Thursday, July 21, 2016


I was turning 7 years old, and this was an extra-special birthday party.  I am the somewhat disheveled little girl with the sagging belt in the back row.  The girl to the left was a neighborhood friend, whom I have long forgotten  The dark curly-headed boy on the right, the woman in the photo and the little boy in short pants were honored guests -- Gail Stegall and her sons, Virgil Eugene  and Michael. They were at our house in Long Beach, California on a visit from Denver.  The last two girls were my sister Ginnie Lou with the doll, and my cousin Shirley, kneeling.  Gail and my mom were best friends, and after high school had shared an apartment while they set out on their first jobs.  But marriage made a change in that, and "Virgie Gene" (as we knew him) was born in 1934 and I was born in 1935.  I was given the middle name of Gail, after his mom.

Looking at this picture,from my baby book reminds me that as a small kid, I always intended to marry Virgie Gene.  However, my sister made claim to him also, simply because in this picture he had his arm "around" her.  My sis and I had many squabbles over which one of us this darling boy was going to marry.

This next picture, also from my baby book, was taken at an earlier time.  Mother noted that it was my third birthday (June 26, 1938) and that we were in Denver, visiting the Stegalls.  Mike had not yet been born. Virgie is the sailor.   (Note:  I think I had the hug this earlier time.)  

As the demands of motherhood grew more involved, the vacation visits ceased, but mother and Gail wrote each other faithfully through the years.  In those days, one didn't make long distance calls to chat; the cost was too high.

So it was a surprise when mother got a call from Gail in the summer of 1946 from Denver.  The news was not good.  Virgie Gene had unexpectedly died.  As I recall, he had played in a softball game, and at the conclusion drank a lot of water.  And he died shortly thereafter.  That may not be the story at all; but it is what I remember my mother telling me.  Those were the polio years; there was some speculation as to whether or not that played a part in his death.

I am sure mother eventually found out from Gail what the cause was, but we kids never knew.  And life goes on.  Mother and Gail communicated until they each passed away in the 1980s.  My sister didn't treasurer her baby book like I treasured mine, and I doubt if she ever gave Virgie Gene a thought. But quite often I have occasion to delve into mine - either by way of reminiscing, or to confirm something genealogical, or even to use as an illustration when I give a talk on "Writing Your Family History." When I do this I always see little Virgie Gene's pictures, and I remember how important he was in my life, -- as a future husband, I hoped!

He is buried in Denver, and his name is inscribed in the lower left hand area of his father's tombstone. It is a bit hard to read when looking at the photograph on  But it's there.

1934 - 1946

And it's here, too, as an IMMORTALNOBODY.

Saturday, July 16, 2016



I never met Wilhelmine, because she died the same year I was born.  But even so, I felt like I knew her because at Colorado Springs High School she was my mother's best friend.  By the time my sis and I got to be maybe 6 or 7, we were very active in wanting to know all about our mom...when she was born (Colorado), where she lived (on a farm), did she have brothers and sisters (yes, a lot), and who were her friends in school, (and she always named Wilhelmine as her best friend in high school.)

I suspect part of the lure of having mother answer all these questions was that we had never heard of such a name as Wilhelmine had.  I can't say as my mom's family had very common names - a brothers Nevalyn, Byrd and Hugh, and sisters Florence, Marie and Margie.  Mother was Virginia.  All name of that time but not very common for us little girls.  But for some reason we were totally taken by Wilhelmine's name, and not only that first name but her good German last name, too.  

Perhaps this is why at age 81, I still remember Wilhelmine, and how mother always told us she was very nice, very smart, and very friendly - always the attributes she expected from us.

The years passed.  Mother died in 1982.  I began researching my family tree as a result of my mother's death: I realized there was no one left who could provide me with answers as to my family in those early years.  I began by researching in Colorado, pre-Internet times.

One day not too long ago I was on-line looking at obituaries in Colorado Springs, seeing who I could find whose name rang a bell.  I was startled to find Wilhelmine's obituary, dated 1935.  And I was sad to think that she died before she even had a chance at life.  Here's what the obit said:

Colorado Springs Gazette, 3/29/1935, page 1

Mary Meinholtz Dies At Her Home

Popular College Graduate Ill Only Few Days; No Funeral Plans

Miss Mary Wilhelmine Meinholtz, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Meinholtz, 1624 North Cascade Avenue, and popular Colorado College graduate, died yesterday afternoon at her home, following brief illness. Her condition was regarded as improving, when it suddenly took a turn for the worse and death followed quickly.

Mr. Meinholtz, who was out of the city, was promptly notified and his return was expected momentarily last night.

Miss Meinholtz, who was born in Henryetta, Okla., in February, 1911, was graduated from Colorado College last year. During the time she attended college she was one of the most popular members of the student body. She was a member of Delta Gamma sorority and the Tiger Club. Before entereing Colorado college she studied at Northwestern University and Colorado State Teachers College.

Last year Miss Meinholtz was awarded first prize in the Colorado College beauty contest.

Following her graduation she entered the employ of the Alexander Film company of this city.

Surviving, besides her parents, are three sisters, Helen and Marjorie Meinholtz of this city and Miss Lucille Meinholtz, who is a student at Lindenwood college, St. Charles, Mo.

Funeral arrangements will be made at the Law mortuary.

I am constantly surprised at the amazing things I can uncover when I research.  I am very pleased when I find somebody who I think needs to be remembered in my IMMORTALNOBODIES blog.  And frankly, at my age (81) I am surprised at the things I do remember, especially since I mostly can't remember what I had for breakfast on any given morning!  

I don't know that there are any present-day Meinholtzes who will stumble across Wilhelmine here, but should that happen, I want them to know that she has been in my mind for a long, long time - and that my mom always remembered her with great fondness.  

Photograph is from High School Yearbook.