Tuesday, May 21, 2019

THE DISAPPEARING ISLAND OF CHARLES LEAMING TUTT

Recently in this blog I told the story of Mrs. Charles Leaming Tutt and her stay at the Hotel Del Coronado in 1909:


When I was researching her story I came across a strange statement in the Los Angeles Times obituary for Charles L. Tutt from their edition of January 22, 1909 (see highlighted area):




Several readers questioned the story of Tutt's "disappearing island."  Well, it turns out that the island not only disappeared as a result of the San Francisco Earthquake, it reappeared as well.

Evanston historian (and reader of my blog) Mike Kelly sent me the following link that tells the whole story:


It comes from a blog called "Cascadian Alert."  Like Mike, I was originally skeptical when I read the LA Times story, but Mike, being the outstanding researcher that he is, decided to dig a little deeper to see if he could find out anything further about Tutt's disappearing island.  

Then Mike was able to find yet another article about Tutt's mysterious island:


Truth really is stranger than Fiction.

Thanks again to Mike who led us to (as Paul Harvey would say) "the rest of the story." 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

CHICAGO ETERNAL by Larry Broutman - a Review



I started my blog Under Every Stone (now Under Every Tombstone) in September of 2011 as a way to share some of the stories I "dug up" while photographing graves for Find a Grave, kevarim.com, or other historical websites.  As a historian, I have always been fascinated with days gone by - especially the people who came before me, both in my family and in the world in general.  I have always said that I am much more interested in what happened here 100 years ago than what happened here yesterday.  When I was young my Mother used to tease my Dad and me because we wanted to stop and read every historical marker we found.  

Once I had my driver's license my region of interest spread.  I always enjoyed Calvary Cemetery in Evanston (even was locked in one night) and spent many hours there looking at all the historical graves and Victorian funerary art.  Then I found Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago and as I have related in this blog I thought it was one of the most beautiful cemeteries I had ever seen.  I mentioned to my friends and colleagues in passing about my interest in cemeteries and most people politely said "oh, that sounds interesting."  In the 1980s I took a trip to Hollywood, California and while exploring Hollywood Forever, Forest Lawn, and the many other area cemeteries I photographed the graves of every movie or TV star I encountered.  Upon my return to Chicago I put all the photos in a scrapbook and when I mentioned it at work one of my coworkers asked me if she could borrow the scrapbook for a party she was soon hosting.  Afterward, she told me that the scrapbook of the stars' graves was the hit of the party.  I began to think that perhaps I was not the only person interested in old cemeteries.  

Then on September 17, 2002 my life changed irrevocably - I discovered the Find a Grave website - and found that there were other people (a lot of other people) who shared my interest in graves of the famous but also graves of ordinary people.  I soon started adding deceased relatives and friends to the site, and of course added photographs of them and of their graves.  As of the day I write this, I have created 13,960 memorial pages for the departed and posted 36,844 photos to the site - but this is but a small fraction of the over 170 million memorial pages created by the Find a Grave community.  Yes, there are A LOT of people who share my interest in cemeteries.

As my blog grew and my Find a Grave postings grew, I began to be contacted by people the world over.  Some emailed to thank me for photographing the grave of a loved one, and some to thank me for a blog post I had done on a member of their family.  This expanded to my being contacted by local historical societies asking me to contribute something to their newsletters, or the local DAR chapter asking me to say a few words about the subject of a blog post who was being remembered as they celebrated their 125th anniversary. 

As the number of contacts grew, some panned out and some did not.  When I wrote about the tragic death of Moshe Menora, my devout Orthodox Jewish friend and colleague, a local historical society asked me to rewrite the story for their newsletter "but take out all that Jewish stuff."  They said that "people who read their newsletters are not interested in religion."  I refused because Moshe Menora was his religion - he lived it every day - and I could no sooner tell his story without the "Jewish stuff" then I could tell mine without talking about Evanston.   

But some contacts were more positive.  I have led several tours of Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum that were well received and in March of 2019 I addressed the Germania Woman's Club of Chicago on "A Walk Through Rosehill Cemetery."

In July of 2015 I received the following email from a guy named Larry Broutman:

Hi Jim: Would like to talk to you about a book I am close to finishing "Chicago Eternal". This is designed as a "coffee table" photography book, maximizing photo quality and minimizing text. You can check out my book "Chicago Unleashed" on Amazon. That book is a book of whimsical photographs created by placing animals into iconic Chicago images, a concept I first created for Lurie Children's Hospital. I have found your blog "Under Every Stone" to be extremely helpful. I have photographed monuments in at least 12 Chicago area cemeteries and still want to fill in some blanks with respect to descriptions. By the way, all my proceeds go to The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Access Living.
Believe we can have a synergistic relationship, and if you are interested in talking about it, appreciate your response to the email.
Regards, 
larry broutman

I told Larry that he was welcome to use anything of interest he found in my blog, and just asked that he reference the blog in his list of sources.  Larry and I emailed back and forth through 2017 as he had questions or asked about the sources of some of my information, which I gladly provided.  Then the emails stopped and frankly I forgot all about the Chicago Eternal book.  

