My great grandparents William H Theler and Emma Belduke were married in San Francisco in 1875 and by 1880 were living in a boarding house on O’Farrell Street in the Tenderloin. Their first daughter, Grace, was born on April 21, 1882 and their second, Mabel Elise, came along on September 2, 1883.
In 1895 when Mabel was 12 years old the family moved to Juri Street in the Mission, a tiny street a half-block long between Guerrero and San Jose and near 25th Street. Shortly after the turn of the century the family moved again all the way to 3625 25th Street. Actually, all they had to do was walk across the street to 8 Juri and then walk down the path to 25th street. The house right behind 8 Juri was 3625 25th Street!
Grace and Mabel grew up a year apart and in the same household but seemed to live in completely different worlds. Grace looked like her German father — light-complected, blue eyes and blond hair. She proudly proclaimed her mother’s Catholic religion, however, and wore it on her sleeve for life. Mabel had dark hair, brown eyes and was dark-complected, just like her French Canadian mother. She also considered herself a good Catholic but she also loved life, was at ease in a crowd, and had a personality closer to her father’s who was a born salesman.
Mabel graduated from Cogswell’s Polytechnical College in 1901. Her class put on a graduation dance at Cotillion Hall and eleven member of the class, including Mabel, were on the commission in charge of the dance.
A month earlier Mabel participated in an Elocutionary Recital at Sherman & Clay Hall. She performed a sketch entitled “Aunt Sophronia Tabor at the uproar” with a Miss Lucille Otto and also a monologue of “The Window Curtain.” She also joined seven other women in acting out a pantomime called “The Angel of Buena Vista.”
A year later the Young Ladies Sodality of St. Brendan’s Church gave a vaudeville entertainment at their church on the corner of Fremont and Harrison Streets and Mabel appeared on the agenda with a recitation.
I have a hunch that Mabel and her friends in the St. James Sodality also attended one or two functions put on by Sacred Heart Parish where Company D of the League of the Cross Cadets, led by a handsome captain by the name of Ignatius Dwyer, performed their military drills.
Mabel and Nash were wed on November 15, 1905. Four months later they were rendered homeless by the Great Earthquake and Fire and they spent a couple of weeks living in tents in Golden Gate Park. They also lived with friends in Alameda for a few months and then moved back to San Francisco to a flat on Walter Street near Duboce Park and across the street from Nash’s sister Kate. They were also just two blocks from Nash’s mother and sisters Nora, Mary, Alice and Teen. Their first child was born on Walter Street on May 12, 1907 and Mabel named her Elise Maureen.
By 1910 Mabel and family had moved closer to her own family, a flat on 20th Street near Dolores Park. The Thelers lived eight blocks away. My Dad, Donald Joseph Dwyer, was born in this house on March 22, 1910.
Mabel’s parents died in 1917 and 1918 and the Dwyers moved away in 1918 to a house on Westwood Drive in a new residential area of San Francisco called Westwood Park. The new parish of St. Emydius did not have a school, however, and so Mabel and Nash sent their kids back to their old neighborhood for their Catholic education. After attending St. James Grammar School Don decided to go to St. Ignatius High School. His sister Elise went to Notre Dame. After high school both children then attended Cal Berkeley, Elise graduating in 1930 and Don in 1932.
Mabel’s son Don married my Mom in 1936 and her daughter Elise wed Fran, the love of her life, two years later. Mabel lived long enough to see three of her nine grandchildren. She died of breast cancer at the age of 57 on November 20, 1940.
So this wraps up my German Heritage. Mabel was half German. She married an Irishman and so her childen were only a quarter German. Both of her children also married Irish. And so my siblings, cousins and I are mostly Irish and only an eighth German. But that German heritage will still burn strong as long as our sons and daughters continue to give their daughters the name Elise!
We are also one sixteenth French Canadian, thanks to Wiliam Theler’s wife, Emma Belduke. I’ll write about our Beldukes in a future family history posting.