A 'Swenglish' journey through family photos, notes and postcards from the early 20th century.


Summer in Pleasantville, 1933

I ett inlägg från mars 2012 har jag tidigare visat det här fotot av Gerda, som är ett av de få äldre släktfotona med en tydlig angivelse om tid och plats antecknad på baksidan: Pleasantville, 1933.

Gerda var 51 år sommaren 1933 (född i oktober 1881).

Gerda_0001-1 Pleasantville

Inklistrat i ett album har jag hittat ett foto till som verkar kunna vara från samma tid och plats. Lägg märke till muren i bakgrunden, och Gerdas klädsel.

1933 Gerda    boys_0002-2

Om fotot vid dammen också är från Pleasantville 1933, så bör pojkarna på bilden vara Folkes och Estelle Bernadottes äldsta söner Gustaf Eduard (30.1.1930 – 2.2.1936) och Folke (född 8.2.1931); och fotona kan vara tagna på familjen Manvilles gods Hi-Esmaro.

Som jag konstaterade i föregående inlägg, så representerade Folke Sverige på världsutställningen i Chicago 1933. Säkert passade familjen i samband med detta även på att hälsa på “mormor och morfar” i Pleasantville. Det verkar troligt att pojkarna kanske också fick stanna där (tillsammans med Gerda) medan Folke (och Estelle?) besökte utställningen i Chicago.

En bild på Hi-Esmaro på avstånd hittade jag i Google’s preview av Images of America: Mount Pleasant av George Waterbury, Claudine Waterbury och Bert Ruiz.
(här en uppförstoring av en del av bilden – jag noterar återigen stenmuren…)


“The Manville family was one of the wealthiest families to settle in Pleasantville. Charles B. Manville, cofounder of the Johns-Manville Corporation, purchased 150 acres of farmland from Hanna Pierce in 1908. In 1923, his son Hiram Edward Manville hired renowned architects and designers to erect the 56 rooms and three marble staircases in the Hi-Esmaro mansion. In this photograph, Hiram Edward Manville’s mansion has the curved walkway in front…”


In English

I have shown the photo of Gerda at the top before; it is a rare one in that is has a time and place noted on the back: Pleasantville, 1933. (Most of the old family photos are annoyingly anonymous!)

In an album I found another photo of Gerda with two little boys - and no explaining notes. However, the stone wall in the background and her dress and hair etc indicate to me that the two photos may have been taken at the same time and place. If so, the boys in the photo should be the two first-born sons of Folke and Estelle Bernadotte, Gustaf Eduard and Folke. (Gustaf Eduard only lived to be six years old. Here, he’d be 3½, and his brother a year younger.)

As mentioned in the previous post, Folke Bernadotte officially represented Sweden at the World’s Fair in Chicago 1933.  It seems plausible that the boys got to stay at their grandparents’ estate Hi-Esmaro in Pleasantville, N.Y., while their parents were off on business. I’m still not sure about Gerda’s exact position in the household or if the Bernadotte family had more servants also travelling with them. Anyway Gerda was probably an important presence for the boys when their parents had to go off on various kinds of business and representation, as must have happened frequently.


The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair

Panoramic view of the 1933 Century of Progress World's Fair (Wikimedia Commons)

In The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair – A Century of Progress by Cheryl R. Ganz (Google books preview), Otto L. Schmidt is mentioned (p 141 and 146) as first vice president of the German Group of the World’s Fair. During America’s neutrality phase before the First World War he had been a spokesman for German patriotic support in Chigaco . When the US joined the war, German Americans were forced to downplay their German heritage and language. During the late 1920s, they gradually recovered from these negative experiences and began to reassert themselves.

At the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, diplomatic problems arose as supporters of the National Socialism wanted the fly the German swaztika flag, while other members of the German American community objected.  The German Group of the World’s Fair took active stand against it. Among other things, the president and the first vice president (Schmidt) of that group refused to attend an event held in connection with a much-discussed landing in Chicago of the German airship Graf Zeppelin (October 26, 1933).

Photo of the Graf Zeppelin (Wikimedia Commons)


I’m not sure if my great-aunt Gerda got to visit the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. What I do know is that she was in the United States that year, see the post Gerda, Pleasantville, July 1933; and by then (evidently)in the employ of Estelle and Folke Bernadotte. 

Folke Bernadotte did attend the Chicago World Fair in 1933. He gave a speech there on behalf of King Gustav V of Sweden (his uncle) on the Swedish-American day.

In 1933, Folke and his American wife Estelle had two sons: Gustaf (born 1930, died in 1936) and Folke, born 1931. Whether or not Estelle accompanied her husband to the World Fair, also bringing two boys aged 2 and 3 might not have seemed like the best idea. My guess is the boys stayed at Estelle’s parents’ estate in Pleasantville, New York; with Gerda to keep an eye on them. I think I may have photographic evidence to support that idea … Coming up soon!


Sammanfattning på svenska

År 1933 var Chicago-läkaren Otto L. Schmidt (Gerdas arbetsgivare år 1910, se föregående inlägg) engagerad för den amerikansk-tyska gruppen i världs-utställningen i Chicago. Han tycks dock ha tagit avstånd från nationalsocialistiska symboler och propaganda i samband med detta. Bl.a. bojkottade han att delta i en tillställning som gavs i samband med att luftskeppet Graf Zeppelin landade i Chicago under utställningen, och där sådana symboler och propaganda var inblandade.

Jag är inte säker på om Gerda fick tillfälle att besöka världsutställningen i Chicago. Jag har dock fotobevis på att hon befann sig i USA år 1933, i Pleasantville, där familjen Manville (Estelle Bernadottes föräldrar) hade sitt gods.

