Monday, September 13, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 24

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 41: Mortuary Bill for Amalia Baerecke

How much did it cost to die in 1912? $153.30 according to this bill for the mortuary services for my great-great-great grandmother. 

Here is the breakdown:

Casket - $60.00
Box - $5.00
Robe - $6.00
Embalming - $10.00
Washing and Dressing - $2.50
Gloves - $2.00
Carriages (?) - $28.00 (looks like it says "carriagers.")
Hearse - $10.00
Germanic & evening (?) - $1.50
Decoration and Flowers - $13.30
Opening Grave - $12.00
Lowering Device - $3

Total - $153.30

The bill is dated 6 January 1912. The business was called Christian Ritter & Son: Funeral Directors and Embalmers. They were located at 276 Fifth Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The phone number was "Grand 1631." 

In the bill above, I guessed on the word "carriages." It really does look like "carriagers." Whatever they were, there were 7 of them. Perhaps they were rented carriages to transport the funeral procession. I'm not sure how it was handled in 1912.

Also, I couldn't read the abbreviation after "Germanic and evening." It looks like "Wis" or "Nis." Either way, it indicates that the funeral service for my great-great-great grandmother was held in German.

It seems odd to have such a document in my collection, but I guess it's par for the course in a pension file. Because it is so unusual, I am pleased I can share it with you.

[Update: Reader Carol suggested in the comments that the "Wis" or "Nis" I was questioning may actually be "Vis," short for visitation. This makes sense, as the phrase would be Germanic & evening visitation. Thanks, Carol!

Update again: Reader Chris had a great suggestion in the comments as well. Now I have a new newspaper to research. Thanks, Chris!]


  1. Evening vis or visitation??

    My 2 cents worth.

    Great doc!

  2. I'm glad you are still posting the Military Pension File. They are all so very interesting. You never know what you will find!

  3. Carol, good guess! thank you for the input.

    Michelle, yes, I am still posting the file series. Just got a little sidetracked by summer.

  4. I believe that it reads "Germania & Evening Wis." and refers to the Germania and Evening Wisconsin newspapers, both published in Milwaukee in 1912. His obituary must have appeared in both papers.

    Incidentally, your ancestor could have saved his heirs some money by dying in Maine. My great-great-grandparents were buried there for less than $50 each in 1915-16.

  5. Chris, thank you for the input! Now I have a new publication to track down and research. I appreciate the assistance.

  6. I think you are right about the carriages, Amy. In some 1800's obits I've seen statements like "carriages will be waiting" on such-and-such street. It must be a service they used to offer for funerals.

  7. So interesting to think about the details of a funeral service in the past! Don't you wish you could be a fly on the wall there for even just five minutes?