Sunday, January 31, 2021

Part 1 Charles Stark and Wilhelmine Catherine Schwarz Stark of Germany and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


     I have spent time researching and writing about my maternal greats.  Great Grandfather, Charles Stark and Great Grandmother, Wilhelmine Catherine Swartz, have been written about in separate blogs; however, I have not yet put the story together in one place.  My Stark cousin, Kent Kretzler has done a enormous amount of research on the family, and in particular on our Great Grandfather's service in the Civil War.  I will do my level best to do justice to the story in my blog.

     Back in the day, when I began my genealogy search, I asked my Mom about her paternal grandfather, Charles Stark.  She knew nothing.  In fact, those who were alive, my Mom's cousins, did not know much about him.  Apparently, he was rarely to never talked about.  To be fair he died in 1895, when his own children were young, except his oldest son, my maternal grandfather and my mother's dad.  Odd, she would have no idea about her dad's dad.    

     Wilhelmine is a different story.  After Charles' death, the family moved to the borough of Avalon, Pennsylvania, just outside Pittsburgh. She lived around and with her children and grandchildren until her death in 1940.  There are plenty of memories and recalled stories about Wilhelmine.  My mother was the youngest of her grandchild generation, having been born in 1921.  She was able to supply memories as were her cousins, Dorothy Cooper Richards and Lorraine Miller Kretzler.  

Charles Stark

     Depending on the Civil War records and census reports for some documentation, my maternal great grandfather, was born about 1845 in Elberfeld, Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Elberfeld is listed as Charles' birthplace on the marriage certificate and some Civil War documents. The Civil War enlistment document lists Dusseldorf, Germany as his birthplace. Two separate places; however, both in Westphalia. 

     This is believed to be my maternal grandfather's immigration record.  His name is also seen as Carl on his marriage document.  Charles physical attributes are listed in his Civil War Pension File.  He was very short, 5 feet 3 inches tall, light complexion, light hair and blue eyes.  

     As mentioned in another blog, it is unknown why Charles Stark traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Did he have friends or relatives living there?  I outlined in a blog the various addresses of Charles Stark, Tracking the Addresses of Charles Stark.  So, rather than going into detail, I will just list them through the years.  Details and maps are in the blog listed above.

     Charles was not in the United States and Pittsburgh very long before he was swept up, as many immigrants were, in to service with the army in the Civil War.  He enrolled as a private, on May 15, 1861 with Company D, 2nd Regiment Virginia Infantry.  He mustered in at Wheeling, Virginia on June14, 1861 for three years.  In April, 1863, Charles was promoted to the rank of Corporeal.  

     On January 4, 1864 Charles mustered out and reenlisted on January 5, 1864 as a veteran volunteer with Company D, 5th Regiment, West Virginia Calvary.  On April 15, 1864, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, which he held until August 20, 1864.  He was demoted to private until October 15, 1864 and back to Sergeant until October 31, 1864.  

     In 1865, Charles joined New Company H, 6th Regiment, West Virginia Calvary as a Sergeant.  The 6th had a very interesting history.  Following the war they did provost duty in Washington, DC and then were moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and further west to the Dakotas.  Charles was demoted by special order to the rank of private on June 12, 1865.  During the months of July-August 1865, he was in arrest in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  In September, 1865 he was absent enroute from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Laramie and finally he was absent enroute during October, 1865 from Fort Laramie to Fort Casper, Dakota Territory.  From January to April, 1866 he was present for service.  He mustered out at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as a private on May 22, 1866.  

     It is assumed that Charles traveled back to Pittsburgh following his service.  The first document is the 1869 Pittsburgh City Directory and Charles is listed as a clerk living on Penn Avenue in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

     Charles lived and worked as a clerk and representative in a shoe store in the Pittsburgh area from 1869 until he was sent to the City Home in 1890.  There are city directories listing him also as residing in downtown Pittsburgh, Allegheny City as well as Lawrenceville.

      On October 5, 1872, Charles Stark became a naturalized citizen. The paper was filed in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. 

