Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Earning A Living: Charles Edward Stark

     Amy Johnson Crow has a 52 Ancestors Week blog challenge which I have decided to join.  I am hoping it may help me to pinpoint someone or something that I have researched and not blogged about on Flipside.  AND push me to blog about family each week in 2024.  Sometimes I get lazy. 😁  Let's see how well I keep up.

     Week #6 (February 6-11) is Earning A Living.     I have not done much blogging about my maternal grandfather, Charles Edward Stark.  I did not know him as he died a little over two years before I was born.  He appears in blogs about his parents, siblings, his wife and my Mom.  I have a feeling this will end up more of a biography, which is long overdue.  I will cover his employment and more.

Charles Edward Stark
circa 1882
     Charles Edward Stark, son of Charles Stark and Wilhelmine Catherine Schwarz, was born on Taylor Avenue, Allegheny City, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1880.  Allegheny City was incorporated into the city of Pittsburgh and is now referred to as the North Side.  

     My grandfather's hard copy of his birth certificate is part of his father's Civil War pension file.  He celebrated his birthday on September 23.  Oddly, he is listed with his mother and father on the 1880 Pennsylvania census, enumerated on June 14, 1880, as age one.  There has been a Stark Family story that Charles and Wilhelmine Stark had a son, Theodore, who died young.  I have, to date, found no evidence of his life or death.  Long story short, perhaps my maternal grandfather was a year or two older than thought.  

Charles Edward Stark
Photo postcard
circa 1884

     I have traced the Stark family around the Pittsburgh area over the years.  My Grandfather Stark was born on the North Side.  The family then moved to the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh around 1881 then back to the North Side around 1885.  

Stark's Living room
circa 1890
Charles and Wilhelmine seated

     Charles Stark was employed as a shoe salesman and dappled in money making schemes.  When the schemes were positive, the family lived well.  The few precious photographs, show a very Victorian decorated apartment.  I have heard there was a nanny to raise the children and a cook.  My grandfather grew up in a family that would be considered privileged along with one brother and three sisters.  

     Following Charles Stark's death in 1895, the family removed to the Borough of Avalon, still in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.  Typical for that time, my grandfather completed eighth grade and then entered the work force.  He was forced to go to work with his father's death.  He was fourteen, the oldest sibling, and bills had to be paid.  

Pittsburgh Press
September 8, 1898
page 6

     My grandfather and his brother, A.W. Stark (Alfred Walter) attended the tenth annual edition of the Pittsburgh Exposition.  The headliner was  John Philip Sousa and his fifty piece band.

1899 Pittsburgh City Directory
Pittsburgh and Western Railroad

1899 Polk Pittsburgh City Directory
     These early Pittsburgh Directories give some insight into the late 1880's employment of my grandfather.  He was apparently very gifted in math and was employed at age nineteen and perhaps earlier, as a clerk.  He continued working as a clerk until his death.   

Charles Stark
September 22, 1899
In my possession

Perhaps an early birthday gift

1900 Pennsylvania Census
Avalon Brough, Allegheny County
June 5, 1900

Center Street, No House Number

     Stark, Wilhelmine C. Head, White, Female, Aug 1851, age 48, Widow, number of years married 24 with a slash across it, number of children 5 changed to a 6, number of children alive 5, Born in Germany, both parents born in Germany, Immigrated in 1877, 23 years in the United States, can read, write and speak English, owns a house free of mortgage

     Stark, Charles E. Son, White, Male, born September 1880, age 19, single, born in Pennsylvania, both parents born in Germany, employed as a clerk, worked 12 months, can read, write and speak English.

     Stark, Amelia B. White, Female,  born July 1882, age 19, single, born in Pennsylvania, both parents born in Germany, in school 9 months, worked 12 months, can read, write and speak English.

     Stark, Alfred W. White, Male, born May 1884, age 17 single, born in Pennsylvania, both parents born in Germany, in school 9 months, can read, write and speak English.

     Stark, Lucy W. White, Female, born November 1886, age 13, single, born in Pennsylvania, both parents born in Germany, in school 9 months, can read, write and speak English.

     Stark, Dortha White, Female, born December 1888, age 11, single, born in Pennsylvania, both parents born in Germany, in school 9 months, can read, write and speak English.

      The census does raise a few questions.   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 or death 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?

Circa 1900


1902 Pittsburgh City Directory

1906 Pittsburgh City Directory

     Union Station in Pittsburgh, still in existence, was probably where Charles worked as a clerk for the Pittsburgh and Western Railroad.  Charles worked during his early life in several different companies as a clerk.        

