Harriet Lane -
Postmarked: 16 December 1907 Houston, Tex
Stamp: 1c Blue Green Ben Franklin #300
To: Mr. Arthur Berthet
308 Main St.
St. Charles Mo
Thanks for card It will be impossible for me to exchange any more cards. If you wish any more Houston views address
Miss Effie Roemer
2018 Kane St
Francis Arthur Berthet was a 26-year old bachelor when he received the postcard in 1907 from Nettie. They were involved in a postcard exchange, though Nettie was clear about not wanting to continue. In the early years of the 20th century, these exchanges were a way to learn about the country, and make contact with like-minded individuals [LINK]. Arthur was a worker at the American Car & Foundry Company in St. Charles, MO, living with his widowed mother Augustine, and sisters: Amy, a clerk at Bliley & Sandford; Viole, a milliner at Gatzweilers; and Belle. He was short in stature with a medium build, gray eyes and black hair.
Arthur was French-German in heritage, his father Germain was born in 1832 in Alsace, France. Although it is not clear when Germain immigrated, he was in St. Charles County in 1863 when he registered for the Civil War Draft, not apparently ever serving as a soldier. On 23 January 1867 he married Augustina Huber, daughter of Joseph Huber and Walburg Graf, immigrants from Baden-Wurtemberg, Germany. Augustina was an infant when the family sailed into New Orleans on the ship Sea Lion from Havre on 29 June 1846. They were in St. Joseph County by 1850, and the Berthet family remained there even after Germain died in 1886.
Arthur had five older sisters: Eugenia (1867), Augustina (1870), Isabell (1872), Emelia “Amy” (1875), Claudine (1880), and one younger sister Viola Margaret (1886); Augustina and Claudine had died by 1910. The family was settled into the community, spending their lives in the area. Bell died in 1914, and his sister Viola married Bernard Kuhlman. In 1920 and 1930 they lived together as a family, only moving once to 411 S.2nd St. sometime after 1910. Arthur continued to work at the foundry and never married, staying in St. Charles all his life (13 October 1881 / 26 December 1938).
At the time she deferred communication with Arthur Berthet, Nettie was a newly-wed of not even a month, her union to William Irving Lighthouse made on 18 November 1907. Until her marriage Cornelia Jeanette “Nettie” Priester had been a 20 year old young woman living with her parents and brother at 1914 Lubbock in 6th Ward, where she and her mother worked at Hamilton Brothers shirt factory at 510 Main, and her father worked as a clerk for Lievin T. Weber at a nearby grocery store and meat market.
The first plat of the city of Houston divided the city into four wards from the corner of Main and Congress: 1st Ward north, 2nd Ward east, 3rd Ward southeast, 4th Ward west. As the population expanded in the early years of the 20th century, a 5th and 6th Ward were added to accommodate new neighborhoods. Fifth Ward lay above Buffalo Bayou and east of Little White Oak Bayou, and comprised an industrial base with transportation centers for rail and barge traffic and homes for the workers. Sixth Ward west of downtown was clustered along Washington Boulevard and the Houston & Texas Central Railroad between White Oak Bayou and Buffalo Bayou. Houston Heights was a suburb outside the city limits to the northwest, and Brunner was a suburb to the west. The western boundary of Houston lay approximately at North Montrose Boulevard. The Sixth Ward, Brunner and Houston Heights were accessible by streetcar down Washington Boulevard and Heights Boulevard with lines to downtown with transfers to other parts of town.
Sixth Ward became a magnet for newcomers to Houston with worker values and mostly modest incomes. Homes were mostly one story simple structures, often with porches to interact with neighbors and relations nearby. The Roemer / Priester / Lighthouse families all originated in Germany and became interconnected there from their disparate first American stopping points.
Nettie's father, Harvey E. Priester was born in Blue Earth City, Faribault Conty, MN of unknown parents. He first appears in the records in Houston in 1880, when he was a 16 year old orphan living alone at 223 Washington while working as a grocery clerk. That part of Houston northwest of downtown across Buffalo Bayou was then called “Vinegar Hill” and it was among the poorer parts of town. On August 26, 1886 in Harris County, Harvey married Mary Ann Kay, daughter of John Kay and Elizabeth Ann Fenton. She was born on 2 January 1867 in Lancashire, England and the family immigrated to America when Mary Ann was about five years old. They must have come to Houston soon after immigration as she had a younger brother, John (1872-1873) who lived his entire short life in Houston. John Kay made a living as a bookseller and the family lived in 6th Ward at 97 Silver Street at Lubbock in 1884. Harvey’s family rented a home at 2115 Decatur in 1900, but moved to 1914 Lubbock at Silver Street before 1907 in what may have once been the home of his wife’s Kay family. [A neighbor, Marie Tajan at 1717 Lubbock, was also involved in a postcard exchange correspondence.]