     On April 27, 1874, Charles Stark became a member of the Allegheny Lodge 223, A.Y.M.  This lodge was instituted on September 6, 1847 and approved on June 15, 1866.  I looked up the lodge in the 1874 Pittsburgh City Directory and found it was located in Allegheny City and met in the Masonic Hall on the Allegheny City Diamond on the second Monday of the month.   Interestingly, Andrew Carnegie was also a member of this Lodge.  I did a blog on the Charles Stark's Masonic booklet, which is in my possession.

1871 Pittsburgh City Directory
page 442

     In the 1870's, Charles was living and working as a salesman in downtown Pittsburgh and is listed as living and/or working at 31 Fifth Avenue in the Pittsburgh City Directories from 1870-1876.  This is the address of William E. Schmertz & Company Boot and Shoe Manufactures.  

Wilhelmine Catherine Schwarz

     This is believed to be the 1876 immigration record for Wilhelmine Schwarz, age 24, female, Wurttemberg.   This document was copied from another Stark researcher, it is not my research.  

Wilhelmine Catherine Schwarz
Circa early 1870's
courtesy of Kent Kretzler

    Stories passed down by Wilhelmine's grandchildren tell that she had relatives in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, that she came from Europe because she had a arranged marriage, that her father was a doctor and there were family members overseas that were chocolate makers.  Wilhelmine also told family members that she was from Alsace-Lorraine.  Her grand daughter, Dorothy Cooper Richards told me that Granny Stark spoke French.  My grandfather, Charles Edward Stark, Wilhelmine's oldest child, was the informant for her death certificate and gave her maiden name as Noir and her birth place as Bordeaux, France.  At a minimum, Noir and Schwarz both translate to the word black.

Charles Stark and Wilhelmine Catherine Schwarz
Marriage Document February 6, 1878

     Charles (listed as Carl) and Wilhelmine were married in St. Louis, Missouri by Pastor Ch F. Stark at the Evangelical Bethlehem Church.  So many questions with this document.  Did Charles and Wilhelmine travel from Pittsburgh to St. Louis?  Was Wilhelmine a friend of Pastor Stark, and Charles traveled to St. Louis to meet her and get married?  Was Pastor Stark a relation of my maternal great grandfather, Charles Stark?  I did research Pastor Christopher F. Stark and family and came to no conclusion.

Married Life

1880 Pennsylvania Federal Census
Allegheny City, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
June 14, 1880

Cabinet Card of Wilhelmine circa 1877-1800
Hendricks & Company
68 Federal Street 
Allegheny City, Pennsylvania

     In 1880 Charles and Wilhelmina were living at 58 Taylor Avenue in Allegheny City, across the Allegheny River from the City of Pittsburgh. Today this area is referred to as the North Side.  Charles occupation was a clerk in a shoe store.  Of interest is their one year old son named Charles.  My maternal grandfather, Charles Edward Stark, was not born until September 23, 1880 on Taylor Avenue, Allegheny City, Pennsylvania.   Another Stark story that was passed on was that Charles and Wilhelmina had a son named Theodore who died young from diphtheria.  To date I have found no record of him. Could this one year old son be Theodore Charles? 

Charles Edward Stark
Reproduced from a tin type

Amelia Beatrice Stark
photo courtesy of grandson, Kent Kretzler

     The Starks moved across the river to the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Lawrenceville.  They lived in the 46th block of Butler Avenue from 1881 until 1885 according to the Pittsburgh City Directories.  Two children were born during this time, Amelia (Emily) Beatrice Stark, born July 30, 1882 and Alfred Walter Stark, born May 15, 1884.  Charles is listed as a salesman and clerk on both birth records.

     By 1886 the Stark family moved back to Allegheny City, living at 357 East Street.  Two daughters were born in the house, Lucy Wilma Stark, born  November 2, 1886 and Dora (Dorothy) Maria Stark, born December 14, 1888.  

     On July 7, 1887, Charles Stark joined the Allegheny Arsenal by reenlistment.  I found the Arsenal on a map and it was located in Lawrenceville.