Fast forward to May of 2018 and my joyous retirement from corporate America after 45 years of faithful service.  My brother told me that he and his wife had found the perfect retirement gift for me and at a celebration brunch they proudly presented me with a copy of Chicago Eternal.  Boy, were they right!  The minute I got home I sat down and went page by page through Larry's fantastic book.  And I was very glad to see that, true to his word, Larry had mentioned me and my blog in numerous places - especially in his pages about tombstones in Rosehill cemetery.

Now the story gets even better.  On April 3, 2019 I received an email from Stacey Lane Smith of Everything Goes Media asking if I would be interested in reviewing Chicago Eternal.  Would I?  You bet I would!  Now that I have given you the back story I will happily provide my review for

CHICAGO ETERNAL
by Larry Broutman
Hardcover, 336 pages, profusely illustrated
Published March 6th 2018 by Larry Broutman Photography, LLC, Chicago, Illinois.
Distributed by Lake Claremont Press, A Chicago Joint.

When Larry Broutman first contacted me about Chicago Eternal he said "This is designed as a "coffee table" photography book, maximizing photo quality and minimizing text."  He has delivered as promised.  Chicago Eternal is a large (9 1/2" x 13 1/4"), 336 page book full of beautiful photographs of what Larry considers to be the most interesting monuments in the most interesting cemeteries in the Chicago area.   

Tempted as I am to recreate the entire book in this blog I picked a few pages to photograph and share with you here so you could get an idea of what the book is like.  I have already shown you the dramatic cover of the dust jacket at the beginning of this article, but here it is again - a photo of the Genna family mausoleum at Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery in Hillside.


 Larry covers the following cemeteries in the Chicago area:

Chicago City Cemetery (now Lincoln Park)
Burr Oak
Oak Woods
Rosehill 
Graceland
Wunder's Cemetery
Lincoln Cemetery (not the Abraham Lincoln Veterans Cemetery)
Holy Sepulchre
St. Henry
Bohemian National 
St. Boniface
St. Adalbert
Zion Gardens
Calvary
Elmwood
Mount Olivet
Woodlawn
Jewish Waldheim
St. Luke
Montrose
Forest Home
Concordia
St. Casimir
Queen of Heaven
Mount Hope
All Saints
Irving Park
Mount Carmel
Oakridge
Westlawn
Mount Greenwood
Cook County Cemetery
Read Dunning Memorial Park

For each cemetery covered, Larry photographed the monuments he considered the most interesting and then dramatically featured the photos in his book:



Larry's photography is magnificent - and I am not surprised because he reported that his beloved dogs Shadow and Tanzy accompanied him on his photo shoots.

He included some cemeteries I am very familiar with:

and some cemeteries I have never heard of (and I thought I knew all there was to know about Chicago-area cemeteries):


He photographed the graves of the famous:


the infamous:




and the obscure:


There is even a small 3-D section in the back of the book where some of Larry's most dramatic photos have been produced in 3-D.  And yes, 3-D glasses are included with the book.

This book is a must for anyone interested in history, in funerary art, or the history of the people of Chicagoland.

You will find yourself (as I did) going back to this book again and again.  It is billed by Larry Broutman as a "coffee table book" and it is.  I guarantee if you leave a copy on your coffee table your guests will leaf through it and immediately get hooked.  Better buy several copies to give as gifts (or replace the copy your guest "borrowed.")

And now for the best part.  As Larry mentioned in his email to me, all proceeds from the sale of Chicago Eternal go to The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Access Living.

And there is something in it for you.  Larry and his publisher have graciously granted a discount of $10.00 off to anyone who orders Chicago Eternal through this website:  

https://www.everythinggoesmedia.com/product-page/chicago-eternal

and enter the promo code STONE10

I consider it a privilege to be associated with this book, albeit in a very small way.  I want to congratulate Larry on this work of art that he created and suggest a topic for a future book.  The Chicagoland area has some of the most beautiful community mausoleums I have ever seen.  From Rosehill and Acacia Park in Chicago to Memorial Park in Skokie and Oakridge Abbey in Hillside.  I hope we see something on these magnificent buildings in the future.  

Now get out there and order your copies of Chicago Eternal today. 


Sunday, March 31, 2019

A WEEK AT THE HOTEL DEL CORONADO IN 1909 - Mrs. Charles L. Tutt

The Hotel Del Coronado, on Coronado Island just off San Diego, California is one of my favorite hotels.


