Helene Eleanore Gotsch was the sixteenth of eighteen children fathered by Emil Oskar Gotsch. She was of his second wife, Rosette A. Craemer. Ella was born in Staunton, Illinois, on 27 January 1887. Serving as her baptismal sponsors twelve days later at Zion Lutheran Church were Christoph Fischer, J. G. Goehringer, Elizabeth Lich, and Ernestine Faulstich. In Staunton, Ella was nurtured in the Lutheran faith by her parents, her father being a teacher in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. She grew up in the teacherage near the school. Ella was either born with or developed at a very young age a problem with her eyes, which our family called “lazy eye.” To see the person she was talking to, she had to tilt her head back, as told to this granddaughter by someone who lived near her in Illinois. She had this eye condition for the rest of her life.

Ella moved to St. Louis probably in 1910 with her parents. On 7 October 1912, at Emmaus Lutheran Church in St. Louis, she married Edward John Ratz Sr. Edward was born in Clear Lake Township in Sangamon County, Illinois, the son of Wilhelm Ernst Ratz and Maria Dorothea Elisabeth Schwartz. The couple resided in Plainview, Illinois.

Edward graduated from Dodge’s Institute of Telegraphy in Valparaiso, Indiana. In the family is a picture of a telegraphers’ reception held at Pythian Hall in Valparaiso on 23–24 January 1903, which Edward attended.

Ella and Edward were the parents of two sons—Edward John Jr. and Roland Francis. When son Roland was only seven months old, Edward Sr. died at the age of only forty-three years. He was a telegrapher with the Chicago & Alton Railroad at the Plainview depot. He is buried near many relatives in Buckhart, Illinois. At the time of his death, he had lived in Plainview for twelve years. Between the 1903 reception and 1912 or 1913 when he moved to Plainview, it is not known where he was employed. However, in 1910 he was enumerated in the census as living with his parents at home in Sangamon County’s Cooper Township, working on his father’s farm as a laborer.

Ella and her sons moved to nearby Shipman, Illinois, after she became a widow. While there, she applied for aid under the Mothers’ Pension Act. Only the application exists with no further papers so it is not known whether she received that aid. After living in Shipman, Ella and the boys removed to St. Louis to be near her family and were members of Emmaus Lutheran Church. Son Roland was a student in their school.

She is recalled as loving to feed people; she didn’t like it if they didn’t eat. She had a long braided ponytail reaching to her waist even in old age, and she loved to play Tiddly Winks.

Ella never remarried. She died in St. Louis at the state hospital on 30 March 1969, with burial at Laurel Hill Gardens in Pagedale.

Written by Cheryl Gross
May 2018

© 2018 St. Louis Genealogical Society


Ella Gotsch Ratz
Ella (Gotsch) Ratz
Photo in the collection of Cheryl Gross
Used with permission
Edward Ratz Sr.
Edward Ratz Sr.
Photo in the collection of Cheryl Gross
Used with permission

Return to St. Louis City/County Biographies.

Last Modified: 17-Dec-2018 10:28