1907 Pittsburgh City Directory

1910 Pittsburgh City Directory

     My maternal grandparents met at work in the Frick Building, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Both were single and never married and depending when Charles began working as a clerk with the American Bridge Company in the Frick Building, they were late twenties to age thirty.  In the early 1900's he was the chief clerk in the Traffic Department with American Bridge Company.  The American Bridge Company was sold to the United States Steel Company in 1901 and became a subsidiary. 

The only people I can identify are my grandfather (tallest man)
and his mother lady in the dark dress sitting

Mother and son
Wilhelmine Schwarz Stark and Charles Edward Stark

     A collection of photos of grandfather and his mother and maybe some family.  A think they are circa early 1900's.  I have to thank other Stark family members who graciously shared.

Pittsburgh Press
Sunday, June 23, 1907
page 13

     On June 23, 1907, Grandfather's sister, Emily Beatrice Stark married Howard Herron Miller.  My grandfather gave the bride away in an intimate ceremony at the Stark's home. 

     Charles Stark frequently used his first two initials rather than his full name i.e. C.E. Stark  My grandmother, Teek, also used Mrs. C.E. Stark.  It gives me an additional challenge whenever I am looking for them in newspapers and documents.

530 Marie Avenue
Avalon, Pennsylvania

1910 Pennsylvania Census
Avalon Brough, Allegheny County
April 15, 1910

530 Marie Avenue

     Stark, Wilma C., head, female, white, age 56, widow, 5 children 4 living, born in Indiana, both parents French, speaks English, can read and write, owns a house with a mortgage.

     Stark, Charles E., son, male, white, age 29, single, born in Pennsylvania, both parents born in Indiana, speaks English, employed as a clerk with a Steel Works, no weeks off in 1909, can read and write.

     Stark, Alfred W., son, male, white, age 25, single, born in Pennsylvania, both parents born in Indiana, speaks English, employed as a photographer in a studio, works on his own, can read and write.

     Stark, Dorothy M. daughter, female, white, age 21, single, born in Pennsylvania, both parents born in Indiana, speaks English, not employed, can read and write.

     Charles Edward Stark joined the Allegheny Lodge Number 223 of the Free and Accepted Masons on December 12, 1910.  He was a member until his death in 1945.  His father, Charles Stark was also a member of this lodge.  

1910 Pittsburgh City Directory

1912 Pittsburgh City Directory

1913 Pittsburgh City Directory


     My maternal grandparents met at work.  What date they actually met and began to date is unknown: however they did become engaged and were married.  My grandmother's engagement ring was worn by my mother after her mother's death and she gave it to me as a birthday gift on my 50th birthday.  It is a beautiful setting with hearts in the gallery and a one caret mine cut diamond.  

Marriage Licenses
Pittsburgh Press
Tuesday, June 9, 1914

     I am fortunate to have the wedding book.  My grandparents, Charles Edward Stark and Martha Marie Frederick, were married on Wednesday, June 10, 1914 at Trinity Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Episcopalian minister, Rev. I. Frederic Jones.  Charles brother, Alfred Walter Stark and Martha's sister,  Edna Frederick Zeigler were witnesses.  My grandmother was age thirty-four and my grandfather was age thirty-three, just three months shy of his thirty-fourth birthday.

     There is a page and a half of family and friends who attended the ceremony.  I believe this is a photograph of the wedding.  I recognize some of the women from old photos my grandmother saved.  The photographer is Alfred Walter Stark.  It is an 8x10 black and white.  I have not been able to identify any of my grandmother's Frederick family other than her father, my maternal great grandfather, Alfred Frederick.

     I felt this new little piece of history was necessary to add.  I wanted to research the minister that married my grandparents and to be certain I read his name correctly.  Rev Isaac Frederic Jones removed from the Pittsburgh area, serving in several churches before taking a pastorate at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Marion, Ohio.  

Akron Beacon Journal
August 3, 1923
page 17

     Rev Isaac Frederic Jones performed the requiem service for the deceased President Warren G. Harding in his hometown of Marion, Ohio.  I wonder if my grandparents had any idea that their marriage minister was nine years later performing a funeral service for the current President of the United States.

  My apologies for my digression.

     I have no idea if Charles and Martha went on a honeymoon following the wedding day.  I do know, from photographs, they did enjoy traveling, so perhaps they took the usual honeymoon trip to Niagara Falls.

1915 Pittsburgh City Directory

1916 Pittsburgh City Directory

1917 Pittsburgh City Directory

World War I Draft Registration.

     By 1917 they set up their household in an apartment at 4104 Perrysville Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  My grandmother never was employed outside the house for the remainder of her life.  Charles continued to be employed as the Chief Clerk in the Traffic Department for United States Steel the American Bridge Division.  

