January 22, 2011

The Bechstein House Part IV: 1897-1934--Lena Eiden

1897 • On March 30, Henry Eiden applied for a permit to build a 22-foot wide by 12-foot deep addition onto the rear of 195 Wabash. The actual measurements of the addition turned out to be (approximately) 21 feet wide by 13 deep. The result was a new 13' by 14' kitchen, a 4' by 7' pantry, and a 7' by 10' room that is now a bathroom, although it hasn't been determined whether that was the room's original purpose. The baseboard trim in this room matches that of the house's original four rooms, perhaps indicating that the entire house was renovated. After existing as a rental home for over twenty years, such a makeover was probably necessary.

This Sanborn map from 1897 shows the addition made to the house.
Also shown on the property is a two-story barn adjacent to the alley.

Lena Eiden moved into 195 Wabash with her father, her husband, and their three children early enough that the address was listed as their residence in the 1897 city directory. It’s possible they moved in before work on the addition had even begun. Frederick Bechstein still owned 197 Wabash and began to rent it out.

Detail of 1900 Census showing the Eiden household at 195 Wabash Street. Occupations are
listed in the right hand column. It's indicated that Bechstein fathered 9 children, of whom
5 were living. Two of his children have not yet been identified and likely died in infancy.

Tuesday, December 22nd, 1903 • Two important events coincided on this day. At about 10:30 a.m., Frederick Bechstein passed away at home at the age of 78. His death certificate lists the cause of death as “sudden suspected complication of heart”. Also on this day, Lena gave birth to her fourth child, Elizabeth Ruth Eiden. Frederick Bechstein was laid to rest on Christmas Eve at Woodmere Cemetery in Section E, Lot B1, space 119. Like his wife, there is no marker on his grave.

Death certificate of Frederick Bechstein.

Frederick Bechstein left 197 Wabash to his children. They sold it to an Irish neighbor named Johanna Lamey for $900.00 the following April.

1907 • Lena gave birth to twins, Charlotte Henrietta and Willard Charles, on May 29.

c. 1910 • A second addition to the home was built around this time. Other changes have been made to the floor plan over the years, including the removal of the wall between the two front rooms to create a large living room at an unknown date.

Detail of 1910 Census.

1913 • Lena’s three youngest children—Elizabeth, Charlotte, and Willard—were baptized on November 27 at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church on 17th Street.

1915 • Dorothy, now 24 and working as a telephone operator, married Emil Albert Ritter on November 6. Emil was a 23-year-old patternmaker born in Ohio to German immigrant parents. A few years later they had one daughter who currently lives in a Detroit suburb. She and her family are not interested in the research on their ancestors’ home.

1916 • Henry Jr., 23, married Selma Sobieck, a 19-year-old daughter of German immigrants, on June 17. Henry worked as a patternmaker in an auto plant. Selma moved in with Henry’s family before moving to Inglis Street at some point before 1919. They had one son who moved to California and passed away in 1980. None of his descendants (if any) have been identified.

Detail of 1920 Census.

1922 • A city directory lists Elizabeth, 19, as a clerk at the Detroit Public Library, one year after it opened at its current location at 5201 Woodward Avenue. A 1965 directory indicated that she still worked there. She never married.

The glass negative of this photo of Willard C. Eiden is kept in
the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library.
Perhaps it was donated by his sister, a library employee.
Courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library

c. 1926 • Rose, 30, married Harry B. Dillman, a 26-year-old postal clerk from Iowa. Rose worked as a stenographer at The Detroit News before their marriage. They lived at 1733 Wabash briefly before moving to an apartment building on Fort Street. They had no children.

Detail from 1930 Census.

1932 • Charlotte passed away at age 24 on January 17. She was unmarried and still lived at home.

Headstone of Charlotte Henrietta Eiden at
Glen Eden Lutheran Memorial Park in Livonia, Michigan.

1934 • On July 25, Lena passed away at age 69. The family moved out of the house soon afterward. Henry moved in with his daughter Rose and her husband. Elizabeth moved in with her sister Dorothy's family. Willard, who never married, moved into an apartment on East Grand Boulevard. The probate court declared Lena Eiden’s home to to be the property of her children on May 23, 1938. Henry, Dorothy and Rose quitclaimed the house to Elizabeth and Willard, perhaps because they were the only unmarried siblings. They rented out the home until selling it in 1948.

Headstone of Magdalena Bechstein Eiden at
Glen Eden Lutheran Memorial Park in Livonia, Michigan.

Next Week:
The Bechstein House Part V: 1935-Present

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