Helmuth A. Thews (1879-1960) was my great-grandfather’s younger brother. My grandmother’s uncle. He arrived in Baltimore in 1884 on a ship from Bremen, Germany with his parents, Christian and Augusta, and siblings Louisa and Rudolph. I believe they were the last of my immigrant ancestors to make the crossing.
Elder brother Rudolph Thews is a big mystery to me. He was not a nice person, that’s about the extent of my knowledge. My great-grandparents’ marriage ended around 1922, when Lula (Ancestor #1) swooped in and removed her daughter and granddaughters from the house, taking them back to her home in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. As far as I know, Rudolph tried to see the family only once or twice over the next twenty years or so, managing only to stir up a lot of angst and anger.
Uncle Helmuth, on the other hand, was by all accounts a total sweetheart. He married Lena Walde about 1915, and they had two sons – Edward and Rudolph.
In 1947, he wrote a letter to Ethel, my grandmother’s sister, informing her of her father’s death. It’s a lovely letter; full of kindness and affection for nieces he had never actually met. He asked about my grandmother, whether she was married or not, etc., and asked for her address so he might write her himself. He also suggested Ethel write to his elder son, since she had already once written the younger son.
My favorite part of the Uncle Helmuth story is that he was a piano tuner by trade, and that his hobby was writing popular songs. He had at least three songs published, writing the words and music for “Where Is My Dear, My Only” (1913) and “Let Me Kiss Those Ruby Lips” (1914). And one of my all-time favorite research gold-strikes was finding the sheet music to “Oh, That Auto Glide!” (1912).
Helmuth and Lena enclosed this photograph with their 1951 Christmas card.
Helmuth died in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on October 25, 1960. Lena lived to 94 years old, dying in 1982.