  
It is classified (by people who do that sort of thing) as "one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort."  If you are not familiar with the hotel or its history, Wikipedia is always a good place to start:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_del_Coronado


The hotel was almost sold last year to the Chinese, but the US government stepped in at the last minute and stopped the sale due to the hotel's proximity to US Naval installations in the San Diego area.

I was lucky to be able to stay at the hotel in May of 1989 when I served on a panel for the California Mortgage Bankers Association.  Even though I was not able to stay in the older Victorian part of the hotel, it was a grand experience just to there.

Since my stay there I have managed to put together a small collection of Hotel Del memorabilia and check ebay on a regular basis to see if anything interesting turns up. 

Recently on ebay I came across the following:


It is a bill presented to Mrs. Charles L. Tutt for her stay at The Del from October 23-30, 1909.  The grand total for Mrs. Tutt and two additional guests was $168.65.  Before we take a closer look at the charges she incurred at the hotel, let's see what we can "dig up" about Mrs. Charles Tutt.

Mrs. Charles L. Tutt was born Josephine Thayer on February 12, 1858 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Martin Russell Thayer (1819-1906) and Sophia Dallas Watmough (1831-1881).  Martin Thayer was a lawyer, jurist and author, and was elected to Congress as a representative from Pennsylvania twice during the Civil War period as a Republican.  Sophia Watmough was the second (of three) wives of Martin Thayer.  They were married from 1850 until her death in 1881.  In addition to Josephine, Martin and Sophia had  six other children:  Russell (1852-1933), Maria (1854-1879), Martha (Patsy) (1857-1884), Sophia (1859-1927), William (1862-1893), and Margaret (1869-1929).  

Josephine Thayer made her first appearance in the 1860 US Census in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Her father listed his name as "M. Russell Thayer," a lawyer.  He told the census taker that he was 40 years old, and that his wife Sophia was 26.  Living with them were children Russell (7), Maria (5), Martha (4), Josephine (3) and Sophie (1).  Also living with the family were Sophia's mother Maria Watmough (49) and sister Julia (28) along with four domestics.  Martin Thayer said his real estate was worth $17,000 and personalty was worth $5,000.

Josephine's second appearance was in the 1870 US Census, still in Philadelphia.  The family consisted of M.R. Thayer (50). Sophia (35), Russell (17), Maria (15), Martha/Patsy (14), Josephine (12), Sophia (11), William (8), and Margaret (1).  Also included was Sophia's sister Julia (36) and three domestics.  Unfortunately other than the names and ages, nothing else is filled in on the 1870 US Census sheet for the Thayer family.      

I was not able to find the 1880 US Census for Josephine Thayer or the Thayer family.  There was good news however, lurking around the corner for Josephine Thayer: her marriage.

Josephine Thayer married Charles Leaming Tutt in Philadelphia on December 29, 1885.  The bride was twenty-seven, the groom was only twenty-one!  Here's the story from the Philadelphia Times from December 30, 1885:


Who was the lucky groom?  Charles Leaming Tutt was born on St. Valentine's Day, 1864 in Philadelphia to Charles Pendleton Tutt, MD (1832-1866) and Rebecca Waln Leaming (1835-1888).  Charles P. Tutt was a noted physician and surgeon affiliated with the Philadelphia Hospital, and a personal friend of President Andrew Jackson.  In addition to Charles the younger, his parents also had a daughter Rebecca Waln Tutt (1859-1928).  History does not reveal when Josephine Thayer first met Charles L. Tutt, but both families were well-to-do and moved in the same circles.  The bride and groom had probably known each other in some capacity all their lives.  I was not able to find a photo of Josephine Thayer Tutt, but ancestry.com gives us this photo of her husband:

Charles Leaming Tutt

Charles L. Tutt was president of the Colorado-Philadelphia Reduction Company, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Vice-President and a Director of the C. O. D. Gold Mining Company, President of the Cripple Creek Sampling and Ore Company, President of the Townsite Gold Mining Company, the Hayden Gold Mining Company, the Pennsylvania Gold Developing Company and the Annie Gold Mining Company, of Cripple Creek.  He has been identified intimately with the development of the famous Colorado mining region, which, in 1897, produced one-fifth of the entire output of gold in the United States and one-twentieth of that of the whole world.  In fact, Charles was living in El Paso, Colorado at the time of the marriage.  I think it's safe to say that Josephine married well.

Josephine and Charles Tutt were blessed with four children:  Sophia (1887-1903), Charles Jr. (1889-1961), Russell (1890-1891) and William (1893-1917).

