My German Heritage — Part One, William H Theler

Six of my eight great grandparents were born in Ireland. The other two were born in New Hampshire and New York. My New Hampshire great grandmother’s father was French-Canadian and her mother was Irish. Both of my New York great grandfather’s parents were born in Germany. So I am 81.25% Irish, 6.25% French Canadian and 12.50% German. This week I will be posting family history articles on the German side of my family.

My great grandfather’s name was William H Theler. I believe his middle name was Henry but it may have been Herman. He was born somewhere in New York (probably New York City) on November 30, 1848. We know nothing of William’s past before he arrived in San Francisco in 1868 and began to work as a bookkeeper for George H. Peck. In those days William was living on the south side of 23rd Street between Valencia and Bartlett. By 1870 William was running a cigar and tobacco shop at 24 Fourth Street and living across Market Street on the corner of Stockton and Ellis. At this time he was also involved in the William H. Theler & Co., a wood and coal distribution outfit on 216 Clementina Street. It appears that he ran this business with the help of a man named Edward H. Dwyer. The 1870 SF City Directory also has a listing for a William H. Theler of Seaman & Theler living at 19 Annie Street. Could our William, age 22, be doing all of this?

William H Theler, my great grandfather

William was working as a salesman for the Palmer Bros department stores in 1875 when he met and fell in love with a woman named Emma Belduke who was a clerk in one of the Palmer Bros stores. The two were married on August 25, 1875. In 1876 a son Francis was born but died within a few days. They never spoke about their loss and my Dad never knew his mother had a brother. In 1880 William and Emma were living at 325 O’Farrell Street and William was working for the Davis Brothers. He later formed a partnership with Joseph D. Palmer (one of the Palmer Bros) and William L. Trip. Palmer, Trip and Theler operated a millinary, ladies’ and gents’ furnishing goods store at 1026 Market Sreet. On April 21, 1882 William and Emma gave birth to a daughter they named Grace and a year later on September 2, 1883 their daughter Mabel Elise was born.

Mabel and Grace Theler, circa 1900

The Thelers lived at 5 Juri Street in San Francisco for awhile and shortly after the turn of the century they moved to 3625 25th Street. By this time William was working as a conductor for the San Francisco – San Mateo Electric Railway.

On November 15, 1905 Mabel married Ignatius Dominic Dwyer and their daughter Elise Maureen was born on May 12, 1907. By 1910 Mabel and Ignatius and Elise were living on 20th Street near Dolores Park and just a few blocks from Mabel’s parents. My Dad, Donald Joseph Dwyer, was born in that house on March 22, 1910. The family moved to the new Westwood Park residence area of San Francisco in 1918 and Ignatius was still living there when Mabel died on November 20, 1940. I was less than a year old.

My grandmother, Mabel Elise Theler Dwyer, and me -- 1940

Grace never married and lived with her parents on 25th Street until William died on August 5, 1917 and Emma a year later on August 29, 1918. Grace was a dressmaker by profession and she spent most of the rest of her life as a dorm mother at Holy Names College in Oakland where she died on April 16, 1961.

Grace L Theler, circa 1958 -- we called her "Auntie Grace"

According to William’s death certificate (my Dad’s Aunt Grace was the informant) his father’s name was Frederick Theler and his mother’s was Agnes Kimmel. In Part Two of My German Heritage I will relate my adventures in tracking down William’s parents and finding out where they came from in Germany.

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About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
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One Response to My German Heritage — Part One, William H Theler

  1. intrepidtraveller says:

    Im loving this series of posts, such a great idea! I think im going to go in root of some old black and white photos of my family now, because our family tree in our living room dates back over 1,000 years to King Canute(995-1035) which is preeeeety crazy! Could be interesting to read though!

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