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History Lives Here Text

Early Dayson the Lakeshore

ByDorothy Garesche Holland

Continued from Page 148

 

Almost everysummer there were guests in the Delaney cottage, chief among them her cousins,the Wygant family. Mrs. Wygant, the former Marie Tracey, had married into thearmy and while I do not remember Colonel Wygant every coming to Douglas, Iremember all the children well. The oldest was Marie, about my age, and thefirst child I remember playing with. She later married Potter Curran of St. Louis whom she metone summer and was left the Chalet where they used to come before she died someyears ago. Another visitor was another cousin, the fascinating Nell Tracy, thebelle of St. Louisin her debut year. She was less than five feet, had deep dimples and goldenhair and where she was at the cottage there were always beaux arriving from St. Louis. She marriedHardy McVeigh, a brother of the senior Mrs. John Barrymore and moved to California. Her daughterTracy inherited the Delaney cottage at Mrs. Delaney's death and after severalowners it now belongs to Petty Thiel whose husband, Ed, purchased it some yearsbefore his death. They have made it a beautiful winterized home and returned itto the graciousness Mrs. Delaney gave it.

 

For many yearsMrs. Delaney had a butler-chauffeur, Luther; Margaret, the cook; and up in thethird floor room was an old black woman, Angelique, too old to work but keptalmost as a member of the family and who occupied herself with the householdmending. Margaret, the cook, a World War I widow, had a little red-headed girlwho became devoutly attached to Mrs. Delaney and who eventually was almost -but not quite - adopted by her and who later caused her endless heartache andtrouble by her escapades.

 

Margaret latermarried and she and her husband stayed on with Mrs. Delaney after Mr. Delaneydied and the poor old lady became a virtual prisoner of the two. She had becomeprogressively confused and had for some time complained that much of hersilver, fine china and other furnishings had disappeared and that money did notlast as long as it should. Finally, friends brought suit to have her declaredincompetent (the only way her relatives could dust Margaret). The suit wassuccessful, the thieving couple ejected, a good nurse and a cook engaged andMrs. Delaney, one time grande dome of St. Louis ended her dayspeacefully.

 

Directly northof our cluster of cottages is one owned for many years by the Woodcock family,now belonging to Lilah and Maurice Paris, and beyond are two cottages belongingto the family of the late Dr. Clark, one to his widow, another to his son.Beyond these is a large very old house, once used as a summer school for girlsby a Miss Butts, and later sold to Mr. Walsh of Cincinnati. He bought the cottage about 1910or so and he and Mrs. Walsh and their eight children spent many summers there.It has belonged for many years to Mr. and Mrs. Paul F. Ring of St. Louis and isfrequently filled with various of their seven children and 17 grandchildren andfriends. The last cottage before the Knoll belongs to the Allan family, Dr.Allan of Alton, Illinoisand Bill Allen, who for some time was a newscaster in Grand Rapids. For the last several yearsGenie and Dr. George Thoma of St. Louis have rented it.

 

One St. Louis family built a cottage at the far end of theKnoll, the Landon Lodges, later sold to Dr, and Mrs. A. B. Stutzman, also of St. Louis. Across fromthe Knoll is the summer home of Bob and Julia Carr and their daughter andson-in-law, Twink and Charlie, and next door is the house owned by StateSenator and Mrs. Raleigh McCormick and now belonging to their daughter VirginiaWorthington.

 

Mr. Walsh was so delighted withDouglas that he sang its praises to a Cincinnati friend, Mr. Joseph Hummell whowith Mrs. Hummel and their daughters came to stay at Beachmont and who, about1017, bought a white house next to Homestead. The family has spread out overthe original property and the Homesteadproperty they bought in the 1950's. The original house is now the O'Donnell-Machecacottage, belonging to the two daughters of Gertrude Hummell von Brecht. Maryand Jerry Wagner lived for many summers in the small house right on the golfcourse which Mr. and Mrs. Hummell built for their retirement years. Now thatcottage belongs to the Wagner's younger son, Jerry. Mary and Jerry builtanother cottage on adjoining property and their son, Bob, spends most of theyear there. Gertrude, as the widow of Carl Rohs, married Charles von Brecht, aDouglas romance, and when they turned over the big house to their children,built a smaller one for themselves and son, Charles. Add to this the"Snore House," a converted laundry house to a guest accommodationbunk house and the total number in the compound is five. Joe Rohas and his childrenoften spend time at the big cottage.