     I think these may be photos taken at a time following my grandparents wedding.  Pictured are Charles and Martha Stark, Wilhelmine Schwarz Stark and perhaps Frances Stark (Alfred's wife).  My guess is that Alfred Walter Stark took the photos.  Even out on a walk, Charles is in a coat and tie.  Women are in long dresses.  

1920 Pennsylvania Census
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
January 3, 1920
4101 Perrysville Avenue
2nd floor apartment

     Stark, C.E., head, male, white, renting apartment, age 39, married, can read and write, born in Pennsylvania, father born in Germany and mother tongue was German, mother born in England and mother tongue is English, can speak English, employed at American Bridge Company, a wage earner.

     Stark, Martha,  wife, female, white, age 38, married, can read and write, born in Ohio, both parents born in Ohio,  not employed, can speak English.

     I do have to mention here, I always have a chuckle when I see my my maternal great grandmother's birth information on the census reports over the decades.  It stretches from Germany, to Indiana and now England.  Fact of the matter is she was born in the Alsace-Lorraine area when it was German.  She spoke both German and French; however told grandchildren, and perhaps her own children that she was French.


     Charles and Martha Stark welcomed my mother, Martha Jean Stark on December 4, 1921.  She was born at 2:20 a.m. weighing in at 6 3/4 pounds at Presbyterian Hospital on the North Side of Pittsburgh.  The Starks were both forty-one years old at her birth.  I have to imagine that my grandmother was uncomfortable during the pregnancy since she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis.  Also following her pregnancy, she lost all of her hair.  She wore a wig, then called a transformation, until the 1960's.  

Father and Daughter
March 1922
3 months old

Charles and Martha Jean

The Charles Edward Stark Family

611 California Avenue
Avalon, Pennsylvania

     The Starks moved to this apartment some time after their daughter's birth.  Mom told me they lived in this home until she began ninth grade, which would be the summer of 1935.  When the Starks lived in this house, it was a single family home.  It has since been divided into several apartments.

Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

Kennywood Park


Grand Vacation

     A 1920 photo dump covering some vacations.  Charles was a good wage earner and provided his family with a large home, which he rented, nice vacations and clothes.  

1929 Pittsburgh City Directory

     Throughout the 1920's he continued to be employed by American Bridge as the chief clerk in the Traffic Department.  

Bellevue Methodist Episcopal Church
now known as Greenstone Methodist Church

My Grandfather's hand written Bible passages
Found inside his New Testament Bible

Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph
Saturday, May 25, 1929
page 13

     My grandfather was a very religious man and one of his main community involvements was within the church community.  My mother said her family was a member of Bellevue Methodist Episcopal Church (now known as Greenstone Methodist Church).  Her father was very active at church.  He also served as the treasurer for many years.  

     Mom remembered that her father was called "Old Faithful" by the minister, the Reverend Dr. John Benjamin Magee.  She told me that Dr. Magee wrote a book and he signed her father's copy as to Old Faithful.  My brother, Jeff, has the book and sent me the photos.  In actual fact Grandfather Stark was referred to as "Old Reliable".  

1930 Pennsylvania Census
Avalon Borough, Allegheny County
April 2, 1930

611 California Avenue

     Stark, Charles E., head, rents home for $60.00 a month, owns a radio, male, white, age 49, married age at marriage 32, can read and write, born in Pennsylvania, both parents born in Germany, can speak English, Employed as a clerk at a Bridge Company, not a veteran.

     Stark, Martha M., wife, female, white, age 48, married at age 30, can read and write, born in Ohio, both parents born in Ohio, can speak English, Not employed.

     Stark, Martha J., daughter, female, white, age 8, single, attended school last year, born in Pennsylvania, father born in Pennsylvania, mother born in Ohio, can speak English, not employed.

1932 Pittsburgh City Directory

Stark Family 1932
This is the last photograph I have of my grandfather

1934 Pittsburgh City Directory

     This is the first time I have seen Carnegie Steel Company.  Carnegie Illinois Steel Company was another subdivision of United States Steel.  It appears that Grandfather Stark transferred to the Traffic Department as the chief clerk to another division within the United States Steel Company umbrella.  

     My mother recalled that the family moved to this house located at 836 Florence Avenue, Avalon, Pennsylvania when she entered high school.  Grandfather Stark never owned a house or a car.  It was during this time that he acquired blue chip stocks from United States Steel, General Motors and American Standard.  Mom said the family did not have any financial downturn during the Depression.

     The Starks continued to take nice vacations and Mom spent a week or two at the YMCA Camp Buddy, Lake Lynn, West Virginia in summers.  Many weekends the family walked into Bellevue to see a movie stopping afterwards for an ice cream cone.  

