Mama and Auntie, the Rest of the Story

I told you a little about my grandmother, Louise Spelling Wild and her sister Emma (known as Auntie). Here’s the rest of their story.

Their mother, Anna Elizabeth Hossfeld, was born in Saxony, an independent kingdom established in 1806 which lasted until 1918 when it became a state within the newly formed Weimar Republic. Long before WWI, however, the family had immigrated to America; they’re found living in Guttenberg, Iowa, in 1850, where Anna’s father was a carpenter. Anna first married Johan Christian Kruckewitt, who had immigrated from Westphalia, a region of northwestern Germany. He died when Anna was just 25, leaving her with three children. Two years later, Anna married my great-grandfather, John Frederich Spelling (or Spurling), who had immigrated from Prussia, another German kingdom, just the year before. The Spellings soon had twin daughters, Augusta and Emma, who joined the household with the three Kruckewitt children.

Augusta and Emma were born on April 14, 1869, in Guttenberg, Iowa, both of them appearing on the 1870 Census; however, Augusta was not listed on the 1880 Census, so she apparently died quite young. [A side note: Anna had three other children who died in childhood, a testimony to the difficulty in those days of raising children to adulthood.] Two more boys were born to the Spellings, and then, finally, ten years after Emma’s birth, Louise was born, on August 18, 1879. Despite this difference in their ages, Emma and Louise were very close all their lives.

Emma married 30-year-old Michael George Coleman in 1885, when she was sixteen years old. He was the postmaster in New Albin, Iowa. By 1900, the Colemans had moved to Cedar Township (Fonda), Iowa, where Michael was the town clerk and sold insurance; Emma’s sister Louise was living with them, at least on the date of the census.

Louise and Ray Wild married on November 15, 1900. The Census of 1910 shows Ray and Louise living in Fonda, Iowa. Both Ray and Michael were employed by the Northern Telephone Company, Ray as a bookkeeper and Michael as a manager and director. By 1920 the two families had moved to Burlington, Iowa. Ray was the secretary of Pine Valley Oil Company and Michael was manager of the Lomax Town Company telephone exchange. It was apparently around this time that the two families moved to Lomax, Illinois, which was across the Mississippi River from Burlington, and Louise’s husband opened R. A. Wild’s Variety Store. Emma and Michael Coleman had three daughters; Louise and Ray Wild had two daughters and a son.

As a young adult, one of the Wild daughters, Laila, attended the National Kindergarten College in Chicago, and by 1922 she had moved to Paris, Kentucky, to open the Kindergarten School with a classmate. She must have thought Kentucky was a pretty nice place, because the next thing you know her whole family moved there as well, and so did Emma and Michael Coleman. Ray became a salesman for Bryan Hunt wholesale grocery company; Michael, being so much older, had retired. In 1924, the Wild family lived at 1010 Aurora Avenue in Lexington; the Colemans lived one block over on Cramer. Family photograph albums are full of pictures of the two families raising their children, traveling and enjoying life together.

Then, tragedy struck. The Lexington Herald of December 5, 1924, reported it this way:


Mrs. R. A. Wild, Struck by Speeding Machine Last August, Fails to Recover


Gradually sinking as the result of injuries suffered August 24 when struck by an automobile, whose driver is unknown and who failed to stop, Mrs. R. A.  Wild, 46 years old, of 1010 Aurora avenue, died at 7 o’clock yesterday morning at the Good Samaritan hospital.

One hundred dollars reward was offered by the city for the identity of the driver immediately following the accident.  No trace of the person was ever found.

Mrs. Wild, her husband, and daughter and son, Laila and Jack were preparing to attend church services the night of August 24 at the Maxwell Presbyterian church, at Maxwell street and Lexington avenue.  Mrs. Wild and her daughter were crossing Maxwell street when the speeding machine struck them.  Mr. Wild and his son were parking their automobile at the time.

The driver of the car failed stop and continued east on Maxwell street.  Mrs. Wild and her daughter were taken to the Good Samaritan hospital, where Mrs. Wild remained until her death.  Miss Laila Wild was not seriously injured.  Mrs. Wild sustained a fractured right leg and internal injuries.

Funeral services will be held at 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon at the Park Avenue Methodist church, the Rev. Roy H. Kleiser officiating.  Besides her husband, Mrs. Wild is survived by two daughters, Laila and Elma [sic] Wild; a son, Jack, and one sister, Mrs. M. G. Coleman, of Lexington.  The pallbearers will be W. W. Keys, W. E. Darragh, Norman Soper, S. T. Chipley, M. G. Coleman and the Rev. O. B. Crockett.  Burial will be in the family lot in the Lexington cemetery.

Louise’s death certificate attributed her death to sepsis and exhaustion. Her family was devastated and until their own deaths spoke often and fondly of their sainted Mama.

Two and a half years later, Louise’s sister Emma died in Lexington, at the age of 58, due to a cerebral hemorrhage. Her death certificate describes her as an “invalid.” One wonders whether her beloved sister’s untimely death contributed to her own. The sisters are both buried in the Lexington Cemetery.


Wilds and Colemans in Kansas

Ray and Louise Wild (left), Emma and Michael Coleman (far right), on a trip to visit Ray’s family in Kansas

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