Another Cincinnati family to settle in Douglaswas that of the Beckmans, Mrs. Beckman being the sister of Mr. Hummel. Theybought an old farmhouse south of Center Street, now owned by their children, Paul andVincent Beckman and Irene Leveroni, and often visited by the two Jesuit sons,Fathers Bob and Jack Beckman. Vincent Beckman, the oldest son, married the lateBetty Desloge of St. Louis after another Douglas courtship. Her parents, Mr, and Mrs. LouisDesloge had summered in Douglas for manyyears. The Vincent Beckmans and her brother, George Desloge, purchased a houseon the corner of Lake Shore Driveand the road leading to the highway and converted it into apartments. A thirdmember of the Desloge family, Kilo Meslans, had an antique shop for severalyears and divides her time between Douglas and Belaire, Florida.

Directly southof the former Delaney, now Thiel, property are two cottages belongingoriginally to the Bicknells, then to descendants, the Watts, and now to the Woodsfamily. Some of the Bicknell descendants still come to Douglas, among themJosie Watt and her husband, Bill Clark of St. Louis,a third Douglas romance. They occupy aShorewood cottage which belonged to her parents. Only one other St. Louis family everowned a Shorewood home, Douglas and Emma Garesche Houser. The younger Houserson, James, became interested in collecting rocks he found on the beach, latermajored in geology, and today is on the staff of the St. Louis Museum ofScience.

 

Beyond the Woodscottage is the large house designed and built by George Hellmuth, St. Louisarchitect, for his family and that of his parents-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. FrancisFowler. It is a beautiful house and was always beautifully kept, the scene ofmuch entertaining and sold after the death of Mrs. Hellmuth to the Shuhans.Mrs: Fowler was a sweet little old lady with large black eyes. Her husband wasa fiery little man who always carried a cane. In the late 30's and later Mrs.Hellmuth took "paying guests" in a most elegant fashion, serviceplates and large damask napkins at dinner and such elaborate meals that all theguests put on pounds. None of the Hellmuths come to Douglasthese days except Sister Hildegarde Hellmuth RSCJ, who visits the Ibsencottage.

 

Directly southare several houses owned by the Corletts and then the cluster of Atwoodbuildings, the main house dating back to the early days. Beyond the Atwoods isthe cottage built by the Merrils of Chicago and now owned by Otto Erker of St.Louis, and south of it is the house built by the Aleshire family and boughtsome thirty years ago by Bob and Avis Barrett of Chicago.

 

Miss SophiaSloan owned several rental cottages at the time of her death, the one next tothe Barretts was rented for many years to the Morgan McCormicks and has sincebeen pulled down and a new cottage erected on the lot. Beyond that was anotherSloan cottage, one of the oldest on the lakeshore, sold to Helen and HarryPainter and, after their deaths, to Helen and Gene Worcester who remodeled it considerably,making it a year-round home. Last summer it was sold and Gene and his secondwife, Dee, moved to Arizona.

 

The Vanderbergcottage is next, two early houses in this area were built about 1 897 by D. C.Barto and William A. Douglas, the Vanderberg and Worcester houses are surelythese two. The Vanderburg cottage was occupied for same years by the ArthurFriths, she was a first cousin of my father, the former MimikaFarish, and he was a professor of architecture at the University of Chicago.Their only child, a handsome, gifted boy, was run over and killed by astreetcar and within a year his father died. His mother- lived to be 96 andeven at the end of her life could never mention her son without tears rollingdown her cheeks.

 

To the south is the house built byBen Benoist and his wife, another cousins of ours, Adelaide Garesche, a beautiful charmingwoman, and her husband one of the kindest men who ever lived. The cottage wasbuilt about 1914 and they spent many summers here. Their eldest son, Edmund,was killed in an automobile accident and the cottage belongs to their daughter,Mica Lee Ibsen, who frequently has as guests her younger brother, Bill, and hiswife.