The first census after their marriage - 1890 - is of course, lost, so we will have to look for the young couple in the 1900 Census.  They were living at 12 W. Bijou Street, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  A Catholic health care organization sits on that spot today.  Charles Tutt said he was forty years old and was a "Miner."
        
Then Josephine and Charles got a little "creative" with the census taker.  She said she had been born in December of 1862, when she had actually been born in February of 1858.  He said he had been born in October of 1859 but had actually been born in February of 1864.  I constantly warn people who do genealogy research, do not trust the census as a proof of a fact.  People could (and did) tell the census taker anything without having to prove it was true.

They did both correctly state they had been married sixteen years, but then they gave the census taker incorrect information - again.  They said that Josephine had given birth to three children, and that all three were alive in 1900.  She had actually given birth to four children, and one, Russell Thayer Tutt died in 1891 when he was three months old. As his tombstone in Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs says, he was born on Christmas, 1890 and died on Easter, 1891:

    
They could not have forgotten him.  Was it just too painful to reveal to the census taker?  We'll never know.  Living with the Tutts in 1900 was also Mary Murray, an Irish cook, and Edith Wisburg, a Swedish maid.  They did tell the census taker that they lived in a house, and that they owned, not rented it.

Tragedy hit the Tutt family again in 1903 when their sixteen year-old daughter Sophia died.  Here's the story from the Los Angeles Times, February 25, 1903:


Here's some more of the story:


While she was convalescing, Sophia Tutt stayed at the Hotel Metropole on Catalina Island, which had been owned by the Tutt family for quite some time.  The Hotel Metropole burned to the ground in the Great Fire of 1915.

























Sophia Tutt was buried next to her brother at the Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs:



Life went on for Josephine Tutt, as it tends to do. She lost her father Judge Thayer in 1906 at the ripe old age of 87.  Josephine's mother had died back in 1881, before she was even married.  She had also lost three siblings:  Maria in 1879, Martha in 1884 and William in 1893.


That brings us up to 1909, the year of her stay at the Hotel Del Coronado.  What had happened in Josephine Tutt's life in 1909 that could cause her to need an out-of town-vacation?  The call came from New York on January 21, 1909:



Here's some additional information from the New York Times on January 22, 1909:


The Los Angeles Times had a different slant on Tutt's death from their edition of January 22, 1909 (note highlighted area):


Charles Tutt was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs, Colorado near the son and daughter who predeceased him:


In Victorian times a widow wore dull black clothes for one year and a day after the death of her husband.  She could not leave the house without wearing her mourning dress and she was also not allowed to wear any jewelry or ornaments. The Victorian era ended officially with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and was succeeded by the Edwardian period which ended in 1910.  Some of the more severe Victoria mourning customs had been eased by 1909 when Charles Tutt died, but most widows of that era still chose to observe a one year period of mourning where they stayed in their home and did not venture out.  Josephine Tutt was not one of these widows.  

There is an old saying, "Money may not buy happiness, but it sure makes misery a lot easier to live with."  This was certainly the case for Josephine Thayer Tutt.  She found herself a widow at the relatively young age of 50.  Charles Tutt had only been 44 when he died.  If we check the newspapers of the day, we find that unlike many society widows of the era Josephine resumed the life she had before she was widowed - attending family events, parties and galas given by the other wealthy people who moved in her set -  and many stays at a particular southern California hotel - NOT, as you might think, the Hotel Del Coronado.

On April 6, 1909, just seventy-five days after Charles Tutt's death, the Los Angeles Herald reported the following:













This was followed on September 20, 1909 with the following:











And on October 6, 1909:














The Van Nuys was a nice hotel, but it was very different from the Hotel Del Coronado.





























The Van Nuys was downtown, the Del was at the seashore.  The Van Nuys had no grounds to speak of, the Del had lawns, beaches, and even a polo field.  Why, after staying at the Van Nuys in early October did Josephine Tutt decide to go to the Hotel Del Coronado for a week later that same month?  History does not reveal the answer.  Interestingly, on November 25, 1909, Josephine Tutt and party were back at the Van Nuys:









Before we move on, let's take a closer look at Mrs. Tutt's invoice from the Hotel Del Coronado:







We see that there were three people in the party, Mrs. Tutt and two unnamed guests.  They stayed in Rooms 342-343.  They were charged $112.00 for the use of the rooms for 7 days; that equates to a daily rate of $16.00.  At that time, the daily rate also included three meals in any of the hotel's restaurants.  They had wine or mineral water charges on the 23rd and on the 28th - $1.00 each time.  Since the room was only $16.00 the $1.00 charge had to be a total charge, and not $1.00 for an individual drink.  In my collection I have some menus from the Hotel Del Coronado during this period.  Coffee or tea was included with meals, liquor was not.  So the charges may have been for drinks with their meals or they had drinks sent to their rooms.  Since the total was only $2.00 it does not look like Mrs. Tutt or her party were big drinkers. 

