Saturday, October 1, 2016

Last of Winterhalters Escapes Pauper's Grave, 1944

Detroit Free Press, June 10, 1944
There is an neighborhood and school in Detroit which took the name of a prominent member of the Winterhalter family that has otherwise fallen into obscurity. Of the notables, George Winterthalter had run a successful furniture empire in the 1800s but the family fortunes began dwindling after he died in the late 1890s. Albert Gustavus Winterhalter, mentioned in the article, found notoriety as an naval officer and is the namesake for the middle school. He was Lillian's brother and last known relative. They were the children of John Winterthaler, a Captain in the Mexican War.

Lillian Winterhalter died at Eloise in 1944. Since the article doesn't delve into her time at the hospital it's probably safe to assume that it wasn't an overly extensive residency. Perhaps just a few weeks before she passed. The family estate must have set a burial plot aside for her at Elmwood that was discovered after her death since the mention of a pauper's grave is prominent in the byline. Or maybe it was just normal newspaper hype.

The sibling's mother passed in 1918. In her death notice Lillian was mentioned as "her constant companion for years". Albert suddenly died shortly thereafter in 1920. Lillian apparently never married and resided at the 1496 West Jefferson family home until it was sold around 1926. Presumably she had run out of money. Upon the sale she received $15,000 (nearly $200,000 in today's worth) and blew through it rather quickly. Which might suggest that she was a bit dysfunctional, to say the least.

An interesting aside to this story is from the life of Albert Winterhalter. Of the few photographs posted online all show the good admiral from a profile view. Below he is pictured as such above his actress wife Helen Dauvray (whom had previously been married to Hall of Fame baseball player Monte Ward).


The positioning was likely purposely done with good reason: he lost an eye in an archery training accident in 1879 that luckily didn't kill the young midshipman:

Detroit Free Press, June 10, 1879
If you were paying close attention to dates this latter happening was posted in the same paper exactly 65 years before the death notice for Miss Lillian in 1944.

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