Felix Maurath Jr. was born in St. Louis on 21 March 1859. His parents were Felix Maurath Sr. from the Black Forest, Germany, and Josephine Jacob from Lorraine, France. This family lived on Buel Street, now S. 10th Street, at Park, right behind St. Vincent DePaul Church.

They moved to Millstadt, Illinois, during the Civil War in 1864 when Felix Jr. was five and a half years old. He attended college at the Northern Indiana Normal School, Valparaiso University, where he, along with his brothers, received “certificates” in music, teaching, and business.

Felix Jr. married his cousin, Louise Hangs, at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Chillicothe, Ohio, on 22 September 1891. Louise was the daughter of Joseph Hangs and Maria Enderle (or Enderlin). Felix and Louise lived briefly in Chillicothe and Columbus, Ohio, before moving back to Millstadt.

Felix and Louise had three children:

    • Joseph Albert Maurath, born on 18 June 1892 in Millstadt
    • Florence Elisabeth Maurath, born March 7, 1894, in Millstadt and died at age six on 28 December 1900 at Columbus, Ohio
    • Rowena Cecelia Maurath born on 7 April 1906 in Detroit, Michigan, and died during childbirth in Detroit on 27 November 1929 at age twenty-three.

Felix Jr. moved his family back to St. Louis around 1902, where he worked for the American Arithmometer Company, which later became Burroughs Adding Machine Company. The company moved their operations, all employees and their families, including the Felix Maurath Jr. family, to Detroit during the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

This story now turns to son Joseph Albert Maurath. Joe was a wunderkind or prodigy child, as he became a concert violinist at a very young age. He was turned away from the St. Louis Choral Society, which later became the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, only because of his age and his crippled right leg. Joe’s father encouraged him to attend college, but Joe loved using his hands and became a master machinist and carpenter.

After moving to Detroit, Joe met Edsel Ford while walking along the railroad tracks to school, and they became close friends. Joe was also a big hit with Henry Ford, who loved music, and amazed at the magic and beauty of Joe’s violin playing. Joe was hired by Ford in 1918, and answered directly to Henry. By 1926, Joe was the general foreman of all machine construction and repair in the foundry tool room of the Rouge Plant, in charge of 203 men. Also, in 1926, Joe married the widow, Marie (Mullholland) Frayne from Melbourne, Canada.

Joe, who came to be known at Ford as “the old master,” left Ford because of Henry’s antisemitism and support of Adolf Hitler, who had persecuted Joe’s cousins in Germany, particularly Catholic priest, Father Ferdinand Maurath, who was sent to Dachau Concentration Camp for preaching against Hitler.

Joe moved his family to the Los Angeles area, where other Maurath cousins owned the Maurath Hotel and Maurath Shell Station at Hermosa Beach. Joe died in Torrance, California, on 10 March 1964, with burial in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

Written by John Maurath
December 2020

© 2021 St. Louis Genealogical Society


Felix Maurath Jr.
Felix Maurath Jr., 1889
Photo in the collection of Carmelite (Maurath) Trueman
Used with permission
Joseph Maurath
Joseph Maurath, c. 1950s
Photo in the collection of Barbara (Maurath) St. Clair
Used with permission

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Last Modified: 14-Mar-2021 18:19