     The 1889 Pittsburgh City Directory lists the Stark family on 250 Howard, a street away from their East Street address.  

     The Stark story is now entering a time period when the family dynamic would change.   Grandchildren of Charles and Wilhelmina have said that Charles wanted a grand lifestyle.  Apparently, Wilhelmina's family would send money and Charles would find it and make bad investments.  The Starks were said to have a nursemaid to take care of the young children.  It is unknown who engaged in wanting the grander life, perhaps both Charles and Wilhelmina.  Looking at her photographs, she is always beautifully dressed.  A photo of the interior of her home is decorated with many photographs and Victorian ornamentation.  

     Charles did have some incidents during his service in the Civil War which caused demotions and arrest.  Was life in the Stark household somewhat bipolar?  According to the 1890 Veterans Census, taken on June, 1890, Charles Stark had been admitted to the City Home a year earlier.  The Civil War pension file provides the information that he was admitted because he was declared a lunatic.  Could this be what is now referred to as post traumatic stress from his service in the war?  Was Charles behavior always erratic?  Family members did not talk about him after his death. 

 Pittsburgh Daily Post
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
 September 15 1890
Page 3

     A family friend, fellow Mason and served with Charles during the civil war, Second Lieutenant Jacob Colmer, filed a Declaration for Children Under Sixteen Years of Age, on September30, 1890.  It appears that he listed himself as guardian of Charles Stark.    

     Wilhelmina was probably forced to move back to a different home at 197 East Street following Charles going to the City Home.  There are city directories of the family living at that address from 1891-1893.

     Charles Stark was a patient in the Allegheny City Home, located up the Allegheny River from Allegheny City at a stop on the the Western Pennsylvania Rail Road called Claremont.  Claremont was located in O'Hara Township.  Frankly, there is a lot of confusing information on the internet regarding the Allegheny City Home.  I did find an asylum in Allegheny City on the 1879 map.  I thought that might be where Charles was sent; however it was not.

Close up of a 1879 O'Hara Township map
Showing Claremont Station and the Poor House (City Home)

     The death record and spending way too much time going through city directories and census reports pointed me in the right direction.  The City Home, sometimes referred to as the Poor House, was established in 1844.  A second site was established in 1877 in Claremont, O'Hara Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. This is where my maternal great grandfather spent five years until his death on April 26, 1895.

1895 Death Record for Charles Stark

Charles Stark, white, male, 51 years old, married, a salesman.
Died on April 26, 1895 from paralysis
Birthplace:  Prussia
Living at the City Home for five years
Body taken by friends on April 26, 1895

Physician:  William N. Marshall, Claremont, Pennsylvania
Superintendent:  W. P. Hunker, Claremont, Pennsylvania

State of Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, City of Allegheny Death Register Volume 7, page 166.

     And because I just could not let the idea that the Allegheny City Home was located somewhere else out of my head.......

1900 Pennsylvania Federal Census
Claremont, O'Hara Township, Allegheny County

     Allegheny City Home enumeration, Claremont, O'Hara Township, Allegheny County with William P. Hunker still the superintendent.  

Pittsburgh Daily Post
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
 April 30, 1895
 Page 2

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
 April 27, 1895
 Page 2

     Here is a good reason to subscribe to ancestry's newspapers.  Finally a biography of my maternal great grandfather.  I checked into the history of William E. Schmertz & Company and found that in 1891, William E. Schmertz, a wealthy and successful Pittsburgh businessman in the shoe business and banking, was brought up on legal charges.  He lost his business, money and died in 1893.  This turn of events in the lucrative shoe business where Charles Stark was employed, could have caused his mental downturn.  Having been an employee of William E. Schmertz for decades, Charles may have also invested in the same stocks as William and lost his money. 

     Charles Stark was buried in Uniondale Cemetery, Allegheny City, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in a single interment section beside Marshall Avenue.  

