Treasure Chest Thursday: Anna May (Beerbower) Helbling

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Anna May (Beerbower) Helbling, circa 1950s?

Beerbower Family, Helbling Family (Click for Family Tree)

Today, 9 November, is the 63rd anniversary of the death of Anna May (BEERBOWER) HELBLING, daughter of Edgar Peter BEERBOWER (1849-1916) and Anna Missouri (SPRINGSTEEN) BEERBOWER. She was married to Gerard William (“G.W.”) HELBLING (1882-1971) for just 15 days shy of 50 years- their wedding anniversary was the 24th of November.

“May” as she was called by family, was an incredibly loving and giving person. Despite them having very little to support themselves, she always provided for hobos and others who came to their door, asking for food. (Family stories say their house was marked by hobos as the home of a kind woman.)

May was a very religious person, and a good Catholic. Her rosary, cross used for the Last Rites, and her religious necklaces are treasured by her descendants.

May was often sick- she likely had diabetes, as her loving husband gave her shots, and she was confined to bed after years of legs ulcers and other health issues. (We are so lucky today to have better treatments for diabetes!) She was 73 when she passed away on 9 November 1954, so thankfully what was done to manage her health back then did give her many more years than might be expected with diabetes. Her husband’s great love and attention,  plus his intelligence would have helped as well- he invented a bed for her that changed the pressure on various parts of her body so that she would not get bedsores. (He did try to patent it or interest a company in the bed, however was unsuccessful; it was a forerunner of those that are used in hospitals today!) This ingenious bed he built for her likely added many years to her life, as sepsis from bedsores can be fatal, and there weren’t that many effective antibiotics available in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The picture above was originally thought to be from the 1950s, but she would have been in her 70s then. With the dark hair color and ‘bob’ hairstyle, it is more likely from the 1930s or early 1940s.

The story of the painting behind her is unknown to me. It was probably painted by GW Helbling, and the woman in it almost looks like May. There was a famous actress seen in a similar pose from that era, though her name escapes me. If any family out there knows the history of this painting or its whereabouts, please share!

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family treasure chest of photos and family oral history told over the years.

 

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