     I would like to give a few memories of her Dad that she shared with me with apologies if I have already covered some.  Charles Stark was a quiet, serious man.  He enjoyed listening to opera and classical music at night on the radio or on his victrola.  He delighted in Christmas, decorating the tree when Mom went to bed and adding a village underneath complete with a little lake with live goldfish.  The Fourth of July was always celebrated with red, white and blue balloons and a large picnic.  Many nights her Dad brought the work ledgers home and would work adding the numbers in his head.  Charles encouraged Mom's scholastic achievements more than her learning any household skills.  He was very healthy, ate huge amounts of food and never gained an ounce.  

1940 Pennsylvania Census
Avalon Brough, Allegheny County
April 9, 1940

836 Florence Avenue

     Stark, Charles, rents his home at $55.00 a month, male, white, age 59, married, completed 8th grade, born in Pennsylvania, lived in the same place since 1935, works 40 hour weeks, employment is general clerical work with a steel mill, he is a paid worker, he worked 52 weeks last year, his annual salary is $3,500.00.

     Stark, Martha, wife, female, white, age 59, married, completed 9th grade, born in Ohio, lived in same place since 1935, engaged in housework.

     Stark, Martha Jean, daughter, female, white, age 18, single, completed high school, born in Pennsylvania, lived in the same place since 1935, engaged in school.

     I was able to to find a conversion chart for the worth of money in 1940 by today's standards.  Charles was earning $3,500.00 annually.  In  today's money it would be $74,000 annually.  I also found that the average income in 1940 was $1,368.00.

    My mother left for The College of Wooster in the Fall of 1939, so she was not actually living at home when the census was taken.  Her father paid her tuition for the four years she attended.  

World War II Draft Registration
April 27, 1942

          This document is proof that my grandfather had moved to new employment as he is no longer in the Frick Building with the American Bridge Company.  


     This loving note was inside a 21st birthday card Charles sent to his daughter.

Dear Marse,
     You are now a full fledged citizen of the USA.  Your aims have been worthy and standards high and lived up to.  Your twenty one years are a fine guidepost to the future and we feel confident you will continue in that path.  Keep close to your bible and have no fear.

     Hearty congratulations and may you have many blessings in the coming years is the prayer of your loving-------Dad

December 4, 1942

     My mother graduated from college and married my father about a year later.

     Again relying on notes from my Mother.  She said her Dad became increasingly concerned about the competition in his employment.  Younger men were being hired who had more education.  

The Pittsburgh Press
January 26, 1945
page 30

     My maternal grandfather, Charles Edward Stark, died on January 24, 1945 in Suburban General Hospital, Bellevue, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania at age sixty-four.  Cause of death was Purpina Hemorrhagica.

From the Sunday Bulletin
Bellevue Methodist Episcopal Church

     Charles was buried on January 27, 1945 in Allegheny County Memorial Park, Allison Park, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

      My misfortune is that my grandfather died two years before I was born.  After hearing Mom's stories, looking at the photographs and doing the research, I have learned that he was a kind and loving man.  

30 Years of Service medal
United States Steel

Carnegie Illinois Steel Company

     He worked from about age fourteen until his death at age sixty-four--fifty years!  He held a very responsible, white collar job with businesses that "ruled" in Pittsburgh.  He made a good income and was frugal with his money, investing in blue chip stocks and later in land in Florida which my grandmother sold to Donald Duck Orange Juice Company.  He had hoped to build a retirement house on that property.

Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph
Saturday, March 17, 1945

     I mentioned this in the blog about my maternal grandmother and want to restate it here since this blog concerns earning a living.  My grandmother received the entire estate which financed her twenty-six years, until her death in 1971.  My mother received her mother's estate which included the stocks and savings in three banks.  When my mother died in 1999, those stocks went into her estate and were divided between myself and my two brothers.  My portion of the stock sale was reinvested into an annuity which I added to until the age when I had to begin taking a monthly allowance.  I also put a small portion of the money into investments for my sons.  How proud would my grandfather be to know that money he earned has traveled down to his grand daughter and great grandson and continues to be viable in 2024, seventy-nine years after his death.

     In closing, I do want to share one final photograph. My Grandfather Stark was a hard working, family oriented, serious, God fearing man; however, he did have one vice he did enjoy one cigar daily. 😇 He is pictured above with his brother, Alfred Walter Stark.

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.
© 2024, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

1 comment:

  1. So much here about the grandfather we didn't have the opportunity to know. The photos, as always, are delightful. I especially loved the unexpected Victorian living room and the ones where Charles and others are showing so much joy (even if always dressed in their Sunday best). Along with you, I was amused that the Census records had Great-Grandmother Stark being born in different countries and states. Thanks for another revealing look into our family's past.