Folke Bernadotte deltog på Chicago-utställningen och representerade Sverige med ett tal å den svenske kungens vägnar (Gustav V var hans farbror). Folke och Estelle hade vid denna tid två söner, 2 och 3 år gamla. (Den äldste, Gustaf dog ung, redan 1936.) Även om kanske Estelle följde med Folke till Chicago, så verkar det troligt att pojkarna lämnades kvar på morföräldrarnas gods tillsammans med Gerda. Jag tror jag har ett foto som stöder den tanken – återkommer till det i ett annat inlägg.


Otto L. Schmidt, Gerda’s employer in Chigaco 1910

Googling the name of Gerda’s employer back in 1910 in Chicago, physician Otto L. Schmidt, I find that he was prominent enough to be one of 25 citizens to have his names engraved on The Illinois State Archives building in 1938: 


Schmidt was born in Chicago and became a prominent physician. He was a promoter of historical studies and served as president of the Chicago Historical Society and the Illinois State Historical Society. He was also the chairman of the Illinois Centennial Commission.

The Illinois State Archives building was completed in 1938 with the last names of 25 people engraved around the top. The twenty-three men and two women represent individuals who were related to Illinois in some manner and who made contributions to the cultural, social, educational, political and economic development of both the state and nation. They were chosen by the State Board of Art Advisors who in 1936 acted in an advisory capacity to the State Department of Public Works and Buildings. All of the honorees were deceased before the building opened. The names of 31 men and one woman had already been inscribed on the Centennial (Howlett) Building before the Archives was constructed.



Another website tells me that a substantial collection (17 boxes) of Otto L. Schmidt papers is kept at the Chicago History Museum, Research Center.

Biographical/Historical note:

Otto Leopold Schmidt, prominent Chicago physician, historian, and leader in the Illinois German American community, was born in Chicago on March 21, 1863. He was the son of Dr. Ernst Schmidt (1830-1900) and Theresa (Weikhardt) Schmidt. Dr. Ernst Schmidt was likewise a respected physician and German American leader, a friend and supporter of Abraham Lincoln and the young Republican Party, who in his later years worked for the pardon of the Haymarket Affair anarchists. Otto Schmidt's three brothers were Frederick R. Schmidt, a druggist; Richard E. Schmidt, an architect; and Louis E. Schmidt, a urologist.

Otto L. Schmidt attended the Chicago public schools (graduated from Haven School in 1877) and entered the Chicago Medical College in 1880 (which later became part of Northwestern University), where he received his M.D. degree in 1883. He then spent two years as an intern at the Cook County Infirmary and then at the Alexian Brothers Hospital. From 1885 to 1887, Schmidt continued his medical studies in Wurzburg, Germany, and Vienna, Austria, after which he joined the staff of the Alexian Brothers Hospital. For many years he also was a consulting physician at Grant Hospital and Michael Reese Hospital and, from 1889 to 1892, served as a medical instructor at Northwestern University.

Dr. Schmidt devoted his practice to internal medicine and gained considerable stature in his field. He was the first physician to use X-rays in Chicago and was sued in the late 1890s by a patient who had suffered burns from the procedure. Dr. Schmidt lost the case.

Dr. Schmidt was deeply interested in preserving the history of Illinois and that of the German American community, and he participated in numerous historical and cultural organizations. From 1914 to 1935, he was president of the Illinois State Historical Society and, from 1923 to 1935, president of the Illinois State Historical Library, having been appointed a trustee by Governor Deneen in 1909. He served as a trustee of the Chicago Historical Society between 1899 and 1932, and was president of its board of trustees from 1923 to 1927. He also served as president of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association from 1926 to 1927 and, from 1916 to 1919, was chairman of the Illinois Centennial Commission, which directed the one-hundredth anniversary celebrations of Illinois statehood.

Dr. Schmidt was also awarded two honorary degrees in his later years, the Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1922 and the J.D. from Loyola University in 1930. He was appointed to the Chicago Board of Education in 1927, but resigned the following year. He also was a member of the Union League Club, the Chicago Athletic Club, the Chicago Literary Club, the Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, and numerous medical, literary, bibliographical, civic, and philanthropic organizations.

Schmidt's main recreational activity was yachting, to which he devoted his administrative skills by serving as commodore of the Lake Geneva Yacht Club and as president of the Inland Lakes Yachting Association.

In 1891 Dr. Schmidt married Emma Seipp, the daughter of Conrad Seipp, a Chicago brewer. To them were born three children, Ernest C. Schmidt, Alma Petersen (Mrs. William F. Petersen), and Clara Reese (Mrs. Hans H. Reese). They survived him upon his death, which occurred in Chicago on August 20, 1935, after a long struggle with heart disease and cancer.


Sammanfattning på svenska

Otto L. Schmidt, Gerdas arbetsgivare 1910

När jag googlar namnet på läkaren Gerda arbetade för i Chicago vid tiden för den amerikanska folkräkningen 1910, Otto L. Schmidt, finner jag att han var en så framstående medborgare, att hans namn är ett av de 25 ingraverade på staten Illinois arkivbyggnad från 1938. 17 lådor med hans efterlämnade papper finns också bevarade på Chicagos historiska museum.

Otto L. Schmidt (1863-1935) var inte bara en respekterad läkare utan även styrelsemedlem resp. ordförande i flera historiska sällskap. Som läkare var han den förste i Chicago att använda röntgen - och blev på 1890-talet stämd av en patient som fått skador av experimenten. Senare i sin karriär fick han hedersutnämningar från flera universitet.

Han gifte sig 1891 med Emma Seipp, dotter till en bryggeriägare. De fick tre barn, Ernest, Alma och Clara. (Namnen stämmer med folkräkningslistan 1910.) Han dog 1935 efter en lång kamp med hjärtsjukdom och cancer.