Monday, March 9, 2015

Matrilineal Monday: Fearless Female Elizabeth Dienes Massmann and her husband, Frederick Henry Massmann, ABT mid-1930s


Above is a photo of my paternal great-grandmother Elizabeth Camilla Dienes Massmann (1876-1946), on the left, and her husband, Frederick Henry Massmann (1875-1948).  I realized that although  I've written about his investiture in the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great for his works and generosity in the Roman Catholic Church, I haven't written much else about his life.

Frederick was born December 1, 1875, in Hannover, Germany, the oldest son and second of five children that survived to adulthood of Carl Wilhelm Heinrich Massmann (1847-1929) and Wilhelmine "Minna" Auguste Fricke Massmann (1847-1919). Three older daughters, born in 1870, 1871, and 1873, all died before the rest of the family immigrated in 1883 or 1884.  If it was on the Elbe around November 20 as Carl stated on a 1911 passport application, then it would have been 1883, when the Elbe arrived in New York City from Bremen on November 19; although it is also possible that Carl came first and the rest of the family later.  I haven't found any of them on passenger lists, as many from that time period are in poor condition, unindexed, and nearly unreadable.  Carl was naturalized in Chicago on October 17, 1891, by court order, and Frederick was through him as he was still a minor.

According to a biography in The American Catholic Who's Who, Volume 7 (1946 and 1947, page 300), Frederick "began as boy in retail grocery; with Brookman M[anu]f[acturin]g Co., 1890-95; Durand & Kasper Co. [wholesale grocers], 1895-1913; Nat[iona]l Tea Co., [19]18-[19]39, retiring as pres[ident]; with Peter Fox Brewing Co., [19]39-[to date]."

Frederick married Elizabeth Dienes on June 5, 1900, at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago.  The 1901 Chicago city directory shows the family living at 311 (2047 after 1909) Cuyler Avenue, with Frederick working as a salesman at 22 N. Union in Chicago (this was an address for Durand & Kasper).  The 1910 Census shows him to be a superintendent in the grocery industry.

On his World War I draft registration card dated September 12, 1918, he gives his address as 2082 Estes Avenue in Chicago, and says he is working as a general manager for Geo[rge] Rasmussen at 615 W. Randolph in Chicago.  Rasmussen was the founder and first president of National Tea.

On the 1920 Census, Frederick is still listed as a general manager in the wholesale groceries industy, and on the 1930 Census, he is now listed as a vice-president, and living in a house worth $50,000 (a lot in those days!) at 7000 Ridge Avenue in the Rogers Park area of north Chicago.  National Tea Company's number of locations had peaked in 1929 at 1,627.  A May 29, 1931, article in The New World, a newspaper published by the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, said he was then "a director of the Central Trust Company of Illinois and a director of the Philip State Bank and Trust Company."  A May 1, 1936, article in the New York Times said Frederick's 1935 salary as vice-president of National Tea was $21,400.  

In early October, 1932, Frederick was elected president for one year.of the National Chain Store Association (which dissolved at the end of that yer).  He later became president of the Food and Grocery Chain Stores of America, Inc., and dealt with such issues during the depression as the minimum number of operating hours per week for stores (63), quality grade labeling of canned goods, and implementing a food distribution program for the needy.  

In early 1936, Frederick became president of the National Tea Company when its founder, George Rasmussen, became chairman of the board.  When Rasmussen died in late August of that year, a Chicago Tribune article stated that Frederick was living at 1123 Hull Terrace in Evanston.

Frederick resigned from the National Tea Company in 1939 and became vice-president and sales manager of the Peter Fox Brewing Company.  He and Elizabeth were living at 5920 N. Kilpatrick in Chicago when The American Catholic Who's Who for 1946-47 was published.  

According to his nephew, George Massmann, Frederick became a Catholic about 1916.  He then became very involved in the church, as a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Holy Name Society, and the Catholic Salvage Bureau. He helped organize the Catholic Youth Organization.  He contributed $5,000 towards the building of the Holy Name Technical School (now Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois), and celebrated his investiture in the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great (for his works and generosity in the Roman Catholic Church) at the school's dedication on May 30, 1932.

Frederick also became involved with the Boy Scouts.  After my great-grandmother Elizabeth died in December 1946, he met a woman who worked for them named Ruth L. Metcalf.  They married on March 25, 1948, but Frederick died seven months later, on November 3, 1948 - without a will.  Frederick was buried next to Elizabeth at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois.


© Amanda Pape - 2015 - click here to e-mail me.

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