Veronika (Evertz) Gores (her maiden name was sometimes spelled Ewertz) was my grandfather Bill Prettyman’s maternal grandmother—she was his mother’s mother. She was born in Germany around 1860 and immigrated to the United States, where she met and married the son of German immigrants. Bill never had the chance to get to know his grandmother Veronika, as she died when Bill was less than a year old. Bill’s mother also died tragically early (read that story here) and after a prolonged period of strain in their relationship that had its origins in a fatal car crash eight years earlier (read that story here). Whatever details Bill’s mother Rose (Gores) Prettyman may have known about her own mother’s German origins apparently never got told to Bill, as he had no stories about Veronika to pass on to me.
Additionally, the stigmatization of German ancestry in the United States that began in the 1910s and carried through the end of World War II caused American families of recent German descent to hide their German ancestry (see here and here for more on this topic) for fear of being seen as un-American or unpatriotic.
Whatever the reason, there is a lot that we don’t know about Veronika Evertz’s German heritage. What we do know is that Veronika was born in Germany to German parents—Peter Evertz and Magdalena Kaufmann, that she had eight siblings (although we don’t know who they were), that her parents also came to the US, and that her mother lived with Veronika and her husband Frank E. Gores in her old age. But that’s just about all we knew for certain.
In an attempt to keep today’s post more brief than it might otherwise become, I’m going to be focusing on just one aspect of my research into Veronika’s German heritage—my discovery of the identity of her maternal grandparents. To the best of my knowledge, this is information that has been lost for nearly a century—since the death of Veronika herself on February 13, 1920.
As I was making drinks for my wife and mother last night in our home tiki room that I named after my grandfather Bill Prettyman (“Prettyman’s Atoll”), my mother reminded me that the previous day (March 1) was Bill’s birthday. I’ve never been good with birthdays, but I can remember years, and so when she said that, I realized that March 1 was the 100th anniversary of Bill’s birthday on March 1, 1919. Had he lived, he would have turned 100 years old on Friday.
I feel like the 100th anniversary of his birth calls for a post, but as these posts usually take days to write and I only have a few hours before I return to the workaday world, I’ll see what I can do. I’d love to write a full biography of him, but given the short time I have, I will instead present a short sketch of the first twenty-five or so years of my grandfather’s life.
Today’s mystery photo is only partly a mystery. Well, mostly a mystery, really. But I do know some things about the photo.
In this photo, a dashing gent in a flat cap, knickerbockers, a leather car coat and argyle socks is showing off a pan of something while posing between two women. The hats and clothing of all three is evocative of the fashions of the Roaring Twenties (roughly 1925–1932), and the little bit of the automobile that we can see also looks like a 1920s-to-earliest-1930s model.
On the Prettyman side of my family, Paul Gore’s name keeps coming up, but I know next to nothing about him. I have no identified photos of him, and I’ve heard only a couple of snippets of stories about his life, so I’m writing this post in the hopes that someone among my Prettyman relatives might be able to identify him and tell me more about him.
The name he went by as an adult was Paul N. Gores, according to my grandfather, William Prettyman (Paul’s nephew), and he was born Paul Nicholas Gores. Paul was born on June 7, 1898, in Wadena, Minnesota, probably the youngest of 6 (or possibly 7) children born to my great-great-grandparents, Judge Fredrick Eugene Gores and Veronika Evertz (also spelled Everts, Ewertz, or Eberts):
I’ve returned from Minnesota with a pile of scans and documents that’ll take me months to pore through. Before I get started with that, I want to satisfy a request my uncle made a couple of months ago—to learn more about the death of his father’s mother. Dan, this one’s for you.
The drowning death of my great-grandmother, Rosa “Rose” Cecilia (Gores) Prettyman, in 1945 on the St. Croix River is an event that has been shrouded in mystery in my family for decades. In the absence of specifics, stories have arisen. As with other family stories obscured by time and the lack of retelling of first-hand accounts (see these earlierposts), imagined details have evolved to fill the vacuum of understanding. I have heard at least three versions of the story of Rose’s death: Continue reading →
Another as-yet-unidentified photo I got from my grandmother’s house while helping my family get her old home ready for sale. This one is of two children and a doll. I’m not good with estimating ages, but I’d guess that the boy is somewhere around 3–5 years old, and the girl is 8–12 years old. Let’s see if we can figure out who they are. Continue reading →
While my grandfather, William Eugene Prettyman, was alive, he alluded on a few occasions to an accident he was in in which three people were killed. To the best of my knowledge, he didn’t tell the full story to any of his family members, but he conveyed enough overlapping pieces to several family members that the skeleton of a confusing story slowly came into focus. Continue reading →