Treasure Chest Thursday: Francis & Lena (O’Brien) Helbling

Francis and Lena (O'Brien) Helbling with their grandchildren, Edgar and Anna May Helbling.
Francis and Lena (O’Brien) Helbling with their grandchildren, Edgar and Anna May Helbling, c1911.

Family pictures are such an incredible treasure. I still am in such awe that we have any images of our ancestors, and that we even know who some of them are. 😉 I feel like a rich woman every time I see these delightful photos, and being able to put a name and place and activity with my ancestors has truly enriched my life.

My mother thought that the above picture was of Francis X. Helbling (her grandfather), his wife Lena Gertrude (O’Brien) Helbling, and their sons. She never met these grandparents, as he died in 1919, and she in 1920, years before my mother was born. Looking at the adults in this image, however, they appeared much too old to have children that young. After doing many years of genealogical research (so much of it done pre-computer), and happening upon some old family photo albums, we began to think the youngsters might be grandchildren, and my mother’s siblings.

Another photo find confirmed the hypothesis:

Gerard W.(G.W.) Helbling holding his son Edgar and with his father, Francis X. Helbling, on the right. c1908
Gerard W.(G.W.) Helbling holding his son Edgar with his father, Francis X. Helbling, on the right. c1911

This is a picture of Gerard William Helbling holding his young son Edgar, who was born in July of 1911, and G.W.’s father Francis. This photo of three generations of Helbling men was taken in front of the family home in St. Louis. We know that because we can see the edge of the sign on the wall, which reads “G. W. Helbling, Undertaker.” We found another such house picture in the photo albums that had been packed away so long, and the family was living in St. Louis at that time.

I just love how my mother’s father looks- so handsome, so dapper- even with a cigar in his mouth.


Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Family oral history.

2) Family photographs.

3) Gerard William is also known as G.W., William Gerard, W. G., etc.- the Germans could never decide whether to use their first or middle name.


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