Jeanette’s only child, Willa Ione was born 2 February 1909 and that same year her father Harvey died 23 September 1909. By the following year Jeanette and her husband, Wm. Irving Lighthouse, and young daughter were living in the Heights at 240 Heights Boulevard with her widowed mother. Irving worked as cashier at the I. G. N. Railroad, and later as plasterer. By 1920 Irving was living in San Antonio, a boarder in the house of Aline Hall and her children Lorene (10) and Terrence (8). He is listed as widowed, even though Jeanette was at that time was living at 1440 Arlington in Houston Heights with her mother and their daughter Ione. Aline Hall was also listed as widowed, but her husband James Smith Hall was living at 2509 Runnels in Houston, working as a carpenter to support his children, Laurine and Buster.
“Buster” Hall was Terrence Summit Hall Lighthouse, whose birth certificate dated 5 February 1911 names him as Terrence Summit Lighthouse, legitimate son of William Irving Lighthouse and Alyne Durrell (Summit) Lighthouse. This late registration certificate (informant William Irving Lighthouse) was dated 29 January 1941, and signed by Dr. William G. Priester, MD. There were two Priester families in Houston, one line was descendants of Simon Priester, who came to Houston from elsewhere in Texas before 1877, and the Harvey Priester line from Minnesota. William G. Priester was one of Simon’s descendants and so not related to Jeanette Priester Lighthouse. The irony of the Priester name on his son’s birth certificate would not have been missed by Irving Lighthouse when he requested a delayed birth certificate in 1941. The inconsistencies of the official record may never be unwound without further personal recollections or written family histories or maybe even DNA analyses.
Irving Lighthouse remained with Alyne and his family in San Antonio, while Jeanette stayed in Houston and James Smith Hall eventually made his way to California, then Dallas. Terrence lived with his mother and step-father and attended the Texas Military Institute in San Antonio, eventually reaching the rank of Colonel. Ione lived with her mother, and married on 10 December 1927 to Thomas Mark Abney; they had a son, Thomas in 1929. They divorced and she married for a second time on 20 April 1955 to Ralph John Busch.
Effie Roemer, to whom Nettie bequeathed the postcard exchange in 1907, almost certainly wrote the postcard herself, as the handwriting on the card does not match that of Nettie on other postcards in this series. Effie lived just three blocks away from Nettie at 1914 Lubbock, near the intersection of Henderson and Kane in something of a Roemer family enclave. Effie lived at 2015 Kane with her parents Adolph and Gertrude Morsch Roemer. At 2020 Kane was her grandfather Frederick, working as a piano tuner, and grandmother Marie. At 2018 Kane was a grand house built in 1906 by her Uncle William Henry Lighthouse and Aunt Clara Roemer Lighthouse. The house as 2018 Kane remains to this day one of the most well-preserved homes in the sixth ward area, built there to remain close to family members when William Henry Lighthouse could have afforded a more prosperous neighborhood.
The founder of the Lighthouse line in America, Henry Lighthouse, immigrated from Germany to Michigan, and by 1890 most of the Lighthouse family was in Aberdeen, SD. Henry’s son William Henry married Clara Roemer, daughter of Frederick Roemer about 1887, and their son William Irving was born in Aberdeen in 1888. The matriarch of the Lighthouse family, Martha Ann Dingwell Lighthouse, died in 1890, and his widower Henry moved west to California. Their son, William Henry stayed in Aberdeen and worked as a stonemason in 1889, then came to Houston where he became established in the brick making business, soon living large at 2118 Kane in the 6th Ward.