The lastcottage on the lake side before Center Street was built by the Bolin family of St. Louis, probably likeso many others about 1910. There were three daughters who spent summers there,Adele, Edith, Mrs. Oliver Dorr, whose husband was head of the famous cateringfirm of Don and Zeller, and Amy, Mrs. Kniedelseder, and two sons, Bill, killedin World War I and John, the last of the family to use the cottage. It is nowowned by Jack Hennessy of St. Louis.

 

On the otherside of the road beyond Center Street is ElkhornLodge, rented through the years to several St. Louis families including the FrankCorleys and their children, Bob, Frank, Margaret, John and Bill. Mrs. Corleywas of the Curran sisters, the other three also summering in Douglas from timeto time; Mrs. John Tierney with her large family let the teenagers take overher home every evening, as she read quiet upstairs. They all knew that theywere expected to leave at 11 p.m. and as none of the attractive Tierney girlswere allowed out after that hour, the rest of the group went on to their homes.Two of the Currans married brothers, Abigail was the wife of So! Gross and Juneof William Gross, both families spent many seasons here. Elkhorn Lodge waslater occupied by Frank and Catherine Smith and their twin daughters, Donna andBarbara, now the wife of Tom Eagleton, senator from Missouri. Still later Jim and DelphineMcClellan and their children rented the cottage for several years.

 

South of Elkhorn Lodge is a large white house owned for many yearsby the Switzer family of St. Louis.They bought it in the 30's and it had at one time belonged to the Smulskis of Chicago. Mrs. Smulski wasan opera singer and would sing at St. Peter's every Sunday, her glorious voicefilling the little church. The Switzers had a large family and Mrs. Switzer'smother, Mrs. Kern, would always be with them. A familiar figure along the shorewas Ernie, the family chauffeur.

 

Farther southMark Eagleton owned a cottage where he and Mrs. Eagleton and their two sons,Mark and Tom, spent the summers. Later the second Mrs. Eagleton and their son,Kevin, occupied it. Now the house is owned by Joe and Kay White who remodeledit considerably. Joe spent many summers in Douglas with his parents, Joe andEunice White.

 

Going back tothe north of Center Street there are two cottages just north of Rosemont, thelarger of which was built by the Vincent de Messimys of Chicago; she was stillanother cousin of Marie Garesche of St. Louis, and they had one beautifuldaughter, Pauline. Cousin Vincent was a delight, his appearance was not unlikethe description of Agatha Christie's famous detective, Poirot, although hisblack mustache was short. He had dropped his title of count when he came tothis country from Francebut had preserved his engaging French accent. He was a great wit and raconteurand a gourmet who boasted of teaching the chef at one of the large Chicago hotels how tomake bouillabaisse. Their cottage was built in 1912 and sold in the 40's to Donand Pete (von Brecht) Heuchen who occupied it for many years with theirchildren, Heather, Buzz, Charlie and Mary.

About 1915 thede Messimys sold part of their property to friends named Sarpy, also French,who had one little girl, Victoria, on whom they doted. The cottage they builtwas later sold to Mr. and Mrs. Morgan McCormick and left to their children,Betty and Dinks. Now it belongs to Dinks and his wife, Jan, who are there everysummer with their family.

 

For severalsummers the de Messimy cottage was rented by the Reyburn family of St. Louis who came with their four daughters, Charlotte, Juliette,Helen or Bubbles, and Mary. One time in the early 20's when automobile travelhad recently become popular, one of Juliette's beaux, Eugene de Penaloza,motored up to see her. It had always taken two days to make the trip from St. Louis but to thesurprise - and horror - of the lakeshore, "Penny" made it in one day.The elders shook their heads, predicting that a young man so addicted to speedwould come to no good end.

 

To the north is a house belongingoriginally to Miss Anna Trumbull and rented at one time to the Sessions of Chicago who had a son,Buster. For many years it belonged to the Edward Thiel family of Chicago. Recently it wassold to Jerry and Jane Allan of St. Louis who were long-time summer residents and whoformerly owned a cottage m the Felker orchard addition where their children,Libby, Haskell, Anna and Jane, spent their summers. Next door on the propertywhere once stood a house belonging to Mrs. Moss is one recently purchased byTom and June Corrigan of St. Louis.

