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Emma Waldner Schlatter,
My Paternal Grandmother

We know very little about Emma.  My father, Emma's second son, talked very little about his parents and his early years -- in fact, he said almost nothing on these topics.

We know these facts about Emma:

Date Event Notes
26 December 1885 Emma Waldner born, Baden, Germany Family legend says her father was a civil engineer working on a road project in Germany when Emma was born.
25 September 1910 Emma Waldner marries Adolph Schlatter Info from Adolph's application for US citizenship dated march 1923
31 October 1910 Emma and Adolf arrive at Ellis Island Ellis Island records list the following:

Date of entry:  31 October 1910
Ship:  SS Lapland
Sailed from:  Antwerp on 22 October 1910 

Adolf Schlatter; age 47; baker
Nationality: Switzerland
Last residence:  St. Gallen, Switzerland
Destination:  Memphis

Emma Schlatter; age 27; housewife
Nationality: Switzerland
Last residence:  St. Gallen, Switzerland
Destination:  Memphis

21 May 1911 Emma's first son, John, born, Cleveland, MS  
1 August 1915 Emma's second son, Joseph, born Cleveland, MS (my father)  
1920 Adolph, Emma, and two sons listed in US census  
26 October 1921 Emma's third son, Fred, born Cleveland, MS  
1930 Adolph, Emma, three sons, and Emma's brother Louis listed in US census  
1 May 1948 Emma dies in hospital, Greenville, MS See details of Emma's death below.


Here are the only photos we have of Emma.

Adolph and Emma.  Date unknown but we suspect this photo was made in 1930.  Note the goiter evident on Emma's neck -- more about that later.  Adolph died in November 1930.  The effects of his stroke are evident in this photo -- he seems to not have use of his left arm and the left side of his face is distorted.



Adolph and Emma's three sons:  L-R -- Joseph (b. 1915, d. 2005); John (b. 1911, d. 1960); Fred (b. 1921, d. 2010)
Note that the background of this photo resembles that in the photo of Adolph and Emma, above.  Handwritten notes on the back of this photo of the three sons reveal that the photo was made in 1930, thus, I believe the photo of Adolp and Emma was taken at the same time -- 1930.

A handwritten note on the back of this photo of Emma says it was taken when her youngest son, Fred, left for military service in WW II.  Fred enlisted in 1942; this picture probably dates from sometime in 1942.  I do not know the location of the house, though it no doubt is in Shaw, MS.

Emma seated on bench, probably in front of Schlatter bakery in Shaw, MS.  Unknown date.

Because Emma was born in Germany and never became a US citizen, she was declared an "enemy alien" during WW II and was required to register with the FBI.  I have in my family history files her alien registration booklet.  Here are photos of two pages from that document.


Look closely at Emma's throat, above the scarf -- you'll see what appears to be a scar on her throat.  In the photo of Adolph and Emma, probably made in 1930, she has an obvious goiter.  According to other information she was operated on in 1934 to remove the goiter.  This document is dated February 1942 (see postmark). The mark on her neck probably is a surgical scar from the goiter operation.

My mother told me the FBI confiscated two items from Emma because of her alien status:

  •  A pistol that my grandfather owned.
  •  An AM radio that tuned up into the low shortwave bands that Emma would use to listen to German-language broadcasts from Germany and Switzerland. 
  •  After the war, the radio was returned and I recall that we listened to news broadcasts on the radio every night after supper.  The pistol was not returned.

In this lawsuit, filed five years after Emma's death, we learn more about her than we ever knew.

When Emma died in 1948, she had a life insurance policy that paid double the death benefit in case of accidental death.  When she died, the policy paid normal death benefit.  A few years later, her sons sued the insurance company, claiming that her death was accidental and they should have been paid double indemnity.  Their claim was denied.  Here is an excerpt from the record of the suit that describes her death.

New York Life Ins. Co. v. Schlatter,
C.A.5 1953.

United States Court of Appeals,Fifth Circuit.

No. 13999.

. . .

Emma W. Schlatter fractured her hip on April 20, 1948, and died on May 1, 1948. Appellant paid the face amount of the policy but denied liability under the double indemnity provision. 

At the time of her death, Mrs. Schlatter was 63 years of age and resided at Shaw, Mississippi, with her sons who operated a small store. The living quarters for the family, consisting of three rooms and a bath, were located upstairs in the back of the store. At one time Mrs. Schlatter had operated a bakery on the premises, but her health began to decline in 1934, when she had an operation for goiter, and the year following she applied to appellant for benefits due under the policy by reason of her being totally disabled to do any kind of work. She submitted medical statements in support of her contention that high blood pressure, heart trouble and other ailments had disabled her from July, 1935. On the basis of these proofs, appellant admitted her total disability, waived payment of further premiums as of January 30, 1936, and paid her $50 per month on account of her total disability on up until the time of her death. On April 20, 1948, while alone in a day room in the rear of the store premises, the insured fell on the floor and fractured her hip. 

Freddie Schlatter, one of the appellees, testified that he was in the store in the front part of the building when he heard his mother scream, that he reached her within 3 or 4 seconds and found her on the floor, her foot lying on a crumpled up rug about 18 feet from the couch on which it was her custom to rest. He picked her up, and, over objection of appellant, testified that he asked her what had happened, ‘and she told me that she had tripped over the cat and slipped on the rug, that she was getting a drink of water’. 

Within 10 minutes she was examined by a physician, who testified that he saw no evidence of shock or heart attack, found that she was suffering from a fractured hip, and ordered her taken immediately to a hospital. An operation was deferred for ten days. Mrs. Schlatter withstood the operation, but about twelve hours later died. 

The record is replete with evidence covering the physical condition of Mrs. Schlatter from 1935 until the time of her death, consisting of: (1) statements by Mrs. Schlatter at periodic intervals in support of her claims for disability benefits; (2) written reports made by physicians in connection with such claims; (3) hospital records of her condition on eight separate occasions; (4) testimony of her sons and of *186 friends who claimed to be conversant with her physical condition; and (5) the testimony, as to her last illness, of Drs. J. G. Peeler and Charles T. Berry, who were called by appellees, and Drs. C. L. Field, T. M. Riddell, and J. B. Archer, who were called for the appellant. To state that evidence at length would unduly prolong this opinion.

. . .



Emma's headstone, Schlatter plot, Shaw town cemetery, Shaw, MS.

Here is a letter that Emma wrote to my mother after receiving a telegram from my parents announcing my birth (December 1944).

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