Louis Maurath was born in the last year of the American Civil War on 12 October 1865, on a 200-acre farm off Zingg Road, just north of Millstadt, Illinois. He was the twelfth of fourteen children born to Felix and Josephine Maurath, who migrated from St. Louis to Millstadt the previous November, 1864. He was their first child born in Millstadt. His father Felix was from the Black Forest area in Germany and his mother Josephine from across the Rhine River in Lorraine, France. Louis grew up speaking German and occasionally French at home. English and German were the languages being taught in school. As an old man, he still spoke with a slight German accent and came to be known as “Big Louie.”

Louis grew up learning farming, but his parents encouraged their children towards higher education and learning to play musical instruments. When they came of age, the boys were all sent to college. Louie and some of his brothers attended the Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute in Valparaiso, Indiana, now known as Valparaiso University. Louie earned “certificates” in music, teaching, and business. He excelled in playing the German concert zither, which became his favorite instrument of choice. After college, he came back home, and resumed farming with his father and brothers.

On 1 May 1895, at age twenty-nine, Louie married eighteen-year-old Carmelitta Roos, who was the adopted daughter of German immigrants Valentin and Magdalena Roos of Millstadt. Carmelitta’s original name was Caroline “Carrie,” and she was brought to the area on an orphan train from New York City at age three. Louie and Carmelitta were married at St. James in Millstadt and had their wedding photo taken at Merker’s Studio in Belleville. Their first son, Elmer, was born in 1897.

In 1902, the family moved to St. Louis, where Louie acquired a job as an “iron worker/car builder” for United Railways Company (URC), building streetcars and railroad cars, which were shipped nationally and internationally. URC was taken over by St. Louis Public Service in 1927. St. Louis Car Company and People’s Motorbus played a role during this time in the industry. Public Service took over again in 1934.

During this time, the couple and their son lived in the old family neighborhood of Soulard, where the next two children, Carmelitta (1907) and Leo (1913), were born. After Leo’s birth, they moved to Reber Place on “the Hill.” Sadly, Carrie died in 1928 from pneumonia, and Louie moved to Sublette near Pernod. Leo died in 1934, when the 1929 Roadster he was driving overturned and crushed him.

In 1939, five years after Leo’s death, Louie retired from Public Service, having worked in the industry for thirty-seven years. His family said he was among the first group of Americans to receive Social Security.

“Big Louie” died on 18 October 1962, one week after his ninety-seventh birthday, and he was buried with his beloved Carrie in Millstadt.

Written by John Louis Maurath, great-grandson
August 2020

© 2021 St. Louis Genealogical Society


Maurath Band
Louis Maurath on zither (right), W. P. Milliken (left), and J. J. Williams, (center), Valparaiso, Indiana, 1889
Photo in the collection of John Maurath
Used with permission
Maurath Wedding
Louis and Carmelitta Maurath, 1895
Photo in the collection of Carolyn Trueman Weber
Used with permission

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Last Modified: 14-Mar-2021 17:59