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I amused myself for several hours researching this photo and Milton this darling small boy from Jerry's side. Milton has been a mystery for awhile among photos from Jerry's mother, who as I mentioned before collected things from everyone. I thought it a neat pose, reminiscent of the RCA Victor Label. A little guy with a dog, how precious. The handwriting on the bottom is from Aunt Marie and merely identifies him as a cousin. The last name Steager was unfamiliar but all the genealogy research and plugging I've done led me along to solve this mystery. .
Here is the back side, another post card, mailed in 1910 to Jerry's Grandmother, signed by Clara. It must have been quite common in the late 1800's and early 1900's to have postcard photos taken. Perhaps there were itinerant photographers who produced these at a reasonable fee; this is something I intend to research as I have become quite curious about why so many had photos on postcards.
Clara Behrndt Steger
The last name Steager meant nothing and the name Milton was not ringing a bell, but as there is already quite an extensive ancestral tree on the Behrndts on my Ancestry.com pages, I looked for a Clara, who turns out to be another of Charlie Behrndt's sisters. Aha, sure enough, Clara Behrndt, a grand aunt about whom we know little, married Michael Steiger and they moved to Minneapolis. That is about 125 miles from the home area and in those days that distance wasn't easily traveled, so she likely was not a frequent visitor to home. Michael was a laborer and farmer and at one point left the wife and kids to work on a farm in South Dakota. Notice the spelling of that last name, it changed several times over the years....
The Steigers became Steager and then in the 1910 census the spelling changed to Steger which the entire family adopted and used, except for Michael who would end up with the spelling Stegar! Whew, name changes were not confined to my Polish relatives; even the pioneer settler families experienced the same phenomena, to say nothing of those living in the "big cities" such as Minneapolis at the time!
Milton was the third son of Michael and Clara , born in 1909 so the above would be a photo of him at one year. There were two other boys, Ellis and Russell and a daughter, Lucille. All are deceased and it appears that none married and left no survivors. Milton died in 1989.
The 1920 census gave strange information as Ellis is identified there as a daughter! Think of it, in 1920 he's either the first in the family to have a sex change operation or the census worker really messed up! Because this is the only time Ellis has been identified as female, we think it was another census mistake. I did not notice this error until I began researching Milton; then I noticed two Ellis in the family a boy and a girl born the same time. Wait a minute, no one would name twins the same! So that error is now cleaned up on the tree.
By 1930 something happened to Michael who was no longer in the household. We laugh that perhaps Clara learned Michael had reported a son as a daughter so she tossed him out on his ear! (You see how one can speculate when we don't know the details! An active imagination is so much fun!) The 1930 census shows Clara as head of the household and now a home worker; all four children ages 24 through 18 remain living with her. Milton, "her rascal" has become a machinist, Ellis a laborer, and Russell an assembler in the iron works, while Lucille is a seamstress and dressmaker. After more probing, I found Michael now spelling his last name Stegar, living about two blocks away from the family in a boarding home and working as a paper hanger.
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