Mrs. Tutt apparently got a cash advance against her bill twice, for $25.00 each time - once on the 23rd and once on the 27th.  They didn't need cash for meals or drinks unless they chose to leave the hotel.  It was probably just for what my Mother used to call "pin money," or my Dad called "walking around cash." 

They did have bar charges of $.75 on the 23rd - they day they arrived. They probably needed a good drink after traveling to the hotel.

They also had newsstand charges:  $.65 on the 25th and $2.00 for the San Diego Tribune to be delivered to them each day of their stay.

Lastly there was an "Express" charge from the hotel pharmacy on the 26th for a total of $1.20, making their grand total of charges for the week's stay $168.65.  Notice - no tax.  The government had not started taxing everything that moves (and many things that don't) in 1909.  To put these charges into perspective, the average weekly salary per wage earner in the US during that period was $10.06.  Adjusted for inflation, the total charge of $168.65 in 1909 would equate to a total charge of $4,759.70 today.  That means almost $5,000.00 for rooms and meals for three people for one week.  So you can see, Mrs. Tutt and her party were living very well at the Hotel Del Coronado.

Along with her frequent trips to California, newspapers reported her returning now and then to her home in Colorado Springs.  There were many occurrences of Josephine Tutt either entertaining or being entertained during 1910 and 1911.  That's why what happened next was such a shock to family and friends:

TUTT - (at) Coronado, California, March 6th, JOSEPHINE THAYER, widow of Charles Leaming Tutt and daughter of the late M. Russell Thayer.

Josephine Thayer Tutt died suddenly on March 6, 1912 at Coronado, California.  She was fifty-four years old.  More details were provided by the Los Angeles Times on March 12, 1912:



In all the mentions of the death of Mrs. Tutt I was able to find, the place of death was just listed as "Coronado."  I was not able to find out whether she was staying at the hotel when she died or somewhere else on Coronado.

Josephine Thayer Tutt was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs with the rest of her family:





















What about the rest of the family?  William Thayer Tutt died on November 20, 1917 in Colorado Springs.  He was only twenty-four years old.

Charles L. Tutt, Jr. was the only one of Josephine's children to make it to adulthood.  He died November 1, 1961 at the age of 72.

The Tutt family had always been major contributors to Colorado College in Colorado Springs.  Today on the campus there is the there is the Charles L. Tutt Library - a hub for research, learning, and intellectual community, providing welcoming and inclusive space for students to learn, grow, and thrive at Colorado College.  

In addition, in 1959 Charles Tutt Jr, donated the Tutt family home at 1205 N. Cascade Avenue in Colorado Springs to Colorado College.  It is now the Tutt Alumni House for the College:



Josephine Thayer Tutt and her family have all gone to their reward, but luckily we can still enjoy the Hotel Del Coronado today and for a long time to come.

May Josephine Thayer Tutt and her family rest in peace.

Friday, March 1, 2019

TWO SONS - TWO TRAGIC DEATHS - Martin Wetzel

For this month's story we are going to leave the Chicago area and go west - all the way west to Los Angeles, California.

I subscribe to a fascinating blog called "Noirish Los Angeles." 

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=170279   

Recently someone posted the story of the circumstances surrounding the death of Charley Wetzel, the eldest son of LA resident Martin Wetzel.  Charley Wetzel died by accident at the hand of his brother Raymond in 1892.  But this was not the only tragedy to befall the Wetzel family.  Raymond Wetzel himself died in a tragic accident in 1897.  Their stories were such that I couldn't get them out of my head, so I finally decided to tell their stories in this blog.  Before we take a look at the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the two Wetzel boys, let's see what we can find out about the Wetzel family. 

Martin Wetzel the family patriarch, was born September 12, 1850 in Kentucky (although some sources say Germany), the son of Anton Wetzel (1827-1902) and Barbara - maiden name unknown, (1826-1875).  In addition to Martin, Anton and Barbara had four other children:  Andrew (1859-1908), Sophia (1860-1876), Frederick (1865-1937) and Barbery (Barbara) (1871-1930).  Anton Wetzel was a shoemaker by trade.

In 1867 Martin Wetzel left Kentucky and heard the call to cross the plains and "go west young man." Upon his arrival in Los Angeles he joined the Southern Pacific Railroad.  I was unable to find Wetzel in the 1870 US Census - he was probably on the rails somewhere.

Martin Wetzel rose quickly through the ranks of the SP ultimately becoming a passenger train engineer.

