forster, and his wife, Eleonore Dorette “Dorothea” Henrietta Klieves (1822-1913), immigrated from Germany to the USA separately. I don’t know when or how Adolph got here. Dorothea was single when she arrived in to the Port of Baltimore in 1841 aboard the S.S. Caspar sailing out of Bremen, Germany. Immigration documents say she “originated” in Nienover.

Adolph’s occupation in 1850 was “looking glass maker” and the family lived in Philadelphia’s Pine Ward. We know from Census records and Adolph’s obituary that the full address was 421 S. 2d Street, now the site of a CVS. Adolph’s other recorded occupations were “variety store” owner, “toy maker,” and proprietor of Adolph Forster & Company which imported toys and dolls from Germany.

Of their children, the first born was Amilie Louise Forster (1845-1928). She never married and no occupation was listed on her death certificate.

Second born was Emma Augusta Forster (1846-1934). She married German-born Henry Bauermeister (1837-1904) who was a toy importer. When I learned that Emma married a Bauermeister, I remembered the box I got the above photograph from contained a photograph of the Bauermeister family in Germany, so I went back to the store and found two versions of it.

Third born was Josephine Doris Forster (1848-1938). Josephine also never married though her death certificate lists her occupation as “housewife.” Her obituary asked that “Wheeling, WV papers please copy,” but I was unable to figure out the reason.

The fourth born was George Forster, in September 1852, and he is not in the photograph. He lived at least until age 18 when he was enumerated with his family in the U. S. Census of 1870, but I found nothing more about him.

Fifth born was Wilhelm “William” Heinrich August Forster (1859-1939). William followed in his father’s footsteps as an importer of toys and dolls from Europe and apparently renamed the business after himself. William never married. When he died he left his estate of $70,000 ($1,311,306.47 in 2020 dollars) to four nieces who lived in Baltimore, Olga Marie Wacker (1899-1961), Ilse Forster Wacker (1904-1962), Dorothy Forster Wacker (1895-1989), and Carla Wacker (1908-1985).

Those Wacker girls were among the children of the sixth child, Cecelia Louisa Forster (1864-1927). She married German-born Charles N. Wacker (1847-1921) in Philadelphia in 1893. By 1900 they had moved to Baltimore and Charles was working as a ship chandler. Charles’s obituary informed that he was “engaged in the canning business in Maryland” for many years. Here is the best version of the photograph I went back to the store to get:

Caption on the reverse: Picnic in Bremen, Celia (sic) Forster with Bauermeister Family

The owner of the antique/junk shop where I bought these materials called me back a week or so after I obtained the above photographs to tell me about the availability of some actors’ head shots in a box of papers at the shop. I went over to have a look and found four photographs autographed to Stanley Broughton Tall, Sr. (1891-1966), a Baltimore playwright whose second wife was Dorothy Forster Wacker. Tall was born in Baltimore County, MD to Otis Jackson Tall (1866-1920) and Onia Broughton (1865-1917).

Tall’s obituary in The Evening Sun described him as a “versatile dramatist and public relations writer” who was a drama critic for that newspaper in the 1930s, a program director for WBAL, and a publicist for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Tall self-published Pages From a Critic’s Note Book in 1913, which contained “the personal opinions of the writer concerning authors, plays, and players . . . written in true journalistic manner; the night of the play and in the night of the midnight oil.” Tall also formed Tall-Owens Publishing Company to publish a number of songs with him as the lyricist and one William Owens as the composer.

The actors whose autographed photographs follow performed in the premiere of Tall’s “Green Jade” in Dayton, OH in September 1921. I was unable to find a copy of the play but here is a review of that performance. A notice said it was expected to be the first play performed at the Times Square Theater in September 1920 with Florence Reed starring, but the theater opened with Reed starring instead in The Mirage and that ran for 192 performances.

To Mr. Broughton Tall with my sincere good wishes, Jane Stuart, “Green Jade,” 9-12-21
To Mr. Tall–Hope the play goes over big in N. Y., Sincerely, Frances Pitt

Francis Pitt was the daughter of the English actor William Addison Pitt (1876-1968) and Helen Agnes Schayer (1875-1959) and the grand-daughter of the actress Fannie Addison Pitt (1876-1968).

To Mr. Tall, In sincere appreciation of the opportunity of playing “Richard,” Corliss Giles
To Mr. Tall, a fellow Baltimorean, I wish the greatest success. The original “((Maz)),” Fraunie

“Fraunie” had a number of stage names but his true name was Francis Anthony Fraunholz (1883-1961). Fraunie was, like Tall, a Baltimorean, the son of a wood carver named John M. Fraunholz (1854-1936) and Catherine E. Parr (1863-1943). All four of his grandparents were born in Bavaria. His Wikipedia page has a list of films he appeared in between during 1913-1919 which I can’t vouch for given that Fraunie’s vital statistics are all wrong. In the 1930s Fraunie was the Bergen County, NJ director of the Federal Theater Project (1935-1939).