Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on 9 October 1863, Otto Ferdinand Schwerdtmann was the child of H. E. Theodor Schwerdtmann, 1819–1887, and Augusta Seegers, 1822–1901. In 1880, the family moved to St. Louis. Otto married Amalie/Anna Marie Heinicke at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis on 10 September 1889. Marie was born in Collinsville, Illinois, on 7 October 1868, the daughter of Carl Heinicke, 1840–1873, and Caroline Elizabeth Fischer, 1843–1895.

Otto and Marie’s children were:

    • Elsie Sophie, 1890–1951, married and later divorced Raimond Otto Weber; had two children
    • Clara Alice, 1892–1912
    • Alice Helen, 1894–1988, married Herbert Ross, 1893–1972; had three children
    • Adele Alberta, 1895–1932, married Clarence Dieckmann; had one son
    • Robert Carl, 1897–1985, married Florence Ameis, 1896–1975; had two children
    • Edgar Ferdinand, 1899–1972, married Julia Hughes Allen, 1903–1971; had a daughter

Otto worked for his father importing toys and fancy goods. In July 1887, H. E. Theodor died, and the family business was reincorporated as the Schwerdtmann Toy Company. Otto was a stockholder and the secretary-treasurer of the firm. The ledger with the company minutes and financial statements is in Otto’s beautiful handwriting. About 1902, Otto built a brick building for storing fireworks at the rear of his 4128 Michigan Avenue home. The ledger shows receipts from the 1904 World’s Fair Committee, probably for the fireworks. Following the death of his brother in 1919, Otto became president of the firm. The business continued until 1933 when they filed for bankruptcy and the store closed.

Otto and Marie built a three-story home at 3532 Flora Court in the early 1900s. Marie loved to bake and hold family parties. She was active in her church and card club. Marie suffered from diabetes and heart disease and died on Christmas Eve in 1928. Otto continued to live with his daughter Elsie and her children. In 1935, they sold the home on Flora Court and lived in a flat on Cleveland Avenue. Many times we enjoyed dinner with Otto officiating at the dinner table set with Marie’s china. The plates were stacked beside him and he carved and served the meat. The side dishes were then passed around the table. [Elsie was an excellent cook.] Dinner was then followed by coffee and apricot brandy for the adults and a game of cards.

Using his jig-saw, Otto enjoyed making puzzles. One of the loveliest puzzles is a St. Louis Post-Dispatch 1910 picture of ladies standing on the lily pads in Tower Grove Park. Otto loved to tease and had a good sense of humor. He also smoked a pipe and entertained this granddaughter by blowing smoke rings. In 1947, he made his usual visit to see daughter, Alice, in Oak Park, Illinois. Otto fell down a flight of steps and broke his hip. He died of pneumonia in a Chicago hospital on 28 August 1947. The Schwerdtmann plot at Concordia Cemetery in St. Louis is the final resting place for Otto and Marie.

(Sources include: census records; death certificates; family papers and interviews; marriage index for Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Louis in the StLGS Quarterly, Vol XVIII, Fall, 1985, p. 72; toy company ledger; Maryland Historical Society; LDS (; Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Collinsville, Illinois.)

Written by Ann Schwerdtmann Rother, granddaughter
February 2017

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Last Modified: 26-Oct-2018 19:16