Dad’s Letters # 07

Dad’s letter # 7 was postmarked on September 19, 1994.
He was replying to my letter of Labor Day 1994 which was on September 5th.

note on featured image: Mabel and Elise — my Dad’s mother and sister  — on the corner of Westwood and Wildwood next to Nash’s second car, a 1933 Buick.

As usual, Dad assumes I have a copy of my letter. Here are the 17 topics covered as best as I can reconstruct:

1 — What Grandma Mabel Dwyer wore
2 — Dad’s Grandma and Grandpa Theler
3 — Dad’s Auntie Grace
4 — Mabel’s Aunt Elise and Nash’s Aunt Annie and Uncle Billy
5 — discipline
6 — My Grandma Mabel’s hobbies and interests
7 — where the Thelers lived
8 — Nash and Mabel’s blind date
9 — food and Grandma Mabel’s cooking
10 — corporal punishment
11 — Grandma Mabel’s favorite sayings
12 — Nash and Mabel’s friends
13 — Dad’s relationships with his parents
14 — Nash and Mabel’s honeymoon
15 — my Mom’s relationship with Dad’s parents
16 — Nash and Mabel’s politics
17 — Grandma Mabel’s breast cancer

Dad1994 letter07p1
Dad’s Letter # 7, page 1
Dad1994 letter07p2
Dad’s Letter # 7, page 2
Dad1994 letter07p3a
Dad’s Letter # 7, page 3a
Dad1994 letter07p3b
Dad’s Letter # 7, page 3b
Dad1994 letter07p4
Dad’s Letter # 7, page 4

Notes on Dad’s 1994 Letter # 07

2. Don and Elise’s favorite babysitters: Grandma and Grandpa Theler

Emily F. Belduke Theler (aka Emma).

Emily Belduke (1854-1918) was born in Concord, New Hampshire, the daughter of Joseph Belduke (aka Bolduc) and Mary Kiely. Joseph was the son of Paul Bolduc and Emilie Dextra Lavigne and he most likely named his daughter after his mother. She was 8 years old when her mother died and 10 years old when her father moved to California with his second wife and her two kids. So what happened to Emily between 1864 and 1874 when she was 20 years old, living with her father and step mother in San Francisco, working as a clerk at Palmer Bros, and changing her name to Emma? She was probably raised by her grandmother Mary Kiely. In 1870 she was 16 years old living in a boarding house with several other young adults in Concord, New Hampshire and working as a seamstress. Then she moved to San Francisco and in 1875 when she was 21 years old she married William Theler who was then a salesman for Palmer Brothers.

In 1880 Emma was keeping house at 325 O’Farrell. In 1876 their first child, Francis E Theler, was born. Francis died one month and 19 days after he was born.
In 1882 Grace was born and Mabel was born in 1883. For most of the 1880s the Thelers lived at 2813 Bush Street (near Baker) in the Western Addition about five blocks from St Dominic’s Church where they probably worshipped.

In 1896 the Thelers moved into a new home at 5 Juri Street in St James Parish. Juri is a half-block street between 25th and 26th and San Jose and Guerrero. In 1904 the Thelers moved to 3625 25th St around the corner from Juri Street and they stayed there until Emma died in 1918 at the age of 64, a year after William passed away. My Dad attended St James elementary school on Fair Oaks Street which is about two blocks from his grandparents home on 25th. The house at 3635 25th Street is long gone but 5 Juri is still there. Incidentally, The Theler’s landlord for the entire time (22 years) they lived in the square block between 25th and 26th and Guerrero and San Jose was an Italian Swiss man named Louis (aka Luigi) Juri.  Juri came to San Francisco from Switzerland in 1853 and spent sometime in the gold mines. He then developed a dairy farm in San Francisco, opened a restaurant on Merchant Street with a brother, and got into other businesses including importing wine and liquors, developing Napa vineyards and buying property in San Francisco. He deeded a swath of that square block between 25th and 26th to Southern Pacific for their SF to San Jose railroad.

William Henry Theler, my Dad’s grandfather.

William Henry Theler (1848-1917) was born in New York City in 1848. He was the son of Johann Friedrich (aka Frederick) Theler and Agnes Kummelmann (aka Kimmel). The family lived in Hoboken, NJ in 1858-9, just across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center of today’s lower Manhattan. William arrived in San Francisco in 1868 when he was 20 years old. See (7) below for a list of where William worked and where he and his family lived.

3. My Dad’s Auntie Grace.

My Dad’s Auntie Grace, his mother’s older sister.

Grace Lillian Theler (1882 – 1961) was a seamstress and dressmaker who lived with her parents until her mother died in 1918. She then spent most of the rest of her life as a room mother at Holy Names College in Oakland. She never married.

