Edward John Ratz was the older of two sons born to Helene Eleanore Gotsch and Edward John Ratz Sr. He was born in Plainview, Illinois, on 27 August 1914, where his father was a telegrapher for the Chicago & Alton Railroad. As the son of a railroad worker, Edward was infatuated with the business of the rails. A former classmate of his recalled Edward stringing up lines in his yard and pretending they were telegraph lines. During class he often listened for train whistles, standing and stretching to see out the window, checking his watch, then writing the time and engine number for each train, counting the cars each time.

Plainview students either hopped a train into Shipman for school or walked the tracks. On the train, the students would hide in a compartment so they didn’t have to pay the cost of the train that stopped in Shipman for the engineer to eat lunch. Mrs. Nell Gaspard was his teacher in 1927 and perhaps other years as well.

Edward had the job of delivering evening newspapers in Plainview. He’d pick up the papers at the depot and deliver them, using a flashlight to read the funnies as he went along.

Sometime after 25 March 1927, his mother applied for aid under the Mothers’ Pension Act. Not long after, Ella and her two sons moved to St. Louis to be near her family. They moved around on the south side of the city, renting homes on Armand, Shenandoah, Enright, and other streets.

By the 1930 census, Edward was an errand boy at a printing company. By 1938, he was employed as a belt maker by United Belt Manufacturing Corporation, which was owned by his uncle, Ernst Gotsch. When the 1940 census was taken, Edward was employed as an elevator operator, having earned $510 the previous year. Edward’s final place of employment was at Rexall Drug Company, working on the docks until his retirement.

Edward’s death was a tragic one. He and his brother called to check on each other often because Edward was not married and had no one to look in on him. When his brother, Roland, received no answer to his repeated phone calls, Roland hired a locksmith to open the apartment. There, Edward was found on 14 August 1986, deceased for approximately two weeks. He was cremated and his cremains buried four days later in Laurel Hill Gardens.

Written by Cheryl Gross
May 2018
© 2018, St. Louis Genealogical Society

Edward Ratz
Edward John Ratz
Photo in the collection of Cheryl Gross
Used with permission

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Last Modified: 17-Dec-2018 10:37