August “Gus” George Heimann was born on 11 May 1878 in St. Louis, Missouri. Gus was the youngest of fourteen children of Johan “John” Heimann and Annie Theresa Bauer, both born in Bavaria but immigrating to St. Louis. Gus lost his father in 1893 when Gus was fifteen, and he lived with siblings Annie, Joseph, and Edward. Those same children cared for their mother, Annie, until her death in 1909. Gus was also close to his other siblings: Katie, William, Minnie, and John who lived in Old North St. Louis.

As a teen and early in his twenties, Gus was an amateur boxer, and he liked to travel. He started working at about sixteen after his father died. He lived next to the St. Louis Car Company, and this is where he started his career as a laborer, later working as a carpenter building electric streetcars and interurban equipment.

He befriended William Strawser, and in late 1909. Gus found himself moving to Danville, Illinois, where in 1910 he married William’s niece Minnie Strawser. After his marriage, he moved to Paris, Illinois, where he raised two children: Herschel George and my father, August Wayne. Gus worked at McGuire-Cummings Manufacturing as one of their lead master carpenters building electric and steam locomotives and freight, passenger, and electric cars.

Due to the Depression, August, Minnie, and their two sons ended up moving to Chicago in the 1930s when McGuire-Cummings stopped their train building operations. Gus and his wife, Minnie, separated after this move. Gus ran a store for a number of years on the south side of Chicago, where his two sons worked for him. Herschel then moved to St. Louis working at Century Electric until 1941 when he enlisted. Both sons served in the army in the Philippines during WWII. Herschel became a Japanese POW in 1942 when he was captured at Corregidor.

August Heimann, 1958
August Heimann and his dog, Queenie, 1958
Photo in the collection of Scot Heimann
Used with permission

Gus was an avid sportsman who hunted and fished, teaching his two sons who were also avid sportsmen. Gus and his sons would go to northern Wisconsin around Hayward and Tomahawk to regularly fish the lakes and rivers. His grandchildren and their children are still fishing there. Gus was closely attached to my father’s hunting dog, an English Pointer named Queenie. The dog accompanied Gus on the boat while fishing, on walks to the local firehouse where he played cards with firemen all night, or just relaxing on the front porch of our house with the dog at his side.

August loved his sons and grandchildren, and though I was young when he passed away, he always enjoyed playing with me. My mother said that he was stubborn with a very strong personality, and it was reflective of his upbringing, having old-world parents from Bavaria.

August passed away on 26 February 1963 of a brain trauma. He is buried in the family plot at St. John’s Cemetery in Bellefontaine Neighbors, Missouri, alongside his parents, brothers, Joseph and Edward, and sister, Annie.

Written by Scot Heimann
January 2021

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Last Modified: 29-Jun-2021 17:45