Agnes Tabea Margaretha Gotsch, my grandma’s older sister, was born in St. Louis on 9 October 1871, at 4:45 a.m.

Although Agnes never married, she seemed to have a full life. I have no details about her beyond her baptism, confirmation, and the 1880 census, where she is listed as “Achnese” (an obvious German accent by the person providing this!) until the year 1900. On that census, she was living at 3306 S. 13th St. in St. Louis where she worked as a servant for the family of Gustav Cramer, a photographer. Right above the Cramer family names are those of William and Julia Lemp of the St. Louis Lemp Brewery family. Two families away on that street lived the DeMenils, another rich family in St. Louis’s history with descent from Pierre Chouteau.

By 1907, Agnes was living in Staunton, Illinois. She is listed in the business directory as “Miss Agnes T. Gotsch, pianos, Laurel Hotel phone 178.” Presumably she was teaching piano, not selling them. She wrote lyrics for songs and gained popularity for her talent. According to newspapers of the time, she wrote a beautiful ballad to music by Percy Wenrich called “I Love But You.” And it was not her first or her last piece. Repeatedly she appeared in newspapers for her writing skill. By 1921, Agnes was living back in St. Louis.

It seems Agnes was known for her cooking, or at least her menu preparation. In the St. Louis Star and Times on 17 February 1914, her suggested menu for a day was published. Breakfast was quite a full meal with baked apples, puffed rice with cream, broiled mushrooms, lamb chops with bacon, biscuits, and coffee. Lunch was simpler with only creamed meat on toast, peas, lettuce with French dressing, rolls, cocoa, and fruit. Dinner was as extravagant as breakfast with roast beef, baked rice with cheese, stewed tomatoes, sweet potatoes, custard souffle with vanilla sauce, and coffee. I have no idea if that’s how she really ate.

Agnes Gotsch
Agnes Gotsch
Photo in the collection of Cheryl Gross
Used with permission

Agnes didn’t let much hold her back, it seems. She entered and won at least two contests, receiving theater tickets each time.

Agnes and her sister, Rose, shared a home with their mother. They helped raise eight nieces and nephews after early deaths of their mothers. In a letter from one of those nieces, she referred to Agnes as “the greatest Mom anyone could wish for.” Continuing, “Life for Grandma, Rose and Mom was grief and tears until their deaths. They were always ready to help when needed.” A grandniece, who called Agnes, Nana, said that “Nana would sit by the window waiting for family to arrive, her white hair held up by a fancy comb.” The grandniece also shared that there were always coloring books and crayons waiting for the young relatives to visit.

Beyond census records, city directories, and newspapers, nothing more has been found about Agnes until her death on 25 June 1948. She is buried at Sunset Burial Park in Affton.

Written by Cheryl Gross

January 2022

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