Mrs. Moss ofSt. Louis, a transplanted southerner, had a beautiful garden that she socherished that if a tennis ball from the court directly behind would be knockedin it, she would refuse to return it. She was an avid bridge player andalthough she was inclined to be cantankerous at the card table, there was agame in progress almost every evening in her living room. In those days theroad was not paved and Mrs. Moss, disliking the dust that drifted into hercottage, would often put the sprinkler in the middle of the road and whetheryou were walking or riding it was up to you to maneuver around the spray. Evenwhen she was in her late sixties Mrs. Moss swam a half mile every day. It was adaily occurrence to see her rubber-clad head as she breaststroked through thewater, and then to watch her walk back along the shore in her knee-lengthbathing suit and black stockings.

 

"LallaRookh" was built by my aunt, Lala Garesche, about 1920. She was a graduateof Columbia Universityin New Yorkand a major in dietetics and decided to put her degree to good use, so sheopened a tea room which struggled along for a few years, then closed. (However,the house is still referred to as "The Tea Room.") A number of St.Louisans have rented it from time to time, among them Walter and Peg Muckermanand their children, Peggy, Walter B., Peter and Steve. The cottage was left toa niece, Emilie Garesche Hesse of La Grange, Illinois. Sheand her husband, Al, come every summer, often joined by their daughters, SusieWilliams and Ginny Le Very with their children, and son Freddie Hesse.

 

North of the Hesse cottage is a small one built by the most - shall wesay_ "picturesque" - lakeshore characters, Professor and Mrs. JohnBeverly Robinson. A faculty member of the Washington University School of Architecture,he was a tall thin man with a drooping walrus mustache. Mrs. Robinson, whom headored, was large and always clad in amazing garments. Her grandmother had lefther twenty trunks of clothes, material, trimmings, laces and so forth, and Mrs.Robinson used to say that the materials were too beautiful to cut. She drapedthe silks, dimity and lace around herself, securing them with pins, and worelarge hats adorned with flowers, bunches of grapes or some other bits oftrimming from which the ancient price tags still dangled.

The front yardwas a jungle of weeds, carefully water each day, our "wild flowers"as they were called. Mrs. Robinson was an artist and loved to paint indifferent locations, but as she was elderly and not strong, walking even ashort distance was too much for her. The professor would escort her along theroad carrying a kitchen chair which he would put down every 50 feet or so, thatshe might rest. Her paintings were charming, many of them beach scenes and herhusband would say proudly, "No one can paint clouds like my Betsy."As Mrs. Delaney she was taken in by unscrupulous people when she was a widow,several young men were presumably taking care of her cottage and her house in St. Louis and werecheating her out of everything she had. Apparently her daughter, wife of a St. Louis doctor, and hersons, who lived in the east, could do nothing. The cottage was sold to Bill andLucille Suffer of Chicagoand later to Raymond and Esther Eddy.

 

In the 20's,30's and early 40's there were many rental cottages. Aunt Marie had seven, tothe four on the original lot she added one next to the Douglas Beach, laterpurchased by the Cergizan family and still later by Ammon and Cone Schreur whodid a beautiful remodeling job. Marie also built two more on Center Street, knownas the bungalow and the colonial. Miss Sophie Sloan owned seven and after herdeath, Mrs. Delaney continued to handle the rentals for the various heirs. MissLouie Luckow had three or four, the Bryans put up some behind Rosemont.

 

So manyfamilies came to Douglas, some for one year,some for many. Among them were the William Brammans with their daughters,Barbara and Hilldegrde and son Bill; the O'Donnells with daughters Mary, Janeand Betty and sons, Bill and Jack. Bill marled Julie von Brecht in stillanother Douglas romance. The LindseyFranciscusds rented The Chalet for some years with their daughter, Mary, andsons, Lindsey Jr. (called "The Chief) and Buzz. The LawrenceO'Neils were here for many seasons with son, Lawrence Jr., Nancy and Bonnie who marriedJohn Baryon of Saugatuck. Dr, and Mrs. Funsch and their family spent manysummers in Douglas.

 

To be concludednext month-page 164