Here are three personal stories about Auntie Grace: (1) Grace was the informant for the death certificates of both her parents and she stated that their birth names were Frederick Theler and Agnes Kimmel. It took me years to realize that these were Anglicized names and that their real names were Johann Friedrich Theler and Agnes Kummelmann!
(2) I received my First Holy Communion in 1947 when I was seven years old and we had a big family party (my cousin Jack received his First Communion on the same day). Auntie Grace pulled me aside during the party and told me that I was one of the holiest people in the whole world. She then asked me if I said a prayer for her when the priest placed the host on my tongue. Of course I simply said “No.” After the party I told my parents about this conversation and my Dad told me that I should have lied! What? I was very confused. Here I was feeling very holy and my Dad told me I should have lied to her!
(3) I attended USF for four years but by June 1961 I did not have enough credits to graduate and I had to decide what I was going to do. Should I continue college or go to work? Grace died that year and left a small inheritance to us. My Dad asked us for some input on how we should spend the inheritance and I made a case for attending a three-month course at Automation Institute so I could obtain a pretty good paying job. My idea was to then work full time and attend night school for the courses I needed to graduate. My Dad agreed to set aside a portion of our inheritance for the school tuition and a few weeks after completing the course I started to work for Kaiser as a computer programmer and operator. 35 years later I retired.

4. William’s sister and parents:
Elise Joanne Dorothea Theler (1841-1914) was my great grandfather’s half sister. She was born in Scharmbeck, Lower Saxony, Germany near the city of Bremen, the daughter of Agnes Kummelmann and Johann Friedrich Six. She migrated to the US in 1847 with her mother and soon became part of the Theler family (Agnes and Frederick were wed on August 26, 1847 at New York City’s Lutheran Church). Elise assisted her mother running boarding houses on Manhattan and Staten Islands and continued in the boarding house business after her mother died. For more details on Elise see my posting entitled The First Elise in my other blog. There are more than a dozen Elises in the last six generations of the Dwyer Family. My grandmother Mabel Elise is Elise # 2 and my Aunt Elise is Elise # 3. Her daughter Maureen Elise is Elise # 4. In June 2019 my wife and I and my sisters Betty and Marie (her middle name is Elise; she is Elise # 5) took the Staten Island Ferry to Richmond where we explored Elise Theler’s neighborhood including the church where she worshipped. The boarding house she ran on Hyatt Street a couple of blocks from the ferry terminal was demolished several years ago. See my blog entry here for the photo I took of the Statue of Liberty on that ferry trip and for more details on Elise’s neighborhood.

Agnes Kummelmann (aka Kimmelman) Theler (1826 -?) was born in Schalkau, Sachsen Meiningen, Germany. She was 15 years old when she gave birth to her daughter at a hotel in Scharmbeck. Six years later mother and daughter departed Bremen and arrived in New York on August 26, 1847. Six days later Agnes and Frederick were married at the Lutheran Church in New York City. William was born on November 1, 1848. The family lived on Manhattan and in Hoboken in the 1840s and 50s and finally settled down on Staten Island in the 1860s. On April 14, 1866 Agnes placed the following ad in the NY Herald: First Class Board can be obtained on Staten Island. Apply to Mrs. Theler, first house in Fiedler’s Park, near Quarantine Landing. Another ad in 1868: first class board Fiedler’s Park, Tompkins — eight minutes from first landing Whitehall ferry

Johann Friedrich (Frederick) Theler (1825 – ?) was the son of Christian Ludwig Theler and Ann Marie Dinklemann. He was baptized at the Evangelical Church in Hunteburg, Lower Saxony, Germany. We visited this church during our travels to Germany in 2012. See my blog post here for more details. In 1858 – 1859 he worked at a liquor store at 68 Barclay near the present-day World Trade Center and lived across the Hudson at 125 Bloomfield, Hoboken, New Jersey. I have not yet been able to find a death date for Frederick but some of the city directories for New York in the 1860s listed Agnes as a widow.

My Dad also mentions Aunt Annie and Uncle Billy. These are his father’s Aunt Annie McAuliffe, sister of Margaret McAuliffe Dwyer, and Annie’s husband, William Gleason. There will be more about Aunt Annie and Uncle Billy on this website. Stay tuned.

6. Mabel Elise Theler’s interests. Here are some of Mabel’s extra curricular activities between 1900 and 1905:

May 1900 — recitation of “Kissing Cup’s Race” by Miss Mabel Theler at the regular monthly entertainment and dance of the Native Sons of Vermont held at the Odd Fellows’ Hall.

June 1901 — the class of ’01 of Cogswell’s Polytechnical College gave its graduation dance on Monday evening. June 3, at Cotillon Hall. The committee in charge consisted
of Mattie Woipman, Mabel Theler, Aileen McCarthy. Ida Wightman, Kate Dunker, Monica Miller, Ray Reynolds, May Smith, Hazel Gilbert. Annie Atthon and Chester Stanler.

Cogswell Polytechnical College was established in 1888 and was located on 26th and Folsom Streets. In 1917 a new building was built across the street on 3000 Folsom Street at 26th St (near Bernal Heights). The building was demolished in 1984 and there is now a low-income apartment building standing there. The college was moved to Cupertino in 1985 and then to Sunnyvale in 1994 and is now in San Jose where it has been renamed Cogswell University of Silicon Valley.

May 12, 1901: elocutionary recital given by the pupils of Carrie Belle Moulton, Sherman & Clay Hall. Mabel participated in the following:
monologue “The Window Curtain” – Miss Mabel Theler;
pantomime “The Angels of Buena Vista” – several women including Miss Mabel Theler;
sketch “Aunt Sophronia Tabor at the Uproar” – Misses Lucile Otto and Mabel Theler.

October 1, 1902 recitation, Young Ladies Sodality of St Brendan’s Church, corner of Fremont and Harrison streets – vaudeville entertainment for support of a Suisun Church.

7. Where the Thelers lived. I combed through many city directories and census reports to come up with the places where William and Emma lived during their 50 years in San Francisco:
1868 — his first appearance in a city directory was in 1868 when he was listed as a bookkeeper for George H. Peck (real estate developer and millionaire) and living at S 23rd between Valencia and Bartlett.
1869 — cigars 124 Fourth; dwelling: corner of Stockton and Ellis
1869 — he was involved in two businesses this year: Wiliam H Theler & Co and Seaman and Theler.
1871 — he was working for Palmer Bros at 114 Ellis.
1872 — he was residing at 19 Annie St.
1874 — 905 Market Street (Palmer Bros); salesman with Palmer Bros
1875 — salesman w/ S. Bine; res: The Windsor (Bine had a fancy goods store at 12 Second Street; in 1876 he moved to 133 Kearney)
1876 — Palmer, Tripp and Theler,  millinary ladies’ and gents’ furnishing, 454 Minna (Joseph D Palmer and Hiram L Tripp)
1877 — P T & T fancy goods, 1026 Market
1880 — 327 O’Farrell (now Hilton Union Square), roomer; near Davis Bros where William is floor manager
1883 — Davis Bros; 1508 O’Farrell
1886 — Winter and Theler, fancy poultry
1886 — manager, Davis Bros; r. 2813 Bush (near Baker; five blocks from St Dominic’s church and school)
1890 — 2813 Bush; floor manager Davis Bros
1891 — Shreve and Theler r. San Rafael (Ezra D Shreve and William owned the San Rafael and San Francisco Express, probably a ferry service).
1893 — telephone # 496 — SAN RAFAEL & S. F. EXPRESS…Howard & Theler, 112 East.
1896 — 5 Juri St (through 1903); conductor SF and SM electric railway (through 1901)
1902 — selling cigars at 403 Washington (through March 1906)
1904 — moved from Juri Street around the corner to 3625 25th St
1910 — self employed as a manufacturer of sign letters
1917 — William died on August 5th.
1918 — Emma died on August 29th.

William’s business associates:
Joseph D Palmer is probably one of the Palmer Brothers – where William and Emma met each other.

Hiram L Tripp came to SF from NY in 1875, worked in a clothing establishment there (with William), and then moved to Santa Rosa where he was an assemblyman (1905-07) and postmaster (1908-16). Tripp owned a clothing establishment called The Toggery which was destroyed in 1906. He died in 1914 at the age of 66 (same age as William).

William was associated with the Davis Brothers for about ten years. The Davis Brothers opened their first San Francisco store in 1871. They operated the Golden Rule Bazaar from 1892 – 97. In 1897 they merged with the Emporium at 835 Market Street and then liquidated the rest of their assets later that year.

Louis Juri was a Swiss-born farmer and dairyman during the pioneer era who deeded land near the present-day corner of 25th Street and San Jose Avenue for the construction of the San Francisco-San Jose Railroad. The railway started at 3rd and Townsend and then made its way through the Mission to the Bernal Cut and then down the San Mateo peninsula. The tracks are gone now but that swatch between San Jose and Guerrero is now a diagonal park called Juri Commons. The 1910 census says his name is Luigi Juri and his address is 3627 25th St — right next door to the Thelers!  So Juri was most likely their landlord for both 5 Juri and 3625 25th St. And I have a hunch he was also involved with the cigar store where William worked between 1902 and 1906.

12. Nash and Mabel’s friends. The Drews were my grandparents’ best friends. They lived on Westgate Drive just a few blocks from Westwood Park.

My grandfather took this photo of his family and the Drews in 1921. Mabel, Elise and Don (yes, that’s my Dad at the age of 11!) are sitting on the right. On the left are George G (Gerry) Drew Jr and his sister Dorothy and their mother Sarah (1887-1968). Standing in back is George G Drew (1885-1953), my grandfather’s best friend. Gerry Drew and his wife attended my Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary party in 1986.

13. Dad’s relationship with his parents. The observant among you may have noticed that a portion of my Dad’s reply here has been redacted. He brought up a sensitive topic here that he asked to be kept confidential most likely because he didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, especially his sister Elise’s who was still alive at this time. If any family member would like to know what was redacted, just contact me personally and I will divulge the two missing sentences.


Published by crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.

One thought on “Dad’s Letters # 07

  1. Another insightful letter from your dad about your family! I like the photos. They sure knew how to take good portraits so many years ago. I think you are doing the right things to hold back some of the things your dad said in his letters.


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