He was not on the rails all the time, however.  The Los Angeles Herald from May 18, 1875 carried the following item:



Julia Snyder was born October 6, 1855 in New York to John Schneider (1818-1893) and his wife Theresa - maiden name unknown, (1824-1892).  John and Theresa had four children in addition to Julia:  Carl (1846-????), Marie Theresa (1850-1928), Adolphus (1852-1922), and Rosa (1867-1901).  John Schneider was a saloon-keeper by trade.

Martin and Julia Wetzel were blessed with three children:  Emma Theresa (1876-1953), Charles Martin (1877-1892), and Raymond Antone (1880-1897).   

The 1880 US Census found Martin and his family living on Chestnut Street in Los Angeles.  The census-taker reported Martin's name as "Marten Wetsell."  Martin listed his occupation as "RR Engineer," and his age as 29.  Julia was 24 and "keeping house."  The children were four year-old Emma, three year-old Charles, and 5/12 year-old Raymond.  Their house on Chestnut did not have a specific lot address.

Here is a photo of Martin Wetzel when he was working for the Southern Pacific Railroad:



Martin Wetzel continued his career with the railroad.  In 1882 he was a delegate to the American Engineer's Convention in Louisville, and around this time Wetzel also dabbled in City and County politics as a Republican.

Here is a photo of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers from that time period:


Martin Wetzel is said to be at the "X" but I don't see any X.

The Los Angeles Times reported in March of 1889 that Wetzel was  made Inspector of Street Sprinkling.

As a long-time resident and now official of the City of Los Angeles, Martin Wetzel was well known.  So when his son had an accident on the 4th of July, 1889 it made the Los Angeles Times.  In a column titled "Accidents and Incidents of the Fourth" the following information was reported:

The son of Martin Wetzel was badly hurt yesterday by a shooting instrument made by his own hands. He took a large cartridge shell and drilling a hole in the drum end, he loaded it with powder and rock, and placing the cartridge in a wooden stock, used his improvised gun for shooting cats and other things. The last load, however, was too heavy for the gun and it exploded. A portion of the shell struck the boy in the forehead, making a severe cut. Dr. Allen dressed the wound and says it is serious.

The tragic accident that took the life of young Charley Wetzel took place in 1892.  Here are the details from the Los Angeles Herald of August 29, 1892:


RAYMOND SHOT HIS BROTHER
A Shocking Accident Which Occurred Yesterday.
the Result of a Boy Being- Trusted With Firearms.
Charley Wetzel's Death — His Brother Does Not Know How the Accident Happened—His Account of the Sad Affair. 

A shocking tragedy occurred yesterday noon, near the five-mile house, north of the city, by which little Raymond Wetzel, 13 years old, accidentally shot and killed his elder brother, Charley Wetzel, 15 years old. The boys are sons of Martin Wetzel, engineer of engine No. 7, of the Los Angeles fire department, one of the best known members of the department.

The news reached the city at 1 o'clock, and Mr. Sharp, of Peck, Sharp & Neitzke, undertakers, went out to the five mile house, returning with the body, and the heart-broken little fellow who had been the cause of the accident.

The story of the accident was related to a Herald reporter by Raymond Wetzel, between his sobs, and as he sat on a chair in the undertaker's office, holding on to a string, at the other end of which was a little dog, who looked up at him, and occasionally whined. 

"My brother Charley and I, and Ethelbert Vincent started out from home this morning," said Raymond, "to go up the valley towards Glendale. We had a little wagon with us, and a single-barreled shot gun to shoot squirrels with, if we saw any. We walked beyond the five-mile house to Ramona, where we got some grapes, and then turned to come back. Bert was sick at Ramona, and didn't feel very good as we came along back. Before we got to the five-mile house he sat down to rest a little, and my brother and I went on slowly. When we were a short ways from Bert, about 100 feet, I guess, my brother saw a squirrel to the right of the road, and told me to get the gun and shoot him. He was hauling the wagon by the handle, and I was on the left band.side of it. The gun was in the wagon, with the muzzle pointing towards Charley. I jumped around behind the wagon and to the right side. I put my hands on the gun to pick it up, and it went off. Charley said, 'My God!' and fell down on the ground. I hallooed to Bert that Charley was shot, and threw out the box of grapes that was in the wagon. When Bert came we picked my brother up and put him in the wagon. Then we brought him to the Five-mile house, and they telephoned to town. The wagon was pretty small, but we got him there some way." 

The boy tried to choke back the tears, but they would come. Further questions being put to him, he said that the gun was lying with the stock close against the back of the wagon, and the muzzle reached out in front, elevated to the height of the front board. He said he had hardly touched it before it went off. He was positive that it was not cocked. When he grasped it, he put one hand on the barrel just where it joins the stock. He could not tell whether the hammer hit anything or not. But of course this must have happened, as the gun would not have gone off by itself. 

