Monday, July 22, 2013

Mystery Monday: What Ever Happened to Agnes Goldberger?

My mother grew up in a household of five children—herself, her three siblings, and a distant relative named Agnes Josephine Goldberger—an orphan from Chicago. 


Agnes came to live with them at age six, after both her parents died, and she lived with them for about ten years.  What a change—from being the pampered daughter of a wealthy Jewish doctor in the big city, to being a farm girl, orphan, and foster child in rural DuPage County!  What was life like for her there?  Was she accepted at home, at school, in the community?  Was she an object of gossip?  Pity?  Or prejudice?  At any rate, at around age sixteen she left the Ericksons and returned to her Jewish relatives in Chicago, never to be seen again… and that’s all I ever knew about her, except that there were hard feelings in the Erickson family after she left.  

I wanted to know more—so recently I did a little research on Agnes.  It turns out that her father, Henry E. Goldberger, was a physician whose parents emigrated from Bohemia to Chicago.  Henry’s first wife, Mary Ingram, died in 1922.  Henry married Agnes Evatt in 1923, when he was 53 and she was 28. 

Baby Agnes was born to Agnes and Henry in Chicago on December 11, 1925.  By 1929, little Agnes’ mother was dead, and by 1933, so was her father, Dr. Goldberger…  Agnes was an orphan at age six.  Somehow she ended up on the DuPage County, Illinois farm of my grandparents, Robert and Clara Erickson.  It seems that Agnes wasn’t actually related to the Ericksons at all—but rather, her father Henry’s first wife, Mary, was a cousin of Clara’s—quite a stretch.  So how did they end up taking her in?  I don’t know.

I have a number of Erickson family photos with Agnes included.  I wonder if she was treated like one of their own, or if she always felt different, unwelcome, an outsider?  My grandpa Robert was a kind and loving man—but my grandma Clara, perhaps not so much. 

Mom always said that Agnes’ family suddenly wanted her back when she turned sixteen and she inherited her father’s money, and so Agnes left them without so much as a thank you—but my grandma Clara was no amateur when it came to holding a grudge, and I think my mother was just parroting what she heard at home.  I’ve always wondered if there was more to the story.  What happened to Agnes Goldberger after she left the Erickson farm around 1942?  Maybe someone out there knows the answer.


5 comments:

  1. I found your blog via Pinterest. This post has me eager to find out what became of Agnes as well. How heartbreaking to be orphaned at just 6 years of age!!

    ~Hillary

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hmm...very interesting. Poor Agnes wasn't feeling the love from her birth family. They only cared once she came into her inheritance? Horrible. I'll be interested to read what you find.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It seems like she probably didn't feel love from either family, if I had to guess! Was there no one in Chicago who wanted her after her parents died? But my grandma was a bad one for playing favorites, and a little Jewish kid in 1930s rural Plainfield, Illinois? I just wonder how that was... I hope she had a happy life as an adult. If I find out anything, I'll write another blog.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Now I am dying to know what happened to Agnes! It's very interesting that a simple search doesn't return any results for her after she left the Erickson family. I wonder if she might have begun using a different name for some reason. At any rate, quite a mystery. I hope you find some answers!

    p.s. I found this post via a Follow Friday link on Leaves for Trees.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe she didn't want such a Jewish name... or maybe she just got married. It's so hard to trace women when their names change! I hope I find out more also, and if I do, I'll write a followup. Thanks for telling me how you found me. swm

      Delete