Friday, December 6, 2013

SWEETHEART - Ruby Weinzimmer and Babe

I was at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park the Wednesday before Thanksgiving doing some Find a Grave photo requests (what else?) when I happened upon this impressive tombstone:

Louis Weinzimmer's wife and child died March 3, 1926 in childbirth. One hundred years ago one of the leading causes of death for females in the US was "complications from childbirth."  That usually meant that the mother caught an infection during the birth process and in her weakened condition was unable to fight it off.  This was, of course years before the discovery of antibiotics.  In the old days they used to call this "childbed fever."    

Let's take a look to see what we can learn about Louis Weinzimmer and his wife Ruby.

Louis Richard Weinzimmer was born February 14, 1893 in Cleveland, Ohio to Meyer Weinzimmer (1871-1938) and Rose, nee Feldberg (1874-????).  Both Meyer and Rose emigrated from Russia, Meyer in 1886 and Rose in 1887.  They met and married in St. Louis, Missouri about 1891.

Meyer and Rose had seven children:  Samuel (1892-1946), Louis (1893-1972), Millie (1895-????), Bessie (1897-????), Yetta/Edna (1900-1986), Israel/Harold (1903-????) and Lillian (1906-????).  As we chart the births of Meyer and Rose's children, we can follow them as they move around the country.  Sam was born in Saint Louis, Missouri. Louis, Millie, Bessie, and Yetta were born in Cleveland, Ohio, and Harold and Lillian were born in Chicago.  Meyer Weinzimmer owned a trucking company.

The 1910 Census finds seventeen year old Louis as a stock clerk for a mail order company.  He was living with his parents at 1435 N. Talman in Chicago.  Unfortunately the building the Weinzimmers lived in in 1910 is no longer there.  Louis told the census taker in 1940 that he had not gone beyond the 8th grade in school.

On May 22, 1915, Louis enlisted in the US Army.  His term was up after two years, and he re-enlisted on April 6, 1917.  Even though the US Army records show his discharge date as October 20, 1919, the 1920 Census (January 12, 1920) finds Louis at Camp Mercedes in Hidalgo, Texas as a sergeant in the Medical Detail.

Ruby Pitlack (some sources say "Pitluck") was born July 5, 1904 (even though her tombstone says 1899) in Saint Joseph, Missouri to Morris Pitlack (1880-1950) and Sarah, nee Friedman (1883-1970).  Ruby had three siblings:  Mollie (1903-1995), Harry Louis (1907-1971) and Minnie (1909-1914).  Morris Pitlack was a merchant of general merchandise. Both Morris and Sarah came to the US from Russia - Morris in 1900 and Sarah in 1902.  All of their children were born in the U.S. Just to drive genealogists mad, after Ruby's death Mollie started calling herself Ruby and her tombstone in fact has her name as Ruby Fine.

The 1920 Census shows the "Original Ruby" still living at home with her parents in Saint Joseph, Missouri.

We don't know how Louis Weinzimmer came to meet Ruby Pitlack, and there is no record of their marriage - either in Missouri or Illinois.  But, they probably married sometime in 1925 if her first baby was due in March of 1926.  At this time Louis was working as a coal salesman.

Here is Ruby's death certificate:

Unlike so many other women of the time, Ruby did not die from childbed fever.  Her actual cause of death was Eclampsia which I had never heard of until recently.  Fans of 'Downton Abbey' will remember that Lady Sybil died of eclampsia shortly after giving birth.  In Ruby Weinzimmer's case, both the mother and child died.  The decision was made in the Weinzimmer case to take the baby by Caesarian Section, but it was too late for both.

Even today eclampsia is the world's number one killer of mothers and babies in childbirth.

At the time of Ruby's death, she and Louis were living at 4638 N. Albany in Chicago:

4638 N. Albany, Chicago

Ruby Weinzimmer and "Babe" were buried Friday March 5, 1926 at Jewish Waldheim cemetery in Forest Park.  Louis erected a beautiful monument to them:

After the death of his wife and child, Louis moved back in with his parents and siblings at 3510 W. Palmer Street in Chicago.  The building was owned by Louis' parents:

3510 W. Palmer Street, Chicago

Louis Weinzimmer remarried sometime before 1935 to Lillian Spachner nee Berlstein.  She was born in Poland in 1891.  Lillian married Max Spachner in 1912 but they must have divorced, because he did not die until 1966.  I believe Louis Weinzimmer's marriage to Lillian Spachner also ended in divorce.  Lillian died in 1966, but there is no mention of her in Louis Weinzimmer's obituary from November 22, 1972:

He died November 15, 1972.

Shortly thereafter, he joined his beloved Ruby and Babe at Waldheim:

Anyone doing genealogy research will come across stories like this in their own family tree.  I have mentioned in other posts that a mother dying in childbirth or shortly after shows up in my own family tree on both sides.  Although modern medicine has reduced the number of childbirth-related deaths, they still happen.  It is always a tragedy when death occurs in connection with new life.  Often mothers are struck down in the prime of life, and many babies never get a chance to live at all.  It certainly was a tragedy on  March 3, 1926 when death took both Ruby Pitlack Weinzimmer and her "Babe".  May they rest in peace.

Ruby Pitlack Weinzimmer

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