This statement of the accident was corroborated by others and the circumstances. When Mr. Sharp reached the five-mile house he found the body of the boy. He was still alive, although unconscious, when brought in, and very soon he breathed his last. The wound from which he died was in the back of his head, the whole charge of shot having entered a little above the neck. A visit to the scene of the shooting was made by Mr. Sharp, and he found a pool of blood in the middle of the road, where the unfortunate boy fell, and in it some of the brains which had oozed from the wound before he was lifted into the wagon. 

Charley Wetzel was a bright boy, and has been working for some time past at the job printing establishment of Kinsley & Barnes. He and his brother have always been companions and they were very much attached to each other. Raymond has been going to school at the Chestnut street public school out Temple street, and is a sturdy little fellow. They had planned this little jaunt as it was the only day when Charley had leisure. They had their friend, Ethelbert Vincent, go with them, and left home in great spirits, little thinking of the dreadful termination of the day's outing.

The news of the tragedy was communicated to the parents, and their grief was very affecting. They were completely prostrated by it, and have the sympathy of a great many friends in the city, where Mr. Wetzel is exceedingly well known, he having been an engineer on the Southern Pacific for many years before entering into the service of the fire department. Coroner Weldon was at San Pedro yesterday, and will return this morning, when an inquest will be held at 10 o'clock.

The inquest was held on August 30, 1892 and the verdict was that "the deceased came to his death from a gunshot wound and that it was purely accidental."  Here's his Death Certificate:



Here's Charlie's Death Notice from the Los Angeles Herald of Tuesday, August 30, 1892:



The Wetzel family purchased a family plot in the Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles in Section H - Lot 5008:




Life goes on after a tragedy and by 1893 Martin Wetzel left the Southern Pacific Railroad and joined the Los Angeles Fire Department as an Engineer in Fire Company #7 with the rank of captain.  His career with the Fire Department got off to a rocky start according to two reports in the Los Angeles Times.  First, from September 21, 1893:

The chief reported that after the fire on the 16th inst., Assistant Chief McMahon suspended Capt. Martin Wetzel for being dilatory in picking up hose, and when spoken to about it, answered in an insolent manner.

And again on December 7, 1893:

It is understood, however, that the session was for the purpose of discussing certain charges against Martin Wetzel, of engine company No. 2, located on Sixteenth street. […] Just what the charges against Wetzel are have not been made public, but it is stated that he is charged with a violation of rule 27 of the department, which rule is in reference to intoxication.

Martin Wetzel's career with the Los Angeles Fire Department came to an end - either by his resignation or being fired.  After the Fire Department he was employed by the Los Angeles Electric Railway. 

Tragedy struck the Wetzel family again in June of 1897, robbing them of their remaining son, Raymond.  Here's the sad tale from the Los Angeles Herald of June 9, 1897:

HE MADE NO OUTCRY
An Apprentice Squeezed To Death in a Machine Shop
A Set Screw Caught in His Sleeve and Tightened His Clothing Around His Neck and Chest

Raymond Wetzel, a young man employee in the Southern Pacific machine shops on San Fernando street, was caught in the set screw of a drill last night and killed.  The accident happened at 10 o'clock.

Wetzel, who is an apprentice in the shop, was working at the drill when his sleeve caught on the point of the screw.  He attempted to free himself, but was unable to do so.  The screw held to his coat sleeve and kept drawing him toward it.  Finally he was drawn slowly but powerfully against the upright bar.  Expecting every second that his coat would give way and free him, the young man made no outcry, and other employees near him knew nothing of the accident until afterward.  Finally the grip around his chest and neck tightened and he was slowly squeezed to death.

He was found late by another workman and cut down.  The coroner was notified and the body was removed to Kregelo & Bresee's undertaking parlors, where an inquest will be held today.

Wetzel was a single man and lived with his father, Martin Wetzel, at 541 Pasadena avenue.  The later is a motorneer on the Pasadena electric line.

Here's Raymond's Death Certificate:



Within five years Martin and Julia Wetzel lost both of their sons in tragic accidents.  Their friends and neighbors were bereft.  Here's a note that was in the Los Angeles Herald on Thursday, June 10, 1897:



Here's the Death Notice from the Los Angeles Herald on the same day:


The remaining family buried Raymond next to his brother at Evergreen Cemetery:



It seems that the Wetzel family had not suffered enough in the loss of their two sons.  This was reported in the Los Angeles Times from Wednesday, August 17, 1898:


The Los Angeles Herald reported that Wetzel had recovered and was able to return to work on September 27, 1898.
   
The 1900 US Census shows empty-nesters Martin and Julia Wetzel living at 514 Pasadena Avenue in Los Angeles.  Martin reported his age as 48; Julia was 44.  They reported that they had been married for twenty-five years.  Julia told the census taker that she had given birth to three children, only one was still alive in 1900.  (Their daughter Emma Wetzel had married Robert Heaney (1870-1921) in 1896 and was living with her husband in Los Angeles).  Martin reported his occupation as "Motorman," and that he owned his house free and clear. 

In 1901 the Los Angeles Times reported that Martin Wetzel had been appointed County Engineer. 

It wasn't all tragedy or politics for Martin Wetzel - there were some good times as well.  The Los Angeles Times on June 23, 1901 reported:

Informal Party

Mrs. Martin Wetzel entertained a company of friends Thursday evening at her home No. 514 Pasadena Avenue, East Los Angeles.  Fifteen couples were present, and the evening was enjoyably spent.

and from the Los Angeles Times on May 25, 1902:

Stag Party

Martin Wetzel was the host at a jolly Dutch supper, given at his home on Pasadena avenue, Thursday evening.  The guests, numbering about seventeen, being members of the Liederkrantz and Valley Hunt clubs of Pasadena.  It was a meeting of old friends,and a store of mutual recollections was revived; old stories were retold and a few new ones were vouched for.  In the fish-story contest, the host is said to have received the prize by acclamation.  

It appears that Martin Wetzel was an inventor too. This article appeared in the Los Angeles Herald in February of 1904:

INVENTS NEW OIL BURNER
Engineer Wetzel Has a Unique Contrivance

For the past two or three days Martin Wetzel has been experimenting with a contrivance of his own invention calculated to economize fuel in oil burning plants, and he now claims that he has got it in good working shape.  The contrivance is attached to the oil burner under the boilers which furnish the heat for the court house, and is connected with the steam pipes. It is automatically arranged so that when the steam pressure gets low the oil feed increases, raising the temperature under the boilers and bringing the steam pressure up to normal. It works equally well the other way, for, when the pressure gets too high the feed of oil is automatically checked, the temperature decreases and the pressure goes back. This contrivance guarantees a steady heat and at the same time economizes the fuel, bringing the consumption to the minimum for the pressure required. Mr. Wetzel believes that this is the first contrivance of its kind and will proceed at once to apply for patents on it. He does not know of anything of the kind ever having been used successfully. A modification of the idea may be worked out for use on locomotives, but the difficulty with that style of engine is that it requires sudden changes of pressure. When the locomotive is climbing it requires far higher pressure than when running on a level or going down grade, so that it will require some study to suit the apparatus for this clans of boilers. For stationary engines, however, the inventor believes it is now complete.

The 1910 US Census shows Martin and Julia Wetzel living in the same house - although the address has changed.  514 Pasadena Avenue was changed to be called "2114 Pasadena Avenue" in the City of Los Angeles.  Unfortunately 2114 Pasadena Avenue was taken to build the Golden State Freeway - that address no longer exists.  Martin reported his age as 58; Julia reported 54.  Martin was actually 60; Julia was 55.  Martin told the census taker that his occupation was "Engineer in a Locomotive Factory."  

Newspaper mentions of Martin Wetzel from the 1910s were limited to his activities as part of the Los Angeles County Pioneers' Association.  One mention was that Wetzel had been "engineer on the first train that steamed out of Los Angeles," while another said he "helped build the railroad from Wilmington to Los Angeles in '69."  

The 1920 US Census had few surprises.  Martin and Julia were still living in the same place, 2114 Pasadena avenue in Los Angeles.  Martin was 70, Julia was 65 - both listed "None" for Occupations.  There is one change:  They have taken in a boarder, fifty-one year old Augusta Lindberg, originally from Sweden.  Augusta listed her occupation as "Machinist" and listed her primary language as "Swedish" although she said she also spoke English.  

Martin Wetzel died June 12, 1922 at his home from heart disease.  He was seventy-one years old.  Here is his Death Certificate:


Here is his Death Notice from the Los Angeles Times:

and his Obituary:


Like his two sons, Martin Wetzel was buried in the family plot at Evergreen Cemetery:





Julia Wetzel died on June 2, 1929 at the age of 73.

Some people seem to go through life happy and carefree.  They are happily married, financially secure, and beloved by all.  They seem to have the "magic touch" that everything they touch turns to gold - literally or figuratively.  And then there are the rest of us. 

Unfortunately for Martin Wetzel he fell into the second category - losing both of his sons in a five year period - and both from freak accidents.  To top it off, Wetzel himself is almost killed when he is crushed between two rail cars in 1898.  At times it must have seem to him that his family was jinxed.  But Martin Wetzel was a survivor.  There were some bumps, to be sure, but ultimately he overcame adversity and went on to live a happy life - and isn't that what we all are striving for?

Martin Wetzel and his family - may they rest in peace.