The Roemer family’s first immigrant was Frederick Roemer was born in Germany and there about 1862 at age 21 he married Marie Fisher and started a family: Adolph (1863), Paul (1865), and Clara (1867). The families of Frederick and his brother Wilhelm (1839), wife Henrietta (1842, daughter Clara (1861) travelled in steerage on the Ocean Queen arriving in New York on 2 May 1870. They lived at 473 S. Pearl Street, Albany, New York where Ida (1872), Minnie (1877), and Oscar George (1880) were born. His eldest son Adolph married Gertrude Elizabeth Morsch, daughter of John Morsch, a German immigrant who lived at 82 Elizabeth Street a few minutes’ walk from the Roemers in the South End neighborhood of Albany. The Roemer families moved to Aberdeen, Brown County, SD by 1887 where Frederick Roemer worked as a piano tuner, and his son, Adolph worked as a janitor. Adolph and Gertrude’s children were born in Aberdeen, SD: Frank A. (1884), Effie E. (1885), Edward F. (1881), and Walter P. (1888). The family was in Houston by the 1900 census and Gertrude died 9 October 1902. Adolph remained a widower for a number of years but before 1920 he married Mary Catherine Garner and they moved to a 5th Ward Neighborhood. She had been married to Charles Leo Phillips in Lake Charles, LA, and had two children: Jessie May Phillips (1897) and Robert Phillips (1900). C. L. Phillips died 10 October 1918 in Lake Charles, and his widow married Adolph Roemer.
Effie Elizabeth Roemer, unlike most of her family, soon moved away from Houston. She was married in Travis County,TX on 11 June 1910 to Arthur Chester Acker, son of Joseph C. Acker and Rose A. Lappeus of Rensselaer County, NY. Albany was just north of Rensselaer County, and it is possible that the families were acquainted from the 1880’s. Effie and Arthur remained in Texas where their first two sons were born, Robert B. (1912) and Chester J. (1913), until about 1917. They returned to Rensselaer County where the rest of their family was born: Leonard W. (1916), Harold Kenneth (1918), Norman E. (1920), Albert David (1921), Donald J. (1924), and Dorothy Mildred (1925).
Glenwood Cemetery, as the neighborhood cemetery for families living in the 6th Ward, is the final resting place for many of the Roemer, Priester and Lighthouse family members. In the Priester Plot: Cornelia Jeanette Priester Lighthouse [9 June 1887 / 16 September 1970] Jeanette's father, Harvey E. Priester [5 March 1864 / 23 September 1909]; Jeanette’s daughter, Ione Busch [2 February 1909 / 8 June 2008 at 99 years of age]; Jeanette’s son-in-law Ralph Busch [29 September 1902 / 3 October 1996]; Jeanette’s brother William Harvey Priester [21 March 1890 / died 26 January 1917 of tuberculosis without ever having married]; Jeanette’s mother, Mary Ann Kay Priester [2 January 1867 / 26 September 1951]. In the Lighthouse Plot: Jeanette’s grandfather, Frederick Roemer [16 May 1841 / 14 June 1924]; Jeanette’s grandmother Marie Fisher Roemer [12 March 1836 / 30 November 1910]; Jeanette’s Aunt Clara F. Roemer Lighthouse [1870 / 21 June 1954]; Jeanette’s Uncle William Henry Lighthouse [26 March 1865 / 20 April 1936]; Jeanette’s Aunt Ida Roemer [1872 / 1953]; Jeanette’s Aunt Minnie Roemer [1877 / 1935]; Walter Paul Roemer [4 January 1888 / 1 March 1909 at 21 years of age], Effie Roemer’s brother.
Jeanette’s Uncle Paul Roemer [1865 / 1947] and Uncle Oscar George Roemer [1880 / 1972] are buried in Forest Park Cemetery in Houston. Jeanette’s husband William Irving Lighthouse [10 May 1888 / 2 March 1950] is buried in an unmarked grave at Sunset Memorial Park in San Antonio.
Hollywood Cemetery holds the remains of many Roemer relations: Adolph Roemer [17 December 1863 / 8 September 1949], his second wife, Mary Catherine Garner Phillips Roemer [24 August 1876 / 4 June 1965]; Jessie Mae Mayer [4 November 1897 / 31 October 1920], daughter of Mary Catherine Garner and Charlie L. Phillips, who died before her 23rd birthday; their son, Robert Phillips died 19 November 1972 and is buried in Victoria, Texas. The burial of Adolph’s first wife, Gertrude Elizabeth Morsch Roemer, who died in 1902 in Houston, has not been located.
Arthur Acker [4 November 1885] died in November 1937 in Albany, NY, and Effie Roemer Acker [30 November 1885] died May 1, 1940 in Albany; they are buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Wynantskill, Rensselaer County, NY.