When I seriously began to research Lola and her family, I began with the 1900 Census. I learned the names of her parents (George and Effie) and learned that she had siblings - a sister, Bessie, and two younger brothers, Monroe (or Munroe) and George.
This all came as a surprise, having known none of this for so many years. I should mention now that I do recall my dad at some point telling me that Lola's father abandoned his wife and children when Lola was young. Whether true or not, the rumor was that he returned to Germany to fight for "the Kaiser". I have not yet been able to prove that, but based on the information available on-line, I cannot find him in the US in 1910.
When I found Lola in 1910, she was not living with her family, but rather living with a different family in Unity, Illinois as a domestic (housekeeper) for a private family. Knowing how this information was not necessarily provided in the most accurate manner, I was not that surprised to see her age listed as 18. This really makes no sense considering her estimated birth was October of 1894. Finding her in this situation shocked me. I then began to search for her family as I had names. Here is what I discovered:
Her mother Effie was living in a private home in Decatur, Illinois, working as a servant for an elderly woman. Effie was a woman in her prime who was a wife and mother with no occupation, during a time when women had no rights. I suppose many women were oftentimes in horrible situations where they could not care for their children let alone themselves, when their breadwinners left them. I guess society wasn't too terribly concerned back then about keeping families together.
Her sister Bessie was living in Decatur, Illinois, working for board as a cook with a private family. She was listed as 17 years old, yet she was Lola's older sister by one year. I am quite certain that Bessie's age is correct on the census.
Her brother, Monroe was living in Bremen, Illinois, as hired help on a farm. The head of household appeared to be a general farmer with a wife and three young children. Monroe's age was listed as 14 years old, and that is pretty accurate. Also, 14 year old Monroe was the only hired help living at this particular home.
Her brother, George was living in Bloomington, Illinois, working for board, living with a family where the head of household was a farmer and there was also another "hired hand" working the farm. Mind you, George was 11 years old.
Then I found another young brother that wasn't on the 1900 Census. His name was William. He was 8 years old and living in Washington, Iowa as a boarder on a farm. I wonder how and when this young boy, born in Illinois in 1901, ended up as an 8 year old boarder on a farm in Iowa. Since finding William, I have learned about something known as Orphan Trains and am currently researching that as a possibility for his being in a different state as such a young child.
I can't help but feel serious sadness for Effie and her children. What must it have been like for them? I did find Effie's parents living in 1910, and can't help but wonder why they didn't help her keep her children. I am now trying to research this. Who knows? Maybe she never reached out to them. As I was finding all of this, I couldn't help but think about child labor and the Industrial Revolution. I also couldn't help but wonder what kind of long term effect this might have had on these people throughout the remainder of their lives; an effect that may have contributed to the adults they became. I also couldn't help but think about my own childhood and how safe and loved I felt, even though I never got that Easy Bake Oven or the Imperial Margarine crown I always wanted. Man, the times have changed.
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