Children of Charles Stark and Wilhelmine Catherine Schwarz Stark

  1. Theodore Charles Stark  1879-?
  2. Charles Edward Stark  1880-1945 (my maternal grandfather)
  3. Amelia Beatrice Stark  1882-1956
  4. Alfred Walter Stark  1884-1962
  5. Lucy Wilma Stark  1886-1927
  6. Dora Maria Stark  1888-1964

     This portion of the Stark's life has taken so much space, I have decided to have a Part 2--Wilhelmine Catherine Schwarz Stark--Widow.

Other Charles Stark Blogs on Flipside:


I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. All comments are welcome; however, if they are inappropriate, they will not be published.    PLEASE post your e-mail in the comment section if you would like to network about a particular surname or topic. I will capture it for my use only and not include it when I publish your comment.
© 2021, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

Part 2 Wilhelmine Catherine Schwarz Stark--Widow 1895-1940


Photograph of Wilhelmine
courtesy of Kent Kretzler

     Wilhelmine became a widow at age forty-four; however she lost her source of income at age thirty-eight or thirty-nine when her husband, Charles Stark, was sent to the Allegheny City Home for displaying signs of lunacy.  She was responsible for five children ages 15, 13,11,9 and 7.  

     Wilhelmine stayed in Allegheny City, moving from the Stark home at 250 Howard Street to a nearby home at 197 East Street, probably soon after her husband was taken to the Allegheny City Home.  


     According to Civil War pension file documents by May, 1895, Wilhelmine and her children were living in Avalon, Pennsylvania, a borough of Pittsburgh located six miles down the Ohio River.  Whether she made the move before or after the death of her husband is unknown.  Again the Civil War pension file gives some information on the family.  On July 29, 1895, long time family friend, Jacob Colmer, lists in an affidavit for the civil war pension file that Wilhelmine pays $12.00 a month rent and has only her skill as a seamstress to pay the bills.

     My mother, a grand daughter of Wilhelmine and daughter of Charles Edward Stark, told me that her father attended school through eighth grade and left to help support the family.  As mentioned above, Charles was fifteen when he father died. My maternal grandfather had an affinity for math.  Whether he used this skill when he was first employed is unknown. 

1899 Polk Pittsburgh City Directory
page 1203
     Charles is listed in the 1899 Pittsburgh City Directory as a clerk with the Western Pennsylvania Rail Road and living in Avalon.  My grandfather was living with his mother and siblings.

1899 Polk Pittsburgh City Directory
page 1388

     On another page of the same city directory I found Alfred Walter, my grandfather and their mother Wilhelmine all listed.  Both Walter and my grandfather are listed as employed as clerks and the family is listed as living on Marie north of Charles in Avalon.  I have not been able to locate a Charles Street on the Avalon map.  This is the home of Wilhelmine and my grandfather.  Walter is a boarder.

1900 Pennsylvania Federal Census
Avalon Borough, Allegheny County
June 5, 1900

     The Stark family was living on Center Avenue in Avalon.  The census does not give the house number.  All the children, except my grandfather, are attending school.  Wilhelmine lists 1877 as the year she immigrated.  The number of children census question gives me some pause.  It looks like it was listed that she had 5 children and 6 was written on top.  I sure wish I could locate the birth certificate for Wilhelmine's first born, Theodore Stark..  The census also lists that Wilhelmine owns the house free of mortgage.  Was my grandfather, who was supporting the family, earning enough to purchase a house outright?  Did Wilhelmine's European family send money to assist in supporting the Stark family which helped to purchase a house?

     Wilhelmine lived in two known houses located on Marie Street in Avalon.  The 1900 census lists Center Avenue, but no house number.  Later census reports do list a house number and those two are starred on the map.

Wilhelmine Schwarz Stark
circa age 50

     The Stark women all looked to be very fashion forward in the photographs I have seen.  Oddly, there are none that feature the weddings.  

     On June 19, 1907, twenty-four year old Amelia Stark, who was called Emily, married Howard Herron Miller in Avalon, Pennsylvania.  

     The following year, twenty-one year old Lucy Wilma Stark married Mont Mettie Munger in October, 1908. 

