Tag Archives: elgin

Unraveling Harriet G. Switzer of Elgin

A faux alligator skin briefcase sat unopened in Mom’s attic for several years.  I brought the briefcase home after one trip to Elgin. Its contents were a jumble of receipts for a Harriet G. Switzer of 270 Watch St. Elgin, Illinois; a newspaper clipping about a meeting featuring Seaborn Wright ((which has been published in a book called Atlanta Beer: A Heady History of Brewing In the Hub of the South)), a well-preserved Switzer family tree ; and tatting thread, needles and some unfinished bits of lace. I’ve carefully untangled the thread, stored it and the needles with my grandmother’s tatting supplies, I blogged about the newspaper clipping and now I want to discover who Harriet was.

According to Ancestry dot com, Harriet was born Harriet G. Van Volkenburg to Nancy Plummer and John Van Velkenburg in Hampshire, Illinois, September 1871. She married Howard Switzer on January 1, 1889. By the turn of the century Harriet and Howard, still living in Hampshire, Illinois, had two sons, Albert (9) and Elmer (1). Howard made a living at farming. Tragically, Howard died in 1904 at the age of 48.

The 1910 census lists Harriet as living with her 19 and 11 year old sons at 366 Yarwood Street in Elgin, Illinois. She is listed as being employed by the nearby Elgin Watch Factory as a polisher. Albert is listed as being a carpenter. Another tragedy befell the family when, in 1918, Albert, by then a farmer, died in Hampshire.

In 1920 Harriet and her son, Elmer were living at 332 St. Charles Street. Harriet still worked for the Watch Factory, but was now a “piece worker.” Elmer worked as a truck driver for a thread factory ((which was likely Collingbourne Mills, the same factory my Grandpa Green sold thread for and where Hyman Herron worked in the shipping department.)). In August of 1920 Elmer married Emma Sommerfeldt.

By July of 1921 Harriet had moved again, this time to 270 Watch Street. According to the 1930 census she owned this home. Harriet began furnishing her home with flooring, rugs and furniture from the Wait and Ross Furniture Company  and A. Leith & Company ((I cannot find any mention of this company on the Internet)).

It looks like Harriet paid $18.75 for linoleum to be installed at her new house
Harriet paid $52.00 for a rug and $61.00 for something else — I cannot make out the handwriting.

Harriet not only furnished her home, but she hired O (?). W. Bayliss (Bayless?) to do some work around her house on 3 separate occasions beginning July 1, 1921.

She bought something from H. B. Cornwall in November 1921 for $40.

In March of 1923 she bought insurance from Ellis and Western for $12.

In March of 1924 she bought 3 years worth of tornado insurance worth $1250 from Edward F. Prideaux for $5.00.

In 1930, Harriet, now 59 years old worked in the spring department of the Watch Factory. Her home was worth $5000 according to the census.

Harriet continued to live on Watch Street until her death in 1943. She is buried in a small cemetery outside Hampshire called “Old Starks Cemetery.”

It’s been fun spending a morning and part of an afternoon learning about Harriet’s life. I’m glad she spent her last 20 or so years in her own house.

 

 

Happy 4th of July, you wonderful old First Federal Savings and Loan!

Apologies to Frances GoodrichAlbert Hackett, and Frank Capra. for the misuse of their words.

My first bank account was with Elgin’s First Federal Savings and Loan. Apparently, at the time, when you opened an account you were given a bank in the shape of the building. I found that bank, along with my passbooks a few years ago in the attic of my mom’s house in Elgin.

The bank is the color of old pennies — it may have been brighter copper colored when it was new. It is showing wear on one side, I think it is oxidation. White, not green, so I guess it is not copper.

I use the bank to hold foreign coins. I found a key that works (now that I look at it, it is the original key), so they are not forever stuck in it. I had the bank on my bookshelf in my office, but I want a less cluttered area so I am not positive what I am going to do with it.

The passbooks date from January 9, 1961 (I was 4) and is a joint account with my father. On January 10, 1961, a total of $31.06 was deposited into the account. The most money in the account was $2,364.74 on November 28, 1979. The account was closed on June 20, 1981, probably because I moved to Pittsburgh.

It seems I had another account with Elgin Federal Savings and Loan that I opened on March 8, 1976. Its highest amount was $538.11 on July 1, 1976. I closed this on November 23, 1976.

I vaguely remember going to the bank to deposit money and to withdraw money using these passbooks. I didn’t have a checkbook or credit card and ATM machines weren’t invented yet.

As for the passbooks — I will keep them in a box in the knee wall. Maybe the kids will find them interesting someday. If nothing else, the advertisements are interesting.

I like the way the style of homes are different from the passbook that was opened in 1961 and the one that was opened in 1976.

I guess $30,000 was a lot back then (1961)

 

A gift from Home Savings and Loan

In 1963, shortly after my brother was born, my parents received a gift from their local savings and loan. Now, what would a young mother and father need that a savings and loan would offer? Money? A new bank account for the baby?

The drawing on the card is lovely (apparently drawn by Maud Tousey Fangel according to Google’s Goggles app).

Baby sleeping

What could be inside this card? The greeting gives nothing away.

Greetings to the baby

What about the rest of the card? What could it be? Maybe a bib?  Maybe a gift certificate?

Nope. The card tells us nothing about what was inside it. Never fear — the contents were still intact. I guess Mom and Dad didn’t need to make very many copies that year.

Carbons

Of course. Carbons. This was back in the days before every home contained a copier. When Xerox machines were rare. When things needed to be in triplicate.