I can’t believe in the year I’ve been blogging about our house, I haven’t done a full post where I introduce ALL the Romeiser children. We’ve been spending this time researching them individually and trying to collect enough information so that we could do singular posts about each person… but since that is slow going, I’m going to do brief introductions to the remaining Romeiser siblings (the ones we haven’t already talked about) along with our current running theories on how their lives came to pass.
Theodore Hilgard Romeiser
The eldest child, a son named Theodore Hilgard (after Elise’s father) was born in 1877.
Theodore is seated front and center in this group photo circa 1900, with his brother Edwin on the right (Theodore’s left), sitting just behind him. Photo courtesy of the Labor and Industry Museum.
Theodore went on to study medicine at both Washington University (1902) and Harvard, followed by a two-year stint studying in Germany. He returned from this sojourn in 1904 and starting practicing as a medical psychologist. We know he worked in Chicago during the polio crisis and later in St Louis and southern Missouri. He is cited in several newspaper articles where he speaks to the mental clarity of people on trial. He was married at one point but later divorced, his wife saying that he used to perform psychological experiments on her and she couldn’t take it any more. We believe he finished his career at the “St. Joseph State Lunatic Asylum No. 2” in Missouri. (Now the Glore Psychiatric Museum– which I desperately want to visit.) He died of a heart attack in 1944 and is buried in Farmington, MO.
Emma Romeiser Pannes
We’ve obviously documented her tragic story which can be read here.
Again, her story is long, dramatic, intense, and sad. Find it here!
Edwin Hilgard Romeiser
Edwin was born in 1884 here in Belleville. He was close with his brother Theodore and went on to also be well educated. He is listed as a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis in 1903 at the age of only 19 where he then went to work for his father at The Romeiser Company on Main Street. There are also records of him being a student (or faculty?) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I’m having a hard time piecing together his story because he seems to pop up all over the place… working for a rail company in Ohio, a dairy farm in Minnesota, a business in San Francisco, and a knitting machine factory in Pennsylvania. I’m still working through all the details on the big question mark that is Edwin. We do know, though, that he married a woman named Esther, they might have had a daughter named Eileen (although she *could* be Esther’s from a previous marriage). Edwin died in Philadelphia in 1947, at age 63 of a heart attack.
The third daughter, Corona, was born in 1887 (the same year our home was built). Corona is a huge enigma to me… there are records of her until about the time Peter and Elise died and then she all but disappears. We have a pretty solid thought that Corona may have had some developmental and learning disabilities. She seems to be the only Romeiser who was sent away to boarding schools in her youth, one being in Arcadia, Illinois. She pops up on a census record in New Jersey for the 1904-1905 school year. This record lists her and about ten other children under one adult name (Elsie Seguin) who turned out to be the wife of Dr. Edouard Seguin.
I did some digging on her, listed as headmistress on the census. Through research, I discovered she was headmistress of The Seguin Physiological School in New Jersey. Her husband, Dr. Seguin, founded several world-renowned schools for the “mentally infirm” (as it was described at that time). This particular school that Corona attended was branded as THE school for the “training of children with arrested mental development.”
Things are quiet on Corona until her father dies in 1916. He left 300 total shares of his company stock to be split among the children, with 100 designated solely for Corona. She received the most stock of any of the children (a sum that amounted to around $20,000 in today’s terms. Each share was worth $200 in 1916). I believe it’s because Peter knew she was going to need assistance for the rest of her life. Her brother Alvin (you’ll read about him later) was named her guardian in Peter’s will. Then, radio silence. Corona dies in Kalispell, Montana in 1952. Records indicated that she was essentially institutionalized there in 1940 in the state hospital (usually reserved for the mentally disabled). Her death certificate indicates she died of heart problems. She was 64.
His heart-breakingly short life is detailed at length here.
We also talked about Julia and her tiny little light. Read about Julia here.
The last Romeiser was born in 1893. His initials are carved into our basement doorframe, dated 1901. He was educated at the Normal College of the American Gymnastic Union, Butler University, and Indiana University. Newspaper records spanning years and years talk about his record-setting competitions in gymnastics, fencing, running, and swimming. After graduating, he was an instructor and fencing coach at the University of Illinois: Urbana- Champaign and served in WWI as a Lieutenant responsible for physically training soldiers. In his adult life, he moved to Indianapolis and worked as a physical education teacher. He coached football, basketball, and baseball. He married a woman named Evelyn and they had two sons. Alvin is the only Romeiser child that has any remaining living descendants, mostly in the Indianapolis area.
*BONUS* If you talk to local historians, its undecided whether the Romeisers had 8 or 9 children. On the 1900 census, another daughter, Leonora, is listed. I bring this up because there is a name carved in a window of our second floor (dated 1901) and it absolutely looks like it could be the name Leonora. (Although probably not carved by her because she was born in 1897 and would have been 4 in 1901) I do not believe she was Peter and Elise’s daughter; I believe she was their niece. Peter had a brother, Conrad, who lived in Cloud County, Kansas. Leonora was Conrad’s daughter. I believe Leonora was simply staying with Peter and Elise for an extended time, although it’s interesting that she was so very young when she came to stay with Peter and Elise- maybe she was sent away to avoid an illness? If that’s the case, it worked. Leonora lived a very long life. She died in Cloud County, Kansas, in 1993 at the age of 96.
Getting a photo of the window carving was VERY hard. The snow helped a bit, but it’s still hard to see. Easiest to make out is ‘Romeiser’ although you can’t see the ‘m’. Above it is either the capital letter ‘L’ or the letter ‘P’. There’s a gap and then the letters ‘r’ and ‘a’. So this could either be Leonora or Petra. The date is Oct. 28, 1901 but I was unable to get a photo where you can make out the carving.
What are YOUR theories? We’d love to hear them.
Anyway. Thanks for sticking with me on this super long post. Over time we’ll work on individual posts for each person; they deserve it.
Stay sweet my friends,