Edward Herron Miller
photograph courtesy of Kent Kretzler

     On July 9, 1909, the Millers welcomed their first child and Wilhelmine's first grandchild, Edward Herron Miller, who was born in Avalon.  

1910 Pennsylvania Federal Census
Allegheny Borough, Allegheny County
April 15, 1910

     Wilhelmine, age fifty-six, and three of her adult children are living at 530 Marie Street in Avalon.  My grandfather, Charles E. Stark employed as a clerk with an steel company, Alfred W. Stark employed as a photographer in a studio and Dorothy Stark, not employed.  This is a confusing census.  Wilhelmine lists her birth as Indiana as well as her husband, Charles Stark's birthplace as Indiana.  She lists as having five children, with four alive.  All five of her children are alive.

530 Marie Street
Avalon, Pennsylvania

     There is some discrepancy as to the location of 530 Marie Street.  Google maps comes up with two houses closely side by side; however, looking at the numbering 530 would be the empty lot.  Another option, I google searched the address another nearby house came up.  It was for sale a couple of years ago and then removed from the listing.  It was in desperate shape--in my humble opinion, beyond a fixer upper.  

     The census lists that the Starks owned this house with a mortgage.  The house was built in 1892, so it was only eighteen years old when the Starks purchased it.  A single family house with three bedrooms and one bathroom.  The Zillow website has photos and if you look beyond the condition of the rooms when the photos were taken (I have no idea how old they are), there are some charming features; the old style railings and window trim, arched doorway, built in shelving, a fireplace.

Wilhelmine, Lucy Munger
Wilma Angie May Munger

     Wilhelmine becomes a grandmother again.  On April 21, 1910, Lucy and Mont Munger welcomed a daughter, Wilma Angie May Munger, who was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.   

731 Florence Avenue
Avalon, Pennsylvania
     When my maternal grandfather, Charles Edward Stark, married in 1914, he listed 731 Florence Avenue as his address.  Wilhelmine was undoubtedly also living with her son in this house, too.  Perhaps the Starks moved to Florence before Dorothy and Walter married.  Following their honeymoon, my grandparents returned to this address.

     The next four years saw a series of marriages in the Stark family.  In May, 1912, Dorothy Marie Stark married Thomas Craig Cooper.  In 1913, Alfred Walter Stark married Frances, maiden name unknown.  Lastly, my maternal grandparents married.  Charles Edward Stark united in marriage to Martha Marie Frederick on June 10, 1914 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

     Two daughters were born to Thomas and Dorothy Cooper.  On September 5, 1914, Dorothy Wilma Cooper and on March 4, 1919, Lois Margaret Cooper.  Both girls were born in Bellevue, Pennsylvania.

1920 Pennsylvania Federal Census
January 2 & 3, 1920

     This census finds sixty-six year old Wilhelmine living as a boarder with her married daughter, Lucy Munger and son-in-law, Mont Munger at 507 Marie Street in Avalon.  Mont is employed as a clerk in an office.

Close-up of the section of Marie Street where
Wilhelmine lived.  

507 Marie Street
Avalon, Pennsylvania

     The Mungers were renting this single family home, built in 1902.  There are three bedrooms and one bath, six rooms total.  There are interior photos on website.  

     Lucy Munger was pregnant when the census was taken.  Her son, Mont Mettie Munger, Jr. was born on April 6, 1920 in Avalon.

Lorraine with her brother Edward
photograph courtesy of Kent Kretzler
     Several months later, Lorraine Wilma Miller was born to Emily and Howard Miller on July 1, 1920 in Avalon.  

Wilhelmine "Granny Stark" and
Martha Jean Stark 1921

Composite photographed by Alfred Walter Stark
of his niece, Martha Jean Stark
Appeared in a magazine

     Wilhelmine's last grandchild, my mother, was born on December 4, 1921 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. Charles Edward Stark and Martha Marie Frederick Stark welcomed their daughter, Martha Jean Stark and were at home on California Avenue, Avalon.

   Very few photos of Mont Munger, Jr, who was called Junior. Here he is with my "pouty" Mom. Love this picture. Taken in 1923.

     Two untimely deaths occurred a year apart during the 1920 decade.  Thomas Craig Cooper, husband of Dorothy Stark Cooper died on August 27, 1926 a few months shy of his fortieth birthday.    Wilhelmine's daughter, Lucy Stark Munger died on January 27, 1927 at the age of forty.

     It is unknown where Wilhelmine lived during this decade after the 1920 census was taken.  Perhaps she stayed in her daughter Lucy's home to help her.  Lucy died of heart failure and was probably in a weakened condition.

August 1928 motor trip
Charles, Wilhelmine, Frances, Martha Jean, Martha Stark

     During August, 1928, Wilhelmine, along with Charles, Martha Jean, Martha, Walter and Frances took an extensive trip to Washington, D.C., Mt, Vernon and then up into New York State.  Back in 2009 I blogged about this vacation, Stark Family Vacation, August 1928.

1930 Pennsylvania Federal Census
Bellevue, Pennsylvania 
April 21, 1930

     In 1930, seventy-seven year old Wilhelmine was boarding at the home of James A. Dodds.  The Dodds were not family and it is the first time Wilhelmine lived outside of Avalon following the death of her husband in 1895.  Bellevue is a borough of Pittsburgh and is directly south east of Avalon along the Ohio River.

163 Washington Avenue
Bellevue, Pennsylvania

     This is the house where Wilhelmine was enumerated as a boarder in 1930.  James Dodd gave the value as $1200.00.  He is renting the property.  With renovations, the house sold recently for $189,000.  It has three bedrooms and one bath and was built in 1896.  There is some wonderful old world charm in the house, some original wood flooring, a beautiful staircase with decorative woodwork and arched doorways.

Wilhelmine in front of the player piano

     I believe that most of the 1930's decade, Wilhelmine lived with her widowed daughter, Dorothy Stark Cooper.  My mother can remember visiting their home, which was an upstairs apartment.  There was a player piano and Uncle Mont Munger would sit and pretend to actually play the piano, running his fingers up and down the keyboard.

     After checking Pittsburgh City Directories and the 1940 census report, I am pretty certain that Wilhelmine did live with her youngest daughter, Dorothy Stark Cooper during the 1930's and until Wilhelmine's death.  It now makes sense why Dorothy Wilma Cooper Richards, Dorothy's daughter and Wilhelmine's granddaughter, had such vivid memories of her grandmother. Granddaughter Dorothy was in her late teens and into her mid twenties when Wilhelmine lived with them.

     Wilhelmine's daughter, Emily Stark Miller became a widow on December 9, 1932 when her husband, Howard Herron Miller died at their home, 534 Marie Avenue, Avalon, Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
 29 Mar 1940
 Page 28

     Wilhelmine Catherine Schwarz Stark died at age eighty-eight on March 27, 1940.  The death occurred in her daughter, Dorothy Stark Cooper's home, 301 California Avenue, Avalon, Pennsylvania, where she lived. Pneumonia was the primary cause of her passing.  My grandfather, Charles Edward Stark, supplied the certificate information for his mother.  Notice he was confused as to her maiden name and birth place.  

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
 March 29, 1940
  Page 28

     Wilhelmine was buried at Uniondale Cemetery, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on March 30, 1940.  My mother told me that, although her father and her Uncle Walter were never that close, the burial of their mother in Uniondale led to them never talking again.  My grandfather felt she should be buried in Uniondale and Walter thought the cemetery was not worthy.  Wilhelmine's husband was buried in Uniondale as was her daughter, Lucy Stark Munger.  Several decades later, her daughter Dorothy Stark Cooper, would be buried beside her mother in Uniondale.

An additional blog about Wilhelmine:

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. All comments are welcome; however, if they are inappropriate, they will not be published.    PLEASE post your e-mail in the comment section if you would like to network about a particular surname or topic. I will capture it for my use only and not include it when I publish your comment.
© 2021, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser